Saudi Arabia offers $2 million prize fund
Blitz tournament in Saudi Arabia provokes controversy
For a while it seemed that FIDE would have to cancel its World Rapid & Blitz Championship this year…because of (if you can believe it) the lack of an interested sponsor (!), but Riyadh, Saudi Arabia stepped in at the 11th hour with a stunning $2-million prize fund. The is slated for the 26th to 30th December, and will formally be called the King Salman World Chess Championships.
Criticism was not long in coming, and some well known players announced their of the event. Most objected to Saudi Arabia’s dismal record on human rights, Yemen and/or the general treatment of women. Others pointed out some players (Israeli and Iranian especially) would not be able to get a visa. This last point is currently being by the respective governments.
Personally I don’t have an opinion for or against FIDE’s decision on rewarding a regime like Saudi Arabia with an important and prestigious championship. We have all seen FIDE do it before. Criticism seems to have no impact on discouraging such decisions in the future. It is all about the money.
I don’t hold chess players responsible for our leaders’ decisions. And I respect what ever decision any chess player will take regarding to their participation or non-participation in Saudi Arabia.
Besides, on the global stage our politicians are even more shameless: lining up to sell tens of billions of dollars of arms to Riyadh. At least in chess we know that nobody is going to get hurt.
When it comes to Saudi Arabia, money is the only King. And most everybody seems to sleep well at night…sadly. Who says that money can not buy happiness?