Gong Gong says

This is a posthumous blog of our father's (Lim Kok Ann) life. When our father passed away on 8 March 2003, he left behind an unpublished autobiography. We'd like to celebrate his life by sharing his autobiography through this blog.


"I have dredged these anecdotes from memory just to pass the time; if they amuse my grandchildren their purpose will have been served; if they provide any instruction, it will be a happy coincidence; that they are disjointed is probably to be expected.

Aurora was the name of my grandfather’s house in Kulangsu.   Amoy, where I spent the first five or six years of my life.   I still have vivid memories of events that took place when I was barely three years old.

Lim Kok Ann
October 1996"

Saturday, February 28, 2009

5:3 Dancing with Bears
If the Soviets had quietly taken the rebuke Campo administered them in March over the Hoogovens affair, they screamed “foul” in June when Campo awarded the organization of the Korchnoi-Kasparov Candidates Semifinal Match to the United States Chess Federation, in Pasadena, and the Smyslov-Ribli Semifinal Match to the UAE Chess Federation, in Abu Dhabi. Campo had chosen these venues in furtherance of his campaign promise to promote chess everywhere, but the first venue, particularly, did not suit the Soviets because they were about to boycott the Good Will Games in Los Angeles in revenge for the American boycott of the Moscow Games the year before, and it would not do at all if Kasparov was playing in Pasadena throughout the L.A.Games. Chess was a victim of the athletic Cold War, it would seem.

The Soviets said that the FIDE President had exceeded his authority by not giving full consideration to the players’ wishes and Kasparov would not play in Pasadena. As an after-thought, they added that Smyslov would not play in Abu Dhabi as the climate was not suitable. The Soviets had blundered badly, however. They had been familiar with the FIDE regulations for selection of venues for the World Championship matches in regard to the Karpov-Korchnoi matches, when each player had opportunity to object to this or that proposed venue. They did not realize that in regard to the Candidates’ Matches, for which organizers were difficult to find, the players were not given so much say in the selection of the venues, and the regulations gave the President the last word in this matter. Through the summer months, the Soviets vilified Campomanes in the media to try to get him to change the venues, and their allies bombarded him with telexes, but Campo would not blink an eye-lid. Came the scheduled day when Korchnoi solemnly sat down and started his opponent’s clock, knowing it was a no-show. Kasparov was declared in default and Campo promptly declared Korchnoi had qualified for the next round of the Candidates’ Tournament, the Candidates’ Final. When Smyslov also defaulted in Abu Dhabi, Campo named Ribli the other Finalist. The Soviets warned Campo that they would bring up the matter in the F1DE Congress and ask the General Assembly to rescind Campo’s decision.

The Soviet assault in the Congress was spear-headed by Cosmonaut Vassily Sevastianov, twice Hero of the Soviet Union, and President of the USSR Chess Federation, but Cold War tactics did not fash Campo at all. According to FIDE Statutes, the President had full authority to act for FIDE in between sittings of the General Assembly, and Campo had taken the precaution of securing the support of the FIDE Bureau (later the Executive Council) in all he did. Moreover, the Western delegates supported Campo because he had been trying to do something for the Americans, and the Third World delegates supported Campo because he had been doing something for the Emirates. Campo spent long hours in closed door sessions with the Soviets and finally convinced them that he had both right and might on his side. He listed the delegates and told Sevastianov how each would vote and invited him to sound out the delegates himself. The Soviets were aghast. In Garry Kasparov they had a potential rival and successor to Anatoli Karpov and if the General Assembly confirmed Campo’s decisions, Kasparov’s career would be set back for three years at least. They could not bear to learn what Kasparov’s god-father (his supporter in the Kremlin) would say. At last, they asked Campo what could be done, Sevastianov could lose his medals! Campo replied that he could “organize afresh the matches” if the parties concerned, meaning the players, the organizing federations and, of course, F1DE, agreed and were compensated for their expenses and loss of potential income. The terms of the agreement were never published and I did not know even the total amount involved, but it was not chicken feed. When the Semi-finals item on the agenda reached the floor of the Assembly, Sevastianov distributed copies of a telex from the Chairman of the USSR Sports Committee (in effect, the Minister for Sport) saying he hoped a misunderstanding had been eliminated and will not affect cooperation for the benefit of chess. Campo then distributed copies of his reply saying that since the USSR Chess Federation now understands FIDE President was empowered to decide venues of Candidates’ Matches... he would consider steps “to organize afresh” the Candidates’ Semifinal Matches. The matches were rescheduled in London and Kasparov and Smyslov duly beat their respective opponents to qualify for the Finals. Kasparov later beat Smyslov in the Finals held in the USSR and became the Challenger. Discussing with Campo in later years, the story of this and subsequent tussles with the USSR Chess Federation, I suggested the title, Dancing with Bears, an allusion to the title of a popular 1990s move, Dances with Wolves, featuring Kevin Costner.

Kasparov had barely six months to prepare for the title match with Anatoli Karpov scheduled in September 1984, and expected to end before the Olympiads and FIDE Congress in November in Thessaloniki, Greece. The expectation was not fulfilled, Karpov rushed to a 4-0 lead in the first 9games, then Kasparov found his feet and there were 17 draws which did not count before Karpov won a fifth game. Everyone thought the match was over as Karpov needed only one more win to retain his title but Kasparov hung on grimly with another four draws before winning his first game. Now with a 5-1 lead, Karpov pulled himself together, and there were 14 more draws. Meanwhile, after leaving the Match to attend the FIDE Congress, Campo returned to Moscow to discuss with the players how the match could be stopped. Both players accepted that it might be necessary to stop the match, notwithstanding the rule of “unlimited games”, but quite understandably, the players wanted different things and ultimately Campo declared the Match “ended without decision.” By this time, Kasparov had won two more games, so the score was 5:3 when the match ended and he believed that he could have won the match had it been allowed to continue. Campo said that there was no assurance whether the match could last another 1,2,10, or 20 more games, but his decision made Kasparov his enemy and Kasparov vowed he would destroy Campo and FIDE with him.

This is not the place to tell the story of the Five Crowns as Yasser Seirawan described the matches between Karpov and Kasparov. Suffice it to say that Campo rescheduled the terminated 1984 match with new rules in 1985: best result over 24 games, counting draws as ½: ½, and Kasparov won it. There were five K-K matches in all, with Karpov qualifying to be the Challenger each time he failed to win back his crown, but after the 5th K-K Match, Nigel Short of England became the Challenger in the world championship match scheduled for 1993. This was Kasparov’s chance; he resigned from the USSR Chess Federation which had fallen on difficult times with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and persuaded Nigel Short to reject the offer of Manchester City to host the World Championship Match. Kasparov then formed the Professional Chess Association to organise a PCA World Championship Match in London in 1993 with prizes provided by computer giant Intel. Campo declared both Kasparov and Short in default and said that Jan Timman and Karpov who had both lost to Short in the Candidates’ Matches would replace Kasparov and Short in the (FIDE) World Championship Match. This was played, half in Holland (with myself as Chief Arbiter - see later) and half in Jakarta, Indonesia, with the minimum prize fund stipulated by FIDE that Campo somehow scraped together. Karpov won the match and became the (official) World Champion.

Thus it was, that in 1994 there were two world champions, not as bad as in boxing where there were three! Intel did not like that at all though they supported the PCA in a number of great tournaments. They told Kasparov they preferred to deal with the “official” world champion, and that he should get his act together, and this resulted in a final twist in Campo’s dance with the bears. The Greeks who had been granted the right to organize the 1994 Chess Olympiad and F1DE Congress did not fulfil their obligations and FIDE had to call for new bids to organize these events. Kasparov, who was in Russia at that time got the Russian Chess Federation to organize the Olympiad with barely over a month to get things ready. Then, when Campo arrived for the FIDE Congress, Kasparov put a strange proposal to him. Campo had long declared he would not run for FIDE President again (he was much disappointed by the feeble help he got from FIDE officials in organizing the Timman-Karpov match), but KasparoV asked Campo to run again. Kasparov said that he had no confidence in any of the three candidates who bad been nominated, as required by FIDE, three months in advance for election as FIDE President. FIDE was bankrupt, Kasparov said, but he could bring sponsors to FIDE if FIDE would forget the past and organize a “re-unification match” between him and Karpov for the real world championship title, and Kasparov believed that only Campo could do that for him. Campo was entranced by the notion of being a key player once more and decided to co-operate though I advised him against it. With Kasparov’s support, Campo got the General Assembly to change its electoral regulations so that he could be nominated, then won the election against Kouatly (France),the sole candidate that remained.

The French delegate Claude Loubatiere had asked me when we chanced to meet at the opening of the Congress if Campo would run for President as rumoured, and how he could do that when FIDE regulations required nominations for President to be made three months in advance. I told Loubatiere that in the many years I had worked with Campo he never once contravened FIDE regulations, and if he ran and was elected it would be done legally. After Campo’ s election I saw Loubatiere standing outside the conference hail and looking very glum.
“There you are, Claude,” I said to him, “everything done legally.”
“Legal,” Loubatiere snapped, “but wrong,” and I suppose he had a point there.
Though Kasparov planned the Re-Unification Match as being played between himself and Karpov, he had committed himself to play defend his PCA title against a Challenger that qualified through PCA Candidates’ Matches. His opponent was Anand of India whom he defeated to retain the title. In the FIDE Camp, Kamsky of US (he had emigrated from USSR before the fall of the Soviets )had qualified as Challenger and it was well into 1996 before the FIDE World Championship Match was organized and won by Karpov. In the meantime, it had become clear that Kasparov was unable to get backing for the Re-Unification Match and told Campo it was off. Faced with this in the 1995FIDE Congress in Paris, Campo told the General Assembly he was resigning because he had been elected to organize the Re-Unification Match, and proposed as his successor, Kirsan Iljumzhinov, President of the Calmic Autonomous Republic (inside Russia) as his successor. The General Assembly reluctantly agreed, for there was no viable alternative, and left it to the 1996 FIDE Congress in Armenia to settle the issue.

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