President of English Chess Federation
Q: What are your impressions of our country, the people and hospitality?
A: Oh! it's fantastic! I've visited Greece many times. My first time was when I stayed in Sani Beach (in Halkidiki) in 2001, I think. Then they held a tournament here and I've visited Greece just on occasions. Of course I knew Vyron Tsorbatzoglou long before that time from the Olympiads, etc. Then it was in 2003 when I had this marvellous invitation to come here as Deputy Chief (Arbiter) and now as we say I'm part of the furniture! It's lovely to be back here in Athos. I've stayed here before and we know it's a good hotel for the food, the rooms, the beach, the sunshine, and of course the playing hall. The playing hall is perfect! I think that the most important thing, whether it's a juniors' or a grandmasters' tournament, is to create good conditions, so choose the food, the rooms, and everything else, and then it's up to the chess players to play good chess. And if you do this, you have far less trouble with appeals and protests because you keep the players happy! You Greeks are very good at this because I think you all have this natural ability to make people happy. And I'm so glad to be part of it, I really am!
Q: How do you see this initiative concerning the World School Championship, organized for the 2nd time in a row here?
A: Well, again, it's fantastic! I'm sure that in the future we'll reach the large number of competitors of World Youth Champs. Here though we have the greatest all-play-all event, the World School Under 7. Ten players, all play all, they can prepare, they know their colours now, it's really unbelievable!
Q: Are you satisfied with the organizing as a whole of this event?
A: Completely! You see, back in England, I'm Chairman of Mind Sports UK and so I've become conscious that besides chess there are many other mind sports that people can play. As we saw in last year's Games Festival, for example bridge and billiards, I think it's really fantastic to watch people play and enjoy their favourite sports.
Q: What's your opinion about the match Topalov-Kramnik? Will there be a change at the top of World Chess?
A: Well, hopefully yes! We've dreamed of the reunification and of one champion. Let's hope we can get there because these are the role models that we want our children to look up to for the future. We don't want a divided FIDE, divided championships. The same as here, we want one champion.
Q: Your forecast about the forthcoming FIDE elections
A: I think it will be very close. Yet it's better to wait and see and not foretell anything. It's better to wait!