Problems in Paradise continue

by ChessBase
7/7/2003 – Almost a month ago, during the 4th European Championships in Istanbul, Turkey, 187 participants published a protest letter, threatening to boycott the next event. On the same day the President of Turkish chess federation replied forcefully to that letter. Now the players strike back with a second open letter and by forming an Initiative Group. More...

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Background information
  • Problems in Paradise
    187 participants sign a letter of protest to the President of the European Chess Union and threatened to boycott the next event. Nigel Short puts it into perspective.

  • 'Another day for you and me in Paradise'
    Open Letter to Chess Players and Media by the President of Turkish Chess Federation Ali Nihat Yazici.

Press Release

Initiative Group for the creation of an Association of Chess Players

"Injustice done to one is a threat to all." (Montesquieu)

Dear friends,

For the second time, the President of the Turkish Chess Federation (TCF), Mr. Yazici, gives a very scrupulous answer to the open letters from the participants of the individual European championships.

(Open letter to chess players and media (11.6.03) - see also - Some Answers to Open Letter of GM Igor Glek by Ali Nihat Yazici (13th May 2003).

For our part, we, members of the initiative group for the creation of an Association of Chess Players, also want to explain to the chess society our view on the problems and the current situation in the chess world.

That is,

1) We are surprised that both answers were received from the President of the TCF, and not from the direction of the European Chess Union (ECU). For years and years, the direction of the ECU and its president B. Kutin have been ignoring chess players' suggestions to change some of the conditions of the European championships - just remember the open letters signed by a large number of leading chess players in Ohrid (men European championship 2001) and Varna (women European championship 2002), which remained unanswered. We consider such an attitude as extremely disrespectful. Hence the following question: to what extent does the ECU in its current form, fulfill the tasks it was assigned when set up, and to what extent do chess players need this structure?

In the unique and short reply to the open letters, which was received from the general secretary of the ECU, H. Metzing, it is mentioned that the rules of the European championship (including the fact whether the organizers have the right to demand the participants to be accommodated in a given hotel) are defined in the tournament rules, unanimously approved by all the European chess federations. Of course, chess players must obtain from their federations the best protection of their interests. Unfortunately, national federations themselves are not always ready to support their players.
This is the reason why, realizing it was desperately needed to change the status of professional chess player, we took the decision, at a meeting of participants of the individual European championships in Istanbul on 9 June 2003, to create the Association of Chess Players.

We hope that chess players from other continents will support our initiative.

2) And now, with regards to the specific remarks by the President of the ECU, as exposed in his last letter.

As stated previously, the venue of the tournament, its extended duration, and the financial aspects left much to be desired, which in the end arose a mass protest from the participants.

Here are the main points on which our position dramatically differs from that of the President of the TCF:

Financial aspects

When mentioning the prize fund - 192,000 USD for men and 44,000 USD for women, Mr. Yazici apparently forgets that the ECU does not provide with the whole amount. The first letter mentions other figures - 120,000 USD and 35,000 respectively. (Prize Fund: 120,000 + 35,000 = 155,000 USD (TCF Contribution)

Amusing arithmetic: let's calculate how much the participants and accompanying persons paid for their accommodation:
320 participants (paying 65 or 80 USD per day, multiplied by 14 or 17 days), minus 26 Turkish players, minus one European champion and one member of the ECU Council (Z.Azmaiparashvili), plus over 20,000 USD of tournament fees (65 Euros, i.e. 75 USD) and a minimum of 30,000 USD of extra charges (drinks, bowling, etc.), make obviously a total of about 400,000 USD.

Let's deduct 40,500 USD of tournament expenses (as per the President of the TCF) and a Prize Fund of 155,000 USD (TCF Contribution) = 195,500 USD.

In the end, over 200,000 USD are left to the hotel and organizers. Not bad, considering the low wages of the hotel staff. And if you add 90,000 USD (Mr. Yazici: additional contribution by sponsors, federation, etc.), you get closer to 300,000 USD... These figures, of course, do not mean to be absolutely exact, but they give an idea of the scale!

According to calculations, it turns out that the main sponsors of the championship were the players themselves. So let's be consistent: let's not require anything more from the players - sponsors!

  • On arrival, it was asked to pay immediately for 17 days! Although the Championship Rules do not mention a number of nights:

10. Accommodation
The organizers offer accommodation in Marine Princess Hotel (5 stars- Full Board) in Istanbul, Silivri (official hotel).
According to the ECU Tournament Rules 2002 all the participants have to accommodate at the hotel offered by the organizers...

We also did not find in the Regulations for (open) individual European chess championships a point stating that the participants are required to live in one particular hotel! On the contrary, there is an article stating that:

5. The nominated players pay a significantly lower entry fee than the other players and the rates for accommodation for the nominated players must be lower than for other players. The entry fee can be tiered so that higher rated players pay less than players with lower ratings. Juniors (players under 20) shall have a lower entry fee (at least 40 percent discount) than the older players with the same rating.

  • There was not a price list in the hotel. For a hotel of this level, a price of 80 USD is way too high. Especially since it was not "all inclusive".

Let's compare the points of view:

Mr. Yazici: "…The quality of organisation in this tournament cannot be compared with the quality of previous tournaments. We have offered during these two tournaments: 5 star Hotel rooms..."

The hotel obviously did not meet the standard level of 5 star hotels. The service was unacceptable: the majority of the staff did not speak English, participants were requested to leave deposits for all services, the phone lines were disastrous. After repeated arguments with the security, we eventually obtained, after a few days, the right to bring from outside food or drinks that we could not find in the hotel shops. Also, there were cases of theft in the rooms, while players were asleep...

  • In Warsaw in 2002, the hotel charge was lowered (Mariott is a famous and comfortable hotel). In Turkey, it was increased...

3) The main positive result of the latest European championship, in our view, is that chess players finally managed to take a united stand. This is particularly important in the context of pessimism and disappointment that has recently prevailed among professional chess players, especially after the Prague agreements came to a standstill.

The initiative group is currently working on the status of a professional chess organization. We invite all chess professionals and amateurs to come up with concrete suggestions concerning the status and activity of the future Association. We are calling chess players to get together to create a truly democratic chess organization. This will not be easy, but there is no alternative.

Over the past some weeks, we have received numerous support letters and suggestions, from chess players and some national federations. We will be grateful for any kind of help, especially in this first stage.

Initiative group for the creation of an Association of Chess Players
V. Bologan, D. Fridman, I. Glek, A. Kharlov, M. Krasenkov, J. Lautier, Y. Pelletier, A. Skripchenko, P. Tregubov

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