2004 FIDE World Chess Championships
June 18th-July 13th
Tripoli, Libya

2004 FIDE WCC - Invectives Continue to Swirl

Dear Chess World,

During what has been an exciting event, invectives are still being hurled at FIDE and Libya pertaining to the 2004 FIDE World Championship. Several chess websites have made oblique political statements condemning the treatment of the Israeli contingent. Famous chess players such as
GM Boris Gulko, an observant Jew, also expressed his sentiments in an articulate fashion.  In the latest developments, Madame Nahed Ojjeh, the financier of a professional NAO chess club, wrote an emotionally-charged letter which unfortunately was  filled with gossipy innuendo and possessed an immature tone. Such responses add absolutely nothing to the discussion.

The Associated Press (AP), who initially circulated the alleged statement by Mohammad Gadathi (pictured right), has run another press release claiming that Israeli representatives are considering litigation for financial losses incurred from their exclusion.

AP reports have been circulated widely and have been established as a basic line of argument… despite some obvious errors in the content.  This appears to be another case of international politics interfering with a sports event (e.g., Cold War era) and apparently has little to do with chess.

Nizar Elhaj, Mohammed Al Gadhafi and Kirsan Ilyumzhinov before the ceremonial 1st move of the championship. Photo courtesy of FIDE.com.

Nizar Elhaj, Mohammed Al Gadhathi and Kirsan Ilyumzhinov before the ceremonial 1st move of the championship. (FIDE.com)

As is evidenced by the tournament's snubs from chess websites and many players, the current state of affairs show that the unification effort will not be healthy any time soon… regardless of the leadership. Despite the discord being sown, fans from around the world have been treated to wonderful coverage by the FIDE staff. The Internet Chess Club's rooms have been well-attended and the main attraction has become American Grandmaster, Hikaru Nakamura.

Message boards are buzzing in anticipation of the next round and debates are raging about who the next winners will be. What is clear is that the masses of chess players want to see good chess and this is exactly what is taking place in Libya under world-class conditions. In another episode of what has been one controversy after another, let us hope that the post-Libya tournament will pave the way for a brighter future for chess.

Dr. Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum

Posted by The Chess Drum:  22 June 2004