Chess Politics - messing up the wonderful Iberoamerican Championship
Politics are unavoidable. When a sport reaches a certain magnitude, and achieves a certain fan base, it becomes clear that there must be some sort of overall governing body.
Chess is one of the most played games in this world. It has millions and millions of people playing. So, naturally, FIDE was created once to govern our chess playing minds. They direct the World Championship cycles, the title system, the rating system and some other official watchamacallits. Federations pay a serious amount of money to keep FIDE running, and to be included in their Olympiads, championship cycles and rating lists. This is, of course, the way it should be. FIDE must be expensive to run and it does a lot of things.
FIDE has had its up and downs. With its downs being very considerable. However, I'm not going to focus on FIDE right at this moment, but rather on more regional bodies.
Recently, a fabulous tournament happened. Not too many Americans are familiar with the Iberoamerican Championship. Let's start with, what does 'iberoamerican' mean? It is a blanket term used in most of latinamerica - it pretty much means anything that is latinamerican, plus Spain and Portugal. So, the Iberoamerican Championship brings together some of the best players of the region, plus Spain and Portugal. The iberoamerican championship is an invitation only event for the Champion of every qualifying country.
This makes a very strong field! Felgaer, Salgado, Morovic, Matamorros, Barrientos, Milos, Leon Hoyos, Bruzon! It's a lot of pride - everyone wants to see their country win. The event was followed by thousands of latinos, covered on many many websites. The chess was wild and aggressive, it's in our blood! One of the main drawbacks of switching federations to my new country is precisely not being able to play this event.
Before continuing further in my rant about chess Federations, let's actually see how legitimate this tournament was:
The tournament is played in a strange system. Kind of like the soccer world cup, the players are put in different groups, where the winner qualifies for the 'finals' and the second places qualify for another group. It makes it quite hard to follow, but for very interesting chess. The draw rate in this tournament was less than 25%. 25%! That's very impressive considering nearly every player was a GM.
At the end of the day the tournament was won by Ivan Salgado in a brilliant finish against Julio Granda. Here is the game:
Wonderful game by Salgado and a thrilling finish!
The tournament also saw a success story. My fellow ex-teammate in the Olympiads, Costa Rican IM Bernal Gonzalez made the first ever GM Norm for the area! (besides yours truly). That's a superb achievement for someone who doesn't have real opportunities to travel and norm hunt.
A full report soon appeared in Chessbase (spanish version):
The pictures are very pretty, and the tournament I've heard from many sources was very well organized.
So what's the issue?
The Ecuatorian Chess Federation didn't like it. What do I mean 'didn't like it'? Well, apparently either the Iberoamerican Chess Federation didn't have good relations with the ECF, or they didn't ask permission, or they simpy forgot to bribe the correct person, and now FIDE has released the following statement:
If you're too lazy to click on the link, it says this:
The Ecuador Chess Federation has informed FIDE that the Ibero (?) Tournament taking place in Ecuador is not endorsed by the ECF and hence shall not be rated by FIDE
You would think that the ECF would be proud of holding such an event within their borders! Instead, AFTER the tournament finished, it is being sabotaged! The tournament is in danger of not being rated, and therefore Gonzalez's norm would not count. Blasphemy! Salgado's rating gain would not happen. All because some dumb politician decided to screw over the tournament because he felt like it. Since when do we need the blessing of a governing body to host a tournament? In a corrupt chess world where fishy tournaments happen, this wonderful Iberoamerican championship is held, with more than enough proof that it was not only legitimate, but important and celebrated, and now the ECF wants to shut it down. No reason was given, of course. The only thing I have to say is that Chess politics are disgusting, and this is a perfect example of it.