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Score a point for constant harping. It looks as though Libyan leader Khaddafi may let the Israel players into Tripoli for the 2004 FIDE world championship. (Here on March 8 I wrote "In light of all the movement inside and regarding Libya I'd be willing to support the tournament in Libya if they lift the visa restrictions for the tournament.")

Not that I think the Lockerbie bomber himself was reading, but it appears that FIDE has managed to get them to agree. We posted the Libyan invitation (not explicitly to Israelis, but to "all 128 players") at ChessBase today. Congratulations to veteran FIDE arm-twister Makropoulos for getting it done and FIDE for expressing will for the good for the first time since Euwe was President.

The Jerusalem Post has more on this development. (Also here and here.) It also brings up the obvious problem with this success, quoting an Israeli chess federation official: "Even if we get permission from security officials and the Foreign Ministry, we are not sure that we will go, since the players are afraid," one official said. "If the Libyans agree, however, to allow us to travel with armed security guards, then that might prove to be a determining consideration for the players."

Oh, that. Yes, hmm. Getting your head into the lion's mouth isn't the hard part. I could understand the players not wanting to risk life and limb while trying to play chess at the same time. I hope they can get security guarantees. It would be a step even though it's likely Israelis would still be banned the day the last one was out of the KO.

So the next question: if the Israelis feel it's too dangerous (and the other players might not even want to be around them) will there still be an alternative venue available to them? FIDE say no. ("No parallel event will be organized in Malta and all the games of the Championship will be played in Libya.") Other countries were already lining up to request to play in Malta instead of Libya, which would have been a publicity disaster. I don't doubt that's why FIDE and Khaddafi finally realized it would be better to have only one event.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on April 28, 2004 9:19 PM.

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