04 November 2009

Who Owns the World Championship?

Since early August, for reasons unbeknownst to me, I've been on a mailing list from one Stan Vaughan of Las Vegas. This past weekend I received the following email, apparently a press release. Except for cleaning up the bullets to make it more readable, I copy it here with typos included.
Subject: Controversial World Chess Federation media conference sees world record set.
Date: Saturday, October 31, 2009, 12:49 AM
From: Stan Vaughan

The World Chess Federation, Inc held its controversial press conference today at the Riviera Hotel Casino.Las Vegas Radio personality John Donovan opened the media conference and the following topics were discussed about current problems in the chess world: After main focus of the upcoming $7.5 million WCF World Chess Championship cycle include upcoming WCF Qualifying Tournament Dec 1-13

The media was given handouts regarding Ilyumzhinov and connections to such corruption as a) Larissa Yudina journalist murder; b) rigged ratings; c) claims to have visted foreign stars with aliens; d) insane time controls of FIDE; e) voting bribes of national federation officials; f) non compete clauses trying to prevent top talent playing in Siberian World Cup from competing in WCF; g) the recent $50,000 Euro (=$75,000 USD) compensation fees for players wanting to change nationality playing for; h) Ilyumzhionov holding FIDE championships in places like Libya where Qadaffi did not allow jews to compete

i) this led to Korchnoi was then attacked by a rabbi as being the root cause of of problerms in chess world by having broken Jewish and Christian law by contacting and playing a chess game from 1985-92 with ghost (spirit) of dead grandmaster Maroczy. The rabbi explained this created a portal whereby an evil spirit in form of Ilyumzhinov took over FIDE and caused Jews as a result to suffer dioscrimination by FIDE and he stated was the cause of failure of Grandmasters Associatiomn, PCA, WCC, Braingames Group and Einstein Group. The rabbi also said Korchnoi selling out to play in Elista rather than supporting WCF did not help matters spiritually for him or Spassky.

j) Stan Vauighan showed letter from Fischer and passed around along with a tie along with photo from Fischer of game played against Spassky in 1992 "The World Chess Championship". In addition. Vaughan also gave out copies of the recent US Trademark office awarding WCF exclusive rights to trademark and tradenames World Chess Championship and The World Chess Championship.

k) Also today GM Raymond Keene confirmed he will be coming to Las Vegas to be master of ceremonies for opening ceremony as well as accept an award from WCF recognizing Staunton as an officially recognized WCF World Chess Champion 1843-1845

l) The highlight was the press conference was followed by Stan Vaughan setting a new world record by playing 57 blindfold games one at a time against 20 different media members albeit none were over 1600 strength, Vaughan went 57-0 to break a previous record held by Koltanowski

The press conference can be viewed in the following video.

WCF World Chess Federation Press Conference 10.30.2009 (9:43) • 'Here is a video covering the WCF World Chess Federation press conference held by Stan Vaughan, inviting chess players from around the world to compete in the WCF World Chess Championship Tournament being held in Las Vegas NV Decemember 1 -13, 2009. For more information contact: Stan Vaughan [plus contact info]'

The bullets in the press release are all provocative and controversial, but I was particularly interested in the statement that 'Vaughan also gave out copies of the recent US Trademark office awarding WCF exclusive rights to trademark and tradenames World Chess Championship and The World Chess Championship.' A search for 'world chess' on the TESS database at uspto.gov revealed that a Word Mark for 'WORLD CHESS FEDERATION' had been registered on 13 October 2009 with 'FIRST USE: 19920901. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19920901'. The document confirming the USPTO Service Mark can be seen at 3:34 in the video.

I sent Vaughan an email questioning the discrepancy in the press release: 'It appears you have the trademark for "World Chess Federation", not for "World Chess Championship".' He replied, '"The World Chess Championship" is part of the logo that is part of the trademark', and that 'due to the legal documents FIDE's Campomanes signed in 1992 turning over rights to Fischer of "The World Chess Champion", our attornies insist that FIDE Championships since 1992 must be known only as FIDE Championships and not use word World in reference to.' That logo is visible at 0:51 in the video, and again near the end.

Vaughan must have suspected that I was unfamiliar with the 1992 actions of Campomanes, who was FIDE President at that time, and added, 'See books Russians vs Fischer in Averbakh's chapter and Vol IV of Kasparov's My Great Predecessors where Kasparov also acknowledges Campomanes' actions.' I have both of these books and took them out to verify the statements concerning 1992. Plisetsky and Voronkov wrote,

FIDE President Campomanes fulfilled Fischer's main condition [for a match]: he signed and issued the American a certificate to the effect that Fischer continued to be the World Champion. And this in the existence of a live Kasparov, who, upon defeating Karpov in 1985, had been proclaimed the official World Champion by the very same Campomanes! ['Russians vs Fischer' (1994, p.371)]

Kasparov's account confirms this.

To judge by the press reports, a sizable contribution was also made by the FIDE President Florencio Campomanes: he supposedly met the American's main demand, by signing a document to the effect that Robert Fischer continued to be the World Champion. The paradoxical thing about these reports is that in 1985, Campomanes officially proclaimed me World Champion -- and then did the same thing three more times: in 1986, 1987, and 1990! However, everyone understood: for the sake of again seeing Fischer at the chessboard one would sign any paper.

If only FIDE had been so eager in 1975 to sign other papers of interest to Fischer. Kasparov continued his account with a second 'However'.

However, Campomanes categorically asserts that after 1972-75 FIDE never recognized Fischer as the World Champion. Campo was invited to Yugoslavia and visited the island of Sveti-Stefan, where the first part of the 'return match' was held, but he associated only with Torre and Gligoric, and not once with Fischer (and before this they had not seen each other since 1981). ['My Great Predecessors IV' (2004, p.483)]

It appears from these two accounts that the official title of World Champion around the early to mid-1990s depends on a certificate (Kasparov: 'document') that then-President Campomanes might or might not have signed in 1992. (See 1992 Fischer - Spassky Rematch for more about the events of 1992.) This tie-in with the Fischer - Spassky match explains the trademark mention of 'FIRST USE: 19920901'. The press conference kicking off the match was held on 1 September 1992.

Between the creation of the PCA in 1993, detailed in FIDE/PCA Chronology, and the Unification Match in 2006, the chess world went through a bruising period of uncertainty surrounding the ownership of the World Championship. Has FIDE finally secured the rights or not?

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