Top-class chess re-emerges into the sunlight!
Biel Leaves FIDE in the Shadow
The Biel Chess Festival kicked off yesterday, much to the consternation of the FIDE leadership. Undeterred by the coronavirus, the Biel organizers have incorporated the Swiss government’s recommended protective measures against the virus.
These do not include mandatory use of a mask, and only moderate social distancing. The top grandmaster-section will also see a transparent plexi-glass barrier between the players.
In the photo above, we can see P.Harikrishna (L) against M. Adams (R). Note the absence of masks or gloves. If it were not for the plexi-glass, it would seem like a completely normal tournament! You can find the PDF containing the complete protective conditions/regulations HERE.
The Biel Chess Festival continues until the 29th of July, and includes numerous tournaments and promotional events. Readers can follow the games LIVE on numerous sites, some with commentary.
While Biel is not the first over-the-board (OTB) tournament to be played since Europe has begun to cautiously emerge from the lock down, it is the certainly the most prestigious event to be held and marks the return of top-flight chess.
This has embarrassed the FIDE leadership, which just last week published on its website strict guidelines for return to OTB chess which are considerably different (and much more draconian, mandatory masks, no spectators, etc) from the Swiss organizers’ more flexible protective regulations. Infact, FIDE simply ignored what the Swiss –who had made public their regulations long ago– were trying to do!
FIDE risks being left out in the cold?
FIDE has seen its normal activities come to a complete standstill – for the first time since WW2 – since the coronavirus lockdown began in late March.
And what has been FIDE’s strategy against the coronavirus? It has not been guided by commonsense or consensus. There is NO coherent plan. Instead, the FIDE leadership has been zigzagging aimlessly, each time trying to profit from the virus!
Do you remember when sport after sport was being cancelled in early March? Then the global pandemic was declared on the 13th. FIDE’s leadership refused to consider cancelling the Candidates Tournament. They ignored the advice of many FIDE officials, and risking the health of the players. All for a cheap publicity stunt that ended up having to be stopped anyway!
Today, now that the world is opening up, what is FIDE doing? Nothing! Zero strategy. All of its 2020 tournaments have either been postponed or cancelled, including the World Chess Championship which had originally been slated for UAE in late November and is now slated for late 2021.
FIDE criticized for response to virus
Ironically, while FIDE was the very last sports organization to cancel its activities due to the risks of the virus, it will now likely be the very last sports organization to resume its activities as well!
FIDE has today , apparently, completely disappeared into the cyberworld, putting 100% of its priorities into developing its online presence.
At its latest online meeting (two weeks ago) the FIDE leadership set no concrete date for return to normal activities, instead announcing a number of online events.
In the opinion of numerous observers, including myself, it is very unlikely that FIDE will be able to organize the second half of the Candidate’s Tournament before the winter. Issues such as sponsorship, locale and logistics will prove too much for the Dvorkovich leadership to solve.
This explains why the FIDE leadership looks upon the re-emergence of OTB chess this summer with some consternation. It will demonstrate how incompetent FIDE has become these past 2 years since Dvorkovich took over the reigns, especially as most of the world gradually moves out from the lockdown.
FIDE will remain a prisoner of the cyberworld for some time in the future…
To be continued