Last Batch of Checks from FIDE World Chess Championship may be bouncing

by Sam Sloan

Some officials of the FIDE World Chess Championship which concluded in Las Vegas on August 30 have apparently received bad news from their banks within the past two weeks that their checks are bouncing. A total of three million dollars in prizes were to have been paid to one hundred players at this event.
Carol Jarecki

Indian-Express for Bombay, India reported today, September 15, that the check to pay Carol Jarecki, who worked as an assistant arbiter during all but the final match of the World Chess Championship, has bounced.

The Indian-Express report says the following:

"BOUNCING CHEQUES: Meanwhile, the chess fraternity has expressed concern as a few cheques given at the recent World Championships in Las Vegas have bounced. The cheques drawn on a reputed bank were turned back when presented.

"Though it is not clear when some players' cheques have bounced, the news came around when one of the arbiters, Carol Jarecki's cheque was returned.

"Some players too are reported to have suffered similar experiences.

"The prize fund was to have been disbursed by a newly set-up World Chess Foundation, the origins of which are not entirely clear, though it does have some connection with Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, President of FIDE."

The Indian-Express report does not state clearly whether the checks paid to any player have actually bounced. All of the reports of possible bounced checks thus far concern officials, not players.

However, when reached in Israel, Willy Iclicki, the Chairman of the World Championships Cycle Committee, acknowledged that the "last batch of checks" had involved a problem of a shortage of funds. Iclicki said that he was working to resolve this problem as promptly as possible. However, Emmanuel Omuku, the Executive Director of FIDE, was in the process of traveling to the Crimea, Ukraine to prepare for the World Children's Olympiad and to Sydney, Australia to make preparations for an exhibition event for the Sports Olympiad, and therefore had been difficult to reach.

This statement was dated September 9 and the problem still has not been solved.

The World Chess Championship was contested on a knockout format and the players were paid as they were eliminated. All of the players who lost early, many of whom played in either the US Open Chess Championship or the US Closed Championship after being eliminated from the World Chess Championship, have received their money. Only those who survived to the end seem to be in any jeopardy of not being paid.

The biggest checks were paid to those who survived to the end. According to the match regulations, the 36 first round losers received $6,000 each, for a total of $216,000, and the 32 second round losers received $10,800 each, for a total of $345,000. The two round 6 losers were to receive $172,800 each and the final round loser, Akopian, was to receive $396,000. The winner and world champion, Alexander Khalifman, was to receive $660,000.

Under the rules, the actual amounts to be paid to the players by FIDE was somewhat modified. If a match went into playoffs, the eventual winner would, in effect, pay some of his prize to the loser. The purpose of this was that if two players reached a sudden death situation where the outcome of a match depended on the result of a single game of 4 minutes to 5 minutes, the amount the loser would receive would be nearer to the amount the winner would receive.

In addition, all prizes paid to the players were reduced by a 20% fee payable to FIDE and an additional fee of $175 paid by each player.

Because the eventual winner, Alexander Khalifman, was involved in several playoff situations, the actual amount he was to receive was calculated to be $482,705 exactly.

After the closing ceremony, I happened to be present when Khalifman was discussing payment arrangements with Israel Gelfer, a FIDE official. Gelfer offered to give Khalifman a check immediately, drawn on a Swiss bank in Switzerland. Khalifman said that he did not need the money right away and that he would collect the money when he returned to Europe.

"There is no problem with the money?" asked Khalifman. Gelfer replied that there was no problem and that he had the money.

Michael Cavallo, Executive Director of the United States Chess Federation, when reached today, said that several officials at the match had been paid by the USCF, such as the grandmaster commentators and announcers and Tim Henke, the press officer. They, of course, had received their money. Cavallo acknowledged that the check paid by FIDE to Carol Jarecki had bounced. He did not know if any other checks had bounced.

The check paid to Jarecki had been drawn on the Wells Fargo Bank in Las Vegas. However, some of the players had been paid by checks drawn on a bank in Switzerland. This was done because some of the players feared that US withholding taxes would apply and therefore they preferred to receive their payment outside of the US.

A total of three million dollars in prizes were to be paid by the World Chess Foundation. At the press conferences at the conclusion of the match, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who is also President of the Republic of Kalmykia, acknowledged that he himself had provided the funds which were being paid to the players.

Players and officials who have received the possibly bouncing checks were reluctant to discuss their problems on the record, hoping that this matter would be resolved without further public scandal.

Sam Sloan

UPDATE: The check to semi-finalist Nisipeanu for $138,065 has bounced as well.

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