Reports | July 31, 2012 14:51

Greek tournament removed from calendar after welcoming Atalik

The "Negroponte 2012" open tournament, which was supposed to take place 9-17 August in Chalkis, Greece has been blocked by the Greek Chess Federation, after the organizers had publicly stated that GM Suat Atalik would be accepted to play in their tournament. In a letter distributed to participants, the organizers write that the Greek Chess Federation has withdrawn acknowledgement of their tournament, and refused "to grant chess equipment, electronic boards and clocks, to appoint arbiters [and] to submit the results for rating".

The website of the "Negroponte 2012" tournament

The Suat Atalik story was likely to continue, and it did. On July 6th we reported that the 47-year-old Turkish grandmaster, who was punished by his federation with a 15-month ban, was also excluded from play by the federation of neighbour country Greece. As a result, Atalik was rejected by the organizers of the open tournament in Kavala, Greece.

Unanimous?

After we published the article the FIDE Secretariat forwarded a letter to us, written by the General Secretary of the Greek Chess Federation, Takis Nikolopoulos. The letter was directed to the Chairman of the FIDE Ethics Commission beause Atalik had also filed a complaint to the EC. Here's part of Nikolopoulos' letter:

The acceptance of the Turkish Chess Federation’s request (...) was a unanimous decision of the Greek Chess Federation (GCF) Board during its last meeting 30/6/2012.

(...)

We also want to mention here that when a player from our federation is punished, he/she is not allowed to compete in any official games here or abroad during his suspension.

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.

Ten days later a letter appeared at Chess-News written by Nikos Seretakis, a Member of the Board of the Greek Chess Federation. Seretakis says things went a little bit differently:

This is a huge lie. There was no unanimous decision of the GCF Board meeting on June 30.

The truth is that a lengthy discussion on the issue took place and I definitely voted AGAINST this shameful decision. I note, that if there was present at the meeting and the other members of the opposition, then the negative votes would have been more.

Unanimous or not, the Greek Chess Federation decided to not allow Atalik in their competitions anymore. However, as we noted early July, the big question is whether this is actually possible from a legal point of view.

Negroponte

One tournament organizer who wasn't planning to follow his federation's decision was Giorgos Tsounis. Soon after receiving the same letter by the Greek Chess Federation, he publicly stated that Atalik would be accepted to play in his tournament, "Negroponte 2012". Tsounis asked his federation to provide written evidence regarding the sanction of Atalik.

But then, to avoid serious problems for the organizers, Atalik in fact decided to voluntarily withdraw from the tournament. He sent the following letter:

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

However, this didn't help: the Greek Chess Federation decided to block the "Negroponte 2012" tournament anyway. In a letter by tournament organizer Anna Pavlidou dated July 25th (PDF here), the participants were informed that the tournament was postponed. Pavlidou, who is President of the Chalkida Chess Academy, wrote:

The Greek Chess Federation has literally destroyed the “Negroponte 2012” International Chess Tournament with its restrictions and its refusal to grant chess equipment, electronic boards and clocks, to appoint arbiters, to submit the results for rating, as well as the illegal withdrawal of its acknowledgement of the tournament, simply by force of the signatures of its President, Georgios Makropoulos, and its General Secretary, Panagiotis Nikolopoulos, without the necessary consent of its Board, and the postponement of re-evaluation of the matter until August 4th. In this way, the GCF has effectively entombed all hopes of the tournament being staged, and provokes us into illegal actions (such as holding the tournament without the necessary permission), so as to provide itself with a reason to punish us.

In her letter Pavlidou points out that the Greek Chess Federation "is the only federation worldwide that has agreed to enforce this decision of the TCF". In a later email she told us that Negreponte 2012 was removed from the tournament calendars of both the Greek Chess Federation and FIDE without any prior decision of the Greek Chess Federation's board.

Another Yazici proposal

The decision of the Greek Chess Federation to ban Suat Atalik from all Greek tournaments was not based upon an existing FIDE regulation. Below is a proposal by Ali Nihat Yazici, the President of the Turkish Chess Federation, which is on the agenda of the FIDE General Assembly in Istanbul next month:

From: Ali Nihat YAZICI [mailto:baskan@tsf.org.tr] 
Sent: Thursday, June 07, 2012 1:18 PM
To: 'Nigel Freeman'; 'FIDE Secretariat'
Subject: suspension proposal of Turkish Chess Federation
Dear Mr.Freeman,
 
On behalf of Turkish Chess Federation we make following proposal to FIDE General Assembly in Istanbul.

Proposal

If any FIDE rated player is given a suspension by his/her national federation and that suspension finalised in all possible courts in the country it happened, then FIDE will respect the national federation and courts to apply same suspension for the same period for any FIDE rated event including private events. This player during that suspension executed may not participate with any title to any FIDE event or ceremony or meeting. The National chess federation, will send a written notice with all legal procedures translated to English to FIDE, after the final decision is taken according to National Laws in the related country. This notice must be written and follow the final legal decision of respected court in the respected country. The notice should be during suspension, if national federation does not send the notice during suspension, then FIDE is not responsible for players participation to any event. When FIDE gets notice and if it is a legal notice under this rule, then FIDE will hang players rating till suspension time finishes in maximum 10 days. This rule comes to power just after being accepted by General Assembly.

We will be happy if you confirm that you got this e-mail on 7th June 2012 and will carry it to agenda of General Assembly.

Best regards,
Ali Nihat YAZICI
President of Turkish Chess Federation

With this letter, Yazici is asking FIDE to employ rules for cases such as the one with Suat Atalik. The question is whether we really want a situation where a national chess federation has international jurisdiction over a player?

Match Atalik vs Atalik

Meanwhile, Suat Atalik and his wife Ekaterina have "responded" to the whole situation by announcing that they'll play a match against each other (!), in Greece. It's probably the first ever match held between a married couple, and will be held 7-9 August in Chalkis. The Ataliks will play two classical games, four rapid games and eight blitz games; the games won't be rated.

The match will be organized by the same Chalkida Chess Academy who had to postpone their "Negroponte" tournament. In a press release announcing the match, they wrote:

Hosting this match in Chalkida is a vivid example of the true spirit of Greek hospitality, as well as the increasingly strong bonds of friendship between the Greek and Turkish people. This aim is furthered by the fact that Suat Atalik was, in 1994, the first ever sportsman to play in the Greek League for a greek team in any sport.
Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of ChessVibes.com, 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.

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Comments

valg321's picture

another greek tragedy..shame

Anonymous's picture

Quote from FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov's letter to Ali Nihat Yazici (FIDE vice president and president of the Turkish chess federation) on 10 July 2012:

"[....]

[...] and (I) am requesting you to continue with your excellent contribution to our work for the betterment of chess.

[...]

I look forward to work with you for many years in the future."

So much for the betterment of chess.

Tarjei's picture

Just incredible how far a national federation can go to control its players. This has to be illegal.

Bartleby's picture

It's hard to take this serious. This is not good for chess. We want players to play chess, to take part in tournaments, regardless of nationality, regardless of whether their home federation is headed and controlled by a clown.

Carlos Cleto's picture
S3's picture

Mr. Tsounis kudos once again for standing up for what's right.

Jan's picture

I wonder what it takes for the serious federations decide to quit Fide

Roger's picture

I doubt the Feller three will get invitations. But what is Suat's "crime" other than opposing the increasingly deranged Turkish chess president?

Anonymous's picture

That's about it. He refused to sign the stupid paper that the Turkish chess president wanted him to sign - thus angering him.

jmason's picture

Can't he just switch federations ? I'm sure it's not hard for a GM to find another federation , i see no reason for him to represent Turkey anymore, considering the abusive actions of the federation .

Martin's picture

Wow, so Negroponte is now cancelled/delayed something? Imagine if you as a non-greek chess-player wanted to compete and already bought tickets etc. Have they thought about that? The selfishness is astonoshing.

George Tsounis's picture

Dear Chess Friends,

Unfortunately for Greece, in addition to the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the Troika, we also now have to deal with the TCF (Turkish Chess Federation), which is able to enforce its decisions through the Greek Chess Federation. The latter has chosen to confront Chalkida Chess Academy in an authoritarian way, because CCA refused to comply to an ambiguous decision to forbid the participation of a particular chess player by means of a letter to tournament organizers. Let it be noted that the GCF is the only federation worldwide that has agreed to enforce this decision of the TCF.

The Greek Chess Federation has literally destroyed the “Negroponte 2012” International Chess Tournament with its restrictions and its refusal to grant chess equipment, electronic boards and clocks, to appoint arbiters, to submit the results for rating, as well as the illegal withdrawal of its acknowledgement of the tournament, simply by force of the signatures of its President, Georgios Makropoulos, and its General Secretary, Panagiotis Nikolopoulos, without the necessary consent of its Board, and the postponement of re-evaluation of the matter until August 4th. In this way, the GCF has effectively entombed all hopes of the tournament being staged, and provokes us into illegal actions (such as holding the tournament without the necessary permission), so as to provide itself with a reason to punish us.

It should be noted that, despite an official withdrawal letter by the player in question, Turkish GM Suat Atalik, the GCF insists on its unlawful decision.

Despite the fact that Chalkida Chess Academy was ready to offer a high-level tournament to all participants, we are unfortunately unable to breach the laws and regulations under these circumstances, and therefore forced to postpone the staging of the “Negroponte 2012” tournament from its original dates of August 9th-17th. We will return all entry fees having been deposited to our bank account and shall reimburse all innocent chess players, unaware of the methods by which chess is being governed in Greece, who have already incurred expenses for ticket purchases. We are ready to refund the invited players for any cancellation fees for their tickets, after receiving the appropriate papers and receipts. Further information on this procedure will be shortly provided on the tournament website, www.negroponte.net.

Naturally, both Chalkida Chess Academy and the sponsor of the tournament will exercise our legal rights against the GCF, and have already applied to the General Secretariat of Sports, requesting that the Sports Law be applied without exception towards all parties involved in the dispute.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude for your registration and apologize for any trouble the unfortunate course of events may be causing you.
We assure you that we shall immediately apply for approval of new dates for our tournament, in which all players pre-registered for “Negroponte 2012” shall be our guests.

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