The United Kingdom – once more, with feeling

by ChessBase
6/29/2008 – Our original "gratuitous aside" about British sporting representation led to passionate responses from people for or against devolution or federalism. Scottish GM Jonathan Rowson and British GM Nigel Short made strong statements, and now their views have spilled over into a Scottish newspaper. We bring you excerpts and a final installment of some eminently enjoyable readers' feedback.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


The United Kingdom controversy

It all started with a recent off-topic article in which we wondered out loud why "the British for some reason could field teams from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and probably Northumbria, while other countries are allowed only one team apiece." Scottish GM Jonathan Rowson took offence at this remark and informed us that nationhood is a charged and vexed notion, and that our "gratuitous aside" betrayed complete ignorance of the unique geopolitical situation in Britain, where several nations peacefully coexist within one nation state. Rowson speculated that we "might have been listening too regularly and without due discernment to a famous English Grandmaster."

After publishing his remarks we got a letter from said famous English Grandmaster, Nigel Short, who took his Scottish colleague – a three-times British Champion – severely to task for not recognizing that while the UK is a member of the United Nations and the IOC, England, Scotland, Wales, Jersey and Guernsey are not – they are simply parts of that same country. Furthermore Short called for the expulsion of the English, Scottish, Welsh, Jersey and Guernsey Federations from FIDE, after which a newly constituted British (UK) Chess Federation would be admitted. "If Scotland eventually secedes from the UK, I will be the first to support its admission into FIDE," wrote Short. "Until that happens, we must abide by the rules."

The original article and two installments of feedback have appeared on our news pages:

Since then we have received many more letters, and the controversy in fact spilled over into a Scottish newspaper. For this reason we decided that one more installment was in place. We would like to warn readers that with it we are closing this debate, so please do not be offended if we do not open a fifth chapter to accommodate new letters we may receive after the current article is published.

The June 28 issue of Scotland's leading newspaper The Herald picked up the controversy raging on our pages with the headline: Chess world divided in row over national federations. "We have long grown used to seeing questions of national identity played out on the football pitch," the author wrote. "But for a game normally regarded as the cerebral opposite of the nation's favourite pastime, chess would rarely seem to provoke such passions. This week, however, has seen an extraordinary row break out between two of the country's leading chess grandmasters over the merits of Scotland having its own national team."

Nigel Short, the paper goes on to say, "launched a withering attack on Jonathan Rowson, the leading Scottish player and three-times UK champion, accusing him of not 'appreciating his citizenship'. In an open letter on the popular server, he added: 'At least his fellow Scotsman, the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, does . . . It is the UK that is a member of the UN and the IOC (International Olympic Committee). England, Scotland, Wales, Jersey and Guernsey are not – they are simply parts of that same country.' However, Short's remarks provoked a furious response in Scotland, where he was accused of riding roughshod over the sensitive debate over Scotland's sporting and constitutional future. There was also widespread condemnation of the idea of forming a Team UK, as Scotland currently punches well above its weight in international competitions. According to some experts, a British team would be unlikely to include more than one Scottish GM – Jonathan Rowson."

Jonathan Rowson, who is the The Herald's chess correspondent, said the English GM's remarks were "potentially very destructive". He added: "His suggestion would lead to the break-up of a very functional system. If you didn't have the system of national federations in the UK, you'd have no Scottish chess championships or representation for juniors. It would mean my chess development would never have gotten off the ground. I was good enough to represent Scotland when I was young. Had I not done that, I wouldn't have had the chance to develop as I did."

Stressing that he was not a nationalist, Rowson said Short had nevertheless proved himself insensitive to the debate over national identity that was occurring in Scotland. "I think the notion of nationhood doesn't make sense to him; he sees it as an anomaly. The irony is that I don't think of myself in any sense as a nationalist - I'd rather keep the functional mess that we have. But if you follow the logic of what he is saying, you would end up with one UK football team."

The full article in The Herald is here

Dear ChessBase,

I thought you might consider adding an extract from my chess column (which will soon be available online) that was published yesterday in The Herald, on the same day that the above article appeared.

As you can see there, I fully appreciate there is a legitimate question at stake, and I don't think it's unreasonable for Nigel to pose it. However, even if you accept Nigel's diagnosis (the current system of representation is unjustified) – which I don't – it's another question entirely whether you should accept the prescription (it should radically change).

Scottish GM Jonathan Rowson

Briefly, I think the issue boils down to the question of what a country is. Some people are fortunate enough to live in a place where that question is not complicated, but in "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland", as you can tell from our name, we seem to have countries within countries, and the question does not lend itself to a simple answer.

Jonathan Rowson

Extract from Herald Chess Column, Scotland, Saturday June 28.

Which country are you in? 'Scotland', I imagine, is the reflexive answer for most Herald readers; 'Britain' for a few others. Neither answer seems wrong. So are you in two countries at the same time? On such questions I see abundant shades of grey, but some see it, aptly, in Black and White.

As indicated in today's news section, ran a provocative article: "The United Kingdom of Many Sporting Entities?" which suggests that we might be guilty of having our cake and eating it too. Does it make sense to represent Scotland internationally while travelling on a British passport? Former world championship challenger Nigel Short thinks not, and describes the situation as "absurd, anachronistic, and profoundly discriminatory."

For those who value geopolitical clarity (an oxymoron?) this predicament is problematic because Scotland competes with England and Wales, fellow citizens, in the same way we compete with independent countries like India and China, but not with semi-autonomous regions, arguably nations, like Quebec or Catalonia, who do not have separate representation.

I have played for Scotland most of my life, and was also proud to represent Britain in a one-off match against China last year. Personally I am at ease with this sense of nested nationality, and I don't see why my passport has to subsume my patriotism.

Scotland is, I feel, a country, but you don't have to travel far to find people who disagree, and who have stern binary views on such matters. Britain may pride itself on its pick 'n' mix constitution, but in the eyes of foreigners we are an anomaly, tolerated only because our geopolitical pragmatism far exceeds our sporting prowess.

The importance of this issue is brought home by imagining that F.I.D.E is F.I.F.A and the discussion applies to football, which, as anybody who has listened to Radio Scotland will know, is a national obsession. The argument remains just as strong: one nation, one passport, one team!

This discussion acutely brings out the tension in being both Scottish and British. How much of our national identity is based on the possibility of flying the flag for Scotland in sporting competitions? What happens if you take away that form of expression? Do we forget we are Scottish? Or do we rebel against the loss of identity by demanding our own sovereign state?

Leaving our claims to nationhood to one side, getting separate representation in the first place was due to the fact that F.I.D.E, like F.I.F.A, is comprised of national federations rather than sovereign countries, but this looks more like an historical accident than a political principle. The question then becomes what you do with the mess you find yourself in, and whether trying to clean up the mess creates more problems than it solves.

The issues raised at ChessBase are therefore challenging, especially at a time when Alex Salmond is in the ascendant and Gordon Brown strains to credibly support the English football team.

More reader feedback

Mark McCullagh, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland must be one of the few places not to be able to join FIDE. FIDE argues that N. Ireland comes under the auspices of Ireland. However since the Republic of Ireland supposedly relinquished its constitutional territorial claim to Northern Ireland and since it neither taxes nor passes legislation on Northern Ireland citizens one wonders why FIDE continue with this anachronism.

For the politically challenged Northern Ireland is what makes up the UK along with the three British nations. Indeed the full national name is "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland". Therefore Northern Ireland should either be part of a UK team or have its own representation.

The following was authored by Nigel Short in The Guardian on Thursday July 6, 2006 about the refusal to admit Northern Ireland into FIDE i.e. the Ulster Chess Union.

"Last year, the anachronistically named British Chess Federation finally acknowledged reality by becoming the English Chess Federation. The piecemeal disintegration of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland began at the Folkestone Olympiad in 1933, when a Scottish team made its first appearance alongside the BCF team, possibly, in that depressed era, to bolster the numbers in an otherwise underrepresented event. The remaining UK glue held together until the Skopje Olympiad of 1972, when the Welsh dragon breathed its fiery flame in the international arena. Guernsey and Jersey followed later still.

The Ulster Chess Union's application to join FIDE was shelved at Turin this year. The motive for this rebuff is transparently one of crude political expediency. Either FIDE must insist on a single UK federation (unpalatable for the powers that be, as it would ruffle feathers and cost votes), or it should allow all constituent parts of the country to become members. Dispassionately speaking, you cannot pick and choose in such circumstances; alas, logic rarely counts when vested interests are at stake."

So then why does FIDE insist on refusing Northern Ireland membership. Well according to FIDE it is because of the slippery slope principle. If Northern Ireland was to get membership then Russian republics may want representation too and this could lead to an avalanche of requests.

FIDE should stop this absurd stance that treats Northern Ireland like a vassal state of the Irish Republic when in fact they their nationhood has long been independent. FIDE should grant the one remaining part of the UK representation when it has already done so for the other three (England, Scotland and Northern Ireland). Indeed England has relinquished any pretence it had to represent the other Home nations by dropping the word British in favour of English in its federation title. Note Jersey and Guernsey are not part of the UK but are British dependencies. Let FIDE explain why they feel unable to complete a process they allowed to happen for the other British nations and why we should be in servitude to a foreign chess federation.

Craig Pritchett, Dunbar, Scotland
As a Scoto-Brit, who lived and worked for years in London and also spent some time in the German state of Bayern, I feel I may have some qualification to suggest that Scotland (I won't argue for others) should remain a constituent FIDE member.

The fact is Scotland has historically always felt itself to be a "nation" – most of us, by the way, all proud to be considered "British" as well. Similar sentiments also apply in England. The two "nations" are very "auld" enemies but also very "old" friends.

At least equally important, Scotland has also run its own chess affairs since 1884 quite separately from England. This applies to many sports in the UK, including football. Indeed Scotland and England effectively founded the whole notion of "international" sport in Victorian times.

Historically the real cuckoo in the UK chess nest in the 20th century was the so-called "British Chess Federation" (now correctly renamed "English Chess Federation"). Some facts might be helpful here:

  1. The "BCF", began with an English proposal in 1903 "to form a British Chess Federation consisting of the (then) three English Chess Unions, the City of London Chess Club and the (then) Scottish Chess Association".
  2. The SCA were always nervous about this goal "owing to the peculiar function of the Scottish Association nationally as well as geographically" and (fast-forwarding to 1908, when it agreed to affiliate to the BCF for a year), expressed the view that ". it should not be required to become a unit of the BCF".
  3. Annual affiliation limped on into the 1920s, but became increasingly unsatisfactory and finally ceased in 1930. For one thing, the BCF would not even guarantee a place in its annual British Championships (even in those held in Scotland) for the Scottish champion.
  4. FIDE came into being in the 1920s. The BCF had affiliated to FIDE for the "British Isles", but no longer represented Scottish chess in any way. FIDE admitted Scotland to membership in 1932 quite correctly.

FIDE's statutes admit member "countries" not "states", so there is no legal basis for FIDE to expel any "nation" which it has admitted to membership that is not itself also a "state" (such as Scotland or England). The Olympic movement (unlike many sports, including football and chess) only allows "states" to be members.

If chess were to become an Olympic sport, there could only be a "UK" team at the Olympics. Indeed Olympic football functions like this at the moment. But outside the Olympics, football reverts to normal international mode, just as would chess.

Nigel Short's nuclear option – throw all UK constituents out of FIDE and only readmit them when they come together in an ideal "UK" state – is novel. But given the history and administrative practicalities, it hardly sounds realistic or in the interests of chess.

NB: points 1-4 above are based on extracts from the now out of print "Scotland's Chess Centenary Book" (1984), by Craig Pritchett and Maxwell Thornton. My co-author, who was responsible for the historical parts of the book, sadly died earlier this year at the age of 91. As he was a past president of the Faculty of Actuaries of Scotland, I am sure that high reliance can be placed on his judgements, though, of course, there is always room in such matters for further research and debate.

Louis Jouault, Jersey Channel Islands
Nigel Short wrongly includes Jersey and Guernsey as members of the United Kingdom. These Channel Islands are part of Great Britain, not the UK, and also are not part of the European Union either. Both Islands are very proud to have sent teams to the Olympiad for many years and very much take issue with anyone trying to take that future right away. FIDE is so much more than individual grandmasters and find Shorts comments quite rich from someone who has abandoned Old Blighty for the Greek sunshine!

Carles Robles Soldevila, Catalonia
I think Scotland has the right to own his national team. In Catalonia we are fighting in order to have our teams in all sports because we are a Nation too, despite the dirty manoeuvres from Spanish government.

Erik Markus, Bratislava
To me, coming from a country which is now called Slovakia – previously Czechoslovakia, which used to be comprised of two nations – this whole discussion seems pointless. Not to mention that the position has no basis for supporting arguments in favor of a unique Scottish team. A simple question to answer is who is playing in the Olympics? If it is the United Kingdom of Great Britain – Britain for short – then it follows that all parts of that entity are to be allowed representation of said entity. The minute it becomes clear that indeed it is England and not Britain that plays the Olympics, the Scots have a fair say in not representing England.

On a side note, I shudder to think how many new teams would enroll in the Olympics... you know, Britain is not the only country with a history...

Alexandru Sava, Iasi, Romania
I fully support the position of GM Nigel Short in the issue of GB's chess federation comprising actually four federations. And I also feel appalled by the position GM Rowson is taking. It is beyond any reasonable doubt that maintaining for Great Britain, since so many years, the privilege of having four representative teams in sports competitions, it's an outrageous behaviour, as it is against common sense. To tell you the truth, I am quite astonished that since so many years, so few people have openly discussed this issue.

Scott Young, Huntington Beach
We all realise that the geography seems to make the existence of separate countries inside Britain unlikely, but Scotland earned their freedom from England by blood and tears. I lived in Scotland for eleven years, working the North Sea as a commercial diver. My family history started there and my grandmother was very proud of our Scottish heritage. I learned from the people that you do not call them English! Better yet call an Irishman English and you might need new bridge work on your jawbone! Leave the issue alone about these federations. They all earned their rights to be countries.Good luck to them in the next Olympiad!

Stewart Reuben, International Director of the English CF, London, England
This has been a bee in the bonnet of Nigel Short for many years. When he originally wrote on the subject in the Daily Telegraph, I had to point out that Guernsey and Jersey are not in the UK. It is perfectly true that only a UK team would be allowed in nowadays if applying for membership fresh to FIDE. This is because the more recent regulations require a federation to be represented at the UN. FIDE officials are well aware of the situation, which only exists as a situation in the fevered brow of Nigel Short. The regulations were different on application and the current regulations are that it is satisfactory if the federations were correctly admitted at the original time of application. Officers of FIDE recognise that it is to the benefit of World chess that these federations are separate.
Exactly the same applies to Hong Kong, the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the Faeroe Islands and possibly others. Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, Falklands, Greenland and so on would no longer be admitted to FIDE. Some of them have indeed applied, but been rejected because of the modern regulations. The subsections of the UK were admitted in good faith and remain members also in good faith.

Ironically Nigel Short is President of the Commonwealth Chess Association. He should resign if he wishes to attack seven (at least) of the member federations of that organisation. In fact, I regard it as disgraceful that he remains President of the CCA while not having the best interests of the members of that organisation at heart.
When seeking change in any statutes, it is wise to consider who would be advantaged and who disadvantaged by any change. I can see no advantage to anybody in combining the 5 federations into one.

GM Nigel Short actually did resign as President of the Commonwealth Chess Association, but for reasons other than those given above. – Ed.

Colin Reed, Birmingham, England
The controversy started with the aside: "The British for some reason can field teams from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and probably Northumbria, while other countries are allowed only one team apiece – heaven alone knows why"

This is not an easy subject to answer upon, either constitutionally, geographically, or culturally. It involves history, whether people like it, accept it, or not. And it's certainly more than just a question of sport.

First let's look at it culturally. England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland are historically separate nations and still consider themselves, to some degree or other, as different countries with different languages and customs. And even today, people display their own separate national flag.

Now let's look at it geographically. We have two major islands, Great Britain and Ireland. Inhabitants of Great Britain (Scotland, Wales, England), are called British. Inhabitants of Ireland (Eire, Northern Ireland) are called Irish. So the original quote that includes Northern Ireland as part of Britain is in fact wrong.

Now lets look at this from a constitutional angle. In it's most basic form Wales has a Prince and England has a King/Queen. Both countries are cojoined and share the same laws, which are exercised in the judicial courts of England and Wales. Scotland had a separate King/Queen, but joined to England and Wales under a single monarch to become the United Kingdom. However although sharing a single monarch, Scotland always kept it's own laws and judiciary. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom. Eire is not.

Given the above legal position, it's not surprising therefore that the separate countries continued to sponsor their own national teams in sporting events such as football and rugby.

Some interesting backing facts about this are that the Union Flag (called a Union Jack on a Battleship) was formed only to serve as a standard in battle for the fellow Kingdoms to fight alongside each other. There has never been any official dispensation given for people to use this flag and therefore strictly speaking it is illegal to do so. That is why people still use their own country flags, which is legal. There is no ratified national flag of the UK.

Now let's look at it politically. Officially, governments are appointed by our one monarch. So in addition to having separate laws and judiciary, Scotland also has it's own separate parliament to England and Wales. However, at the moment, the United Kingdom is that which is recognised by the UN.

But constitutionally, the King/Queen is also the monarch of other countries such as Canada and Australia. However those countries are also separate judicial and political entities.Hence the principle that the King/Queen may be monarch of several countries, but that doesn't mean they are all joined to become a single country. It's not an easy situation due to the uniqueness of the monarch and the rest of the constitutional framework for each country, let alone the cultural position.

Harvey Patterson, Ottawa, Canada
I have often wondered why – and been disappointed that – the United Kingdom is divided into separate nations in some sporting events. I understand that the island of Great Britain has been populated for so long that distinct regions have developed within it: England, Scotland and Wales, and together with Northern Ireland they form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. These regions are considered separate countries by FIFA, and they each have much of the legislative authority that any country has. It would be easy to simply declare that the UK's status is unique and accept that this justifies diluting the British talent pool into four football teams. But is the UK truly unique?

When Europe started colonizing the Americas, huge territories – larger than the nations that claimed them – started to be recognized as colonies and, eventually, states. Thirteen of them declared themselves the United States of America, a nation which is presently regarded as a union of 50 states. To the north, Canada is divided into 13 provinces and territories, ten of which are larger than the entire United Kingdom. The New World was so vast that it made sense to break it into regions – many of which are large to be nations in any other part of the part of the world – which have vast powers and legislative authority over their citizens, while still being part of a single nation with a single national identity. To me, the United Kingdom is such a place. It should be regarded as a nation composed of four provinces or "states", each with their own provincial legislature, having powers that other European states only have at the federal level, but part of a single nation that has a single national parliament. That philosophy allows each province enough autonomy to have pride in its identity and culture, and self-government, while still maintaining the identity of the whole as a single, strong, united nation. From that perspective, sending a team from Scotland would make as much sense as sending a team from Texas or Manitoba. While all three are "states", they are only parts of a greater whole.

If I was from Scotland (as my ancestors were), I would be very proud of my Scottish identity and I can understand the desire to have a Scottish football club in the World Cup. If I were from Texas, I would be proud to be a Texan and I can understand the desire to have a Texas football club in the World Cup. But despite the pride that we feel in our identity as citizens of a state, it would be unfair to force the United States to compete as 50 separate states, or to force Canada to compete as 13 states. With the talent pool so diluted, the odds of any of our teams making the World Cup would be minuscule. So it is in the United Kingdom, where not a single British "national team" made it to Euro 2008. The UK is one of the most talented footballing nations in the world, and it has zero representation in Euro 2008! This has to be regarded as unfair. To have the best odds of winning, there is one national team from the United States, one national team from Canada, and there should be one national team from the United Kingdom. One nation, four provinces, one world-beating football club.

Duif Calvin, San Rafael, California, USA
Puerto Rico is a "self-governing commonwealth in association with the United States." Although its people are US citizens with US passports, it has separate membership in both the International Olympics Committee and FIDE. (Its FIDE code is PUR, and it can send its own teams to both the Olympics and the Olympiad.) It is a complex situation legally and politically that came about from a specific set of historical circumstances.

The US Virgin Islands have yet a different governance structure – they are an unincorporated territory (not a self-governing commonwealth). As with Puerto Rico they are US citizens with US passports, but cannot vote for the US President. They also have separate membership in the International Olympics Committee and FIDE, and again field their own teams. Their FIDE code is ISV.

The International Olympic Committee has frequently recognised areas which are not formally separate countries (that is, do not issue their own passports). Their reasons for doing so are fairly complex. Slate Magazine did a special article on why Puerto Rico has its own team.

In any case, Great Britain is certainly not alone in being a single passport region with multiple Olympic and FIDE federations.

Richard Mallett, Eaton Bray, Dunstable, UK
Nigel Short is wrong to suggest that Guernsey and Jersey should be expelled from FIDE and its inhabitants should play internationally (if at all) as part of a UK team. Guernsey and Jersey (and the Isle of Man) are possessions of the British Crown, and not part of the United Kingdom. They have their own flags and legislatures. Alderney and Sark are part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, but also have their own legislatures.

Shiv Mathur, Mumbai, India
What a pity that GM Jonathan Rowson did not understand the wonderful humour of including "Northumbria". I thought that was hilarious and very clever. I wonder why people who are otherwise brilliant cannot see something that is obviously intended simply humourously. Especially what one might consider typically 'British' humour.

In a similiar vein, but perhaps more important is this: the USA team at the last chess olympiad was Gata Kamsky, Onischuk Alexander, Nakamura Hikaru, Ibragimov Ildar, Kaidanov Gregory and Akobian Varuzhan.
Not a John Smith in the lot. Now THAT is called an unfair advantage. Whereas, if Scotland, England, Wales etc. field different teams, it is a disadvantage. How much stronger they would be if the best from each 'country' were to play together under one flag!

Michael Allard, Bowie, Maryland, United States
Alas this is all very entertaining, but one additional point is left astray. As with sporting olympics, that of chess has many participants that "hold" dual citizenship. GM Boris Gulko is a case in point: a citizen of both USA and Israel. Of course this is absurd since these individuals can flip and flop from one national identity to another as to whatever suits them. Maybe the real issue is the notion of nations as opposed to the thinly veiled university or professional team that is essentially manipulated and owned by the "power elite".

Andrew Trickey, Bridgend, Wales
Could Nigel Short reply to this question if he has the time.

  • The Six Nations, one of the world's premier international Rugby Tournaments, is competed by England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Italy and France. The IRB consider all to be countries in their own right.
  • Football – The World Cup, is competed by many nations around the world. In the European Section, Wales, Scotland, England, Ireland and yes even Northern Ireland, all represent themselves. FIFA and UEFA consider them countries.
  • Rugby League (interesting this one): the Great Britain team is no more. England, Scotland, Wales will now represent themselves solely in international competition, a decision made by the RFL because it too considers them to be countries.
  • San Marino, Monaco and Andorra are also considered to be countries, worthy of competing under a flag of their own.

So what makes Nigel Short right and these organizations wrong? We have a right to play chess in Wales, and for Wales. If the Queen acknowledges our country's existence by allowing the word WALES to be added on my Birth Certificate by one of her civil servants, does that mean that Mr. Short thinks the Queen is also in error?

Nick Cornish, England
GM Rowson talks of "Nationalism rearing its ugly head." I presume he means in England, where it not allowed, unlike in Scotland, which has its own Scottish National Party trying its best to drive a wedge between the English and Scots. I think the English should be given independence from Scotland, as the union as it stands gives everyone their own parliament except the English. Then they can take Gordon Brown and all the Scots MPs back over the wall.

Z. Sali, Birmingham, UK
I think Nigel Short is right. The other thing is under the new BCF Jonathan Rowson could still play in board four.

Jack Sirdog
It's amusing to hear comments about football from chess players. Listen up my intelligent friends: FIFA/UEFA has rules, and according to the rules England is England, Wales is Wales, and Scotland is Scotland. Just ask any Welshman or Scot. FIDE has nothing to do with it, and Nigel Short is becoming obnoxiously deranged with his own brilliance.

Sam Sloan, Bronx NY, USA
This is indeed profoundly discriminatory. England, Scotland, Wales, Jersey and Guernsey are just one country, yet they have five votes in FIDE and get to send five teams to the Olympiads. They should be allowed to have only one team and one vote, like other countries have.

Andranik Khachatryan, Karlsruhe/Yerevan, Germany/Armenia
I really wonder what Jonathan Rowson did mean. That Armenians and Georgians are not nationalities? Or that they didn't live peacefully under Soviet Union because they didn't have different teams? "Scottish" is not a citizenship, it's a nationality, an ethnicity. In FIDE, countries, not ethnic groups, are represented. Or is this arguable? Did the Scottish GM of a British descent (or was it the other way around?) really think he can argue that among all nations and ethnic groups that live in a country and play for that country as one, Scottish and Irish stand different? Compliments to Nigel. Being a most frequent visitor of your site, I find his writings adorable.

Ian Marks, Cumbernauld, Scotland
GM Short quotes Article 2.1 of the FIDE statutes: "Only one federation of each country can be affiliated to FIDE" and opines that "this is fair, reasonable and common sense." That, Mr Short, is exactly why Scotland – a country – is affiliated to FIDE, so what's your beef? Mr Benoit St-Pierre of Montreal states, with all the certainty of the uninformed, that "Scotland and Wales are no countries". Might I take this opportunity to correct you, Mr St-Pierre? Scotland is a country, a nation. End of story. He later asks "does that mean that chessplayers from Québec would get a national team if they hold their breath too?" Well, in a word, no. Whatever le Canada francophone would like to think, Québec, to paraphrase Mr St-Pierre, is no country.

Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register