Is it safe to play the Women World Championship? (2ND UPDATE)

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Yesterday a number of participants of the upcoming Women World Championship expressed their worries, as the event is supposed to be held August 28 - September 18 in Nalchik, a city in the Caucasus region of southern Russia. Today, FIDE President Ilyumzhinov replied. Update: reply by Boris Kutin. 2nd Update: Georgian players withdraw.

Update August 17, 11:45 CET
In an overview article on the latest developments around this subject by Chessbase, alongside background information and a link to Kasparov's WSJ article of last Friday, an open letter is published in which, indirectly, the withdrawal of the Georgian participants Maia Chiburdanidze, Nino Khurtsidze, Maia Lomineishvili, Sophiko Gvetadze, Lela Javakhishvili and Sophiko Khikhashviliis is announced:
Open letter by the Georgian Chess Federation

Dear President,

The Chess Federation of Georgia and the Georgian chess players always shared and acted according to one of the main principles of FIDE ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú that the chessboard is not the place for political games and that we are one family.

It's a pity that the politics brusquely intruded into the present-day reality.

The parliament of Georgia announced the State of War due to the dismal situation in the country. The airport is not functioning, the main road of the country is blocked, the state institutions and banks work in emergency regime.

Since, a big part of the territory of Georgia is destroyed, the peaceful towns are devastated by Russian soldiers, the number of refugees exceeded 40,000 people, the hospitals are full of injured peaceful civilians, strategically important infrastructure was bombed, huge material and moral damage was incurred upon our small country. Substantial part of the country is occupied; Mourning is announced in Georgia?¢‚Ǩ¬¶

Pursuant to the abovementioned, if the world championship is not shifted to another country, it will be impossible for the Georgian chess players Maia Chiburdanidze, Nino Khurtsidze, Maia Lomineishvili, Sophiko Gvetadze, Lela Javakhishvili and Sophiko Khikhashvili to participate in the World Championship.

Georgian chess federation 15.08.2008

Original article of August 13, 13:53 CET:

An open letter was published on Chessbase yesterday:

Open letter by the participants of the Women World Championship of FIDE

We, the participants of the Women World Championship 2008, express our worry about the current dangerous situation near Cabardino-Balkaria. We think when there is such a tense situation, it is not expedient to hold such a high level tournament in that area. That's why we kindly ask you to move this tournament to the safer place, which would be convenient for all the participants.

If you agree wth the abov, please join us with signing this letter, and please send it to FIDE and to us (Maia Chiburdanidze, Lela Javakhishvili, Sopio Gvetadze, Nino Khurtsidze, Maia Lomineishvili, Sopiko Khukhashvili) by e-mail:

We do not have the email addresses of all participants and kindly ask you to send this message to other participants you know.

Today we received FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov's response:

Elista, 13 August 2008


Dear chess friends!

After having read the open letter of several participants of the forthcoming World Chess Championship in Nalchik (Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, Russian Federation), I would like to make the following statement:

The World Chess Federation is in close contact with the Russian Chess Federation and the Championship's Organising Committee. The FIDE delegation visited the city of Nalchik during 5-6 August and took part in the meeting of the Organising Committee.

According to the information received, the preparation for the tournament has entered its final stages, and a lot of attention has been given to the issues of food, accommodation as well as the provision of all necessary security.

We are aware of the recent developments in South Ossetia, and would like to express our most sincere condolences to all who have become victims of this terrible tragedy.

However, in the current situation I appeal to all not to mix politics and sport, and not to involve FIDE and the world chess community into political, territorial and other disputes. All the issues should be settled at a chess board, and not beyond its limits. This issue is particularly critical during the days of the Olympic Games.

I am confident that we shall witness a very interesting World Championship in Nalchik, which will be organized on a proper level.

See you in Nalchik.

We are one family.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov President

Strangely, the FIDE President doesn't reassure the ladies by making it very clear that it's safe now in Nalchik. It might be, it might be not. Russia and Georgia have agreed on a ceasefire, but it's very fragile. FIDE seems to be referring to the situation when their delegation visited the host city, which was right before the violence started...

Update August 14, 14:15 CET:

Following the recent dramatic developments in South Ossetia and the public reaction of certain chess players concerning the World Women's Championship in Nalchik (Russia), I would like to emphasize that mixing politics with sports is clearly against the spirit of the international chess community. Always and everywhere. From my side I cannot see any alternative other than organising this event as planned and doing everything possible in order for all participants of the World Championship to arrive in Nalchik and start, without any postponement, the battle for the highest title in women's chess. Gens Una Sumus! Boris Kutin President of the European Chess Union

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