Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Official “Pay-to-Play” Opens?

FIDE Logo - Black VCF

Zone 3.3 Championship

I just had a visitor to KL – a senior member of a neighbouring National Chess Federation who will remain unnamed - and while talking about various things chess, he mentioned that the most immediate problem that he was facing was funding his players to the coming zone 3.3 championships (men and women) to be held in Ho Chi Minh City from 22-30 July 2009.

Apparently the time honoured tradition of giving each member country an official entry with all expenses paid for (other than travel there) effectively no longer applied. Yes, the organisers said that men above 2550 and women above 2350 would be free but that meant just their two two local GMs, top seeded Wesley So of the Philippines, and also the top ranked Mongolian WGM.

It also seemed that anyone could play as well if they paid the entry fee and stayed in the official hotel (USD 75 for a single room and USD 50 on a twin sharing basis).

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NCFP-New

Subic Open

This comes on the back of the organisers of the recent Subic Open apparently demanding that all the players had to stay in the official hotel at USD 40 a night inclusive of three meals which turned out to really mean 6 players to a house with very minimal facilities, poor food, and much commuting as at some distance to the playing venue!

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Chess Sponsorship versus Official Hotels

Yes, sponsorship for chess is hard to come by but I think it has reached the point where some organisers have realised that they need not worry too much about getting sponsors other than perhaps for a prize fund as they can hold international events by essentially marking up hotel rates, announcing that all had to stay at that designated hotel if they wished to participate and perhaps even then running the event for profit!

The concept of having official hotels (as I understood it) was to get a good rate for participants as well as to ensure easy access for officials and that if there were savings no one had a problem if some went towards administrative/organising expenses.

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FIDE & World Championships?

Organising opens in this way I think is wrong but what more when it is an official FIDE event which is part of a World Championship qualifying cycle - there must be strict obligations that have to be enforced when awarding such official FIDE events to federations.

Also what is the point when just about anyone can play in such official qualifying events if they have the money?

It seems to me that under this model, anyone can bid to organise as there will certainly be players paying to play and if it is an official event like a zonal, I do think that FIDE’s prestige and the World Championship has effectively been put up for sale!

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