Taiwan Nationals 2014: part 1 -- foreigner in a foreign land
Yesterday the cycle of Taiwan Nationals / National team selection tournaments started.
It is a combined event, where the team to represent Chinese Taipei are selected for the Chess Olympiad in Norway 2014. One of the competitions also acts a National championship, (afaik) the winner is reported to FIDE as the national champion (member federations have to annually report the national champions).
Usually these competitions are a two months long feast in chess. Every weekend is occupied by chess (nothing on weekdays, since work hours are not as flexible here as in Europe). It is (mostly) played on the NTU campus, which is a nice green oasis in central Taipei. Young people everywhere, sunshine, singing birds and spring in the air brings back memories from my time as a student. The competitions have been a very pleasant event in the past, and an event I have come to look forward to.
This year things felt different.
Two days before the first qualifier tournament, the organizer calls informing me that I was banned from the events. In fact all non-Taiwan citizens had been banned from playing, effective immediately.
After an outcruy from the small, but vocal, community of foreign chess players, the Chinese Taipei Chess Association (CTCA) changed the policy. We are now allowed to play, but not to be selected to the national team. This is not a huge deal. I am actually rather surprised that foreigners had been accepted on the team -- both by FIDE and by CTCA.
Regardless, the qualifier yesterday was not fun. Did not enjoy playing. It felt like it was not my tournament. Like I was playing 'illegally', only because someone had smuggled me in there as a shady favour, and that I would be ejected if anyone found out.
Back in Europe, when people from Africa / Middle East described racism and discrimination as a "jacket you always wear", I did not understand what they ment.
But yesterday, I wore that jacket.