SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
”Dear Mr. Spraggett: With days to the Olympiad, Hal Bond, Agent 013, has informed us a terrible error has caused the excursion price to increase by $5,000.00. Count them. Five BIGGIES! While he neglects to tell us the exact Fuck Up which caused the extra cost, we can only guess. On the one side we have a carrier, which is not named, and on the other the CFC and their track record with travel to foreign adventures.”–TJ , September 14
The CFC has a long, colourful –and expensive– history of flubbing travel arrangements!
This was the first that I had heard about this, so I checked out the official CFC message board. Sure enough, Mr. Hal Bond had just posted an urgent request for CFC members to open their wallets and show how little they care about what the CFC really does with their money:
”… The cost of sending our teams was increased by about $5,000 when the organizers changed the schedule of charter flights after our tickets were booked, forcing us to re-book! Then the schedules were changed again, and as it stands we will have to overnight in Munich on the way back.
On the plus side, we have received confirmation that our entire delegation will be staying at the “Hotel Olympic” – the newly finished 846 room hotel built for the occasion. If you are in a position to contribute, the CFC would love to hear from you. Every little bit helps! ”-Hal Bond
Hal Bond. Never very far from the money…
To give the readers a bit of perspective, everytime that an Olympiad comes around–every 2 years– the CFC does some fundraising. This year’s Olympiad is being held in Siberia (Khanty Mansiysk) from the 19th of this month to the first days of October.
The CFC has decided to send 2 teams ( male and female), implying a committment of approximately 20,000 dollars. To date, according to the CFC website (http://www.chess.ca/) just slightly more than 10,000 dollars has been raised–including a carry-over of 1,945 dollars from previous years and a rather bizarre 2,000 donation from the FQE. That is, the CFC has effectively raised just over 6,300 dollars this year from the membership.
Not very much, we have to agree! That works out to just about 4 dollars per member. Hardly enthusiastic support! But then again, the CFC executive apparently does not consider the Canada’s participation at the Olympics a very big priority.
For example,just a few weeks ago– in the one and only communication to the membership from this newly acclaimed Executive (GL1) — Bob Gillanders, the CFC President, did not deem it worthy/necessary to mention the upcoming Olympiad or the National Team in his address to the membership. But I don’t want to single out Bob: he was not the ony one to ignore the obvious! Neither did Lyle Craver–the CFC Secretary. And shame of all shames: Fred McKim–the CFC Treasurer–followed suite!
Craver, McKim and Gillanders: big ABBA fans?
So this was the quandry that the CFC found itself when it was suddenly announced that the cost of sending the 2 teams had jumped a staggering 5,000 dollars (25% increase). And ofcourse, TJ’s email to me got me wondering about why no real details were given when Mr. Bond posted his desperate plea for more money from the memberships…I started to do some digging.
Under normal circumstances, with such a large expense for sending players to the Olympiad, the CFC would buy insurance with their tickets. Especially cancellation insurance. I recall that when , in 2003, GM Lesiege cancelled at the last moment to go to Buenos Aires to represent Canada at the Pan American Championship, the CFC President Haldor Pallson remarked to me that one of the smartest things the CFC had done was to have bought insurance! The CFC did not lose much money in that case. Could it be that the CFC did NOT buy insurance with their tickets and later had to buy new ones when the problem arose?
As I continued investigating, it soon became clear that it had nothing to do with buying or not buying insurance. I found some helpful articles on the web about how frustrating it was for other federations to have to make travel arrangements with the organizers of the Olympiad constantly changing charter flight times. In particular, I came across a post from Toronto’s Ilia Bluvshtein ( on http://www.chessvibes.com/) that provided valuable information and insight into the CFC’s problems.
Ilia Bluvshtein, father of GM Bluvshtein, is responsible for the travel arrangements to and from Khanty Mansiysk.
“The organizers provide charter flights to Khanty-Mansiysk from 4 cities in Europe: Moscow, Prague, Munich, and Milan. Tentative schedule for charter flights was provided in the Official Invitation. Delegations had to book charter flights by May 20th. Essentially it meant that delegations had to purchase tickets to European airports at the same time because flights to Europe are linked to charters.
Then without any notification flight schedule was changed in another announcement issued on July 28th. What I know is that the flight Khanty-Milan was moved down significantly and some delegations would not be able to catch their flights from Milan on the way from the Olympiad. (Our Canadian situation was aggregated by the fact the we booked charters from different airports: through Munich on the way to the Olympiad and through Milan on the way from the Olympiad. The registration system allowed us to do this and the Organizers told us nothing at that time. After I found out from the website that we would not be able to catch the flight from Milan to Canada, it also appeared that organizers put us on the flight Khanty-Munich instead of Khanty-Milan…without any notice! So we had to re-book the tickets and incur financial losses.)
Then without any notification the flight schedule was changed again! The organizers simply changed flight times on the web announcement from July 28th!!! It happened somewhere between July 30th (when I checked previous time) and August 27th (when I found out the new schedule). I know that flight time for charters Khanty-Munich and Khanty-Milan were changed. Probably there were other changes as well…
I know that other Federations are also outraged at all these changes.”–Ilia Bluvshtein
Could it be–to use TJ’s words–that Ilia ‘fucked up‘?
What Ilia writes is a bit confusing, so I checked out the FIDE/organizers’ information bulletins, especially that of February 24th (LINK) and the official invitation to the Canadian federation
”Teams and other participants (Congress people, accompanying people) who want to take advantage of the proposed charters will be asked to indicate their preferred venue. OC will do its utmost to meet all requirements. However, no guarantee is given until all registrations are known…”–February 24.
Could it be that Ilia Bluvshtein went ahead and booked the flights to and from Europe BEFORE receiving written confirmation of his preferred charter flights/venues ?
Now, had the CFC bought insurance when booking the anticipated confirmation, it still should not have cost the CFC an EXTRA 5,000 dollars, because at most it would mean catching a later flight! So where did the 5,000 dollars go? To answer this you have to realize that Ilia wanted charter flights from Munich to Khanty Mansiysk and then Khanty Mansiysk to Milan! In otherwords, the ‘venue’ city is not the same.
The organizers, when they published the actual charter arrangements for Canada, corrected Ilia’s request and had the charter flights Munich to Khanty Mansiysk to Munich. In the official invitation to the Canadian federation it was made clear that while the cost of the charter to the players was ”zero”–they had only to play 60 dollars per head for taxes–any accompanying person would have to pay full price:
Accompanying people pay full cost of the ticket:
Dubai-Khanty-Mansiysk-Dubai – $2000
Prague-Khanty-Mansiysk-Prague – $1500
Moscow-Khanty-Mansiysk-Moscow – $1000
It should have been obvious to Ilia Bluvshtein that the venue had to be same city on the return flight! And it was for this reason that the return tickets (originally from Milan) for the entire Canadian delegation had to be rebooked to fly out of Munich, at the extra cost of 5,000 dollars.
Clearly, this was not the fault of the organizers. It was Ilia’s initial mistake that cost the CFC so much money: he should have contacted the organizers and clarified this point had he any doubts at all. Just because the automated online registration system ”allowed us to do this” (–Ilia’s own words) is not a good enough excuse.