Women's World Championship moved to Elista

5/2/2004 – After the turmoils of holding the championship in the crisis region of Ajaria, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has thrown in the towel and moved it to his own Republic of Kalmykia (where he has everything under control). Apparently Ajaria will foot the bill. Read the FIDE announcement and Russian newspaper reports...

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Many female players have been calling us, seeking advice on the perspicacity of attending a world championship in a region where invasion and war seem not unlikely, and where the chances of being kidnapped were substantially higher than zero. We reported on these problems in a special report, and again in Mig Greengards column.

Now FIDE has moved the venue from the "Ajarian Autonomous Republic" to Elista, the capital of the Republic of Kalmykia. Since FIDE President Ilyumzhinov is also the president of the republic, and has built extensive chess facilities, including a "Chess City" in Elista, we can assume that this is a much better choice of venue. Especially since the political situation in Kalmykia seems to have calmed down. Remarkably Ajarian strongman Aslan Abashidze has agreed to pay $700,000 to have the tournament moves out of his republic (see Itar Tass and Civil Georgia reports below).

Incidentally our German colleagues have worked out the route from Batumi to Elista. It is an 802 km journey and takes 12 hour and 55 minutes of pure driving time (one day, four hours and 55 minutes including a sleep-over, as suggested by Microsoft MapPoint). Total cost: € 131.59.

The full FIDE announcement on the change of venue reads:

"The President of Republic of Adjara H.E. Aslan Abashidze has made his personal present for chess and Georgian chess federation by having transferred the World Women Chess Championship 2004 to Elista, Republic of Kalmykia, Russia, further to the request of the FIDE President, President of Kalmykia H.E. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov."

Here is some additional information:

Kalmykia to host Women's World Chess Championship
Tblisi 01.05.2004: On Friday, Ilyumzhinov met Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili in Tbilisi. Later in the day he left for Batumi, the first city of Georgia's autonomy of Adzharia, where he had talks with its leader Aslan Abashidze. Ilyumzhinov proposed transferring the championship from Georgia to Kalmykia to avoid confrontation between Tbilisi and Batumi. He invited Saakashvili to come to Elista for opening the Championship.

Adzharia leader to finance women’s world chess championship
Tblisi 01.05.2004: The leader of the Georgia’s Adzharia autonomy, Aslan Abashidze, will provide financial assistance to the women’s world chess championship. Zurab Azmaiparashvili, who is vice-president of the World Chess Federation (FIDE), said “Abashidze’s financial assistance makes the championship possible, and FIDE will not use punitive sanctions against Georgia”. A winner of the championship will be awarded the Aslan Abashidze Cup, FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov said in Batumi on Saturday. Ilyumzhinov pointed to Abashidze’s great contribution to development of chess.

Chess championship to be held in Kalmykia, not Georgia
Tblisi 01.05.2004: The women's world chess championship will be held in the Russian internal republic of Kalmykia, instead of Georgia, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, president of FIDE and leader of Kalmykia, told the press on Saturday. On April 15, Ilyumzhinov and Abashidze signed an agreement on organizing the chess championship in Batumi in May-June. Immediately after that the Georgian authorities sent a letter to Ilyumzhinov stating that security could not be guaranteed to the participants in the world event in Ajaria.

Russia to Host World Chess Championship instead of Georgia
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi 01.05.2004: Vice-President of the FIDE Zurab Azmaiparashvili said on May 1, Aslan Abashidze will defray the expenses on preparation of the tournament in Elista. “This is Aslan Abashidze’s good will and he will pay over USD 700 thousand. He agreed to pay this sum instead of the Chess Federation,” Zurab Azmaiparashvili said.


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