Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Licenced FIDE arbiter

It was at the end of 2012 that I first heard about the decision by the World Chess Federation, FIDE, to compel all their international and Fide Arbiters - and I was already an international arbiter since 2000 - to pay a one-time licence fee before they could work anywhere as an arbiter in Fide-rated chess events.

In fact, I was encouraged by Hamid Majid, Malaysia's only Category A international arbiter, to get myself licensed as soon as possible. All right, I told him, I shall look into it. I dilly-dallied a bit and before long, 2012 soon segued into 2013. Never mind, I told myself, I am still resolved to getting my licence.

But then, some disturbing developments were taking place inside a dysfunctional Malaysian Chess Federation.

We have an ex-politician who was clinging desperately to the post of MCF president, which amazed me to no end because the position of the president - and all other elected posts in the federation - was purely voluntary with no monetary gain of any kind. Why on earth would anyone want to cling onto a voluntary post? If someone else wants the job, let him take over, lah! Also, when one isn't doing anything much to promote the game or raise funds for its activities, don't be so thick-skinned to stay and be ineffective. That's just killing the organisation. Nevertheless, he remained there all right, entrenched and surrounded by his president's men. A fractured MCF and a truly dysfunctional group of people representing chess in the country, if ever there was one.

It pained me so much to think that I had to make my FIDE arbiter licence application through this bunch of jokers in the MCF. How am I supposed to get the MCF to issue me with a letter to send to FIDE? This was the dilemma that caused me to delay my payment.

One month led to another and soon, it was already December 2013. At the end of the year, I was stricken with a serious bout of ill-health which landed me in hospital for two weeks. By the time I was discharged, months of recuperation followed. Chess was quite out of my mind during those long months.

Earlier this month, Hamid was in Penang, appointed by the Penang Chess Association to be the chief arbiter in the sixth Penang heritage city open chess championship. By some coincidence, another old friend, Leong Chee Weng from Singapore, had also turned up but as a player. For those that do not know, Chee Weng is the former secretary-general of FIDE. Since relinquishing this position in FIDE last August, he has been playing more chess. Together, Hamid and Chee Weng persuaded me to pay up my licence fee as soon as possible. And, Hamid emphasised that I need not channel my application through MCF. He said that I could and should correspond directly with the chairman of FIDE's Arbiters' Commission.

Which was why last week, I was pretty busy going to the bank to make a telegraphic transfer to FIDE's bank account and then informing the Arbiters' Commission about it. And I'm happy to declare that as of 12 Dec 2014, my name now appears in the official FIDE Licenced Arbiters list. Look out, people, I am now back in action.

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