Reports | July 06, 2012 13:43

Suat Atalik banned from playing in Greece, writes open letter

GM Suat Atalik

Suat Atalik has been banned from playing chess in Greece. The Turkish grandmaster, who was earlier punished with a 15-month ban from international play by his own federation, forwarded email communication between tournament organizers and the Greek Chess Federation to several chess media. Following a ban from the federation, the organizers informed Atalik that he could not be accepted in their tournament.

Suat Atalik | Photo Wikipedia

On Thursday we received an email from Suat Atalik, in which he quoted emails from chess organizers and officials in Greece. Attached was an open letter by Atalik himself. The subject: a ban from the Greek Chess Federation - Atalik is not allowed to play chess in Greece.

Last Wednesday, July 4th the organizers of the Kavala Open wrote the following to Atalik:

Dear Mr Atalik

We regret to inform you that, according to decision of the Greek Chess Federation (below), we are not permitted to accept you in our Tournament, due to your 15-months punishment of the Turkish Chess Federation. We must apologise about this decision, that isn't ours, regarding our good relationship from the past, since your first participation in our Tournament. We give you below translated the message that yesterday our Federation sent us.
We are sorry about this inconvenience and hope not to stop our cooperation in the future.

Best Regards

The tournament directors

Vassilis Liogkas - Vassilis Theodoridis

At the moment of writing, Atalik is still on the list of participants (last update on June 25th):

The decision by the Kavala organizers to reject Atalik from their tournament was made on the basis of the following note from the Greek Chess Federation.

To the Organizers of International Tournaments in Greece

Mr President, dear chess friends,

The Board of the Greek Chess Federation, in the meeting of 30/6/2012, discussed and accepted a demand of the Turkish Chess federation, not to allow the participation of the chess player Suat Atalik in competitions in Greece. S.Atalik is punished by his federation with 15-months exclusion of matches, punishment which has been confirmed by the Supreme Sports Court of Turkey.

According to the above, the participation of this player in matches that will be held in our country during the summer.

Best sport regards

The President, Georgios Makropoulos
The General Secretary, Panagiotis Nikolopoulos

The letter by Makropoulos & Nikolopoulos reveals that the Turkish Chess Federation, who earlier had excluded Atalik from playing chess in or outside Turkey for a period of 15 months, demanded the Greek Chess Federation to follow suit. We mentioned Atalik's ban in Turkey recently, below our interview with Ali Nihat Yazici, the President of the Turkish Chess Federation.

As Atalik wrote in an earlier letter (which we mentioned back then - you can read it in PDF here), his 15-month ban from play was the result of his refusal to sign an undertaking (PDF here) with which the Turkish Chess Federation requests all of its members to ask permission to play abroad. Besides, by signing the player states that he is responsible for all financial consequences of his participation in a tournament abroad, that he will "act in accordance with the responsibilities of a national athlete" and that he won't commit "any activity against Turkish Republic".

Last month Atalik participated in the Golden Sands tournament in Bulgaria. There, the organizers allowed him to participate, despite receiving a demand from the Turkish Chess Federation to exclude him from the tournament. Yazici wrote to them that Atalik's suspension

should be followed by FIDE and all member federations of FIDE. (...) We protest this situation. We want FIDE clarify the situation and intervene to exclude Mr. Atalik from Golden Sands Tournament. We keep all our legal rights to appeal in GA in Istanbul and in international sport courts and diplomacy.

However, Atalik (and his wife Ekaterina) did finish the tournament, about which Yazici told us:

We will react to this not only in sport court, but also in criminal court. 

Now it becomes clear that the Turkish Chess Federation also demanded the Greek Chess Federation to exclude Atalik from all their tournaments, and that this demand was accepted.

The big question is whether this is actually possible from a legal point of view. Suat Atalik doesn't think so, as he writes in an open letter (slightly edited by us) which includes a paragraph from the FIDE Handbook:

Dear chess friends,

As Mr. Yazici could not [succeed] to throw me out of [the] 1st Grand European Open which was held in Golden Sands Bulgaria, he increased his hostility and most likely has written to all the federations to extract me from their tournaments albeit there is no Ethics [committee] neither [a] board decision from FIDE about it since there is no sportive crime by my side.The first sanction for me came in an expected way by Greek Chess Federation and the executive board of the latter came up with a ridiculous decision to prevent my participation for their tournaments only this summer after a meeting at the end of last month.
Approved by the 1979 Congress. Amended by the 1994 Congress.
Moral principles of FIDE for non-FIDE chess competitions.
1. The organizers and the players must be guided by the highest principles of the FIDE Statues:
1. FIDE is concerned exclusively with chess activities.
2. FIDE rejects discriminatory treatment for national, political, racial, social or religious reasons or on account of sex.
3. FIDE observes a strict neutrality in the internal affairs of the national chess federations.
2. In accord with its Statutes, FIDE reaffirms its commitment to the right to play chess and opposes all organized actions that would hinder that right.
3. It is understood that:
1. An organizer of a chess competition has the right to invite any chess player he chooses. Once an invitation has been issued and accepted, it must not be withdrawn.
2. Each player accepts an invitation only on his own free will but in strict accordance with the statutes and resolutions accepted by FIDE.

The paragraphe above is taken from [the] FIDE handbook and it is stated under boycottes. Not only Mr. Yazici's TCF's obligatory demand of permission and undertaking attached to it to gain the right to play in international tournaments for me falls in paragraph 1.3 and 2, his collaboration with [the] Greek Chess federation and IM Makropoulos is an organised action which hinders the right to play chess. Obviously under the command of Greek Chess Federation, [the] Kavala Organisers did not notice 3.1 either.

I personally believe that the chess world is relieved after Mr.Yazici's resignation and now it is turn for one of the most [controversial] figures in chess FIDE deputy president IM Makropoulos after his clear violation of 1.2+1.3 and 2.

GM Suat Atalik

On the one hand it seems like the Greek Chess Federation is overreacting by taking over the ban in Turkey. However, to some extent it is also understandable, since Atalik wasn't just banned by the Turkish Chess Federation. As Ali Nihat Yazici told us, the case was in fact carried to the Turkish Supreme Sport Court and the court rejected the appeal of Atalik and finalized the penalty.

We spoke to one other organizer of a Greek chess tournament (who preferred to stay anonymous, but he's not related to Kavala), who was inclined to reject Atalik from his tournament based on the decision by the Turkish Supreme Sport Court. Another organizer, Giorgos Tsounis, who runs the Negroponte 2012 International, has already stated publicly that Atalik (who is enlisted in the tournament) will be accepted to play, thus disregarding the letter of the Greek Chess Federation. Tsounis asked the federation to provide wrtten evidence regarding the sanction of Atalik.

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


point5's picture

another illustration why fide must be destroyed asap

Anonymous's picture

In the old days he'd just disappear.

MW's picture

I think a more fitting comparison for Fischer was his being booted from the U.S. Chess Federation for exercising his freedom of speech and expressing an opinion: that the 9/11 attacks were ”wonderful news".

Ironically I haven't heard many people take the USCF to task for this decision.

RG's picture

Fischer stood on foreign soil and celebrated the murder of U.S. citizens. That is in no way comparable to this case. Also Fischer had long finished with participating in USCF affiliated events and so the 'boot' was simply symbolic - it had no relevance to his ability to make a living.

MW's picture

You are correct there are some qualitative differences between the two situations, but at a basic level they are almost identical. Both players were banned by their respective federations, not for cheating or poor sportsmanship etc., but for taking a stand that the federations didn't like.

Greg's picture

The Negroponte tournament was also announced for 2011 but never happened: Is Tsounis the same guy who was supposed to organise it last year?

Anonymous's picture

BTW Mr Tsounis, if you ignore the decision of the Greek Chess Federation, how the announcement of Negreponte tournament will be approved?
You must notify chess players that will travel and spend money there is a risk that the tournament is not recognized as valid.

Frits Fritschy's picture

Well, Anonymous, any Greek tournament that ignores the anti-boycott paragraph (as given in the article in the FIDE Handbook faces the possibility of official disapproval.
See the FIDE Handbook, 09. FIDE Code of Ethics:
“[The Code of Ethics shall be breached by a person or organization who directly or indirectly … acts contrary to this Code. Of particular importance in this respect are the following:] 2.2.3 Organizers, tournament directors, arbiters or other officials who fail to perform their functions in an impartial and responsible manner ... 2.2.7 Gross or repeated violations of FIDE Laws of Chess or other approved tournament regulations.
3.1 FIDE federations, officials and affiliated organizations acting in contravention to this code can be temporarily excluded from membership or office.”

George Tsounis's picture

The coming week i will appeal to the Supreme Court and i will sought the annulment of Decision.
But you would have stayed an anonymous mudslinging.

Anonymous's picture

But Mr Tsounis you're the director of the tournament according to the announcement. And already the organizer of the largest and most historic Greek summer tournament (Kavala) complied with the decision of the Greek Federation.
You should notify the chess players that buy tickets for your tournament that you will go to Supreme Court and there is the risk of postponement.

George Tsounis's picture

Mr or Madam
Probably want to understand wrong.
The decision to ban the Lord will go to Atalik Sypreme Court.The decisions of the other organizers are not binding on others.

George Tsounis's picture

I understand that it started and obvious attempt to prevent participation in chess tournaments. The chess players who have come to our tournament know the high-level

Anon's picture

Hot discussion in the most popular greek chess blog (skakistiko) about Atalik's case:

Anonymous's picture

Coming from the Netherlands, now living in Denmark, I cannot imagine that I would ever need the permission from either the Dutch or the Danish chess federation to play in a tournament abroad.
In Turkey this is apparently still very normal. Asking someone not to commit any act against the country! Is this a joke? How sad that the spirit of a country that is aspiring membership of the EU is so much against freedom.

Johannes J.Struijk's picture

I am not sure why this was posted as anonymous.
Johannes J. Struijk.

Johannes J.Struijk's picture

I am not sure why this was posted as anonymous.
Johannes J. Struijk.

Anonymous's picture

Mr Johannes J. Struijk you are not a member of national chess team of your country.
If you were a member, you will need a permit to participate in competitions abroad.

Robin's picture

This is horrific! At a minimum, all chess players should boycott Turkish and Greek tournaments until this ban is lifted. It's scary that a petty bureaucratic idiot could get away with this in a democratic country.

Frits Fritschy's picture

I just saw (on that two days ago the Greek chess federation came out with a statement. The Greek federation seems to have the same, illegal in my opinion, rule as the Turkish federation, I quote: "We would like to mention here that, the Greek sports law, which is similar to the Turkish sports law, strictly declares that all chess players have to ask for the permission of our federation in order to participate in chess tournaments abroad and immediately after GCF has to ask for the permission of the Ministry of Sports, in order to send players to international tournaments in other countries." An interesting law. I wonder if it will hold in the European Court of Human Rights. As far as I know, citizens of the established members of the European Union have more or less the right to work in any other country of the Union. But however it may be, this Greek law (as quoted in the said statement) doesn't say anything about the possibility of excluding non-Greek players from tournaments within Greece. So why should Atalik (quote) be "... obligated to inform both our federation and the organizers of the 2012 Kavala open that he is punished by his federation"?
The Greek federation itself says it has no legal obligation: "In conclusion, the above mentioned decision of our Federation’s Board was taken by the logic that as we expect the foreign federations to respect our laws and regulations, we should also respect theirs". (That would have been too bad for Korchnoi in the 1970's!) And they were not forced in any way by the Turks to do it, I quote again: "...acceptance of the Turkish Chess Federation’s request (and not demand, as wrongly translated..."
This means that the organisers in Kevala were not in any way, legally or according to the Greek federation's rules, forced to withdraw the invitation to Atalik. As I understand it, the GCF Vice President Mr. Vasilis Theodoridis is also directly responsible for the Kevala Open.
So the Kevala organisers deliberately violate the FIDE rules: "An organizer of a chess competition has the right to invite any chess player he chooses. Once an invitation has been issued and accepted, it must not be withdrawn." Can't be clearer than that, and they give all the proof themselves.

Pedro's picture

Shame on the Greece Chess Federation!

silvakov's picture

as someone already pointed out, "yazici-makropoulos". both FIDE vice-presidents... doesn't it ring a bell? I'd be surprised had Atalik not faced any kind of problem in Greece...

George Tsounis's picture

Letter GM Suat Atalik Chalkida Chess Academy and to Mr.Tsounis
To the organizers of Negroponte Open,
to Halkida Chess Academy and to Mr.Tsounis,

Dear Sirs,
by this letter I would like to inform you about my withdrawal from the coming Negroponte Open 2012. I have come up with this important decision especially not to make trouble for the organisers and the organisation since I have seen in Greek Chess media serious threat to the organisation by GCF President Makropoulos. If I would have played, he and GCF would try not to make tournament considered for ELO calculations,deprive the organisers from digital boards and clocks as much as I have read in Greek media.
I have really appreciate the heroic support of Mr. Tsounis and unfortunately the internationally illegal decision of Greek Chess Federation boycotting me from Greek tournaments this summer deprived Negroponte Open from its last winner’s participation.
I, as a respectful person for the laws, rules and regulations, claim by this letter that I will continue to search for the justice about the issue in such a way it will not hurt the strongest ever open and its respected organisers. That I also mention by this letter that despite of not playing the event I will be present in the opening ceremony and the first round of Negroponte 2012 to support Mr.Tsounis and all the humble person alia involved with the tournament.

With respect
GM Suat Atalik

George Tsounis's picture

Letter GM Suat Atalik to all chess friends of the world

To all Chess Friends of the World,

as you may have noticed when Greek Chess Federation has come up with extremely unfair boycott on me, GM Suat Atalik, Mr.Giorgios Tsounis stood against it in Greece and his tournament ‘Negroponte 2012′ became jeopardised after that.

I will strongly recommend for any chess professional and enthusiast to take part in this lovely Greek Event since year 2010 edition was a great success. Unfortunately standing against Mr. Makropoulos and his unfair deeds is really a heroic act and as much as I see, the invisible tentacles of known FIDE politician and his friends already started to lure many people not to play in this event which may diminish the number of players for no reason.

If you would like to stand against the tyranny, support ‘Negroponte 2012′.

Sincerly yours
GM Suat Atalik


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