Seniors: "The bill, please!"

by André Schulz
7/19/2016 – In November, the Chess World Championships for seniors 50+ and 65+ will take place in Marienbad. However, there are already complaints about the conditions. The participants, for example, are only allowed to stay in hotels the organisers have a contract with - for prices that some participants consider excessive. Vlastimil Hort and Bodo Schmidt voice the protest and ask: "Are we living in Absurdistan...?"

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Disagreements about fees for the participation in the World Championship for Seniors

The FIDE World Championship for Seniors will be played from 18th November to 1st December. Host is the Czech Chess Federation, which asked the AVE-Kontakt company in Pardubice to organise the tournament. AVE-Kontakt is a well-known  company that has already organised a lot of tournaments in Czechia, particularly in Pardubice. The World Championship for Seniors 2016 takes place in Marienbad (Marianske Lazne) and the titles to win (+65 and +50, men and women) are official FIDE-titles.

In the past the European Junior and World Championships have been criticised as being a lucrative business for those who took part in organising them. The seniors too, gained the impression, that the organisers see them als willing donators.

For the upcoming World Championship the seniors are asked to pay a fee of 300 Euros (see regulations) and are obliged to stay for a rate of 70 Euros per night  in one of the official hotels during the tournament (11 nights).

On behalf of a number of chess friends - among them GM Vlastimil Hort - who would have liked to take part in the World Senior Championship but who consider the demanded fees and rates for the rooms as far too excessive, Bodo Schmidt turned to the organiser Dr. Jan Mazuch and openly calculated that if 200 players start in the 65+ tournament the organisers would receive 50,000 Euros more through fees and hotel rates than they would get with the customary hotel rates in Marienbad at that time of the year. The prize-money, however, is only 6,500 Euros.

In his reply Jan Mazuch explains that the term "Booking Fee" (150,- Euro) might be misunderstood and that the "booking fee" was actually intended as advance payment. He also pointed out that the organisation of World Championships entailed many financial commitments.

Bodo Schmidt and his supporters have not accepted this explanation and now refrain from taking part in the World Championship.

Vlastimil Hort said the following:

Comment about the World Senior Championship in Marienbad (Czechia)
from 18th November to 1st December 2016

… and if you do not stay in one of the hotels the organisers determined you are not allowed to take part in the tournament…

What happened - are we already living in „Absurdistan“?

What does this mean for chess fans who cannot afford a hotel and usually stay privately? Is the EU-principle of „chess equality“ in this case still guaranteed?

It is known that the FIDE in junior and senior tournaments likes to cash in first and only then gives the organisers (who don't have to worry about coming off badly) the green light - a paradise for both sides!
I know the difficult situation of hotel business in Marienbad during winter time, and I know that all hotel directors are grateful for every guest - particularly so in November - and are thus very flexible with their rates.

The statement of Dr. Mazuch is definitely true for the peak season (Spring and Summer), but in our case does not concur to the facts. Moreover, the conditions he offers for the tournament (regulations) are very moderate and the prize-money is not attractive.

I advertised this tournament quite a lot but then I read the tournament invitation and was appalled. There was no word in the inviation that the hotel booking fee would be accounted for and had to be seen as an advance payment!

Here, I would like to quote the argument of Mr Bodo Schmidt: „If you book – let´s say – 250 rooms, you must not pay more than 50 Euro for a room. About 250 players will surely take part in 65 plus. In this way you earn 250 x 20 Euro x 11 days = 55.000 Euro only with 65 plus!“ The bill, please!

Dear seniors, there are so many other and better offers and opportunities to enjoy our passion … me and my chess friends cannot accept this self-service-regulations and we will not take part at this event.


IGM Vlastimil Hort



Letter to Dr. Jan Mazuch


An AVE-Kontakt
Dr. Jan Mazuch



Answer by Dr. Jan Mazuch

Mr. Bodo Schmidt

Dear Mr. Schmidt,

Thank you for your letter.
First of all I would like to clerify the term „hotel booking“. It does not mean the fee for arrangement of accommodation but the advance payment for accommodation. Participants pay the final price after their arrival reduced by this sum. This term was used in previous regulations as well.

The only fee for organizers is 80 EUR registration fee. We must pay VAT 21% from this sum.

I would like to quote the answer of Mr. Nigel Freeman, FIDE Executive Director to similar questions regarding the obligation to be accommodated in one of official hotels:

„1. The choice of Organisers depends on who is willing to bid for the events. We ask for bids two years in advance and we inspect those who bid. Obviously when making the bids, the bidders negotiate with hotels and will normally have to guarantee the hotels a certain number of rooms before getting a reasonable quote. Often the hotel(s) concerned are part sponsors of the event. Obviously two years later most hotels are willing to give lower quotes to individual tourists if they have spare rooms, but it is unlikely that any bid would be successful if they stated there is no hotel and it was up to the players to find their own.

2. The prices are reasonable at the time of the bid and often Organisers offer a choice of hotel to cover various player's pockets.

3. Knowing that Seniors have to pay for the hotels themselves, when checking bids, the hotels on offer are a major deciding choice when it comesto accepting a bid. We can only deal with those who bid. Having guaranteed the rooms, the Organisers obviously must ensure that they fulfil the guarantees to the best of their ability.“ I am sure that our prices in our regulations are lower than usual prices in these hotels in the same period of the year.
We organize many open events in which players are not obliged to be accommodated in hotels from our offer but this is the World Championship with many special obligations for us as organizers and we must follow FIDE Tournament Rules. We must for example cover stay of all medalists from the last World and Continental Championships in all 4 categories. In the last championship in Italy it was about 40 single rooms.
Thank you for your understanding.

With best regards

Dr. Jan Mazuch, Director of WSCC 2016





Answer by Viktor Novotny, President of the Czech Chess Federation

Sehr geehrter Herr Schmidt,

I am sorry, that I couldn’t help you more, only by getting the explanation bellow. Our federation has a contract with Mr. Mazuch’s company, that he has to organise the event according to all the regulations. This is a FIDE event and the obligation to stay in the official hotel is far from new, the reasons are explained by N. Freeman.

FIDE events have many other high costs not mentioned yet (bidding procedure, FIDE officials, Appealing Comitees etc.) that must be counted in the budget as well. And unfortunatelly, no support from the state for senior events is possible, so the organizer’s task to cover all the expenses is not an easy one. The costs for participation in these events are therefore usually higher than for a standard open tournament and nothing can be done with that, till the FIDE regulations and organizers’ duties remain the same.

I’d be glad, if you and your friends would consider to change the booking and would come to Marienbad anyway. I can promise an excellent level of tournament organisation by Mr. Mazuch’s experenced team, and of course, splendid Czech beer!

Please say hallo from me to Vlastimil Hort, when you’ll see him.

Mit freundlichen Grüssen

Viktor Novotný
Předseda Šachového svazu České republiky, z.s.


Reply of Bodo Schmidt to the reply letters

Dr. Jan Mazuch

My Writing from 09.06.2016
Your Writing from 21.06.2016

Dear Mr. Dr. Mazuch,

It is okay that the hotel-booking fee is a prepayment and not a fee. Your specified reasons why the accommodation in a chosen hotel amount to a fixed price – in this case 70,00 EUR/night – cannot convince me. Every player must be free in choosing his accommodation. Possible additional costs for the organization can be compensated by an increase of the start fee. It is well-known, that during wintertime most hotels in Marienbad are vacant. That's the reason why you can get low priced accommodations without difficulties.

If you book – let's say – 250 rooms, you must not pay more than 50,00 EUR for a room. About 250 players will surely take part in 65+. In this way you earn 250 x 20 EUR x 11 days = 55.000 EUR only with 65+.

Mr. Dr. Novotny writes that this procedure is common for events of FIDE. That does not prove its correctness.

Me and my chess friends cannot accept this self-service regulation.

We will not take part in the event.

Yours sincerely
Bodo Schmidt



Extract from the regulations as they are deposited at the FIDE:

FIDE entry fee: Each player has to pay 70 EUR as FIDE entry fee.

Registration fee: Each player has to pay 80 EUR as registration fee for the event. It includes registration and accreditation.
FIDE entry fee and registration fee together with the payment for the hotel booking must be paid simultaneously with the application. The payment must be made by bank transfer. Invited players or their federations will also pay.
The registration period ends on 30th September 2016, after that the FIDE entry fee is 140 EUR.

All players are obliged to be accommodated in one of the official hotels through the organizer.

Access to playing areas, venues and the hotel will be allowed only to people accredited by the organizer.

In addition to the written application, a personal registration before the beginning of the tournament is necessary. This will be done on 18th November, in the playing venue between 12.00 and 22.00. Players who are not registered cannot be included in the drawing of lots and entry fees will be forfeited.

At the time of registration the amount of 300 EUR (80 EUR registration fee + 70 EUR FIDE entry fee + 150 EUR hotel booking) must be transferred (free of bank charge) to the following bank account:

Players with personal rights must pay only FIDE entry fee and registration fee (150 EUR together).
Accompanying people must pay only the hotel booking (150 EUR).


Regulations (FIDE)...

Regulations and list of hotels (Organiser)...

World Senior Chess Championship 2016...  



André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.
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Chessspawnvt Chessspawnvt 7/21/2016 11:05
I have played in several of Bill Goitchber's tournaments in New England over the past few years. One can certainly find a less expensive room that offered by the chess rate of the hosting hotel that Bill uses. If you do, and many do, you still pay the same entry fee for your class in the competition. I have usually stayed at the hosting hotel on the chess rate simply because of the convenience of having a room nearby to rest and relax in after games. The hotels that Bill uses also, in my experience, have decent restaurants and amenities such as swimming pools, health clubs and saunas. That said, there is no excuse for what is being done by the organizers in this instance. Shame on them and a pox on FIDE.
eltollo eltollo 7/20/2016 03:09
In the Gibraltar tournament (at least a few years ago), participants not playing in the hotel hosting the tournament
paid a considerable higher participation fee. Or, stated more positively, participants residing in the tournament hotel received a considerable reduction on the participation fee. Not very sympathetic maybe, but much better than the situation in Marienbad.
TheUsualSuspect TheUsualSuspect 7/20/2016 05:19
Disgraceful conduct by the Czech Chess Federation. Another example of corruption in chess, endorsed by FIDE. There is absolutely no reason why a player shouldn't be able to stay in accommodation of their own choosing.
Rama Rama 7/20/2016 01:25
You do book through the hotel but that does benefit the organizer; playing in tournaments won't tell you what the deal with the organizer is. Yes, the chess rate is cheaper than the rate for the person who just walks in off the street, but my point is that you can beat the chess rate rather easily with little effort. So the chess rate is usually lower than the 'uninformed traveler' rate but usually higher than the 'smart shopper' rate.
Aighearach Aighearach 7/20/2016 01:04
@Rama you can call me wrong, but I've got hundreds of tournament fliers that all match my memory of the events. ;)

Just open up Chess Life magazine and find a full-page ad for a big American tournament; it will verify what I say. The ad will tell you what phrase to use to get the "chess rate" at which hotel; but you never book through the organizer. And savvy travelers can probably get an even lower rate if the tournament is in Vegas or some other tourist destination; everybody knows there are 100 or more different prices available for the same room on the same day depending what words you say. But that is not what you're implying.

And outside of Vegas, no, no hotel asks you if you are "attending a convention." And again, the rate is lower when you stay at the same hotel, not higher. I don't disagree that are even lower rates available, but the special rate is invariably lower than the generic published rate. You can check that yourself, but I know you didn't; because you claimed to have done so, but you're wrong on the facts. I play in American tournaments, so I know the answer already.

You don't compare the rates to some website that will show you lower rates than the listed rate; you compare the rate on the sign outside the hotel to the rate that you get if you say "chess rate, please." If you walk in the door and just say, "I'd like a room," you don't get the rate listed on a travel website.
Rama Rama 7/20/2016 12:03
I'm sorry but you are mistaken. Large Organizers like Goichberg negotiate to get comped the ballroom and also a free block of rooms if they sell enough rooms at the 'chess rate' which you can usually beat by booking the room yourself and claiming that you are not attending a convention. For instance, compare any 'chess rate' to what you can get through
ANY time a hotel asks you if you are attending a convention, it is because if you are then they can charge you more (because people are usually willing to pay more for the convenience of staying at the same hotel).
Aighearach Aighearach 7/19/2016 09:07
Totally shameful. Here in the US, organizers of a tournament don't get kickbacks from the hotels; they arrange for hotels to give ___discounts___ to players if they stay there, and what the hotel gets in return is their name printed on the tournament advertising. What the organizer gets is improved conditions for the player; more players will sign up, because it is easy to get a good rate. They don't need to book in advance or tell the organizer about their booking, they just ask for the "chess rate" and the organizers never know who stays where.
Offramp Offramp 7/19/2016 06:08
I spent my Last Years in Marienbad.