Monday, 3 May 2010

Florencio Campomanes (Former FIDE President) Dies Aged 83 Years (3 May, 2010) R.I.P.

ALCHEssMIST was sad to hear the news that Florencio Campomanes (1927-2010), Filipino former FIDE President, has died today in Baguio City (Philippines) at the age of 83 years from prostate cancer.

Campomanes was an extremely adept chess politician, who did much for world chess during his time as FIDE President (1982-1995); particularly those less wealthy nations. Approximately 50 new nations joined FIDE during his stewardship.

Bobby Fischer counted him as friend. In 1973, after Bobby Fischer had beaten Boris Spassky for the world chess championship, he returned to Manila at the invitation of Campomanes to make the ceremonial first moves that opened the first Philippine International Chess Tournament. Up to that time, it was the only foreign trip that Fischer had taken following his world championship win. It is said that when foreign chess writers asked Bobby why he chose to travel only to Manila, he replied ‘‘I was here in 1967 when I was not yet the world champion, but they treated me like one.”. Photos of the visit to the Philippines in 1973 (including the picture of Campomanes to the right) are shown in this Bobby Fischer tribute video by nirocal.

The last time Campomanes saw & talked with Bobby Fischer was in October 1981, when Campo made one last attempt at bringing Fischer back to active chess competition. According to Campo, ‘‘It was in San Francscio. I had spent six years trying to get him back to play. When I finally gave up, we shook hands and said goodbye. That was it,”. Interestingly, at the time of this meeting in 1981, Bobby Fischer still owed Campomanes US$3,000. In 2006, out of the blue, Bobby Fischer sent a payment to him settling this debt, reaffirming Campomanes belief, "that Bobby Fischer was a very honest man,”.

As a young man Florencio Campomanes was one of the Philippines' first Fulbright Scholars, studying for an M.A. (Browns University) followed by a Doctorate (Georgetown University) in the United States.

My favourite quote about Campo comes from a woman associated with a Caribbean chess team:
“There are three types of men whom women don’t like – Santa Claus, Superman and Campomanes.”
“Santa Claus comes only once a year. Superman is too fast – slam, bang, thank you ma’am. And Campo – once he’s in, you can’t get him out.”

Image of Florencio Campomanes in 1973 from video by nirocal.

Baguio - Bobby Fischer - Filipino - Florencio Campomanes - Fulbright Scholar - Philippines - R.I.P.