Interview with FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos

In part one – about Women’s World Chess Championship and future Grand Prix

Q: Mr. Makropoulos, you have arrived to Nalchik twelve days before the Championship start, in order to follow the preparations. What are your impressions, is everything set as expected?

A: Yes, I think that the organizers have made a great effort to have a very good Championship here. You can see it by yourself, as the conditions are in very high standard. I see that the players are also satisfied, by now nobody complained about anything.

What is a safe place

Q: How do you comment on the fact that five players, that have originally signed the Georgian letter, decided to come and play after all?

A: The problem is that after the unfortunate events in South Ossetia, the Georgian players really could not participate here. I mean, they could not get permission from their government. Because had they wanted to come, they would, of course, be allowed to play. They organizers would have arranged everything for Georgians to feel being in a secure environment. But I can understand. Because all this happened in the last moment, we really could not change the host of the Championship. Everybody were prepared to come here and play, the players have booked their tickets and hotels and it was not possible to cancel the Championship.

I also want to add that, before this crisis emerged, there were some speculations that Nalchik is not a safe place and some of the players were afraid to come. I am here for so many days already, I was here earlier to conduct an inspection, and I never had a slightest suspicion of danger. I hear that players share my opinion. You know that we are visiting restaurants, going downtown, walking on the streets, without having bodyguards or security.

So, unfortunately, sometimes I believe that we are exaggerating, mixing politics with sport, and the truth is that this is wrong. If we follow this idea, to randomly tag places as “unsafe”, then I don’t know where in the world we can be completely safe. United States are safe? We have seen what happened in many European countries. Why is Nalchik not safe? Because something happened few years ago? The same thing happened in Spain, England, in United States…

Women deserve better tournaments

Q: I understand that FIDE is planning to start Grand Prix series in women’s chess. How far did you advance after the initial idea?

A: You know very well that there are not many good tournaments around the world for the female players. Unfortunately, the organizers think that if they are making an open tournament, and provide one, two, three women prizes, that this is enough. It is not. And I have said many times that we should understand the difference between women’s and men’s chess. Unlike men, women cannot always compete for the top prizes in “mixed” events, so we also have to have high-profile tournaments for women. At the present, there are only few open tournaments with decent prizes for female players. In vast majority of other opens there are only few small prizes for women, and in case of good result, they are forced to choose the better between “special” and main prize. In my opinion, this is wrong. They should get both!

So our idea, with this Grand Prix, is to create a series of six tournaments, where every player can participate in four events, and provide women an opportunity to play in more good tournaments. At the same time, we will include the Grand Prix into the World Championship cycle. One year, we will have a Champion after the knockout competition, and the next year this Champion will play a match with the winner of Grand Prix. Thus, Women’s World Championship will be held every year.

I think that this new cycle will be very exciting, because, okay, we know that general opinion says that knockout is a very difficult system of play. It’s a guillotine sometimes. This is true. By providing another alternative, for players who prefer tournaments and match over the stressful knockout, I believe that the entire system becomes more balanced.

Atatürk chess tournament to be the first stage of the Women’s Grand Prix

Q: A couple of organizers have already expressed the interest to host Grand Prix events. For example, North Ural’s Cup (Krasnoturinsk) wouldn’t mind to join the cycle.

A: I know that people from Krasnoturinsk are interested to host one stage of the GP series. For sure we will have one in Istanbul. Several days ago I visited Istanbul and Ankara together with Mr. Ali Nihat Yazici, President of the Turkish Chess Federation, and we had several meetings with important sponsors. Grand Prix is guaranteed next March in Istanbul. The Atatürk chess tournament, that took place this spring, will grow into GP event in 2009.

You know very well that the hosts of the Women’s World Chess Championship have already offered to organize another tournament here in Nalchik. And as I understood from the conversations with the players, nobody is objecting the idea. In any case, with the GP cycle, a player can choose in which tournament he or she wants to play, so I believe there is a good chance that Nalchik will host a GP event next year.

In my opinion, there are many possibilities, and I am pretty sure that we will find six organizers to complete the GP for the next two years. Maybe, in the beginning, the prizes will not be that high, but we will have a good start and more sponsors will join us over the time. Anyway, tickets and hotels will be provided for all players, so that they don’t have to spend their own money, and ladies can solely concentrate on fight for the prizes.

Part two – about Global Chess and match Kamsky-Topalov