Singapore Chess Federation: this is no ban

2/22/2017 – We recently reported that the "golden couple" GM Zhang Zhong and WGM Li Ruofan, Singapore's top players, had been "banned" from participating in the the forthcoming Asian Zonal 3.3, because they showed "insufficient involvement in the local chess life." The Association of Chess Professionals protested, and now the Singapore Chess Federation has replied with the following letter.

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Dear Sir,

We wish to reply to the open letter by ACP's GM Emil Sutovsky regarding GM Zhang Zhong and IM Li Ruofan.

First, there is no “ban” on GM Zhang Zhong by the Singapore Chess Federation (the “Federation”). GM Zhang was simply not selected and endorsed by the Federation to take part in the Zonal. Clearly, ACP’s understanding of the ban differs from ours. To deem someone as banned from the Zonal simply because their national federations did not send them to take part seems dubious. To mis-characterise the issue in this manner is unproductive and risks creating misunderstanding

Second, the Zonal invitation was expressly extended to all federations and not individuals. Clearly no individual player can demand participation in a Zonal as of right.

Third, your readers should be made aware that GM Zhang was not sent by his Federation to take part in the Zonal for a number of reasons. He had not complied to the Federation’s request to ratify the Federation’s Players Agreement despite multiple opportunities provided. Every other player for Singapore had signed it. No exception should be made for him merely because he happens to be the top-rated player.

In the World Rapid Championships in Qatar, players were asked to reply that they had understood the Rules and Regulations of the event before proceeding to register online. One of the rules for their participation was that applications for the event could only be made by the federation. Section 3.3 of the Regulations for the FIDE Open World Blitz Championship 2016 & FIDE Open World Rapid Championship 2016 states: "Applications have to be sent by the National Federation only". Quite evidently, GM Zhang was in breach of that rule.

In spite of these issues, we had thereafter invited GM Zhang to meet us in the presence of the Singapore sports authority to iron out any differences. Sadly this option was not taken up. As for IM Li, she is GM Zhang’s wife and appears to have taken a position in support of her husband.

All players representing their countries are bound by rules and regulations set by the local federation and endorsed by the local sports authorities. Non-compliance to these regulations have to be dealt with or they would set a negative precedent which in turn undermines the authority of the federation to act.

As this matter rests solely between the Singapore Chess Federation and our players, we request that it be resolved between us without external intervention. Our doors remain open.

Yours sincerely,
John Wong
VP Singapore Chess Federation

Youth tournament staged by the Singapore Chess Federation

Chinese-born Singaporean GM Zhang Zhong, twice Chinese champion and the 2005 Asian champion, at the Malaysian Chess Festival 2014. Zhang is married to ...

... Chinese-Singaporean chess player IM and WGM Li Ruofan (at the 2008 5th Dato’ Arthur Tan Open)

Read this “Bisik-Bisik” conversation with Edwin Lam Choong Wai in 2008 with the golden couple from China GM Zhang Zhong and WGM Li Ruofan. As if a match made in heaven, both of them were born in 1978 and share the same Chinese astronomical sign of the Horse. And, interestingly, they also share the same passion for the game of chess.

The Tagaytay, Philippines, Asian Zonal 3.3 takes place from February 24 to March 6, 2017.


Topics Asia
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Bright Knight Bright Knight 2/24/2017 01:03
Very simply, special talents deserve some special privileges. Singapore has no other player even remotely close to 2600. A player like this should not tow the same line as a 2100, just as a CEO should have a much prettier office (and prettier secretary) than the janitorial supervisor.
Philip Feeley Philip Feeley 2/23/2017 05:11
"applications for the event could only be made by the federation". Then how was he allowed to participate? Sounds bogus to me.
David Sprenkle David Sprenkle 2/22/2017 10:27
Another case of a national federation thinking the players should serve them, rather than the other way around. Very sad.
Aighearach Aighearach 2/22/2017 08:00
Sounds like a ban to me! Tomato/tomato.

They'd do better to leave out the "it isn't a ban and we don't know what that word means anyways" routine and just stick to the stuff about the required player agreement.

I'm not sure they considered how much they lose for saying the best player that they have isn't good enough to represent them. Being from Singapore means that you can't get as far in the world as if you were from China. It is a new concept for them to be so far below everybody else, they used to be a place that gave a positive bonus to lucky citizens. Now even being the best isn't enough, you have to be the best and also move to another country.
Frits Fritschy Frits Fritschy 2/22/2017 06:34
This may be quite important as a local issue, but what is the international angle to this story?
basler88 basler88 2/22/2017 05:34
bergamot - good question!!
begamot begamot 2/22/2017 05:14
Where can one read the "Federation's players agreement"?
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