The participants of a recent international women’s chess championship held in Turkey have issued an open letter to the World Chess Federation (FIDE) complaining about widespread abuses and substandard conditions they endured while playing in the tournament.
The open letter, signed by 18 of the participants of the 2010 Women’s World Chess Championship, was published Monday on the blog of World Chess Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk. It criticizes the Turkish city of Hatay for a poorly organized event, excessive and unjustified fees, substandard conditions, poor hospitality and overcharging.
The New York Times chess blog presents the background story in a post titled, About Face: Turkish Federation Offers to Organize Event It Dropped.
Below is the letter in its entirety:
Open letter regarding the Women’s World Chess Championship 2010 in Antakya/Hatay
We, the players of the Women’s World Chess Championship 2010 in Antakya/Hatay who have signed this document below, would like to share with the chess community and FIDE our thoughts about the level of the organization of the recent women’s world championship.
The reason for this letter is to make the governing chess body, FIDE, aware of the problems that exist. We are chess professionals and would like to see the women’s chess world championship as the ultimate chess event which should be organized at the highest level. After qualifying for this prestigious event, we have to pay our own expenses to come and play in this championship. As such we would like to feel that we are the participants of a world chess tournament rather than are being overcharged, starting from the transfer and ending with the hotel.
There are certain points we neither understand nor accept, and to avoid disappointments in the future, we would like to express them now, so that next time around, the same problems do not occur.
Hotel and location
Full board in the Hotel Anemon Antakya for the participants of the championship cost 130 Euros. The regular price for the same hotel with no food is 60 Euro per day. The hotel was located far away from the center of Antakya on a noisy, dirty road with nowhere towalk around. Some players tried to book their rooms through the official website of the hotel, where the room price per day was about 65-75 €, including breakfast. Obviously the remaining 60 € could be spent for a very adequate lunch and dinner. But they were informed that the hotel was booked out, and it was impossible to book a room without going through the organising committee.
Even though normally only the players are forced to stay in the official hotels, in Turkey everybody who came with a player needed to stay in the same official hotel. Which made the participation in the world championship even more expensive for players who decided to come with their trainers. ‘s an easy way for the organizers to force the players to pay more than they should.
The participants were given rooms in a four-star hotel, overlooking a dirty and very noisy highway, with unhealthy air conditions and nowhere to go walking at all! The walls between the rooms were so thin, the players could hear what was going on in the rooms next to theirs. Due to to all these conditions, the level of rest and preparation needed for players for such an important event was lower than usual.
Comparing to Nalchik 2008, where the players were obliged to pay only for accomodation and could buy lunch and dinner either in the hotel or in restaurants nearby, in Antakaya we didn’t have a choice. We had to pay for the food, but in the first few days the players were left starving, since the size of the portions offered were quite small and there was no buffet to choose from. In such important events as the world championships, since participants from all over the world are taking part in the event, we believe that some variety of food has to be proposed.
The price of 130 €, given the location and market conditions, was unreasonably high, and players and their families had no choice but pay for poor service at prices far above market value to the organizers.
Considering all of the above, we would like to ask FIDE that even though the prize fund hasn’t changed or improved since 2001, at least the venue of the championship shouldn’t become more expensive, and the event should not be located in places where conditions seem bad and unhealthy for the participants.
Transfer & Registration Fee
The participants were charged 40 € for a ten-minute trip from the airport to the hotel. A local taxi would have been DRASTICALLY cheaper, and these taxis had room for at least three players. So basically we were being overcharged!
The players were also asked to pay a “registration fee” or deposit of 100 Euros, which is something new for the World Championship, and not convenient for the players.
Even though, this time, there were no politically interfering circumstances as in Nalchik, most players seemed disappointed when comparing this World Championship to previous editions. There we were no guides or warm welcomes for the participants in Turkey.
The first game of the first round was played in the Archeological Museum of Antakya which is a very beautiful place but was absolutely unacceptable for a serious chess tournament. All the noise of the road was heard inside the Museum and was disturbing to the players. A decision to move even a single round from the regular hall to another location is absolutely unacceptable for such high profile events.
There were also not enough qualified arbiters for the first rounds, especially for the tie-breaks. From the coverage of the championship, you could learn that coaches and other players who didn’t play helped the organizers to monitor the rapid games during the tie-breaks.This should be absolutely avoided.
The 2010 Women’s World Championship was a real disappointment for most of us. The impression we got was that the organizers wanted to spend the least amount of money, while earning as much as possible from the players, which is unacceptable for such high profile events. Therefore, in order to avoid such unpleasant situations in the future, we ask FIDE to take more serious steps for choosing a city-candidate for such important events. A FIDE representative, preferably a female player, should visit a site which is bidding for such an important event before it is accepted as the venue by FIDE. Before being accepted, the organizer of a future world championship should sign a special contract with FIDE, guaranteeing minimum quality of organization. the points we discussed in this letter (quality of hotel, food, opening and closing ceremonies, hall of play, payments from players, etc.) should be specified in this contract and none of these should be changed before the event or without notifying FIDE.
We are also asking FIDE to improve the contract that all the participants sign before the world championship, as some points are not acceptable such as the requirements for the players to wear any clothes or brands that FIDE proposes (point 4.4).
The contract between FIDE and the players for the upcoming world championship should include the name of the hotel and the exact price the player will need to pay and exactly for what services. That price should be reasonably close to market prices for those accommodations. We hope that FIDE will take into serious consideration this open letter and will make sure all these very important questions are addressed in order to ensure all future events are held with fair conditions for the players.