Geoffrey D. Borg on chess management
Sunday, 16 May 2010

– Mr. Borg, how do you like the organization of the FIDE Grand Prix in Astrakhan?

– We visited Astrakhan twice before the event, and in each case we had a very good cooperation with the government people. People here are very friendly and ready to help with everything. I also liked the city – your theaters, concert halls, shows, sport stadiums etc are very nice. It is a perfect place for a chess event. Astrakhan is not big and not too fast as Moscow, for example. This is the one of the reasons why we selected Astrakhan. Another reason is chess development. We must give regions opportunity for developing chess.

– What can you tell about your job?

– It can be a difficult job because I do about one hundred eighty flights in a year, so I am flying every two days. Of course I am sometimes tired because I am going to airports, hotels, meetings, back to hotel, airport and then I fly away. I will leave Astrakhan soon; unfortunately I can not stay here longer although I like this place.

Still, I like my job, because I can travel and visit different countries. I have been in 71 countries so far. My favorite cities are Singapore, Amsterdam and Dubai. May be it can seem strange but I am glad that I work on the road.

Wherever you go, you communicate with people, so you can make many friends everywhere easily and quickly. In general people are friendly all over the world. I have many friends of different cultures and different languages.

– What is chess for you today?

– I play chess, I love chess. Previously I wanted to become chess professional when I was a teenager, but then I focused on my studies and went to business school. I got my first degree in Malta and my Masters Degree in the UK, and then started to work – in America, England, Belgium… Four years ago I received an offer to work in the chess world. So today chess is my job – marketing, commercial, promotion. I deal with players, too. I know a great deal about them, I have got to know a lot about their characters. I like people – that’s why I enjoy my work.

– If chess is your job, do you have a hobby?

– Traveling can be a hobby, but not in my case. I played water polo when I was young. Tennis and water polo are my favorite sports. What I cannot do is watch football. Many people enjoy it, watch matches on TV, but I can’t sit and watch at men running after a ball for 90 minutes! Today, I started taking up photography.

– What do think about computers in chess?

– Computers are super strong. They are developing rapidly with heuristical methods and calculate everything critical. The human brain works differently. You have 3-4 candidate moves, and you often pick one of them by intuition and experience.

– Is it hard to find sponsors for chess events?

– It is very hard. We are working on it all the time. It’s easier for FIDE President of course, who can approach Gazprom, Lukoil, other big companies in Russia, because he is a Head of the Republic. I cannot use this approach. The problem is that business people know little about chess. Even the best chess players are not recognized by general public. We have to work on the brand of chess. The main thing for sponsors is media: they like newspapers, radio and particularly TV. We want to bring chess to TV. If you can do this, you get sponsors. And of course we were hit by the economic crisis that we had last year.

– In view of the coming elections, what do you think about opposition to the current president?

– Years ago I was part of the opposition against Kirsan, but I believe he can do more for chess. It is good to have opposition because it keeps on your toes.

Questions – Aigulle Kabulova, Anna Belopasova

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