During the European Chess Championships in Dresden I stayed at the IBIS hotel. The European Chess Union had made the participants an offer: Full board in a single room in the IBIS hotel during 14 nights for 98 euros a night. Payment could not be done directly to the hotel; the national federations had to transfer the money to the bank account of the European Chess Union (ECU). The ECU would then pay IBIS. This is an important point to understand what happened. Many players made use of this arrangement – of the Dutch Chess Federation GM Tiviakov, GM Smeets, GM Werle and myself opted for it.
Lunch and dinner in the hotel were extremely poor. Both in terms of quality and quantity. Our complaints to the waiters did not have any effect. After about seven days I spoke to the cook. He told me he couldn’t change the situation since he had been ordered to prepare meals for the players for a value of five euros. And indeed five euros average seems like a good indication for what we got, although it could also have been less.
Now it was time for some calculation. We paid 98 euros. The normal rate for a single room including breakfast (which could, for example, be found on a billboard next to the entrance) is 70,50 euros. 98 – 70,50 = 27,50 euros left for lunch and dinner. Lunch and dinner together had a value of 10 euros so 27,50 – 10 = 17,50 euros per person per day disappeared! That is 245 euros per person for the whole stay.
By now we had grown very curious about how much ECU had actually paid IBIS. The manager of IBIS refused to tell us, saying this was something between the players and the organisers. Then I spoke with the organiser in charge of these matters, Mr Verleger. He also refused to tell me. One gets the impression there was something to hide.
I think the national federations whose players stayed in the IBIS should claim a decent refund from ECU.
Furthermore, in the future national federations should transfer money directly to hotels and not through ECU, or any other organisation. And if they must, they should ask for written guarantees /specifications where the money will go. Otherwise history may well repeat itself, for example during the 2008 Olympiad, in Dresden.
GM Erik van den Doel