In the meantime, everyone loves scandal (as long as we are not the ones involved, I mean). But this time money matters get's on the way again. Yup, "no money, no business". Here's from ChessBase:
It was scheduled to go from April 6th to 17th, and players had already arrived in Budapest – some from as far away as India. IMs had to pay a hefty starting fee, 600 Euros, in addition to their flights. Round one was played, but then the hosting hotel shut down the event since no expenses were being paid.
IM Robert Ris was one of the victims of the failed Barcza Memorial tournament. He sent the following letter to all chess news sites and blogs. Unfortunately, the letter landed on my inbox only last night, and it was quite long and too time consuming (and exhausting) to read. But anyway, one of you might want to give it a through read; then kindly give me your insights about this latest fiasco in chess.
Open Letter regarding the Barcza Memorial Scandal
IM Robert Ris
Thursday 9th April 2009
A few months ago I found out that in April 2009, there would be organized in Budapest a 2nd edition of Barcza Memorial (after reading the story you will understand why there is no tournament site of such strong tournament anymore!). I noticed an email address of the organizer, Mr. Pali, and decided to write him if there would be a possibility for me to participate. Unfortunately, I didn't get any reply, until 2 weeks before the tournament was scheduled. His invitation came quite unexpectedly for me, but I was very glad to get the chance to play in a Cat. 13 tournament, although I had to pay a huge entry fee (600 euro) + flight ticket (320 euro) all myself.
I started my trip Sunday 5 april. Due to late booking I couldn't get a direct flight to Budapest, so I had to make a short transfer in Prague. Arriving there, I decided to check my phone, and saw to my big surprise 3 missed calls from GM Ivan Sokolov, one of the players in the tournament. I called him back, and he told me he arrived at the hotel (http://www.ramadaresortbudapest.hu/ also playing venue) and wanted to check-in, but when informing the reception he came here for the chess tournament nobody understood where he was talking about. According to the hotel manager, Mr. Pali started negotiations a few months ago, but they were stopped early without signing any contract.
Mr. Sokolov informed me that it looked highly unlikely that there would be held a tournament, so the best thing I could do, he advised me, was taking a taxi and booking a room 1 night on my own expense.
After off-loading my luggage in Budapest I was surprised that Mr. Pali picked me up. He told me immediately that the first night I couldn't stay in the hotel, since it was overbooked. After the opening ceremony where all players, but Sokolov were, who was even not informed about the location, he therefore decided to drop me and a few other players in another hotel for 1 night and transfer us next morning.
The next day we checked-out and went to the other hotel. The playing conditions looked really excellent. Everything seemed to be ready for a nice and competitive event.
The 1st round went quite smoothly, despite the slight delay at the beginning of the round. It seemed that all small problems were more or less solved, but in fact they just started...
Next day, 5 minutes before the start of 2nd round, Mr. Pali arrived in the hotel and announced to the players that the 2nd round would be delayed for 1 hour, without mentioning any reason. To me all things were quite clear already, since the hotel management even didn't want to open the conference hall, where we were supposed to play. It was obvious that Mr. Pali hadn't paid anything to the hotel yet. Players decided to relax in the lobby while Mr. Pali went to the bank. Coming back (of course nobody cared about the exact delaying time anymore) he showed some papers to the hotel- and sales manager. As I could read from their faces they were absolutely not satisfied what was going on and Mr. Pali left again, this time accompanied by the hotel manager. After a while they returned and Mr. Pali informed a few players that 'today we don't play, maybe tomorrow double round' while the hotel manager wisely added 'maybe tomorrow no games at all'. When hearing this from other participants I decided to have a serious talk with Mr. Pali. I explained him that the situation for me was absolutely unacceptable, paying a huge amount to play this tournament and being treated in such a way. Arguments from his side like that he lost potential sponsors in preparation of the tournament and he suffered from private problems, didn't convince me at all. Losing sponsors in January and inviting me in end of March lacks any logic. He simply didn't fulfill any of his promises we agreed before the tournament and I didn't see anything better than to withdraw myself from the tournament.
About 1 hour later the hotel manager informed all players that the organizer had absolutely no money, and so the tournament had to be cancelled. The hotel gave him a few chances by extending the deadline, but as the manager stated correctly: 'No money, no business.'
Tournament being cancelled is absolutely a pity, but what about the expenses all the players made? For me personally it means that I lost around 1000 euro's for playing only 1 game. Most of the other players only lost their flight ticket and some starting fee. During the first 2 days GMs Almasi and Sokolov asked many times Mr. Pali to pay their starting fee, but every time he found a bad excuse to delay the payment.
I am very interested what was the reason that Mr. Pali did all this to us. As the hotel manager explained Mr. Pali had absolutely no money to transfer. He lost some sponsors during the preparation of the tournament, but still the Hungarian Chess federation sent him some money ( I have been told 2,2 million forint which is about equal as 7300 euro) which he absolutely misused and/or kept for himself.
After all what happened, it was decided to put up a list with all expenses the players made and forced Mr. Pali to sign himself. As he couldn't escape he signed of course and promised me he would pay me in the morning at the airport. At 7.45 am I met him together with GMs Gopal and Rozentalis. Mr. Pali told me he transferred the money to my account, which was absolutely impossible, since the banks are closed until 8 am. I asked him to pay me cash, so we went to the local currency office. His willingness to pay me cash is already enough proof that he did not sent the money to my bank account! Coming there he explained us that he didn't have his card with him, so he couldn't pay me cash. Similar problems occurred with Gopal and Rozentalis who also didn't get anything. Coming back home I was really surprised to hear that Mr. Pali informed Mr. Sokolov that he partly paid me back! Absolutely a lie!
At last I would really like to thank family Ignacz, who showed great hospitality inviting me to stay with them, after being kicked out of the hotel. Family Ignacz did an excellent job by taking care about more chess players and helped putting up the list with expenses.
I would kindly ask FIDE and Hungarian Chess Federation to take appropriate measures against Mr. Pali so that he will be unable to organize any chess events in the future.
robert_ris (at) hotmail.com