Alexei Shirov's letter to The Week in Chess

Shirov Letter on Dubai Grand Prix

Shirov E-Mail dated Sunday 14th April 2002

Dear Mark,
Alexei Shirov
Alexei Shirov

I am glad that you asked me to tell you the story. I would like it to be published both in your website and in your magazine.

In February this year I confirmed my participation in Dubai under the condition that the prize fund would be no lower than what was announced on the FIDE website on 7th of February (480 thousand USD minus 10% of the FIDE tax). I did not sign any contract with FIDE and neither I was sure that I would take part in more FIDE Grand Prix events. However my confirmation was accepted by FIDE and on 2nd of April at the late evening I arrived in Dubai. The tournament was to start on 3rd at 2PM although some matches including mine would start at 6PM.

As I arrived late, I even missed the players' meeting but at the same evening Zurab Azmaiparashvili (who is funnily both an elite player and a FIDE man) told me that Bareev would probably withdraw because the prize fund was reduced to 120 thousand. I immediately said that I would do the same. On the next morning I made a written protest, then Khalifman presented his one and Leko verbally joined us while his manager wrote his protest to FIDE.

In fact Leko was the only one of us who had a real contract that actually stated even a bigger prize fund - 500.000$.

Khalifman and Leko had to play at 2PM but when the matches started we three were asked to talk to Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. He explained us that Octagon did a bad job failing to accomplish the players' conditions and the tournament was not to take place with the previously announced prize fund. In search for the last moment solution Ilyumzhinov suggested that he would increase the prize fund to 240 thousand (by the way at the end the FIDE tax was not taken) and not deal with Octagon in future.

As I have always appreciated Ilyumzhinov' involvement in sponsoring chess, I decided to play in Dubai as well as other players did. I believe that Ilyumzhinov deserves a better working team to deal with and the constact critics against FIDE shouldn't be always directed to him.

On the last note I would like to state that I strongly suspect that some players did not protest as they might have had separate agreements about their participation in Dubai and even worse they might have known about the prize fund situation beforehand. The situation in the World elite professional chess has become even more chaotic.

Alexei Shirov

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