Eoin Devane wrote:
From an interview from Sport Express, posted on the Chessbase website in November:
Question: At the recent Olympiad, there was a lot of talk about the new rule, whereby players are defaulted if they are even one minute late for the game. At a press conference, you said that this will be extended further, to all official FIDE events. Why such maximalism, Kirsan Nikolaevich?
Answer (Kirsan Ilyumzhinov): But you remember the Olympiads at Calvia and Turin, when the hall was half-empty for the first few minutes? And to this day, I still remember with shame how during the world championship match in Luzerne, on 2 January 1989, I stood on stage with IOC President Juan Samaranch, waiting to start the clocks in the Karpov-Anand match. Anatoly Evgenievich turned up ten minutes late. And Samaranch said to me â€œYou tell me chess is a sport? Can you imagine if a boxer turned up in the ring ten minutes late?â€ I did not know what to say! But at this latest Olympiad, the chief arbiter told me that, out of thousands of games, there were only three or four where anyone was late. So yes, I proposed that in all official FIDE events, the rule should be that a player who is not present when the clocks are started, loses immediately. It is claimed that chess disciplines a playerâ€™s thought processes â€“ for that reason, we include it in many countriesâ€™ education programmes. It will be good, especially for children, if chess players behave in a disciplined way.
One of the excellent things about this forum is that you can get other people to do your research for you - thanks, Eoin!
So Kirsan didn't know what to say, did he? I'm not surprised. The question remains: did anyone think to forewarn Anatoly Evgenievich that a VIP was coming the next day? If it was so important, they should have sent a car for him. If not, the fault is one of bad planning. Perhaps Kirsan Nikolaevich could have impressed Samaranch by answering: "My profoundest apologies, your Excellency - one of my staff has neglected his duty. I shall have him shot."
Actually, the honest answer would have been to climb down and admit that chess is not really a sport. I find most comparisons between major sports and chess to be pointless. The difference between them can be encapsulated in one word - money. The reason everybody turns up on time to take part in major televised sport is because they get handsomely rewarded. And if they don't (or misbehave, or bad-mouth officials), they get handsomely fined. And they often have a huge support team who are paid to pander to their every whim and ferry them to the venue. Let's face it, chess will never have the money to get into this league. Chess can aspire to a bit of professionalism (hence my comments about having formal contracts, etc) and ought to strive to market itself sensibly, but it can never compare with the professionalism of major sports.
Incidentlally, I think Kirsan Nikolaevich was being a bit conservative as regards the numbers of defaults recorded at the Olympiad. I have seen much large numbers quoted.