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Open letter to the ECU



15 November 2013
Dear friends,
Please find below an open letter to the delegates of ECU General Assembly in Warsaw:
Dear delegates of the ECU General Assembly, 
On behalf of the ACP let me address you on two very important issues that impact hundreds of chess professionals all over Europe. 
For a few years now, the European Individual Championships have been in decline. The prize fund gets smaller and smaller, while players are charged more and more. This has led to a situation when nearly all the best European players skip the Championships, and the Championships are downsized to yet another Open event with World Cup spots attached to it. 
The prize funds of the last few Championships were about three times smaller than those of a decade ago, and furthermore this prize fund is largely composed of players' fees and hotel surcharges - both a major burden on participants. The main reason why people keep coming to the European Championships is the possibility to qualify for the World Cup. However, it is utterly unacceptable that the Continental Championships have lost almost all of their appeal as a standalone event. 
Details and statistics on all the Continental Championships were presented to the members of the WCOC, and the WCOC recommended the introduction of a minimum threshold for prize funds on each Continent. This recommendation was approved by the FIDE Presidential Board and accepted by all Continents, except for Europe, where the ECU President Silvio Danailov opposes it bringing the eternal financial crisis as an excuse.
Dear friends, I agree that it might not be easy to raise funds for chess events but if you let me refer to our most recent experience as ACP - we managed to raise over half a million Euro for our events in 2012-2013, all that without charging players a single penny. Many of the world's top players took part in our events, which unfortunately can't be said about the European Individual Championships in the last years. So, maybe, blaming the financial crisis doesn’t say it all? We all would like to see the European Championships as respectable events in themselves, and setting a decent prize fund would be a definite step in the right direction. 
The second important issue is the Sofia rules. As you know, Sofia rules have been imposed on the players in all European events. We agree that anti-draw rules might be a good idea in principle, but certainly not in qualification events! This contradicts common sense, which was underlined by the ECU’s own experts in their report when the issue was examined a couple of years ago before introducing the anti-draw policy in all the ECU events.
There are several reasons why the Sofia rules are not compatible with qualification events, but in a nutshell, they are simply ineffective! Please have a look at the last rounds in Plovdiv-2012 and Legnica-2013. The percentage of draws is sometimes even higher than usual! Once again, the ACP has proposed to remove the Sofia rules from Continental qualification events, and after discussing it in detail, the WCOC issued a recommendation in this regard, that was later approved by the FIDE Presidential Board. Unfortunately, Mr. Danailov keeps rejecting all the WCOC recommendations without a good reason.
Dear GA delegates, I trust that these few lines were enough to convey my main message. On behalf of the players I call upon you to support the WCOC recommendations and not to reject them based on the "I know what to do" philosophy that has failed to bear fruit during the recent years. Let's do our best to avoid the confrontation and work together for the better chess World.
Emil Sutovsky,
ACP President