2017 Women's World Championship Awarded To Iran; Other FIDE Decisions
The 2017 Women's World Championship will be held in Iran, and the 2020 Chess Olympiad will be held in Khanty-Mansiysk. So decided the FIDE General Assembly in Baku.
The FIDE Congress was held alongside the Olympiad in Baku, and, during the Olympiad's final days, so was the FIDE General Assembly. FIDE has now published a list of decisions made therein; the highlights are summarized for you here.
2017 Women's World Championship: Iran
We are starting with a fairly controversial one: The upcoming Women's World Championship will be held in Tehran, Iran in February 2017. The 2017 Championship will be a knockout format so this decision affects dozens of players.
The reigning U.S. Champion, IM Nazi Paikidze-Barnes, has already declared that she won't play in a reply to a tweet by GM Nigel Short.
@NaziPaiki) September 27, 2016
Short replied to her: "You should ask the Chair of the FIDE Commission for Women's Chess and fellow U.S. citizen, Susan Polgar, for an official comment." Short and Polgar (with her husband Paul Truong) have their own history and aren't exactly friends.
A main reason for concern for some players is that in Iran they have to wear a head scarf (hijab) during competition. This was also the case at the Grand Prix tournament (covered here), which took place last February in Iran's capital.
Natalija Pogonina (l.) and Natalia Zhukova wearing scarves in Tehran. | Photo FIDE.
Susan Polgar posted an article on her site stating that she has no issues with wearing a head scarf (hijab) "as long as it is the same to all players." She added: "If any player has a problem with it, she can and should voice her opinion to WOM (Commission for Women’s Chess) or FIDE and we can address it in our next meeting."
In another tweet, Paikidze-Barnes replied: "With all due respect, by wearing a hijab, we'd be supporting women's oppression," linking to an article that expresses the voice of Masih Alinejad, the founder of My Stealthy Freedom, who urges Western tourists to join them [in not wearing a hijab] in a show of solidarity.
2020 Olympiad to Khanty-Mansiysk
Only a decade after organizing its first Olympiad, Khanty-Mansiysk will be hosting its second. This decision by the Presidential Board was ratified by the General Assembly. No other city had delivered a bid to FIDE.
Khanty-Mansiysk, the oil boom town in Russia on the Irtysh River, has also hosted several World Cups and the 2010 Olympiad. Located 1900 km northeast of Moscow, it will be (another) difficult journey for most participating countries. Although it was well organized in 2010, many chess players won't be thrilled to return to Siberia.
Jamaica's proposal rejected
The proposal of the Jamaica Chess Federation (represented by Ian Wilkinson) to amend the General Assembly Agenda by including a proposal for the FIDE President to resign, was rejected. You can hear about Wilkinson's idea in the opening segment to this episode of ChessCenter. Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos did allow for a lengthy debate as discussed earlier in Chess.com's coverage.
Eventually, it was decided that Kirsan Ilyumzhinov could stay on as President. Makropoulos argued that because Ilyumzhinov only performs ceremonial tasks at the moment, the U.S. sanctions imposed on him last December should not affect him too much. FIDE officials admitted that, if the current situation doesn't change, the FIDE President can't run for another term during the 2018 presidential elections.
Financial reports approved
Our report on FIDE's precarious financial situation caused a bit of a stir and was mentioned by the FIDE treasurer at the start of his report for the General Assembly. However, it seems that very little has been done regarding our recommendations.
The General Assembly approved everything: the treasurer’s report, his proposal to amend the financial regulations, the report of the external auditors Ernst & Young for the financial year 2015, the report of the Verification Commission. The treasurer was discharged from his obligations for the financial year 2015, and Ernst & Young, Switzerland was re-appointed as external auditors for the year 2016.
At the Baku Olympiad, Ilyumzhinov talked around the question of FIDE's current financial situation. When asked if the organization is bankrupt, he would only reply that it was nearing bankruptcy when he took over as president in 1995.
Even more federations
Even more federations are now affiliated with FIDE. Burkina Faso, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, Timor Leste, South Sudan, Eritrea, Liberia, Nauru, Cape Verde were officially accepted (although some already played during the Olympiad). The total number of federations is now 188 according to the revised FIDE directory.
Kosovo was accepted as a full member too. As with other sports organizations (and international diplomacy), an asterisk will be added to its name during competitions. This will refer to: "This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSC 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence."
Filatov's World Championship proposal rejected
Represented by its President Andrey Filatov, the Russian Chess Federation had come up with a proposal (in PDF here) to change the world championship cycle. Simply put, according to Filatov anyone who can raise enough money should be able to become a challenger for the world championship.
Andrey Filatov was also Russia's team captain in Baku.
The Association of Chess Professionals (ACP) had strongly objected to this idea and even launched a petition against the proposed change. They argued that the world champion title must be achieved “only through a proper sport cycle, especially at a time when chess is increasingly recognized as a sport.” At the General Assembly, Filatov's proposal was rejected.