Friday, 20 August 2010

6000 player chess event

One of the issues that come up at FIDE election time is whether each member country should be entitled to the same voting power. The usual arguments against "one country, one vote" is that there are some countries with large numbers of chess players (usually western European countries) and some countries with hardly any at all (usually African countries), and yet they both have an equal say in deciding who runs world chess. Interestingly, I've not really seen any of the official campaigns propose the abolition of the current voting system, although I have seen campaigns being accused of wanting to abolish the current system (by the other side of course).
These arguments in my opinion fall down because they are based on selective definitions. Should China and India get 40% of the votes based on the number of chess players in those two countries? Or are we talking FIDE rated players only, and if so, are we setting up two classes of chess players?
What prompted me to write about this was the following strange news article from Nigeria. Now Nigeria is a big country, in terms of population, but to get 6000 players to a chess tournament is a very impressive effort, even if at this stage they have only indicated an interest. Especially as the total prize money comes in at less than $6000 Australian (ie less than $1 per player). But if they did get such a field, does this make them a 'real' chess country, entitled to 'real' votes in a FIDE election? Certainly if proposals to change the FIDE voting system did actually materialise, they would have a case.
Of course this discussion is hypothetical, just as I suspect the 6000 chessplayer tournament is as well. But in the current world of chess, I wouldn't be surprised if at some point it takes a left turn into reality.

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