SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
The Canadian Open Chess Championship:
standards too high …or simply ‘too many notes’ ?
The Canadian Open Chess Championship is the flagship tournament of Canadian chess, and has been long before I even became interested in chess (and that is a long time ago!) . The Canadian Open has presented itself as the perfect opportunity for the Canadian chess community to show to the world its best side.
Over the years some of the world’s leading grandmasters have played in the Canadian Open: Bobby Fischer, Bent Larsen, Ljubo Ljubojevic, Alexi Shirov, Vasily Ivanchuk, Michael Adams and Nigel Short are just a few of those who come to mind.
For decades the Canadian Open was the only real opportunity the average Canadian player had to mingle and/or play with famous players! I played in more than a dozen Canadian Opens and won quite a few of them. I played my first grandmaster in a Canadian Open. And I have made many friendships from all over Canada because the Canadian Open moves around the country each year!
The Canadian Open is, infact, one of the VERY FEW things that you can actually be proud of about Canadian chess!
It now appears that all of this might soon change ,especially if the newly acclaimed CFC president (Bob Gillanders) gets his way. According to Gillanders, the Canadian Open is a victim of its own success and it is time to lower the standard.
A taste of things to come?
Writing on the CFC message board ( http://www.chesscanada.info/forum/showthread.php?t=1081
), Gillanders laments the fact that bidding for the flagship tournament is simply out of the question for the average, penniless week-end tournament organizer. He wants to change that and he has a plan:
”I invite organizers who are reluctant to submit bids for fear they can’t compete, to go ahead and submit a bid.”
While the CFC president has virtually zero experience in Canadian chess at a national level (Bob only appeared on the radar several years ago), he already feels confident arguing that there exists a problem where no one else sees a problem:
”We have been treated to some very spectacular Canadian Opens recently. Large numbers of GM’s IM’s, the best venues. The last Canadian Open in Edmonton had an unbelievable lineup of GM’s, and this year in Toronto, had a very classy venue at the Westin Harbour Castle.
While we want to strive for excellence, perhaps we are setting the bar too high. Excellence costs money…Occasionally, we do need to settle for a more modest tournament.”
Whom ever it was who said ”Nothing succeeds like success.”
no doubt had not forseen the arrival of Bob Gillanders! This entire episode reminds me of a scene from the 1985 hit Amadeus where the Emperor criticizes a wildly successful score by Amadeus for having ”too many notes”!
…quite simply, the Canadian Open has been too successful for its own good!
Ist Campomanes Cup:
one more victim of the FIDE election?
Florencio Campomanes (1927 to 2010)
Soon after Campomanes passed away in May of this year, FIDE president Ilyumzhinov announced a $1 million dollar donation to organize a series of Campomanes Memorials over the next decade. The first Memorial (called the Campomanes Cup) is slated for Manila later this month (August 28 to September 5).
The problem is that this tournament coincides with the long announced dates of the annual Malaysian Chess Festival to be held in Kuala Lumpur, some 2400 kms away. This has not pleased the Malaysian organizers (understandably) and now there are cries of ‘foul’ coming from some corners of the world. In my friend Ian Rogers’ most recent chess column, a conspiracy theory develops:
”The battle for the leadership of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) is becoming a distinctly unpleasant affair, with news that supporters of current President Kirsan Iljumzhinov are attempting to sabotage a traditional tournament in South-East Asia.
For many years the Malaysian Open has been the strongest open tournament in our region (although in recent years Canberra ’s Doeberl Cup and the Sydney International have developed into worthy rivals).The Malaysian Open attracts strong delegations from China,Vietnam and,especially,the Philippines.
This year as part of his re-election world tour,Iljumzhinov promised to give $US100,000 per year to host a memorial tournament for the former FIDE President Florencio Campomanes .The tournament was to rotate around the 10 members of ASEAN,with the first event to be held in Campomanes’s home country of the Philippines. A new event in SE Asia was welcomed by all until the schedule was announced:the Campomanes Memorial was to be held at the end of this month – a direct clash with the Malaysian Open.
With four times the prizemoney,the effect on the Malaysian Open was likely to be severe,but then came news that the top Filipino players – a few of whom had played in almost every Malaysian Open – had been threatened with bans by their federation if they preferred the tournament in Kuala Lumpur. The reason given was that Malaysia was supporting Anatoly Karpov for President, not Iljumzhinov.(The organiser of the Malaysian Open,Hamid Majid,has put himself forward as FIDE secretary on Karpov ’s ticket and the tournament sponsor,Dato Tan Chin Nam,has also supported Karpov ’s campaign.)
While Iljumzhinov’s ‘anything goes’ tactics have ruled the chess world for 15 years,the most distasteful part of this scenario is that the Filipino tournament is supposed to be a memorial to Campomanes – and the former FIDE chief was one of the biggest supporters of the Malaysian Open–competing there only a few years before he died.
Karpov, like many before him, has no answer to Iljumzhinov ’s vote-collecting ways but has now taken the route of legal action, attempting to get Iljumzhinov ’s candidacy declared invalid at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Karpov ’s chances at the CAS seem reasonable – FIDE has lost a number of cases there in the past – but with the vote for FIDE President due in the first days of October,the court decision may come too late to help Karpov.”
Personally, (while I love conspiracy theories) I don’t see a genuine conspiracy here: Though I do think that it is very unfortunate that a controversy should be allowed to develop over a tournament that is meant to honour a man who spent his life promoting the game that he loved so dearly. Surely there must have been a better way for the Philippine organizers to have dealt with the situation.
On the other hand, doing some research on the ‘net, trying to see what the Philippine blogs have to say about the situation, I find that Ian might have exaggerated somewhat. Apparently, the Malaysian chess festival will probably be even bigger this year in terms of participation than last year! That does not seem like the result of a concerted sabotage…And then we must remember that Manila is very far away from Malaysia: I think that few Philippine amateurs were likely to have travelled more than 2,000 kms to play.
But perhaps the most reasonable explanation for this unfortunate planning on the part of the Philippine Chess Federation is that the Campomanes Cup is actually part of a 2-tournament festival (the Pichay Cup–from August 21 to 26; then the Campomanes Cup ) that is being used to promote norm-making for the Philippine players. It was felt that organizing them one after the other would have more benefits and also reduce costs for the invited 30-odd GMs from all over the world. Already the media is becoming excited…
( For example: http://www.sportsnews.ph/1733/asians-europeans-set-to-invade-manila
As for rumours of threats of Philippine players being banned should they go to Malaysia, I can only wait patiently for verification of said rumours. Not withstanding, I have the highest regard for Ian Rogers as a journalist and chess player. No doubt he believes what he writes; there is never any maliciousness or politiking in his reports.
The Karpov campaign has taken an ugly turn this past week with some nasty articles appearing on the official campaign site (http://www.karpov2010.org/
) First Nigel Freeman’s widely published explanation about FIDE (and especially its finances) was ridiculed and the author went over the line at several points gratuitously calling into question Nigel’s integrity and professionalism.
Accused of ‘fabricating’, misleading and ‘spreading rumours’, amongst other things
There has been no response from Nigel so far, and I am hoping that he will not dignify the crap written about him. Freeman’s track record is beyond reproach: there is simply no individual in the chess world who commands the same level of respect and integrity for his work as an organizer and now as FIDE treasurer. In the financial world Nigel is extremely highly regarded. Infact, at times I find myself wondering about the great stroke of luck that Ilyumzhinov had in getting Nigel on board in the first place!
It should be embarrassing for Karpov that he would allow such a torrent of verbal garbage to fill the home page of his campaign site. It is really nothing but character assassination!
NEXT, today a new recruit for the Karpov team –the Malasian chess activist Abd Hamid Majid
–wrote a colourfully offensive article that he characterized as his personal manifesto
. He described Ilyumzhinov as unsavoury;
the FIDE executive as villains of ill-reputation;
and the practice of charging FIDE member-countries dues as outright looting.
I would not be surprised if the article gets pulled (or atleast edited) before the end of the week. If parts of it are not outright slanderous, then surely this article must represent a low point in the Karpov campaign. Could it be that Karpov is not aware of what appears on his website, or that he has no control over it?
A CUTE TWIST:
DRUG TESTING IN CHESS AN EXAMPLE FOR OTHERS TO FOLLOW?
”Congressman Cliff Stearns speaks on anabolic steroids in baseball and even mentions that the World Chess Federation is implementing drug testing through the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA). This news topic that aired on ESPN2 is about ridding steroids in sports. The World Anti Doping agency drug testing plan is used in the Olympics and by the NCAA. The BIG question is when will WADA implement and enforce its steroid testing rules upon the International Federation of Body Builders (IFBB)? They are clearly some of the biggest steroid abusers on planet earth. Is their drug testing a farce? How many more people will have to die or be killed before the problem is looked into?”
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS