The 7th Dubai Open Chess Championship started without top seed Vladimir Akopian who, reports said, had unfortunately cancelled his participation. The Armenian News Network Groong is now suggesting that Akopian had been arrested at Dubai International airport. Apparently he had been confused with another Vladimir Hakobian (the Armenian orthography for Akopian). This one is wanted by Interpol on suspicion of a murder.
The Armenian Embassy intervened on Akopian's behalf, with the Interpol agencies in both countries, Armenia and UAE, communicating with each other. The grandmaster was released, but his passport was held back by the Dubai police till all circumstances are completely clarified.
Addendum: Nigel Short informs us that the top Armenian player's name is correctly rendered Vladimir Hakobyan (not Hakobian, and certainly not Akopian). "I know," writes Nigel, "because I have seen his passport and have discussed the matter with him. Incidentally perhaps ChessBase ought to change the spelling in the database?" And possibly Interpol in their most-wanted list?
And Jacob Portukalian of Vincennes, IN writes: "GM Hakobyan's last name being rendered as Akopian is due to Russian butchering of foreign names in transcriptions. In Eastern Armenian the name Hakobyan is pronounced just like that, with the stress on the final syllable. But in Russian, since they have no "h" sound, Armenian names are often transcribed with the sound simply missing (same as in Turkish). Often, this will then carry over into the Latinized transcription as well. Also, as a side note, in Western Armenian the same name would be Hagopian – both having the same Armenian spelling. This could also add to the confusion.
Bobby Fischer has recruited La Jolla attorney Richard Vattuone to represent him in a lawsuit the chess master filed against the United States on March 23 in U.S. District Court, claiming his passport was illegally revoked and that the ensuing nine-month detention in Japan amounted to kidnapping. Fisher is ready to file a $200 million claim against the United States if his charges aren't settled. "The next step is to wait to see what the state department does to the $200 million claim," Vattuone said. "I would expect to hear from them within one or two months. "We want him to be declared an Icelandic citizen. We have a request that the court find the state department violated its own regulations and the U.S. Constitution." [Yahoo news]
Former chess world champion and chairman of the liberal-oriented group Committee 2008: Free Choice, Garry Kasparov, has announced his plans to set up a political party of his own, jointly with State Duma deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov, RIA-Novosti news agency reported. “Volodya [Vladimir Ryzhkov] and I believe that we will not fight any other party but will focus on creating our own project and will compete for votes ourselves,” Kasparov told a news conference following a regular session of Committee 2008. [Mosnews report]. "If they attract new people and win the respect of society, this will benefit everyone," said Sergei Ivanenko, deputy chairman of Yabloko. [Novosti report].
In a sign that one of the most prominent rivalries in modern chess has not abated, former world chess champion Anatoly Karpov criticized yesterday the recent decision by his onetime nemesis Garry Kasparov, the world's top-ranked player, to retire from professional chess and instead devote his energy to the effort to unseat Russian President Vladimir V. Putin. Karpov, 53, said he could understand why Kasparov, 41, decided to retire, saying that Kasparov was probably finding it increasingly challenging to defend his primacy against younger players. "I think he realized that it is quite hard to continue to play successfully. At the last tournament, the field was difficult for him. He realizes it's probably time to stop," said Karpov, now ranked 29th in the world. "With the style he plays, he has to put a lot of energy into the game."
Karpov defended the current Russian leadership: "In general, I believe Putin has [done] the necessary things to keep Russia as one country. Putin needs strong moves to keep the country as one. There is some criticism that he is centralizing power, but in Russia, if you don't centralize power, you have the risk of losing the country." Karpov also spoke out on Fischer: "I feel pity for him and his situation. I don't think it's the right attitude toward one of the most famous and popular Americans in the world," he said. "He meant so much for the country and the glory of the country. It's strange for [the global chess community] to have the relations so bad. I hope the relations can improve." [Baltimore Sun]
The long running feud in Indian chess over alleged bungling of funds has been resolved with the intervention of the game's governing world body, a top official of the All India Chess Federation (AICF) said Monday. "We are very happy that the matter has finally been resolved and the controversy has ended after the inquiry (by the Federation Internationale Des Echecs)," AICF secretary D.V. Sundar told reporters here. Sundar distributed copies of a letter written by FIDE's continental president for Asia, Khalifa Mohamad Al-Hitmi, recognising the AICF headed by president N. Srinivasan and secretary Sundar. "The official recognition by FIDE puts a lid on anyone else's claims," Sundar said, referring to the row with Koya. "In future, all matters concerning Indian chess should be dealt with D.V. Sundar, honorary secretary of the All India Chess Federation," wrote Al-Hitmi in his two-page letter dated March 30, 2005. Koya could not be reached for comments on his mobile phone. [Express News Line]
The Beatty High School Chess Club announced its solidarity with an abstinence education initiative, making it the only group apart from the Southern Nevada World of Warcraft Society Beatty Chapter to formally declare support for the controversial program. "We are all in agreement that the abstinence education program is a great way to teach students sexual responsibility," said Sheldon Elmquist, 17, Chess Club vice president. Sheldon added that sex education would now improve the club's average GPA by almost half a point. "Students at Beatty High really need to know that the best kind of orgasm you can experience in high school is a Scholar's Mate on F7 against North Las Vegas Union in 31 seconds...boo-yah!" said Chess Club member Jordan Kliner, 16. [Glossy News (satire)]