Russian Women's Team Out of Olympiad?

  • FM MikeKlein
  • on 7/16/14, 4:35 PM.

The Olympiad title defense of the number one women's national team may be over before the event begins. According to a letter released today by the 2014 Olympiad Organizing Committee (COT2014), all teams that did not file the appropriate paperwork by the June 1, 2014 deadline are unable to participate.

The letter, which you can read in full here (PDF), specifically mentions the Russian Women's Team. Addressed to FIDE Executive Director and Treasurer Nigel Freeman, the letter goes on to state that all federations must be treated equally, no matter the size:

"After informing FIDE of our interpretation and position, we have received mails and phone calls from the FIDE Secretariat and Vice President (Israel) Gelfer asking us to allow the Russian Women's Team to participate. Of course, we can understand the embarrassment it can create when a significant and powerful federation like RCF (Russian Chess Federation - M.K.) does not submit a team within the deadline. Still, we as Organizers have a duty to treat all federations alike."

The letter is dated today and signed by these parties:

Besides strict adherence to the statutes described in the 2011 governing contract between FIDE and Norwegian organizers, the letter explains that practical considerations are in place:

"For your kind information, we would like to emphasize that adding one team to the Olympiad increases the cost for the organizer by an amount of 10,500 Euro. A general amnesty for late registrations could possibly include up to 10 teams (the other nine teams are not mentioned - M.K.). This will increase the financial burden for the organizer up to around 105,000 Euro."

As previously reported, the Tromsø Olympiad needed some last-minute funding to ensure it would continue as planned.

In what could be a related event, GM Kateryna Lagno recently completed her transfer from Ukraine to Russia, immediately becoming the highest-rated female in the country. According to reports, the transfer began several months ago, but was completed on July 11, 2014, well after the Olympiad registration deadline.

The June 1, 2014 deadline required countries to list the details of their delegations, as can be seen from rule 3.7.1 (c) in the organizing contract. However, 3.7.2 says that late submissions of "team particulars can be made up to 20 hours before the start of round 1." Teams then pay a late fee of 100 Euros per name. It is not clear if Russia submitted an incomplete list, or no list at all.

As you can see from would-be teammate WGM Natalia Pogonina's Twitter account, as of last week she still expected both would be playing in Tromsø.


COT2014 also takes exception to any changes or reversal by the FIDE president. The strongly worded pronouncement:

"The entire idea that the highest representative of FIDE can overrule and change obligation 'with the stroke of a pen' is unacceptable. If FIDE thinks otherwise, we are looking forward to their legal presentation in the Swiss Court System."

In a recent interview with Lennart Ootes, FIDE Secretariat and Vice President Israel Gelfer said, "Organizers of Tromsø are very disappointing. They are making, they are causing a lot of problems to FIDE, to the whole world of chess."

He cited Olympiad rule 6.1, which simply gives the FIDE president carte blanche over all matters relating to the Olympiad. The rule states: "The FIDE President represents the interests of FIDE and is empowered to take the final decision on all questions relating to the Olympiad as a whole."

Gelfer suggested both legal action and canceling the Olympiad are possible measures that FIDE may consider. Watch the interview here -- the Olympiad discussion begins at 2:05.

Interview conducted at ACP Golden Classic by Lennart Ootes.

Update 7/17/14: The Russian News Agency ITAR-TASS reported the names of eight other teams that were similarly denied participation due to late registration: Cambodia, Central African Republic, Gabon, Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire), Oman, Pakistan, Senegal and the Women's Team of Afghanistan.

15012 reads 47 comments
2 votes


  • 2 years ago


    Thanks for that. "Gens una sumus."

  • 2 years ago


    Thank you! You might want to check this out:

  • 2 years ago


    @mcris, read the discussion at chessgsmes dot com under Norway Blitz 2014, which is linked in the left-hand margin on their home page. At the start of the Tournament, both commentators were livid that the organizers had failed to qualify the tournament and it would not be rated. However, Fide shows that they rated the games anyway. You can also the official website of the Norway tournament, or YouTube for the videos of the commentators reactions. That's three sources for you.

  • 2 years ago


    @zBorris: do you have a proof for this unrated tournament affair? (a link)

  • 2 years ago


    Really! Who would have thank that squeaky clean-non aggressive Norway would be politicking and mud slinging like this! My oh my, first Carlsen learned to talk trash. Now the whole country is rolling in the mud with the best of them! Ya ... what life & death reason an organizer could invoke to keep out of a tournament a tardy registrant when the purpose Is to determined who is the best! ...Oh yes and the tardy participant happens to be the champ and likely the next champ! Wouldn't a fine for late registration suffice? They do it everywhere, chess tournaments, concerts, hotels, airlines, .... You name it! Or, is it just that the Norwegian organizer wants to feel and exert his newly acquired chess muscle!

  • 2 years ago


    Of course the Russian women's team should be allowed to participate. And other teams as well, even on arrival, without the proper paperwork. You should just bill the Russians for the additional costs and the possible team from the South Shetland Islands should be prepared to sleep in an iglo.

    The Norwegian organisers could take an example of what Euwe did in 1972: shoving off petty regulations to ensure real competition.

    Do they really want to solve (maybe reasonable) disputes with FIDE over the heads of chess players eager to compete, or are they just exceptionally smallminded?

  • 2 years ago


    The issue is moot if there is no Olympiad; contract was breached and litigation threatened.

  • 2 years ago

    WGM Natalia_Pogonina

    The real question to be discussed is whether the organizers will get away with apologies, or get sued for offenses like misfeasance and moral damage.In any case, they have done a lot of harm already and have put yet another stain on the reputation of chess.

    As a lawyer, I have to admit that their arguments are unprofessional and irrelevant. Quinn Emanuel, one of the leading US law companies, has the same opinion and has provided a detailed statement about the situation. In a few days we should find out which of the scenarios is going to take place.

    Also, it is amusing that some of the kibitzers "bought" the story about the organizers allegedly having the right to disqualify teams at their own discretion and to overrule the FIDE President's decisions. It makes a lot of sense to read the actual Regulations first before starting to repeat nonsense like a parrot after people who are pursuing their own political agendas and desperately trying to put up a scandal at the Olympiad.

  • 2 years ago


    Respect and support for the Tromsø organizers!   

     Malev212   We are never suprised to hear Karpov voice support of whomever the current regime is comprised of.  It is in his nature.

  • 2 years ago


    Didn't Norway just submit blitz scores from an unrated tournament demanding that FIDE bend the rules and declare it rated anyway? Ridiculous.

    FIDE bent the rules when it suited Norway's interest (allowing their champion, Magnus Carlsen, to rise to the top of the charts because of the submission of the unrated games to FIDE). But Norway will not allow FIDE to bend the rules when it suits Kirsan.

  • 2 years ago


    The Olympiad was in danger of being cancelled if not for Norway (who are only following the FIDE rules on the issue.)

    1.  No other nation is willing to host the Olympiad due to the cost.
    2.  Norway budgeted $20 million of their own money to host.
    3.  FIDE makes the rules, Norway is simply following the regulations.

    In view of FIDE's (and the world's) reaction perhaps Norway should withdraw and let the Olympiad be cancelled.  It is the prudent financial decision and infers that politics will not be tolerated.

  • 2 years ago


    Unbelievable level of arrogance by the Norwegian organizers. I have always held Norway in very high esteem, but this makes me furious. Apparently, someone thinks they can play God, deciding which teams to exclude without even asking FIDE.

    But this tournament is not Norway's tournament, it is FIDE's. The job of the organizers was just to find and provide accomodation, restaurants, and playing halls. Not to make such important decisions as they think they are entitled to.

    10,500 Euro for one team (five players and a captain) seems extremely high to me. Maybe this shows the level of their incompetence to find reasonable accomodation. I don't think anyone asked for luxury (edit: for example, people could stay in a university campus, probably with empty beds during the summer).

    I hope they are stripped off their organizing status and the Olympiad takes place elsewhere. The ideas of hospitality and Olympic spirit seem to be unknown in Norway.

  • 2 years ago


    FIDE has a strict and weird non tolerance when it comes to their rule that gives a loss to a players who arrive some seconds to late to the game.

    But when Tromsø follow FIDEs own rules (!) they are furious! Let's be honest here: It's big politics!  Kirzan a a russian Putin puppet. And Lahno is from Ukraine, probably an ethnic russian. The russian male team signed long before the women's team. 

    Kirzan and Putin are corrupt dictators with very flexible attitude to rules and law, so clearly they don't understand that somebody disobey their orders. 

    This could have been easy. Russia could have said sorry we are late, and we will of course pay the fine. 

  • 2 years ago


    "he would be hard pressed to take a position against Norway either (since it's Carlsen-land and Carlsen is his protege)"

    Don't know about the protegé thing, they had some training sessions five years ago but much happened since then, and before the Candidates 2013 Kasparov declared that he hoped a Russian would win. Carlsen himself has stated that he hopes the Russian women's team will be allowed to play in the Olympiad, by the way.

  • 2 years ago


    If someone asks Kasparov what he thinks of all this -- Kirsan likely wants to ask that question, since Kasparov has no good answer to offer -- he can't take a position against Russia, and he would be hard pressed to take a position against Norway either (since it's Carlsen-land and Carlsen is his protege).  So Kasparov has to dance around it and keep quiet as much as he can...  Just an interesting twist relating to the politics of upcoming elections.

  • 2 years ago


    Kirsan has now admitted that Russia didn't register their team before the deadline because Lahno hadn't been transferred from Ukraine in time, and he has now also "ordered" the Norwegians to include Russia.

  • 2 years ago


    Possibly yes, Kateryna Lagno is the "raison d'etre."  With Lagno Russia would embarass the Ukrainian team.  So Russia delayed their Olympiad paperwork until she had officially transferred from Ukraine to Russia.  (Putin is one sharp cookie.)

    The Russian women's team won (gold) both the 2010 and 2012 Olympiads.  They don't need Lagno in order to win; except maybe, to make political statement to Ukraine.

    Suggestion:  Take politics out of chess.  Penalize (fine) Russia but allow them to play,...without Kateryna Lagno.

  • 2 years ago


    Why didn't they say on the 2nd of June that these would be excluded ? Why wait until now ? Something smells a bit fishy and it's not Kirsan's socks.

  • 2 years ago

    GM Malev212

    Karpov who is honorary ambassador of Tromso Olympiad explained the situation. The Organizing committee of the Olympiad has no right to say who is going to play in the Olympiad, this right belongs to FIDE. In his opinion somebody wanted to become World wide famous and he did. The statement of Tromso organizers is just ridiculous.

  • 2 years ago


    It would be a huge disappointment if the russian team did not particiapte... but if they make an exception to the rules for them, then anybody else could rightfully demand an exception as well.

    Allowing them to participate for the cost of a hefty fine would seem like a fair compromise.

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