2016-09-15 19:44:42 UTC
A shocking development in the first round of the World Chess Olympiad in Baku Azerbaijan was that sixteen teams that were in the pairings did not show up and forfeited their games.
This was a grave error that should never have happened. No team should have been put in the pairings if they had not yet arrived in Baku. If some teams were arriving late, the stragglers should have been paired against each other.
The teams were Central African Republic, Senegal, Burundi, Seychelles , Liberia , Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Mali, Cameroon, Kenya, Djibouti, Eritrea, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Malawi and Uganda.
However, six of those teams, Djibouti, Eritrea, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Malawi and Uganda did eventually arrive and participated in the Olympiad.
Teams from Central African Republic, Senegal, Burundi, Seychelles, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Mali, Cameroon and Kenya never showed up.
The initial listing had teams from Angola and Madagascar not paired for the first round, but they were there for the second round and all subsequent rounds.
Prior to the Olympiad, it had been suggested that teams from Africa would have difficulty securing visas for the Olympiad. However, the government of Azerbaijan had assured the organizers of the Olympiad that the African players would have visas awaiting them at the airport.
Mali had a delegate there for the Olympiad but did not have a team of players. I believe he was the delegate who told me he actually lives in New Jersey.
We need to find out what happened and take corrective action to make sure it does not happen again.
In past years this has not happened usually because an election was taking place. One of the candidates such as Kirsan or Campo would pay the annual FIDE dues for these African nations to get them paid up to date so they could vote for the candidate and then arranged to have their airplane tickets paid too so they could get to the Olympiad. This is how Campo and Kirsan were able to keep winning these elections.
Many have complained that Rwanda and Seychelles have the same number of votes as Russia and the United States of America, even though Rwanda and Seychelles have almost no chess players.
There have been numerous suggestions for a voting system where the big chess nations could outvote the small African nations where almost no chess is played.
However, we all want chess to develop in Africa and giving them these extra perks is seen as a way to make chess popular in Africa.
Eritrea, Liberia, South Sudan, Burkina Faso and possibly Cape Verde were made new members of FIDE at the 2016 FIDE Congress.