Interview With Almog Burstein

ECU Board Member and Treasurer, ESTC Chief Arbiter

The European Seniors Team Championship was held on 3-11th May in Olympus region, Greece. This was a good opportunity to arrange an interview with Mr. Almog Burstein, ECU Board Member and Chief Arbiter of the Championship.

Q: Mr.Burstein, you are the chief arbiter of the European Seniors Team Championship. What are your impressions about this event?

A: It is very pleasant to be the chief arbiter in a tournament of seniors, because most of them came here to enjoy the atmosphere and the resort, and they don’t complain much… It is much easier to be an arbiter in such a tournament, in comparison with the “professional” championships.

Q: So you didn’t have a very challenging job to do?

A: There were some legitimate requests, to make some small improvements in the tournament, but overall the work was not very demanding.

Q: You are also in charge of the Seniors’ chess within the European Chess Union. What are your duties in this domain?

A: Yes, I was nominated by the former President Boris Kutin six months before the elections. My duties are to promote seniors’ chess in Europe, to help in providing sponsors for the seniors’ events and to improve the conditions for chess for veterans. Honestly, for now we didn’t achieve that much, but I am preparing a program in this direction and I hope to see the implementation soon.

Almog Burstein

Almog Burstein as the Chief Arbiter

Q: You are also the Treasurer and Board Member of the ECU. What are the first results of the new administration? How do you see, from an insider point of view, the work and the atmosphere within the new Board?

A: For the first few months after the elections we were busy with transferring the ECU office from Berlin to Belgrade and the bank account from Berlin to Switzerland. Now we are actively working on the programs for the development of chess in Europe. Sava and Vladimir are doing a great job in the office in Belgrade. The flow of information from the office to all federations is improving all the time.

We managed to finish the bidding procedures for our three important tournaments – the European Team Championship in Warsaw in 2013, the European Youth Championships in Prague and the European Club Cup in Eilat, Israel, in 2012.

Q: Is this the first major ECU event in Israel?

A: Last time that we organized a big European event was the European Team Championship back in 1989.

Q: Haifa?

A: Yes, Haifa. But since then – we organized some FIDE events like the World Team Championship in 2005, the first World Blitz Championship in 2006 etc.

Q: Do you think that now, after the ECC in Eilat, there will be greater activity in Israel in regard to the ECU events?

A: Certainly. We are also interested in organizing the European Youth Championships in the future, and possibly one of the senior and amateur championships. We are definitely hoping to strengthen the relations between the Israeli Chess Federation and the ECU.

Q: As a Treasurer of the ECU, can you tell us what is the financial status of the Union? Have you noted anything extraordinary, is there a plus or minus…?

A: The financial situation is quite good. For this I must compliment and thank the former Treasurer, Mr. Kurt Gretener from Switzerland. He did a fantastic job supervising the financial flow and saving a lot of money for the ECU.

This is why I agreed to move the bank account to Switzerland, to be under Mr.Gretener’s day-to-day supervision, and not to Israel where I am residing. I didn’t even have to travel to Switzerland, everything can be done through the Internet and it saves a lot of expenses.

Q: We have heard from Mr.Yazici on several occasions that organizers of some of the earlier ECU events actually owe money to the Union. Can you clarify this situation?

A: We have some issues with few Federations that have collected ECU fees but didn’t transfer them on time. The most serious problem is with the organizers from Fermo in Italy, who hosted the European Youth Championship. The organizer was not the Italian Chess Federation but a private one.

Anyhow, we are going to sue him, in a joint effort with the Italian Chess Federation. Our lawyer already sent the first letters and we will continue this legal battle until the positive conclusion.

All the other issues are minor compared to Fermo, and usually after some time we manage to settle everything with the Federations concerned.

Q: What will be the future activities of the ECU Board?

A: We will have a Board meeting in July in Iasi, Romania, during the European Youth Team Championship. We are working on many new projects such as an insurance policy for seniors and all professional players.

We will discuss all these in July and then bring before the GA in Creta Maris.

Read also an earlier interview with Mr.Burstein