MANILA, Philippines – Asian Chess Federation (ACF) deputy vice president Casto “Toti” Abundo will run for the post of secretary general of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) under the ticket of incumbent president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who is seeking a sixth straight term as head of the world chess body.
A protégé and confidante of the late FIDE president Florencio Campomanes, the 63-year-old Abundo will be opposing current FIDE secretary general Ignatius Leong of Singapore, who has gone over to Ilyumzhinov’s rival, former world champion Gary Kasparov.
“Kirsan invited me to run under his ticket, so I graciously accepted his offer,” Abundo said. “I am very active in Asia so I will be in his group as the representative of Asia.”
With Abundo as his FIDE executive director and trusted ally from 1982 to 1995, Campomanes is credited for his aggressive promotion of chess that led to the phenomenal growth of the sport. FIDE now boasts 158 member federations.
The FIDE polls are scheduled in August next year in Tromso, Norway, coinciding with the World Chess Olympiad.
As a top official of the ACF, Abundo pointed to the 12 international chess tournaments that he has brought to country, including this year’s Manny Pacquiao Cup, the Asian Zonals and the just-concluded Asian Cities chessfest won by host Tagaytay.
Abundo also cited the accomplishments of Ilyumzhinov in boosting Philippines chess, such as organizing the Campomanes Memorial international tournament in tribute to the late Filipino FIDE head.
“As far as what is good for the Philippine chess, everybody knows that the Philippine chess is first in my heart,” Abundo said. “If I had the position as FIDE secretary general, then I can even bring world events (to the country) and not only Asian championships.
“I am banking on the entire Philippine chess community in supporting my candidacy.”
He and Asia’s first Grandmaster, Eugene Torre, recently paid a courtesy call on Philippine Sports Commission Richie Garcia, who whole-heartedly endorsed Abundo’s candidacy.
“Of course, I support Abundo’s candidacy. I think it is about time we have somebody else in FIDE,” Garcia said. “It is always an honor whenever we have a Filipino representing us in an international federation. I wish Toti all the luck.”
Abundo was upset that Leong had defected to the Kasparov camp, considering what the FIDE president had done for him.
“For the past 10 years, Leong has used the FIDE office with Kirsan’s support in visiting all the Asian cities,” he noted. “It is unfair that he now leaves the womb that created him.”
During the FIDE general assembly held last October 6 in Talinn, Estonia, Abundo publicly criticized Leong “for sitting beside Ilyumzhinov on the presidential table after openly betraying the incumbent by declaring his allegiance to the other side. It was very unethical. Even Kasparov’s supporters said this was very wrong.”
“I (also) said that it was very wrong for the other side to start campaigning this early. FIDE rules says that you must declare three months before the election. To do so one year ahead is very disruptive,” he stressed.