Source: The New York Times Chess Blog
Fresh Problem for World Chess Federation: Scheduling ConflictsBy Dylan Loeb McClain
Saturday, a Grand Prix tournament for women starts in Istanbul, Turkey. The participants include Koneru Humpy of India, the No. 2 ranked woman in the world; Hou Yifan of China, No. 3; Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria, a former women’s world champion, who is No. 4; Pia Cramling of Sweden, No. 5; Marie Sebag of France, No. 7; and Maia Chiburdanidze of Georgia, another former champion, who is No. 9.
The tournament is supposed to be part of a series that is modeled on the Grand Prix for men (actually that Grand Prix is for anyone, but only men are participating in it because Judit Polgar of Hungary, women’s No. 1, who is the only woman good enough to be in it, is not part of it). The plan is for the Grand Prix to produce a candidate or candidates for the world championship.
Given the problems with the men’s Grand Prix, which seems to have become derailed after holding three tournaments, whether the federation can even pull off a Grand Prix for women is an interesting question.
But there is another problem with the Istanbul Grand Prix: It conflicts with another major women’s event, the European Women’s Championship in St. Petersburg, Russia. It also starts Saturday.
Like the Grand Prix, the European tournament is part of the qualification system for the world championship. Many of the best women players are competing, including Anna Muzychuk of Slovenia, No. 6; Nana Dzagnidze of Georgia, No. 8; Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant of Scotland, No. 12; Anna Ushenina of Ukraine, No. 13; Tatiana Kosintseva of Russia, No. 14; and Natalia Zhukova, No. 19. According to Chessdom, a European chess news Web site, Cramling; Elina Danielian of Armenia, No. 16; and Zeinab Mamedyarova of Azerbaijan, No. 103, were supposed to play in the European championship but withdrew to play in the Grand Prix.
In response, Boris Kutin, the president of the European Chess Union, wrote a letter to Kirsan Ilymzhinov, the president of the federation, protesting the timing of the Grand Prix, saying that the European championship was organized and announced before the Grand Prix.
In his letter, Kutin said that the timing of the next Grand Prix tournament, in Nanjing, China, also poses a conflict:
The Second Woman’s Grand Prix will be in Nanjing, China, exactly at the same time of the European Club Cup. You know very well this event is the second strongest team event, immediately after the Olympiad, with more than 200 GMs from all continents. For many clubs (especially top ones) this will cause big damage. For sure for some players will be in breach of contract.
ECU President Boris Kutin Protests Over Calendar Clash
Letter to FIDE President Kirsan llyumzhinov
FIDE President Mr Kirsan llyumzhinov 9 Siggrou Avenue 11743 Athens, Greece
27 February 2009
Dear Mr President,
First of all accept my apology being absent for the second time in my more than ten years capacity of member of the Board (that time I was in the hospital). I cannot be with you due to my obligations in Europe. Exactly at the same time is the opening ceremony of European Women's Championship in St. Petersburg.
More important (and more painful) is the clash with the very first FIDE Grand Prix tournament for women. There are only a few woman/s strong tournaments per year and the two strongest ones should be played at the same time?
I was told that at the closing ceremony of the very first Ataturk memorial last year it was announced that the tournament would keep the day around 8 March. Is this correct to Belgrade organizers who already organize the WGM tournament for almost 50 years and many times that the tournament was absolutely the strongest in the world?
But this is not my main point. Even Belgrade's traditional tournament is a private one, it is not an official FIDE event. In our case we have two extremely important FIDE events (European Championship is a qualification for the World Championship) at the same time. We have announced our date at the Dresden Olympiad and FIDE decided to go with Women's Grand Prix without a single phone call to us.
Unfortunately this is not the end of the story. The Second Woman's Grand Prix will be in Nanjing, China, exactly at the same time of the European Club Cup. You know very well this event is the second strongest team event, immediately after the Olympiad, with more than 200 GMs from all continents. For many clubs (especially top ones) this will cause big damage. For sure for some players will be in breach of contract. Really I have no comment, remembering the situation in last October, having a clash with World Mind Games and European Club Cup.
Dear Mr. President, in such way we are loosing our credibility - both, FIDE and ECU.