A conversation with Andrew Paulson (part 1)

Posted by on Feb 28, 2014 in Chess News & Events |

Andrew Paulson

Andrew Paulson (photo courtesy of Anastasya Karlovich)

On February 19th, Peter Doggers from Chessvibes.com published an extensive article on the ECF vote of confidence story. In the very detailed report, Doggers brought up an intriguing, little known, story from Andrew Paulson himself. It is an extensive six page report on his Candidacy for Deputy ECU President (download as PDF here), requested by David Openshaw, in which Paulson touches a multitude of topics.

In an attempt to clarify the smoke, Chessdom journalists have contacted Mr. Paulson and he gladly accepted to bring details on each of the topics.

One of the most disturbing points is the allegation that Silvio Danailov has “spent six months in jail for arms dealing (materiel stolen from the Bulgarian army) and as President of the ECU he tried to extract a EUR 50,000 payoff from me [Paulson] in return for having introduced me to the Mayor of Madrid.”

Here is the part 1 of the conversation with Mr. Paulson regarding this revelation, more topics and information will be published on Chessdom in the following weeks.

Chessdom: On several occasions rumors have alluded to Silvio Danailov’s attempt to extort money from you in Madrid. Now we find this in a written form in the mentioned PDF. It sounds quite unbeliavable. Is it true? Why have you been silent on the matter and what is the story behind this?

Andrew: I have been reticent about this because my intentions when I got involved in chess were to remain on good terms with everyone; I am a businessman not a politician. Having negotiated a remarkable contract with FIDE, it made no sense for me to make enemies with anyone, certainly no point in taking sides. I’m very ambivalent about Silvio: we had lovely dinners and lunches in Madrid and I fully enjoyed his company. And, above all, I now understand why he did what he did and forgive him!

Chessdom: But the accusation is public. People are asking about it. Without drawing any conclusions, can you at least tell us the story of what happened? Give us the context to understand the accusations.

Andrew: OK. But I want to make clear that I didn’t judge Silvio harshly at the time. I figured that he was just trying to make some money off of his connections, trying to help me and help himself at the same time. It was not until Kasparov instructed him to sabotage me that I realised that there is nothing innocent in the chess world. As ECU President he shouldn’t have been selling influence with people he only had access to because he was ECU President. What made it worse was that being a willing Kasparov tool he wound up hurting chess.

Chessdom: Please start at the beginning. I don’t understand what you are talking about so far…

Andrew: It all started at breakfast on February 5th, 2012, in Al Ain, U.A.E., the morning after the FIDE/AGON Agreement had been approved unanimously by the Presidential Board. The FIDE people who were hosting me told me that Danailov was a ‘pain in the ass,’ mounting costly, frivolous lawsuits while doing nothing good for chess. I, therefore, decided to become friends with him! My opening conversational gambit over eggs was to ask whether Barcelona or Madrid would be a better choice for a Grand Prix in 2013. He lives outside of Madrid and confirmed that it would be much better and suggested that we meet when I next visited. He was not warm (he is dour), but it was a beginning.

Chessdom: So you met in Madrid?

Andrew: On April 18th, Silvio invited me to dinner in Madrid at the expensive, cooly refined two-star Michelin restaurant El Club Allard. We had a good time; at one point we simultaneously started gagging on the same avant-garde acrid smoking truffle, but both laughed through the coughing imagining the Danailov/Paulson headline in ChessDom announcing our deaths: ‘CHOKEMATE!’

Chessdom: This sounds like the beginning of a great friendship. Was this when you asked him call Kasparov and offer him a place in the Grand Prix Series?

Andrew: Yes. That offer was not entirely serious; what I wanted was to engage with Garry and get him to come and do some commentary, which he agreed to do, ‘depending on the financial conditions.’ Anyway, back to Danailov: I agreed to hold the Grand Prix in Madrid and he offered to try to arrange a meeting with the Mayor whose support he said would be useful. Two months later, Danailov sent me an urgent email and I returned on June 26th to meet with the Mayor. It was all very mysterious; I was whisked in to her office, talked about chess and was whisked out. I assume it was the Mayor! It was a very odd meeting: Silvio didn’t talk much (he’d never met the Mayor before) but made sure that he was the intermediary for further communications.

Chessdom: Did the Mayor make any promises? Or did Silvio, or did you?

Andrew: Well, the Mayor was wonderful, sparkling, intelligent, excited and said that she fully supported chess and would help in any way she could. Danailov led me off to a nearby hotel where he demanded €50,000 for introducing me to the Mayor and promised to get us a splendid venue for free for the Grand Prix. I didn’t consider whether it was ethical for him to make this offer to me, but my first impression was that it seemed acceptable for me to consider accepting it: if we paid Danailov a €50,000 fee to lobby for our Madrid event, we could save €200,000 in venue costs. So as to gain time to consult my lawyers, I said that this was reasonable and would depend on the venue and the terms (what is ‘free’, for example) and he should get back to me with some concrete details. The Mayor was so genuinely interested, it seemed to me that I didn’t really need Danailov; but if I didn’t pay the €50,000 I would no longer have access to the Mayor!

Chessdom: So what did your lawyers say?

Andrew: We never got there because Silvio never gave me any details. Kasparov ordered him to pull the plug. On July 12th, Stephen Moss wrote an article about me in The Guardian that triggered Kasparov’s rage. He decided that he had to put me ‘in my place,’ so he started rallying his ‘assets.’ During the course of the following weekend he spent many hours on the phone haranguing two of them. The first was a major chess journalist whom he tried to convince to write an article denouncing me; the journalist resisted.

Chessdom: Who was the journalist?

Andrew: Of course, I can’t tell you that.

Chessdom: What was Kasparov angry about?

Andrew: Well, two things. Malcolm Pein thinks that the very first time Kasparov heard about me (the AGON contract), his strategic genius kicked in and told him that I was the small, fleeting detail at the beginning of the movie that was going to come back to bite him in the end. The trigger cocked. The Guardian journalist had recounted that I had asked Kasparov to play in the Grand Prix; I was poking him. The trigger pulled.

Chessdom: Who was the second person Kasparov called?

Andrew: That same weekend Kasparov was on the phone bullying Danailov to back out of our arrangement: the last thing he wanted was having one of his ‘assets’ helping me. Danailov obeyed and wrote an email to me on July 20th: “Right, we have an agreement and everything is clear. In that case, please made the first payment according to the agreement on the account attached till August 1th [sic] to keep going.” I was still waiting for details and he surprises me with a payment deadline eight days thence! On July 24th, I responded: “As to payment, we can agree on the amount, €50,000, but not on the timing…” He answered on July 29th demanding with details: “You will be shown the three venues on August 8th, only in case you fulfill [sic] your part of the agreement [paying the money] before August 1th [sic]. This is my last offer, you can take it or leave it.”

Chessdom: So, you mean that under orders from Kasparov, Danailov pulled out of a deal that could have made him €50,000.

Andrew: Well, he would have had to make a payoff to someone in the Mayor’s office, I suppose, so it wasn’t all profit. For me, the worst part was that Danailov made it impossible for me to hold the Grand Prix in Madrid, he poisoned the well. I still regret this as Silvio is not a bad guy; he’s just from a different time and place and he’s just trying to fit in and make his way.

End of part 1. To be continued…..

In the following days Chessdom will contact Silvio Danailov for an interview on the topic.


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Carlsen with record at the March FIDE rating list, increases distance ahead of competitors

Posted by on Feb 28, 2014 in Chess News & Events |

Official FIDE logoMagnus Carlsen is first on the March FIDE rating list. With 2881 ELO, the World Chess Champion achieves a new historical highest rating, breaking his own previous record of 2872.

At second position is the top seeded player of the Candidates Tournament 2014, Levon Aronian. He gained 4 points to climb to 2830 ELO. With Magnus gaining 11, the distance between the two players increased to 51 points, despite their draw in Zurich Chess 2014.

At positions 3 and 4 are two more participants in the Candidates tournament – Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov. They were inactive during the month of February and maintained their ratings of 2787 and 2785 respectively.

Fabiano Caruana is fifth, gaining two ELO points from his participation in Zurich. Top 10 is completed by Alexander Grischuk, Hikaru Nakamura, Viswanathan Anand, Sergey Karjakin, and the first time top 10 entrant Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. His beautiful games in Gibraltar 2014 gave him the needed push to be the 10th highest rated player on the March FIDE rating list.

A notable rising star is Denis Khismatullin who gained 16 points, he highest gain in the period, and joined the 2700 club.

March FIDE rating list

1  Carlsen, Magnus  NOR 2881
2  Aronian, Levon  ARM 2830
3  Kramnik, Vladimir  RUS 2787
4  Topalov, Veselin  BUL 2785
5  Caruana, Fabiano  ITA 2783
6  Grischuk, Alexander  RUS 2777
7  Nakamura, Hikaru  USA 2772
8  Anand, Viswanathan  IND 2770
9  Karjakin, Sergey  RUS 2766
10  Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime  FRA 2758
11  Svidler, Peter  RUS 2758
12  Dominguez Perez, Leinier  CUB 2757
13  Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar  AZE 2757
14  Ivanchuk, Vassily  UKR 2753
15  Gelfand, Boris  ISR 2753
16  Adams, Michael  ENG 2751
17  Vitiugov, Nikita  RUS 2747
18  Giri, Anish  NED 2745
19  Bacrot, Etienne  FRA 2739
20  So, Wesley  PHI 2738
21  Wang, Hao  CHN 2734
22  Nepomniachtchi, Ian  RUS 2732
23  Leko, Peter  HUN 2730
24  Eljanov, Pavel  UKR 2723
25  Jakovenko, Dmitry  RUS 2723
26  Morozevich, Alexander  RUS 2722
27  Ponomariov, Ruslan  UKR 2721
28  Korobov, Anton  UKR 2719
29  Ding, Liren  CHN 2717
30  Malakhov, Vladimir  RUS 2717
31  Wang, Yue  CHN 2717
32  Jobava, Baadur  GEO 2716
33  Harikrishna, P.  IND 2714
34  Khismatullin, Denis  RUS 2714
35  Shirov, Alexei  LAT 2713
36  Wojtaszek, Radoslaw  POL 2713
37  Radjabov, Teimour  AZE 2713
38  Moiseenko, Alexander  UKR 2712
39  Tomashevsky, Evgeny  RUS 2711
40  Kamsky, Gata  USA 2709
41  Fressinet, Laurent  FRA 2709
42  Andreikin, Dmitry  RUS 2709
43  Le, Quang Liem  VIE 2709
44  Naiditsch, Arkadij  GER 2706
45  Kryvoruchko, Yuriy  UKR 2706
46  Rublevsky, Sergei  RUS 2706
47  Areshchenko, Alexander  UKR 2705
48  Almasi, Zoltan  HUN 2704
49  Li, Chao b  CHN 2700
50  Navara, David  CZE 2700
51  Bu, Xiangzhi  CHN 2699
52  Inarkiev, Ernesto  RUS 2698
53  Vallejo Pons, Francisco  ESP 2697
54  Matlakov, Maxim  RUS 2695
55  Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter  ROU 2695
56  Polgar, Judit  HUN 2693
57  Alekseev, Evgeny  RUS 2692
58  Rodshtein, Maxim  ISR 2691
59  Kasimdzhanov, Rustam  UZB 2690
60  Riazantsev, Alexander  RUS 2689
61  Berkes, Ferenc  HUN 2687
62  Van Wely, Loek  NED 2684
63  McShane, Luke J  ENG 2683
64  Akopian, Vladimir  ARM 2682
65  Rapport, Richard  HUN 2681
66  Cheparinov, Ivan  BUL 2681
67  Laznicka, Viktor  CZE 2681
68  Granda Zuniga, Julio E  PER 2680
69  Dreev, Aleksey  RUS 2679
70  Onischuk, Alexander  USA 2679
71  Bruzon Batista, Lazaro  CUB 2678
72  Movsesian, Sergei  ARM 2678
73  Sargissian, Gabriel  ARM 2676
74  Sasikiran, Krishnan  IND 2676
75  Grachev, Boris  RUS 2675
76  Short, Nigel D  ENG 2674
77  Volokitin, Andrei  UKR 2674
78  Istratescu, Andrei  FRA 2672
79  Zhigalko, Sergei  BLR 2671
80  Edouard, Romain  FRA 2670
81  Yu, Yangyi  CHN 2664
82  Bartel, Mateusz  POL 2662
83  Saric, Ivan  CRO 2661
84  Mamedov, Rauf  AZE 2660
85  Ni, Hua  CHN 2658
86  Khairullin, Ildar  RUS 2657
87  Efimenko, Zahar  UKR 2657
88  Amin, Bassem  EGY 2657
89  Motylev, Alexander  RUS 2656
90  Safarli, Eltaj  AZE 2656
91  Gharamian, Tigran  FRA 2655
92  Lysyj, Igor  RUS 2655
93  Socko, Bartosz  POL 2654
94  Lenic, Luka  SLO 2654
95  Erdos, Viktor  HUN 2654
96  Sjugirov, Sanan  RUS 2653
97  Nielsen, Peter Heine  DEN 2653
98  Zvjaginsev, Vadim  RUS 2653
99  Sutovsky, Emil  ISR 2652
100  Tiviakov, Sergei  NED 2651
101  Balogh, Csaba  HUN 2651
102  Jones, Gawain C B  ENG 2651


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2014 Arbiters’ Awards

Posted by on Feb 28, 2014 in Chess News & Events |

Official FIDE logoThe FIDE Arbiters’ Commission introduces the 2014 Arbiters’ Awards.

The Awards are referring to the long service of Arbiters as officials in FIDE major events (Long Service Meritorious Awards).

The requirements for an Arbiter to be awarded are:
– to have obtained the IA title before 1979 (35 years of service as IA).
– to have worked at least for three (3) times as official in FIDE major events (Olympiads, World Championships, World Cups).

Federations and individuals are kindly requested to send to the FIDE Arbiters’ Commission (Chairman Takis Nikolopoulos: takisnik@yahoo.com and Secretary Dirk De Ridder: FIDE_dirkderidder@skynet.be) their proposals for Arbiters who fulfill the above criteria, until 10 May 2014.

Takis Nikolopoulos
FIDE Arbiters’ Commission


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Chile National Chess Championship 2014

Posted by on Feb 28, 2014 in Chess News & Events |

Chile National Chess Championship 2014 is taking place 17-26 February in Punta Arenas.

After 10 rounds GM Rodrigo Vazquez is sole leader with 8,5/10, followed by IM Cristobal Henriquez with 8,0/10. The rest of the field has 5,5 points or less.

Follow the last round live on Chessdom.com with triple engine analysis


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Stockfish and Naum lead TCEC Stage 1b

Posted by on Feb 27, 2014 in Chess News & Events |

stockfish-4Stockfish and Naum share the lead at TCEC Stage 1b after six rounds. Both engines have 5,0/6, having drawn each other in round 2, and each drawing Spike.

The second seeded Fire 3.1, which was leading the competition at earlier rounds, lost its direct match against Stockfish. Fire remains at sole third position with 4,0/6, half a point ahead of Nightmare 7.8, and a full point ahead of Shredder, Tornado, and Spike.

The lowest rated engine in the field – Nebula 2 – continues to bring surprises. With ELO of only 2097, it defeated Jazz (2371) and drew with Tornado (2809). Its next opponents are Toga, Spike, Naum, and Exchess.

Official website / Live games / Standings and results / Play free online at Chessdom Arena


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Garry Kasparov at Reykjavik Open 2014

Posted by on Feb 27, 2014 in Chess News & Events |

Reykjavik Chess Open 2014The next edition of the Reykjavik Open will take place on 4-12th March, 2014. Once again the tournament will be held in the beautiful Harpa concert hall by the Reykjavik harbour.

The 2014 Reykjavik Open will celebrate a 50 year anniversary of the tournament. The organisers will do their best to make this 50 year anniversary edition a very memorable one.

There will be many side events, including a photo-op and book signing by former World Champion Garry Kasparov. Full schedule below.

The tournament will be played over 10-rounds of Swiss system. Top prizes are 5.000€ / 2.000€ / 1.250€ / 800€ / 600€ etc
There are also prizes for best women, juniors and elo categories.

Reykjavik Open 2013

Tournament website

Side Events:

– Monday 3rd of March, Opening Party

For those coming on Monday it’s ideal to go to the opening party which will be held at the official bar of the tournament, Sky Lounge and Bar which is situated at Hotel Arnarhvoll which is straight across from Harpa and only about a minute walk away or so. The party will be held from 17:00 till 19:00.

– Thursday 6th of March, The Golden Circle (before the round)

Guided tour around some of the most spectacular sights in Southern Iceland, including the Gullfoss waterfall, the Geysir hot spring and Bobby Fischer´s final resting place.
Also a stop at the Fischer centre in Selfoss: http://fischersetur.is/index.cfm?page=pages/start_en2&lang=en
Registration form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1ERl7mffewsXa73rmUvA8PbMGLl2l8xRg849h59qoO5M/viewform

– Friday 7th of March, The World Famous Reykjavík Open Chess Pub-Quiz (after the round)

The really popular and entertaining chess pub quiz which is becoming a standard feature of the tournament will be here yet again. As usual there are 30 questions about chess and the history of the game, both recent and past. This will be a pair event. Registration on-site, just show up just before 22:00 at the official bar of the tournament Sky and Lounge Bar.

– Saturday 8th of March, The “Kids’n Blitz” Tournament

The finals of a blitz tournament for 13 year and younger children from the Reykjavík metropolitan area. Elimination format. Will be played in the morning, and finish just before the start of that days round.

“Even Steven” Blitz Tournament at 20:00
A nine round “5-minute” plus 1-second blitz tournament with time odds, where a total of 10-minute playing time is divided between opposing players, depending on the ELO ranking. For each 100-point difference in ELO ranking, there will be a two-minute difference in with a maximum difference of 8 minutes (1 minute and 9 minutes). So, for example, a 2200-rated player will thus have 8 minutes against a 2500-rated player, who will have 2 minutes, but each will enjoy the 1-second increment time per move. Entry fee is EUR10 (or the equivalent in ISK) and is due prior to the start of the first round. The tournament will be in HARPAN!
Minimum age: 18 years.

– Sunday 9th of March, Kobalia Lecture

At 11:00 on Sunday the very strong 2650 rated GM Mikhail Kobalia from Russia will give a lecture. Hopefully Kobalia can give us some insights or secrets since he one of the head trainers of the Russian youth teams traveling to junior events!

– Football – Iceland vs. Rest of the World

The 4th annual soccer match, open to all. To be played at 22:00 in the indoor hall: Fifan. Registration possible up to and including Saturday the 8th. Pickup will be from Harpan @21:30. The plan this year is 4 teams and played about 7-a-side on half a pitch.

– Monday 10th of March, Kasparov photo-op and book signing

Kasparov will be on site before the round on Monday and there will be a photo opportunity as well as book signing. Details later

– Wednesday 12th of March, Closing Ceremony at City Hall

Closing ceremony at Reykjavík City Hall commences at 18:30. Everybody welcome.


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