I will be attending the World Chess Olympiad in Istanbul. However, as the World Chess Olympiad does not start until October 28, I will also be taking a side trip to the Republic of Georgia. I will return to America on November 12, when the Olympiad concludes.
I will be away from the USA from October 28 until November 12, 2000. While I am gone, you will probably not be able to contact me at my regular e-mail address, so please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at email@example.com.
I have attended several World Chess Olympiads. There is no event so exciting in chess. While the news media may focus more on world chess championship matches, such as the current match going on between Kasparov and Kramnik, nothing compares with a chess Olympiad.
Indeed, no other sporting activity of any kind has an event comparable with a World Chess Olympiad. World Cup Football may have more teams, but those teams are never all together in the same place at the same time.
At a World Chess Olympiad, two thousand players and chess officials will be all gathered together under one roof. Almost everybody who is anybody in chess will be there. The electricity created by such a large gathering of chess personalities is tremendous.
The World Chess Federation ("FIDE") has 158 member nations and almost all of them will be sending teams to the World Chess Olympiad. Most countries will send a men's team and a woman's team. A men's team consists of six players. A woman's team consists of four players. Each team will usually have a non-playing captain and there will usually be a delegation leader, for a total of 13 chess players in all.
There will also be chess arbiters and officials and there will be chess politicians and bureaucrats.
The world of chess is currently in a state of tremendous turmoil and this virtually guarantees that exciting events will take place at this World Chess Olympiad. Here are a few items on my personal agenda:
1. I will continue my efforts to have Kirsan Ilyumzhinov thrown out as president of FIDE. I realize that Kirsan wants to remain as head of FIDE, but perhaps there will be a compromise: Kirsan remains as President of FIDE provided that he promises to be a good boy in the future, that he will stop being a dictator and give chess players back their organization and, at the same time, that he will continue to pour large qualities of Mafia money into chess, so that we will all become rich.
If Kirsan is willing to agree to these conditions, then he can stay, but it seems unlikely that he will agree. He will still want to be a dictator.
Another big topic is the Kirsan Ilyumzhinov version of the World Chess Championship, which is scheduled to start in New Delhi, India on November 25. Is the three million dollars needed to run this tournament really there? I hope the answer will become available in Istanbul. I personally do not believe that the money exists.
Even if the money is not guaranteed, will the players play anyway, in the hopes that they might get paid? This is another question. The players will not take kindly to having their checks bounce again, as some checks did last year. Still, many players have indicated that they will play, in spite of the obvious risks.
On the domestic front: The United States will have 13 chess players in Istanbul, plus at least two arbiters that I know of, plus at least four chess political officials and bureaucrats.
The United States Chess Federation is now in even greater turmoil than FIDE. Important events might take place in this area, too.
To those not familiar with recent developments in the USCF, to summarize, a new president was elected on August 14 and since then the following has taken place:
1. Glenn Petersen, who has been editor of Chess Life magazine since October 1990, was removed as editor and kicked upstairs to the newly created position of "Chief Technical Officer", a position he obviously did not want since he had turned down previous offers for him to become USCF Executive Director. As a result, Petersen "resigned" from the USCF, although in reality he was fired.
2. The rating system was changed so that each player is awarded two rating points for each game played. The USCF Ratings Committee, which includes several PhDs in math and statistics, objected vehemently to this. One committee member says that we can no longer call it the Elo System any more, because Professor Elo would have never agreed to such "fiddle points".
3. Tournament Life Announcements, known as TLAs, were more quadrupled in price, which means that small tournament organizers will not be able to advertise in Chess Life magazine any more.
4. Barbara DeMaro, a well liked and well respected member of the USCF staff for the last 20 years, was abruptly fired and told to get out of the office, without any notice.
5. Carol Jarecki, an International Arbiter who will be an official at the World Chess Olympiad, resigned from the USCF Rulebook Committee.
6. Harold Dondis, a respected attorney and one of the most respected personalities in the USCF for at least the last 40 years, wrote an editorial which was published in the Boston Globe critical of the abrupt firing of Barbara DeMaro.
All of these developments were either brought on or supported by the new president, Tim Redman. As a result, almost everybody who supported Tim Redman for president just two months ago has turned against him since he took office.
Apparently, his supporters did not remember that when Redman was last USCF president in 1981-1984, he was regarded at the worst president the USCF ever had. They also failed to heed the warning by Jack Peters, International Chess Master and respected chess columnist for the Los Angeles Times, who had written about Redman: "Don't trust him!"
Tim Redman will be in Istanbul, because he got both the USCF and his own university to pay for his trip (double dipping). Many members of the US delegation will undoubtedly be calling upon Redman to resign.
But that is only the beginning. Nobody can anticipate what might happen at a World Chess Olympiad. For example, at the 1986 Olympiad in Dubai, nobody knew in advance that a resolution would be presented awarding every woman chess player in the world except for Zsuzsa Polgar 100 free rating points, until that resolution was presented and passed before anybody could meaningfully respond.
So, the world of chess can be almost certain that exciting events will be taking place during the next three weeks at the World Chess Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey.
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