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Mismanagement of ECU

The President of Turkish Chess Federation, Mr.Ali Nihat YAZICI, has published an open letter to European chess federations regarding the mismanagement of ECU. Below you will read this open letter as full letter.  

Dear friends, dear esteemed members and delegates of the European chess federations,

Ali Nihat Yazici, as the President of the Turkish Chess Fedaration, I want to write this open letter to clarify some issues around the European Chess Union, ECU. Due to the very intensive political environment during the ECU General Assembly in Khanty-Mansiysk in 2010, we decided that it was better to postpone the decision regarding the organization of the events to a new extraordinary assembly. This new Extraordinary General Assembly of the European Chess Union, ECU, will be held in Aix-les-Bains, on March 29th, 2011.

You can appreciate that if we thought in Khanty-Mansiysk that these decisions would be reached by the board, we did not need to schedule any Extraordinary General Assembly. Thus, it is very important that all decisions concerning the staging of tournaments are made by general assembly decision. The general assembly should hear the presentations of each tournament bidder within a specific time period, followed by the voting, and the decision would be reached without any problem. Why does the ECU leadership want to sidestep the extraordinary general assembly of ECU in all those critical decisions?

They want to change the statutes solely to control event decisions in Europe!

And suddenly, we saw an e-mail in front of us on 14 March 2011 by the General Secretary of ECU and realized there is a huge agenda. Indeed, there has been never any general assembly with such crowded agenda in ECU's history. This year's ordinary general assembly will be held in Crete, but we are seeing that ECU management under the leadership of Mr. Silvio Danailov wants to change a lot of key items in the statutes with this agenda in Aix-les-Bains. First of all, we should understand that many federations have little idea what is happening, because they think that the extraordinary general assembly is only for events, and because they don't plan on participating in these events, they have little incentive to participate in the extraordinary general assembly. Consequently, without collecting the views of all federations, it is not democratic and not politically correct to attempt to change so many issues, all of which have drastic and vital consequences for chess.

Let's analyze these items one by one. The most important of all, they want to change the statutes solely for the purpose of controlling event decisions in Europe. This proposal to change the statutes is absolutely illegal, because the member federations should be informed about statute changes well in advance, so that the federations can evaluate the proposals with sufficient time on their clock to prepare their reaction. Probably, many federations would put this extraordinary general assembly on their calendar in order to express their opinion. Although we have an ordinary general assembly in Crete in November, they want to change the statutes during the extraordinary general assembly in Aix-les-Bains, because they want to shift the power of ECU from the general assembly to the ECU board. Then, under the control of Mr. Danailov, ECU board is going to use event organizations as political weapons: they will give these events to anyone they want.

Based on the arguments listed above, as the Turkish Chess Federation, we declare that if the statutes are changed in Aix-les-Bains, we will sue the ECU directly to cancel this change. This item is obviously the most important of the ECU board's proposed changes. We hope that they will understand their legal mistake and correct it by withdrawing their proposal to change the statute.

Without generating a single Euro-cent income, they are proposing to change the budget that will further increase the expenses of the ECU!

The second most important item of the meeting in Aix-les-Bains is the budget. When I proposed a lot of financial resources during my election campaign for the ECU in 2010, I know that Mr. Danailov, my good friend, said that my promises are unfeasible. Just after he won the election, I congratulated him. As he thanked the general assembly for choosing him to be the president, he said that he is sorry that he can't find money, but that he will try his best.

Now, I understand that his best is to decrease the account of the ECU by paying himself and other employees of the ECU extra salaries. Not only does he earn 3,000€ per month through the ECU now, but he has also hired an executive director without the legal approval of the board. Other employees were hired, and he wants to change the budget so more money can be spent; these budget changes are not acceptable.

Since September 29th, 2010, with the general assembly, six months will have been completed under this mandate by March 29th, 2011. I cannot see a single Euro of sponsorship income, no funds are being raised, and the ECU account is going down the drain. Furthermore, they are not collecting debts from some organizers and federations. Let me count these debts one by one.

Three organisers have debts to the ECU, totalling around 100.000€.  One of the organizers is the current executive director of ECU, the other organizer is the federation of the ECU president!

The first debt arises from the European 2009 Youth Championship in Fermo. Not the Italian Chess Federation, but the company of Italian organizers there, has a huge debt, 30-40,000€, to the ECU.  This money has not been collected by the ECU management yet. You might say the previous management that should have done it, but the management of the ECU is a continuous entity; they should have collected or attempted to collect this money already.

The second debt is related to the 2008 European Individual Championship in Montenegro.  The Montenegro Chess Federation at the time was represented by Mr.Sakotic, who is now the executive director of the ECU. The Montenegro Chess Federation has a 24,000€ debt to the ECU as the 20% contribution from the 120,000€ prize fund.  A part of this money still resides in Montenegro. It is not the money of ECU board, it is all our money, and it is the federations' money. The country of a ECU officer is favoured by not collecting their debts.

The third debt is the most drastic one. The Bulgarian chess federation still owes the ECU the contribution for the prize fund of the 2009 European Individual Championship in Plovdiv. Now, I congratulate Mr. Danailov for being unanimously elected as the president of the Bulgarian Chess Federation. I am sure he, as the president of his federation, would be kind enough to pay this debt of his federation to the ECU in the shortest possible time. The paid prize fund to players in Plovdiv was 140.000€, so the 20% of ECU Contribution makes 35,000€, (140,000 * 5/4 * 1/5 = 35,000€). As a result, the Bulgarian Chess Federation owes 35,000€ to the ECU from Plovdiv EICC 2009.

My friends, we are talking about around 100,000 Euros. Such a huge sum of money is missing in the ECU account right now. When the numbers are this high, I must ask if I am making a mistake. The ECU management should correct me please if my calculations or sources are mistaken. Where is this money? Why is the ECU management not collecting it? Now they are willing to change the budget without any attempt to collect these debts. Thus, we are against this change of the budget. We propose to the general assembly that these three organizers should be sued by the ECU to collect their debts. Furthermore, the organizers Montenegro and Bulgaria, but not Italy, because the fault was not at the Italian Chess Federation, should be banned from all ECU events until their debts have been cleared.

Especially, when I read the letter of Mr. Danailov to the FIDE President saying that the Turkish Chess Federation did not pay a guarantee and deposits for EIWCC in Gaziantep, appendix 1, I become more ambitious for the ECU to collect these debts. The collection of these debts is not optional, but mandatory for a sound ECU management.  I invite the newly elected treasurer and board members to ask for this money. Otherwise, it will be all their responsibility.  Also now, I want to ask two important questions here:

  1. Did Tbilisi pay deposit fee and give a guarantee letter for EIWCC?
  2. Did they pay the bidding fee of 1.000€?

The last important financial matter relates to the prize fund of the EIWCC. On February 18th, 2011, the ECU board decided and clarified that the conditions of the Tbilisi offer were better than those of the Gaziantep offer.

I am now sharing a copy of their calculations prepared by Mr. Danailov, which were supposed to remain a secret.  As you can conclude from the calculations in the attachment, appendix 2, they are reducing the prize fund the players should receive by 30,000€ for no significant reason. Let's not forget that, had the tournament been organized in Gaziantep, there would have been additional prize funds of 10,000€ for both the European individual blitz and also the European individual rapid championships. The total prize fund would have been 160,000€, but the ECU board has decided to relinquish 50,000€ that the European players would receive. The difference in hotel accomodation costs for the players between Tiblisi and Gaziantep offers is quite insignificant compared to this huge 50,000€ difference in the prize fund.

In summary, because the finances of the ECU do no seem to be well-managed, we are against this budget proposal in the upcoming meeting in Aix-Les-Bains. The increase of ECU costs based on unnecessary salaries, the mismagement in collecting ECU debts, lack of success in finding sponsorship income and dubious financial decisions around event bidding have reduced our trust in the current ECU board greatly.

Now let us return back to the topics of Extra Ordinary GA in Aix-les Bains. Dear friends, the agenda is quite long, and several items remain. The ECU board would like to change some of the tournament regulations as well. Let's start with the Sofia rules.

Sofia rules?!  Such changes should be made not on a European, but on a global level!

The Sofia rules look like a bona fide proposal, but be mindful that our players from the European chess federations who participate in ECU events stand to qualify for FIDE events. If there is a rule, it should be applied to all cycles, not just one part of the cycle. This division of rules, among other negative effects, hurts the image of professional chess across the world.

Let me give you an example from the largest sport federation of the world. FIFA, the world soccer federation, could easily enforce rules to use soccer balls with chips inside to detect goals with great precision. But they still refrain from using such technology on the Champions League matches, because the smaller leagues cannot afford that type of equipment yet. We should carefully think why they are still sticking to one rule set across all leagues. Any attempt to divide the rule set of the world championship cycle is inherently damaging to the image of chess.

My proposal is the following:

The concept of preventing early draws is well-intended, but the decision should be made not just for European events, but for all continents and for FIDE. Let's make a proposal together, submit it to the FIDE General Assembly in Krakow, pass it there, and by 2012 apply it all over the world. It is not correct to have hybrid systems in the world championship cycle, because a competition should follow the same rules during every step.

Dress code for European events: without sponsorship and extra revenues, small federations are burdened financially by the dress code requirement.

Now, let's discuss the second item of the tournament regulations that the ECU board wishes to change: the dress code. I am happy with this change in general, but not with the proposal of the current management. As you can see in my ECU election campaign, I was also proposing the dress code, but with continental sponsorship. For example, we would sign a continental contract with Versace or Armani, and they would provide several male and female dresses to all European countries for the national team players for free. The dress would also include the name and country of the player on it.

Unfortunately, I must repeat again that without raising one Euro-cent for the ECU budget, the ECU board is now increasing the cost for the federations with this dress code requirement. My friend, Mr. Danailov, what did you do for Albania, for Faroe Islands, for Malta, for Whales, for Scotland, for Jersey, for Greece, for Armenia, for Russia, for Iceland?  This new dress code requirement further burdens financially many of European federations, including Latvia, Estonia, Moldova, etc., which cannot pay the entry fees of their players to the tournaments.  You promised to find dress code sponsorship, and you are obliged to find it.

As a result of this incomplete offer, we are against the dress code proposal also. Indeed, we would like to find something in these proposals that we could accept. Now, let's investigate the third item of the proposed changes for tournament regulations: Bilbao rules. It has nothing to do with bull fighting; this proposal is intended to give three points for a win, one point for a draw, and zero points for a loss. It looks like Mr. Danailov wants to speed up chess and to make it more spectacular. But don't judge so quickly and think that the offer is innocent.

Bilbao rules?! Will we have different rules for the same world championship  cycle?  What about rating and title calculations in Europe?

This proposal is incredible, it is a scandal, it is killing chess; not because of the 3-1-0 point system – it is not acceptable, because the consistency of chess titles and ratings is closely connected to the 1-½-0  pointing system. The Bilbao rules will not only bring chaos to chess ratings and titles, but also they mean that FIDE events will be conducted with the 1-½-0 point system, whereas European ones will  use the 3-1-0 system. How can this divide of rules make sense?

First of all, European events, as I repeated before, are part of the world championship cycle. Europe is not on the moon. Mr. Danailov should understand this fact. ‘Gens una sumus, Mr. Danailov. Gens una sumus.’ As the president of chess in Europe, you should understand that you cannot go into conflict with FIDE for the chess rules. In the last 100 years the rules have been the same, so what is the meaning of this proposal? It means is that you, Mr. Danailov, want to separate Europe from FIDE and have your own private organization. Probably you have an agenda; you are trying to create conflicts. I believe your hidden motives drive this scenario; therefore, as TSF, we are totally against this 'Bilbao rule' proposal as well. If it passes, we will do everything possible to repeal it and to punish this board for this decision passed though the extraordinary general assembly.

Copyright for moves?! It will only help chess disappear from newspapers, nothing else.

One more issue remains on the proposed list of changes: to introduce a copyright for chess moves. This idea is proposed every few years, but has no chance of success. Theoretically, I would be very happy as an organiser who has staged more than 100 events in the last ten years if I could collect a fee for each game published. The money would go to players and/or organisers and would be a source of additional income, but in the age of the Internet, this attempt is not enforceable. You cannot sell what everyone can get for free, and you cannot attempt to enforce it with legalistic methods. In the end, you would only earn the hate of the chess world.

Also the technicalities are quite unclear: who will own the copyright, the players, the organiser, the ECU, FIDE? For how long? Will a grandmaster be allowed to comment on games he has played, or does he need permission from the copyright owner. Is he allowed to discuss openings where the moves of recent games are quoted? Is a game that is mostly or wholly a repetition of moves previously played, with perhaps a few new moves tagged on, the property of the players, the organisers of the event or the ECU/FIDE? These are all questions that have to be thought through.

But most importantly the copyright of games is quite contrary to the general interests of chess. We are trying to get our beloved game into the media, to get more press and news coverage for our events. Placing bureaucratic hurdles in front of the media would simply ensure that chess would completely and finally disappear from the pages of magazines and newspapers. They would immediately replace chess with Bridge, Poker, Sudoku, or other board games. No editor of any newspaper will bother to apply to the ECU or a tournament director for permission to report on chess games – even if this was free. No TV channel will cover an event if there is a danger of being sued for copyright infringement.

The copyright proposal was the last item of the long list of the agenda the ECU board has prepared for our meeting in Axe-Les-Bains. The topic of the other proposals included the shift of event decision power from general assembly to the board , the budget, Sofia rules, dress code, and Bilbao rules.

We, as the Turkish Chess Federation, find all of these proposals unsound and lacking. Thus, we hope that you, the esteemed managers and delegates of the esteemed federations of the ECU, will give the best answer to Mr. Danailov and his team by rejecting all of these ineffectual proposals that could have very negative consequences for European and for world chess.


Gens Una Sumus

Respectfully yours,
Ali Nihat YAZICI

President of Turkish Chess Federation