Canberra Times, February 11, 2001
Only three months too late, the world's chess federations are waking up to the fact that handing control of the World Championship to an fledgling company for the next 27 years may not have been the brightest of ideas.
FIDE Commerce, the body owned by the World Chess Federation (FIDE) President Kirsan Iljumzhinov, bought the rights to the World Championship from FIDE at the Istanbul Olympiad and has in a few short months managed to destroy years of tradition in the name of commercialisation of the game.
Howls of protest have been heard and ignored as FIDE Commerce trashed the zonal tournaments, normally the route through which Australian players have qualified for the World Championship.
(Australia, with the support of Asia, is considering forcing a showdown by holding a zonal tournament in mid-year in the hope that FIDE will relent and allow an Oceanic qualifier for the 2001 Championship.
FIDE Commerce's plan to limit World Championship games to around two hours (instead of the current seven hour maximum) has generated even more heat, especially when FIDE attempted to claim that the move was supported by the top players.
FIDE surveyed the players at the recent New Delhi World Championship tournament but, realising that their new rate would enjoy virtually no support, declined to mention the specific rate they had in mind.
A modestly positive response to one vague question was then taken as "overwhelming support" for the new rate and the change was ratified, possibly illegally, by the FIDE board headed by Iljumzhinov.
To add insult to injury, FIDE recommended that all tournaments use their new time limit.
While two hour games are common at Australian weekend tournaments, the effect of such a time limit on the quality of top chess would be devastating.
Unfortunately, despite growing protests and most tournament organisers being happy to ignore FIDE, the world body appears set on the road to ruin.
The following game is taken from the Aosta Valley Open, currently underway in Saint Vincent, Italy; a tournament featuring 29 Grandmasters.
Saint Vincent Open 2001
The Kambah Open will begin at the Southside Chess Centre on February 15 at 7.30pm. Details: Geoff Butler 0404-856801.