Late last month, the Turkish Chess Federation withdrew as host of the 2011 European Women’s Championship. The reason given by Ali Nihat Yazici, the federation’s president, was that he and the federation had been treated badly by the European Chess Union, the governing body of the game in Europe.
Wednesday, in a letter sent to Silvio Danailov, the president of the E.C.U., Mr. Yazici wrote that the Turkish Federation was again ready to organize the event, but he said that he did not want to communicate with Sava Stoisavljevic, the general secretary of the E.C.U., who mostly dealt with Mr. Yazici in the earlier negotiations over the contract. He also asked for an apology from Mr. Danailov.
(Ms. Stoisavljevic wrote in an e-mail that she regretted using the words â€œdouble standardsâ€ in one of her e-mails to Yazici and was willing to apologize for that.)
Accompanying his offer, Mr. Yazici included a contract with the regulations for the championship. On the question of whether late entries would be accepted, which was the sticking point in the earlier negotiation, the contract says, â€œAfter the deadline, no players will be accepted to the event. This is the decision of ECU. If ECU wants a player in event after the deadline, 300 euro penalty should be paid to organizers.â€
Ms. Stoisavljevic had said that late fees were unacceptable, but that the Turkish Federation could bar late entries if it was concerned about higher costs that it might incur.
In the last few years, the Turkish Chess Federation has taken on a major role in the chess world as the host of important events, among them the 2010 Women’s World Championship, World Youth Championships (in 2007 and 2009) and a women’s grand prix tournament. In 2012, it will host the biennial Chess Olympiad, the biggest national team event.
The Turkish Federation’s growing role has been seen by many as a boon to chess. But there have also been some issues beyond the disagreement with the E.C.U.
Last Friday, 18 of the 64 participants in the women’s world championship complained about the event’s organization in a letter of protest to the World Chess Federation. Among the complaints were that the women felt that they had been overcharged for the hotel in which they stayed and played (they paid 130 euros a night, or about $176 at the current exchange rate) and that the quality of the facilities was substandard.
(The contract for the European Women’s Championship says that the players can stay in the Dedeman Gaziantep Hotel, the site of the tournament, which is a little more than nine miles from the town of Gaziantep. The cost for room and board for the entire event, which runs from March 19 through April 1, is 1,105 euros ($1,493) per person in a double room, and 1,365 euros ($1,844) for a single room. Players have a choice of a second hotel, the UÄŸur Plaza, in the center of town, but just for the room. The cost would be 897 euros ($1,212) per person for a double and 1,157 euros ($1,563) for a single.)
The complaint followed by a few days a letter published by Mr. Yazici on the federation’s Web site in which he revealed that a company called Global Chess MFZE had paid $67,500 of the expenses he incurred when he ran for the presidency of the European Chess Union last fall. He was defeated by Mr. Danailov.
While Mr. Yazici’s disclosure was not a problem, it seemed that it was an attempt to deflect recent questions about how he has spent the federation’s money.
In an e-mail, Mr. Yazici said that the complaints by the women in the world championship were unfounded. â€œThe room price we paid to hotel is 105 euros and for the halls we paid 2,000 euros per day rent,â€ he wrote. â€œSo I leave you the issue if anyone may make any money with this costs.â€
Mr. Yazici said that members of the World Chess Federation, which is also known by the acronym FIDE (for FÃ©dÃ©ration Internationale des Ã‰checs), would be meeting soon to discuss the complaint and would issue a statement afterward, so he did not want to comment further on the specific issues. (Mr. Yazici is a vice president of FIDE.) But he wrote, â€œIt is not fair to be subject of such complaints after what we have done for women chess, what we have been doing for many years, and we will do in the future.â€
Alexandra Kosteniuk, a Russian grandmaster who was the women’s world champion before losing the title in Turkey, was one of the players who signed the letter of complaint. In a telephone interview on Tuesday, she agreed with Mr. Yazici about how well the Turkish Federation had run previous events. â€œThis tournament was an exception,â€ she said. â€œI don’t know why.â€
She said that in addition to overcharging for the hotel, it was substandard, especially for such a prestigious event. â€œThe women’s world championship is the main event on the women’s calendar,â€ said Ms. Kosteniuk. â€œWhen they are coming to this event, they want to feel this is a world championship event.â€
Ms. Kosteniuk said that she knew there were better alternatives, mentioning that several players stayed in a hotel in the center of Antakya, the city where the championship was held, and that it was â€œquite nice.â€
Ms. Kosteniuk said she was not necessarily upset about being overcharged. â€œWe are not talking about a 30 euros difference,â€ she said. It was more the principle. Compared with previous events, â€œthey didn’t provide the same level of organization.â€ She and the other players filed the protest because â€œwe want that the same thing not happen in the future.â€
In an e-mail, Mr. Yazici did not explain why he posted the letter on the federation’s Web site saying that Global Chess MFZE had paid his election expenses. He only wrote that the company had no relation with FIDE, the E.C.U. or any chess federation.
The company’s name is strikingly similar to a Dutch company called Global Chess BV that was started in 2007 by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the president of FIDE, and Bessel Kok, a past chief executive of S.W.I.F.T. (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, an electronic clearinghouse for banks), who ran unsuccessfully against Ilyumzhinov for the presidency of the federation in 2006. Geoffrey Borg was hired as chief executive. In a telephone interview last week, Mr. Kok said that the company had $1 million in working capital.
The purpose of Global Chess was to create a professional chess circuit with major sponsors and significant prizes. In this, it was moderately successful.
A Grand Prix and a World Cup were organized, but almost all of the tournaments were in Eastern Europe and Russia, which was not the intent when the events were created. More importantly, Global Chess was unable to attract any major sponsors to underwrite the costs.
Mr. Kok said, â€œUltimately the funds that we had for operating cash flow for several years had to be reinjected into the grand prix to keep the cash prizes alive.â€
Last year, Global Chess BV was liquidated, according to Mr. Kok. In an e-mail, Mr. Borg said that some of the company’s assets were sold to a London-based company called Chess Lane, which is reportedly owned by David Kaplan, who used to be the World Chess Federation’s director of development. Mr. Kaplan is not mentioned on Chess Lane’s Web site.
A new company called Global Chess MFZE was also formed and based in Dubai. Mr. Borg said that he is on the company’s board of directors and that the company is privately held. He said that the question of its ownership is confidential, but he said that it does not have any commercial relationships with FIDE.
Asked why the company paid Mr. Yazici’s campaign expenses, Mr. Borg, who was part of Mr. Yazici’s campaign slate for the E.C.U., wrote that the company believed he was the best candidate. The wire transfer that Mr. Yazici posted on his Web site shows that the money was paid on Oct. 27, 2010, almost one month after the election was held.
While Mr. Yazici lost the election for the E.C.U., he is now a vice president of FIDE.
Mr. Borg also got a position. He is FIDE’s chief executive.
Asked when he became chief executive, Mr. Borg wrote that it was on the last day of the Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, after the elections for FIDE’s top offices and for the E.C.U. were held. Mr. Borg wrote, â€œThis position was nominated by FIDE President on the last day of the General Assembly.â€ Mr. Borg said that his job â€œis primarily Federation relations and reviewing with them their strategic and development objectives.â€