FIDE General Assembly Debates

by Ismail Sloan

SALONIKA - NOVEMBER 1988 - At the second day of meetings of the FIDE General Assembly it was reconfirmed that the 1990 World Chess Olympiad will be held in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia. In addition, the 1992 Olympiad will be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

After an impassioned speech by Narcisco Rabell Mendez of Puerto Rico, it was agreed that the 1992 Olympics will not be held in November as usual, but rather will start on exactly October 12, 1992, which is exactly the date of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus.

Mr. Rabell pointed out Columbus landed in Puerto Rico in the year 1492 and that this, of course, was one of the great events in world history. There will be many events held in Puerto Rico in 1992 to commemorate this 500th anniversary and the World Chess Olympiad will be one of those events. Mr. Rabell insisted that it is a matter of great importance that the chess Olympiad start on exactly October 12th because of the importance of that date.

There was major disagreement regarding the next item on the agenda, which was the bid by Singapore to hold the Olympiad in Singapore in either 1994 or 1996. Makropoulos of Greece pointed out that in 1982, FIDE had agreed to hold the Olympiad in Greece every four years, in perpetuity thereafter. Therefore, the Olympiad has been held in Thessaloniki in 1984 and now in 1988. It was also supposed to be held in Greece in 1992, but at the urgent request of the Puerto Rican Chess Federation, the Government of Greece agreed to hold it in 1994 rather than 1992. Greece will also be hosting the Olympiad in 1996, to
coincide with the Golden Sports Olympiad which will be held in Athens in 1996. Makropoulos stated that therefore it was absolutely impossible to consider holding the Olympiad in Singapore in either 1994 or 1996, as the Olympiad must be held in Greece in both of those years.

After that, there were a series of speakers, starting with Vidot of Seychelles, who expressed the view that the Greek government should be approached and diplomatically requested to give up the 1994 Olympiad in favor of Singapore. Among many others who spoke on this issue was Divinsky of Canada.

No doubt on everybody's mind was the fact that during this Olympiad, Thessaloniki has been cold and rainy plus the fact that there are really no luxury or tourist class hotels available. The general conditions have been much worse than that experienced in Dubai two years ago and even worse than that here in Thessaloniki four years ago. Almost everybody would prefer to be in a sunny place like Singapore right now. Also, according to the present schedule, the Olympiad will not merely be held in Thessaloniki in 1994 and 1996, but also in the year 2000 and 2004, etc. Almost nobody outside of Greece seemed happy with this arrangement. However, in 1982, when FIDE agreed to this, it was in severe financial difficulty and was having trouble gaining even one bid for 1984. Greece therefore bailed FIDE out of a difficult situation by offering a permanent site for the chess Olympics.

Paladino of Italy stated that we should remember the generosity of Greece when times were difficult and therefore should not abandon them now that many nations in the world are interested in hosting the Olympics. Campomanes seemed to express the view that once an Olympiad has been awarded, that award cannot legally be rescinded.

In conclusion, Campomanes adopted a proposal by Ghobash of the U.A.E. that it should be established whether the bid of Singapore is really a firm bid and, if so, the Greek government should again be approached diplomatically. However, at the conclusion of the discussion, Campomanes again stated that the award to Greece of the 1994 and 1996 Olympiads still stands, leaving the issue somewhat unsatisfactorily resolved in the opinion of many.

The second day of general assembly meetings provided a further example of the skill of Campomanes in resolving difficult issues with a relative minimum of acrimonious debate. In general, Campomanes preferred to defer until some future date the resolution of any issue on which there was wide disagreement. For example, the current plan for holding the next interzonal calls for a Swiss system tournament of 64 players. However, Hungary objected to a Swiss system interzonal. On the other hand, Polugaevsky gave a an excellent speech, in which he pleaded for an interzonal of 100 players of which 36 be selected by rating. This is a potentially hot issue, as certain federations have reason to fear losing control of their players. For example, the Soviet Union would be required to send a large number of their players and would have no choice in their selection.

However, no vote was taken. Campomanes said, without objection, that the current so-called "Schultz plan" was for 64 players, but the matter would be left open for further discussion before the next interzonal is held in 1990.

Sir Ronald Scott, a representative of the Hillary Commission of New Zealand, gave a rousing speech in which he requested that the 1990 World Championship match be awarded to New Zealand. The year 1990 is the 150th anniversary of the settling of New Zealand in 1840. Paladino of Italy stated that Palermo, Sicily also wants to hold the 1990 World Championship match. Paladino requested that there be a general refrain from jokes about the Mafia holding the match, perhaps in view of the recent public utterance by Kasparov, who stated: "They are like the godfathers in the Mafia.....That's how it is in FIDE."

On the previous day, a French representative was allowed to speak at length in the French language in favor of a French proposal that Quebec be granted membership in FIDE. Although this proposal was regarded as ridiculous by almost everyone present, it was decided that France could not legally be prevented from presenting this proposal to the General Assembly. There were, however, finally only three votes in favor of this proposal.

There was also a long discussion regarding a request by Greece that the FIDE headquarters be moved from Lucerne, Switzerland to Greece. Makropoulos, who speaks fluent English, decided to address the General Assembly in the Greek language regarding this proposal. Perhaps this was done to appease the local audience. It is generally believed that Campomanes is in the midst of secret negotiations to move the FIDE headquarters to Greece on condition that Greece donate a plot of land or even a building as the permanent home of FIDE.

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