Dubai Olympiad

At the 1984 FIDE Congress in Thessalonika, Greece, it was announced that Venezuela would be unable to host the 1986 Olympiad. Campomanes said that he had awarded the Olympiad to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It would be in Dubai. This was explosive news since the UAE Chess Federation could not guarantee the participation of Israel. UAE not only denied entry to anyone carrying an Israeli passport but to anyone whose passports contained an Israeli stamp showing they had visited Israel. FIDE was in crisis.

Boycott Dubai

Giving speeches is not my forté, but the speech I gave in response to Campomanes’ announcement that Dubai would  host the 1986 Olympiad was perhaps my best. I argued for Israeli’s right to participate but left the door open for compromise. In closing, I said, “Petitioning against the banning of Israel is not a strong enough response. The USA will not go to Dubai unless a solution is reached that is acceptable to the Israeli Chess Federation.”

Following my speech, the Israeli representatives Yaacov Hadassi and Israel Gelfer came to me and thanked me for my strong words. Campomanes, England’s FIDE Delegate GM Ray Keene, Giorgius Makropoulos (Makro), President of the Chess Federation of Greece, and I were tasked by the CC to resolve the impasse and avoid a boycott. When the meeting ended Tunisia’s delegate, Ridha Belkadi, then the FIDE Deputy president for Africa, came to me and offered to help.

On the Brink

FIDE was on the brink of disaster. If compromise was not reached, western chess federations would be split; some would go to Dubai, some would boycott Dubai, and others might bolt FIDE altogether. Hadassi and Gelfer knew this. They wanted to do all they could to help FIDE, while at the same time not compromise Israel’s rights. They did not want to have an issue over Israel causing the demise of FIDE. Their own government was apparently sending them mixed signals. The Foreign Ministry, led by Yitzhak Shamir, was advocating a boycott. The government under Prime Minister Shimon Peres, on the other hand, showed flexibility regarding compromise.

Clearly, what we were doing had international implications beyond chess. I called the State Department and told them what was going on. State, as usual, was careful never to give specific recommendations. Nevertheless, it became clear to me that they did not want a boycott. They asked that I continue to keep them informed throughout the process, which I did. Later, a petition signed by over forty congressmen requested the USCF to boycott the Olympiad. Just like the Israeli Chess Federation, we got mixed signals from our government officials.

Ping-Pong Diplomacy

As a way to obtain Israeli acceptance, ideas were explored that would give some form of compensation to Israel in return for accepting, without protest, that a FIDE Olympiad and Congress would take place without Israel’s participation. Several proposals were aired. Gelfer and Hadassi carefully considered them and for various reasons rejected them. One proposal was to seed the Israeli team into the 1987 World Team Championship at Lucerne. Another proposal was to have the Israeli team relay their moves from a ship located in international waters directly off the coast of Dubai.

Eventually two plans evolved. The more dramatic of the two, the Bold Plan, rivaled the diplomatic success of ping-pong diplomacy with the Chinese. It offered the Arab world an incentive to open its doors; it was a way for Israel to play in Dubai. The quid pro quo was to have a Palestinian boy play under the PLO flag at the World Under 16 Championship, scheduled in Petah Tikva, Israel. The Bold Plan almost worked.

Shuttle Diplomacy

The ad hoc committee of Campomanes, Makropoulos, Keene and me was scheduled to go first to Dubai and then to Tel Aviv. The plan was for us to meet with both chess and government officials. I met Campo and Makro in Athens to discuss strategy. Makro had a schedule conflict and could not go to Dubai, but agreed to catch-up with us in Tel Aviv. When Campo and I arrived in Dubai, we met Keene who was already there. Our visit was public knowledge. The question of whether or not there would be a boycott had been widely publicized in the newspapers and aired on prime time television news. We were celebrities and virtually everyone including government officials and the news media wanted us to succeed; they did not want a boycott. They wanted a U.S. team competing in their Olympiad.

At the beginning of our discussions in Dubai, UAE officials told us that, in any event they would waive, for purposes of the Olympiad, their entry restrictions to anyone whose passport contained an Israeli port of entry stamp.

During our meetings the broad outline of both the Bold Plan and alternatives were discussed. The next stop would be Tel Aviv. My hopes for success were rising. And then, just before we left Dubai, a major crisis of a different nature caused a change in plans. President Campomanes was forced to drop everything and go directly to Moscow. The abrupt cancellation of the Kasparov versus Karpov World Championship Match was about to take place.

Call From Gligoric

The Karpov/Kasparov world championship match in Moscow had been going on for almost half a year! Kasparov was demonstrating the absurdity of FIDE’s new regulation that required the match to continue until one player won six games. Trailing in the match, Kasparov decided to take no risks. Game after game was drawn. As the match continued ad nauseam the world became bored. The President of the Soviet Union Konstatin Chernenko died and Soviet leaders evicted the players from the playing hall in order to allow viewing of the dead leader’s body. Undeterred, the match organizers moved the players to another Moscow site. Eventually, Karpov became exhausted.

GM Ray Keene and I were with Campo in his Dubai Hilton Hotel room when the call for help came. The telephone call came from the chief arbiter of the match Yugoslavian GM Svetozar Gligoric and not the Karpov camp as was widely reported. Gligoric said he and Campomanes’ on-site representative, Germany’s FIDE delegate Alfred Kinzel, needed help. Gligoric added, “The match must be stopped.” He pleaded with Campo to come to Moscow and terminate it.

After the call, Keene counselled against any termination of the match, which did not declare Kasparov the victor. I, then and now, do not understand this nor the public outcry that followed Campomanes’ eventual decision to cancel the match and start anew. Karpov was leading by two full points; he needed only one more win! Kasparov needed three wins! How could starting over at 0 to 0 favor Karpov?

Tel Aviv Agreement

Before Campo left Dubai he asked me to conclude on his behalf the Olympiad negotiations. Keene had some business to attend to and could not go to Tel Aviv. He too authorized me to sign an agreement with Israel for him. I went to Tel Aviv, met up with Makropoulos and obtained Israeli agreement with the Bold Plan.

The bold plan had a built-in safety valve—if the Palestinian boy played in the World Cadet Championship in Israel and the Israelis were still denied entry into Dubai, there would be a world uproar and the Dubai Olympiad would be massively boycotted. Would this mean the Israel team would go to Dubai? I hoped; I dreamed.

See Appendix F for a signed copy of the document of understanding of the agreement which Makropoulos and I negotiated with the Israelis.

“The Boy Won’t Come”

Success hinged on whether the Palestinian boy would come to Israel. The Deputy Minister of Education told me, “This will never happen—the boy won’t come.” The Minister was right! Despite far-flung diplomatic efforts to have the boy come, he never did. The Bold Plan was dead. Was there ever a chance for world chess to contribute so much to world peace and understanding? We can only speculate.

Impersonating Campomanes

Campomanes’ last second cancellation of his Tel Aviv trip due to the world championship crisis created some embarrassment on the part of Gelfer and Hadassi. They had arranged for a dinner at a fine Tel Aviv restaurant and had told the owner of the restaurant that the president of the world chess federation would be accompanying them. Not wanting to disappoint the owner, they therefore introduced me to him as Florencio Campomanes, President of FIDE. You had to be there to appreciate the humor this situation created. It was strange to have the group hold up their glasses, look me in the eye and offer a toast calling me “Campo.” Several times I accidentally mentioned Campo in the third person, and the owner looked at me, in a puzzled manner, wondering what I was talking about.

“This Way, Sir”

The day following the conclusion of our agreement I left for the Tel Aviv Airport. I had booked a non-stop 12½ hour El Al flight to New York and arrived at the airport three hours ahead of time in order to allow time to get through Tel Aviv’s tight airport security. I wanted to get to the airport early so that I could get a seat with a lot of legroom, an emergency exit seat.

At security control I was asked the usual questions about packing my own bag, and things like that. The security guards seemed concerned. They asked me why my U.S. passport was issued at the U.S. Embassy in Paris and not in the U.S. where I was living? I explained that when my last passport expired I was living in Paris and had to have a new one issued there. This seemed pretty ordinary and I couldn’t understand why they asked this same question so many times. I was then asked to show my receipt for the hotel in which I stayed. But, I had no receipt because the Israeli Chess Federation had paid my bill. They wanted to know why I was in Israel for just two days. I didn’t want to tell them about my business concerning the Olympiad or show them the signed agreement with the Israeli Chess Federation. If I did, I knew I would end up missing my plane. Therefore, I told them I was visiting friends. They asked why I was in Dubai two days earlier. It then dawned on me why I was being given so much attention—the Dubai stamp in my passport. I said, “I work for IBM and visited the IBM branch office there.” That seemed to satisfy them but, just as I was about to leave the security control area, they had one more question.

It was like the scene from a Columbo movie, “Okay you can pass. Wait! Just one last question. Do you have any weapons with you?” I replied, “Well er in my luggage for check-in, there is a knife.” It was at this point that things really started to go downhill. I stuttered, “I er it was given to me as a gift while I was in Dubai.” It was a large ornate Arab knife that the UAE delegate, Mohammed Ghobash, gave to me. A gleam came into the security official’s eyes as he said, “This way, sir.”

Many hours later I passed through airport security. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my flight had been delayed. At check-in, I found that there were no emergency seats or even aisle seats left. I was given a middle seat. When I buckled my seat belt, the man on my right sat back and his stomach spilled over the armrest covering my right side. The same happened with the man on my left side. I was literally pinned in my seat. Were these guys Israeli security officers? Probably! I ended up standing in the back of the plane talking to the flight attendants for almost the entire 12½ hours of the flight to New York. From start to finish, my trip was an adventure that I’ve never forgotten.

Changes to Statutes

The last chance to have a successful Olympiad in Dubai was a plan to modify the FIDE statutes with language that would require FIDE to only hold events where members from all FIDE nations could attend. To this end, at the 1985 FIDE Congress in Austria, Deputy President Tudela, the Swedish delegate to FIDE Rolf Littorin and the Japanese delegate to FIDE Y. Matsumoto drafted proposed changes to the FIDE statutes. The key section would now read:

Section 1.2

(i) FIDE events (competitions, congresses, meetings) may be hosted only by federations in whose countries free access is generally assured to representatives of all federations.

(ii) The General Assembly may make exceptions for reasons of state of war or severe violence between countries, only on a 3/4-majority vote.

The consensus was that such a clause in the statutes would be virtually impossible to circumvent but, without the tacit support of the Arab nations and their allies, it would never get the necessary three-quarters of the votes. Could support for this proposal be the quid pro quo that Gelfer and Hadassi needed? By this time there was universal acceptance of the condition laid down in my Thessalonika speech—that the only way to avoid a boycott was for the Israel Chess Federation to agree that a solution was found which was acceptable to them.

Israel Sends a Signal

How could the Israeli Chess Federation show they agreed? It was obvious that they would never stand up and say that it was okay to ban them from playing in the Olympiad. It was equally obvious that silent acquiescence was not good enough. Some visible signal of acceptance was needed. This indeed happened when the president and vice president of the Israeli Chess Federation, Hadassi and Gelfer, spoke to the FIDE General Assembly in Graz, Austria. Hadassi said that no team should stay away from the 1986 Olympiad in Dubai because the Israeli team could not be there. Gelfer went on to say that he realized that the Israeli chess team will not be able to take part but, as his contribution to the spirit of FIDE’s Gens Unus Sumus motto, he wished the UAE Chess Federation much success in organizing the 1986 Olympiad. The entire assembly responded with a standing ovation. The signal had been sent and acknowledged.

The avoidance of a boycott was still far from assured. If any Arab Federation were to stand up at Dubai and object to the proposed statute change, other Arab nations and their allies would join in. Under these circumstances there would be no chance to get the two-thirds required votes to change the FIDE statutes. The USA and other western nations would then walk out, right in the middle of the Olympiad. It would be an international incident; it would be horrible for chess.

Getting the Arab federations to quietly go along wasn’t the only problem; the Israel representatives and those of other nations friendly to Israel still had to sell the compromise to their own federations.

A Divided America

I needed help to get support from the USCF Policy Board. PB Member-At-Large Harry Sabine helped me get that support. At the February 1996 PB meeting in New Jersey, Harry put forth the following PB motion: “The Policy Board authorizes the sending of a team to the Dubai Olympiad.” After considerable discussion the motion passed by a vote of six in favor, zero against and 1 abstention.

The next hurdle was a big one. Grandmaster Lev Alburt was mounting a major effort to have Sabine’s PB motion overturned at the August 1986 USCF Annual Delegates Convention. Alburt had lined up some respected and impressive speakers to argue the case. Among them were Grandmaster Joel Benjamin and a guest speaker representing the Jewish Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith. Alburt also circulated the petition signed by forty-one US congressmen requesting that the USCF boycott Dubai. Both Denker and I spoke strongly in favor of going. GM Yasser Seirawan and several other leading Grandmasters spoke in support of our arguments.

After a lengthy debate, Sperling proposed a motion to ratify the decision of the Policy Board, authorizing USCF participation in the Dubai Olympiad. However, he included a provision stating that the USCF delegation would be withdrawn immediately if the proposed amendment to the FIDE statutes was not adopted.

The debate on whether or not the USCF should go to Dubai, which took place at the meeting, was in the best tradition of the USCF. Although there were very strong feelings on this, particularly on the side of those in favor of a boycott, everyone’s viewpoint was respected and heard. It was principle versus pragmatism. The pragmatists ultimately prevailed because the majority of the delegates were convinced that the pragmatic approach was, in the long run, in the best interests of Israeli chess.

Following the USCF Delegates meeting, the USCF received a letter from the Israeli Chess Federation. The letter was signed by Hadassi and Gelfer. In it they said, “We think that changing the bylaw in a very clear way, without any double meaning, will prevent such a case as Dubai to be repeated. We bless you for your decision and hope that the U.S. will be the leader of this subject in the Congress, as it was agreed in the Graz Congress between us, Mr. Schultz and Mr. Campomanes.”

We had an “all clear” to send our team to Dubai, but would the proposed statute change pass? Would our team and delegates walk away from the Olympiad in protest? All our efforts would be in vain if FIDE or the UAE reneged on any part of the bargain.

Get Behind the Team, Don!

The statute change wasn’t the only matter before the Dubai Congress. Campo’s four-year term as FIDE president was concluding, and he would be running for reelection at Dubai. This time his opponent was Lincoln Lucena of Brazil. GM Ray Keene was the mastermind behind the Lucena ticket, and Keene had already been tabbed by Lucena as his choice for the paid position of General Secretary (at that time there was no remuneration for the job of president). Keene, no doubt, envisioned himself running FIDE as General Secretary, just as Ineke Bakker did in the past.

Early in the formation of the Lucena/Keene ticket, I was invited to join their team. This came about when Keene, his brother-in-law David Levy, and Levy’s partner the highly respected Kevin O’Connell invited me to a dinner meeting with them in London. They brought their wives, and I came with my brother Charlie and Paul Frontiero, an IBM associate. As soon as I walked into the restaurant I was told that Charlie and Paul should not sit with us because we had important chess matters to discuss and they were not part of the chess community. I was outraged. Keene and I had differences but I always considered Levy and O’Connell friends. I said I was insulted and would leave. They backed off.

During the course of the dinner, I was subjected to a verbal onslaught. They told me I had to stop supporting Campomanes. Keene said that he and Lincoln Lucena of Brazil were forming a team to challenge Campomanes in the forthcoming FIDE elections in Dubai. He asked me to be part of that team. I replied that I would not, that they had no chance, and that I was neutral on Campomanes. I gave examples where, in the past, it was they and not I who supported Campomanes on sensitive matters. It was not a pleasant evening.

The Black Hand

At one point during the dinner, Paul Frontiero got caught up in our discussions of international intrigue and joined in. He jokingly said that he didn’t really work for IBM but was representing the Italian Mafia. He said that he was there to give someone a black hand. One of the wives replied, “Oh, my God!” I don’t know whether she was kidding, but Paul’s attempt to add some levity to the discussion failed.

Levy and O’Connell had the best of intentions. They truly wanted my cooperation and help, but feelings were so strong that things got out of hand. Time sometimes plays tricks on one’s memory. Perhaps that is what happened here. Certainly that evening could not have gone as badly as I remember.

Keene Courts the USCF

Grandmaster Keene travelled from country to country soliciting votes for the Lucena/Keene ticket. He was an impressive campaigner. He came to the U.S., met with USCF’s leaders and secured the USCF endorsement of his ticket. It was an easy sell for the English Grandmaster. The leadership of the USCF at that time would have gone for anyone other than Campomanes. My ambivalence toward Keene was interpreted as unconditional support for Campomanes and almost cost me my job as the USCF delegate to FIDE. Keene’s USCF allies tried to have me dislodged as the USCF delegate to FIDE. They correctly argued that my heart wasn’t behind electing Lucena and Keene. While I certainly would follow the USCF Policy Board instructions and support Lucena and Keene, I lacked the enthusiasm that a more dedicated supporter might have.

Arriving at the Dubai Olympiad

Upon my arrival at the Dubai airport, I tested one of the UAE commitments. At passport control I made it a point to open my passport to the page containing an Israeli stamp thus highlighting that I had been in Tel Aviv. The controller looked at it; he then made an obvious eye signal to a superior who quickly came over, examined my passport, and immediately confiscated it. Then to my surprise, he ushered me through all other checkpoints and brought me to another official who welcomed me to Dubai. They had my luggage brought to a limousine, which took me to my hotel. Ironically, the Israeli stamp in my passport expedited rather than slowed down my entry into UAE.

Soviet Leader Panics

The annual FIDE Congress normally takes place during the last week of nearly three weeks of Olympiad team competition. There are two team tournaments, the Championship and the Women’s Championship. Since the end of World War II, the Soviet Union dominated Olympiad competition. In 1986 at Dubai they had arguably the strongest national team in the history of chess. Their four player starting line-up featured the four highest rated players at the Olympiad—World Champion Garry Kasparov, former World Champion Anatoly Karpov, GM Artur Yusopov and GM Andrey Sokolov. Their first reserve GM Rafael Vaganian was ranked among the top ten players in the world! Everyone expected the Soviets to win all their matches and run away with the Olympiad.

When our team played the Soviets in round eight, the U.S. players were confident. The one-for-all and all-for-one team spirit was evident to everyone who came in contact with them. I felt something spectacular was about to happen and made a seemingly foolish bet. I bet $100 with my friend and fellow EC member Dato Tan Chin Nam of Malaysia. I bet that our first board GM Yasser Seirawan would win his game against World Champion Garry Kasparov. If Kasparov won or drew the game, I would lose the bet. I had spotted the world champion draw odds! But, I won the bet. Yasser not only beat the World Champion but U.S. Grandmasters Larry Christiansen, Lubosh Kavalek and Max Dlugy drew their games against Sokolov, Yusopov and Vaganian on boards 2, 3 and 4. The U.S. team defeated the great Soviet team and was about to move into first place in the standings. The new President of the Soviet Chess Federation Alexander Chikvaidze was in panic mode.

Alexander Chikvaidze had only recently succeeded Vitaly Sevestianov as President of USSR Chess Federation. He was the highest Soviet official ever to serve in this capacity. Back in Moscow his job was Head of the Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. One of his responsibilities was the appointment of ambassadors and other officials of state. Chikvaidze came to Dubai to relax and to revel in an expected Soviet Championship. When the U.S. team beat the Soviets he viewed the defeat as a personal embarrassment. He did not want to be part of the all-time biggest upset of a Soviet Chess Team. He called the USSR team together and gave them a pep talk.

Chikvaidze did not limit his involvement to just the Soviet players. He apparently gave a pep talk to the Bulgarian team just before their final 14th round match with the Americans. He warned them that there better not be any hints of game throwing to the U.S. team. The Soviets, on the other hand, won all their final round games against Poland and many questioned whether the Poles had thrown the match. As a result, the Soviet team trailing the Americans by a full point after twelve rounds and by a half point after thirteen rounds won the Olympiad. Chikvaidze returned triumphantly to Moscow.

Did the Poles throw the match? I don’t know for sure but I do know that the environment was ripe for it. Furthermore, a member of the American team told me that one evening, over a few drinks, members of the Polish team admitted that they did.

Regardless, there were no sour grapes by the Americans. The U.S. Olympiad Team at Dubai may not have won the gold medal but they won the admiration of the participants for their team spirit and their head-to-head defeat of the great Soviet Chess team.

The Vote in Dubai

Fortunately, Shweidi, the non-chess-playing delegate from Libya, was no longer coming to FIDE meetings. The Arab delegates at the Dubai Congress had the interests of chess foremost in their minds. Nevertheless, were it not for the threat of the USA to walk from the Congress, the statutes change would never have happened. We did have a scare though. The reason for this scare was due to the success of our team.

After Seirawan’s great victory over Kasparov and the U.S. team’s upset victory over the Soviets it became apparent that the U.S. had a real chance of pulling off one of the great upsets in the history of chess, Campo chuckled and said to me, “Well, you guys can never walk now, no matter what we do in the Assembly, not with such a good chance to win the gold!” Campo was actually considering reneging on the deal we had. He was trying to find out if we would really walk. Of course, we would! Fortunately we were able to convince Campo that we would.

Once convinced of our intentions, Campomanes brilliantly guided the passing of the changes to the statutes through the assembly. Unless you were carefully paying attention, you would have missed that it was even brought up. It passed unanimously, without debate.

Never a Chance

The media throughout the free world had blasted Campomanes for stopping the Moscow World Championship match between Kasparov and Karpov. They never let up. Kasparov followed their lead; he was doing all he could to unseat Campomanes as FIDE President. Garry commissioned a Spanish journalist friend, Dr. Ricardo Calvo, as an emissary. Calvo would visit South American countries and secure votes for the Lucena/Keene ticket. Later at Dubai, Kasparov campaigned hard for Lucena. The World Champion personally met with dozens of delegates; he urged them to vote for Lucena.

Lucena and Keene never had a chance. When Campo first heard that Lucena would be his opponent, he laughed. Lucena was a nice person but lacked the experience and credentials to lead FIDE, and everyone knew it. Keene should have run directly against Campomanes. Besides the poor choice of a presidential candidate, Campomanes’ opponents chose the wrong issue. They argued, ad nauseam, that when Campomanes intervened and stopped the Karpov/ Kasparov World Championship match, he unfairly favored Karpov who was on the verge of physical collapse. Campo countered by citing his credentials, listing his accomplishments, questioning the capability of his opponent, and asking the question, “How can stopping a match with Karpov leading 5 to 3 and resetting it at 0 to 0 favor Karpov?”

When the delegates arrived in Dubai, it quickly became obvious that Campo had the election wrapped up. Lucena realized this and wisely dropped out of the race before the balloting, thus avoiding the embarrassment of a landslide loss.

A Lady From Ireland Helps

I was a candidate in Dubai for one of the seven Executive Council seats. I had campaign material that I wanted to give to the delegates as soon as they arrived in Dubai. This was not so easy because FIDE would not give me the names of the hotels where each delegate was staying. This valuable campaign information was apparently closely guarded by Campomanes.

Fortunately, through my local IBM contacts, I was able to hire the wife of an Irish businessman on temporary residence in Dubai. She turned out to be a big help to me. She took the list of delegates to all the major hotels in Dubai. She found out the hotel at which each delegate was staying and placed my campaign material directly in their hotel mailboxes. She also arranged meetings for me with key groups of delegates.

Campomanes was disappointed that the USCF did not support his reelection and, at first, did not support me for FIDE’s Executive Council. It didn’t make any difference, I was certain I would win with or without his support. I was right, and Campo being the realist he is, ended up endorsing me. The final tally for the seven Executive Council seats was: Schultz (USA) – 83, Dato Tan (Malaysia) – 82, Lambert (France) – 74, Kutin (Yugoslavia) – 72, Jimenez (Cuba) – 71, Prentice (Canada) – 71, Nogues (Argentina) – 57. These seven were elected. Others receiving votes were Jungwirth (Austria) – 45, Rak (Thailand) – 39, Filipowicz (Poland) – 32, Barentz (Netherlands) – 29, Helme (Finland) – 29 and Ebigwei (Nigeria) – 28. Needless to say, coming in first, among such illustrious company, made me feel pretty good.

The Birth of the GMA

While in Dubai, I was introduced to Bessel Kok. Bessel lived in Brussels. He was the General Manager and CEO of SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication S.C.). He was extremely anti-Campomanes. When Lucena withdrew from the election, Bessel joined with Kasparov in founding the Grandmaster Association (GMA). They organized a World Cup competition that would compete with the FIDE World Championship in prize money and prestige.

Only the top 24 highest-rated players in the world were invited to compete in GMA competitions—16 at a time, in a series of high-prize fund “Grand Prix” style tournaments, leading to a single winner of a “World Cup”. This elitist structure of the GMA was a major factor in the GMA’s ultimate collapse. I remember Campo saying, “It is a fundamental flaw; the GMA won’t survive.” The catalyst that accelerated the demise of the GMA was the deep-rooted irreconcilable difference between the GMA’s two leaders, Bessel Kok and World Champion Kasparov. Kok sought compromise with FIDE and Kasparov didn’t.

Elo Rating of Women

At Dubai the Qualification Commission recommended adjusting the ratings of women chess players. They said the adjustment was necessary because men and women are entered into the rating system using different starting points. A man enters the FIDE system with a rating of 2200; he can never go below that rating. A woman enters at 2000 and likewise can never go below this entry rating. The effect of this was a deflation in the ratings of women. Professor Elo submitted documentation showing that women, on the average, were underrated by about 100 points when compared to men. Therefore, Elo recommended that 100 points be added to the ratings of women chess players.

However, somewhere along the way it was decided to make exceptions for a few women. One of these was the highest rated woman player in the world—Susan Polgar. Since nearly all of her opponents had been men, it was decided not to give her the 100 points, hence remove Susan from the top of the list of women, thus placing her behind the Soviet World Champion, Maya Chiburdanidze. The details were worked out and decided within the Qualification Commission. The General Assembly rubber-stamped the final wording without objection.

It wasn’t until I read the arguments advanced in Susan Polgar’s book, Queen of the Kings Game, that I realized Susan was treated unfairly. Certainly Professor Elo didn’t conspire to treat Susan unfairly; he did what he felt was right. It looks like the problem was Susan’s own chess federation. Why didn’t the Hungarian Chess Federation issue a formal complaint, both at the Qualification meeting and in the General Assembly? So much was going on in Dubai that in the absence of anyone highlighting this injustice, it was allowed to pass unnoticed. When Grandmaster Larry Evans brought this up in a debate I had with him a few years later, I told him he was all wet. In retrospect, it looks like I may have been the one who was all wet.

FIDE Permanent Fund

During former World Champion Max Euwe’s presidency, FIDE had established a permanent fund. It was administered independently by three trustees but two trustees had died and never been replaced. The remaining trustee chose to invest the fund’s assets in South African equities. This rankled our African delegations. On the one hand the world was condemning South Africa for their apartheid practices, and on the other hand FIDE was using the fund to invest in South Africa. I spoke out on this; I challenged the way the fund was mismanaged. When I sat down I was shocked; I received a standing ovation from the African countries present. I hadn’t expected that.

Following my speech, others supported my arguments. A consensus was reached; FIDE would immediately stop putting money into the fund until a new investment policy was established. The following May at the FIDE Executive Council meeting in Caracas, Venezuela, a statement on the Permanent Fund’s investments was adopted. It stated: “The FIDE Executive Council condemns the continuance of FIDE investments in South Africa by the independent administrator of the Permanent Fund since this is a violation of FIDE principles against apartheid, and strongly recommends to the administrators that the investments be transferred to a country of a FIDE member federation.”

Dubai Feast

Busy as we were at Dubai, it was not all work. Our hosts treated the players and delegates in spectacular fashion. I remember going with about twenty delegates to a massive feast at the home of the UAE Olympic Sports chairman, Bu-Husain.

Bu-Husain’s house was huge. The antenna on the roof looked like a slightly scaled-down version of the Eiffel Tower. Inside the home everything was marble. We did not meet Bu Husain’s wife or children. We ate in the dining room at a long table, which was big enough to accommodate everyone. Off to the side of the dining room was a washroom; it had six sinks. There was an enormous amount of food on the table. The meal was a feast in every sense of the word. We ate with our hands and often would leave the table and go to the washroom to clean our hands. When we finished and could eat no more, it looked like we hardly dented the food that still remained piled high on the table.

Meeting the Crown Prince

When I returned to my hotel, I found an invitation to meet the Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The invitation was very impressive; it was about two feet high and one foot wide! The next day I left the hotel and got into a bus that would take our group to the Palace. There were lots of buses since about 200 delegates, journalists and other officials at the Olympiad would be going to the Palace to meet the Crown Prince. There was a wait of about 45 minutes before the buses left for the Palace. We were led by an escort of police motorcycles and cars. The sirens blared; it seemed as if they had duplicated all the different sounds used by police and ambulance sirens around the world. It was indeed impressive.

Upon our arrival at the Palace, all two hundred of us were assembled in one long line. Waiting to greet us at the entrance to a large Palace room was the Crown Prince and Campomanes. Campomanes introduced each one of us to the Crown Prince. Campo not only knew everyone’s name but also how to pronounce it correctly. This was an amazing feat by Campo. When I was introduced, the Crown Prince said “hello” and I was immediately ushered into a large rectangular room. There were 200 fold-up chairs, arranged in a single row and placed against the four walls of the room. I sat there and waited for the others to enter and sit in their chairs.

After everyone had entered and had been introduced to the Crown Prince, I heard a shaking noise. Two servants were shaking coffee urns, they poured a little of the coffee into a cup and gave it to a guest. They went to each of us, in turn, repeating the process. After everyone had their sip, we stood up, exited the room, and walked out into the courtyard where we boarded our buses and waited for our motorcycle escort. Amid shrieking sirens we returned to our hotel. I should have gone to the Camel Races instead.

5/5 - (1 vote)