Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Aussie Olympiad Fund Appeal

For the last few years, especially in the months leading up to an Olympiad, the Australian Chess Federation has always run a very successful Olympiad Fund Appeal. Given the overall cost of travel for our men's and women's teams, the amounts collected are quite modest. But they help.

For example, about this same time two years ago, the ACF collected over $10,000 in donations. This year, however, they've garnered only a paltry $700! And we are only a little over a month out from the Olympiad in Norway.

What has happened? An economic dip Down Under that we don't know about?

Perhaps it is because of the much criticised Australian federal budget that Aussie chess fans have really tightened their wallets. Or perhaps it is because there is hardly any mention of the ACF's Olympiad Appeal that folks are just not aware of it.

I checked this year's ACF newsletters, where the Appeal is normally prominently mentioned, but there is nothing. Nada! On the other hand, newsletters from 2 years ago mention the Appeal right at the very top of every issue in the months leading up to the Olympiad event.

So all this makes me wonder: did the ACF just forget to promote the Olympiad Appeal? Or are they, in fact, angling for the Tromso Travel Fund? Frankly, I doubt the latter.

At any rate, there is still some time to donate. I know I'll be sending a few bucks to the ACF. Hopefully, that will get me one of those blow-by-blow accounts from the players. I think it's $50 or more and you get an exclusive newsletter direct from Tromso.

Shock Move. Wesley So Switches Federations

In a serious blow to Philippine chess, their numero uno and current world number fifteen (in the June 2014 list), GM Wesley So, will be switching to the US Federation. Not only is he switching feds, he is also becoming a US citizen.

But, as we might guess, the Philippines' national chess body isn't making it easy. The National Chess Federation of the Philippines boss, Butch Pichay, is apparently just stonewalling Wesley's request to be granted the move.

That leaves So with two choices.

Either he hands over a hefty compo to the Philippine federation of 50,000 euros, or he sits out 2 years before finally being listed in the US ranking and, therefore, competing as an American. That is going to be tough for the kid who could seriously, one day hopefully, challenge for the world championships.

Of course, while this is all obviously very bad for the Pinoy men's team, as they lose their main attack in team events, notably the Olympiad, the move by So to the US can only be good for his chess. And looking at comments on Susan Polgar's blog, one gets the impression that most So fans support his move. I certainly do. After all, why stick with a federation that isn't doing much for your chess?

For the NCFP, the flight of a top GM away from their fold may still continue. The second highest ranked Pinoy player, GM Julio Sadorra, only the third Pinoy player to break the magic 2600 mark, could also make a similar US-bound move. This wouldn't surprise me.