The last 4 years were the most active term in the history of the European Chess Union

An interview with Mr. Almog Burstein, International Chess Arbiter (since 1977), current ECU Treasurer and Treasurer in Silvio Danailov’s ticket for the ECU Presidential Elections’2014

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Q: Several days ago ECU achieved second historical success with the obtaining of UNESCO’s official rights for organization of some of its events under the patronage of the United Nations’ organization. Two years ago the European Parliament adopted the ECU program “Chess in school”.  What is the meaning of these successes for the European and world chess?

Almog Burstein: These two great achievements are only a part of a long-term program that was personally outlined and accomplished by the ECU President Silvio Danailov to get the recognition and appreciation of the game of chess from as many international and European bodies as possible.

With the approval and support from important and respected bodies, such as the UN and EP, many chess federations all over the world can achieve more easily their target – to turn chess into a national game in their countries and get much more support from governmental as well as private bodies. In Israel, for example, we managed to get in 2013 and 2014 from our National Lottery Plant more than 100,000 Euros each year, and this amount will be doubled next year.

Q: How do you evaluate the ECU activities during the last 4 years?

Almog Burstein: The figures speak for themselves – the last 4 years were the most active term in the history of the ECU – more tournaments than ever and more participants in most of them.

Q: Your colleagues from the ticket and many chess figures describe you with two words – wisdom and experience. How you will describe your colleagues from the ticket?

Almog Burstein: All the members of our team have a lot of experience, in chess as well as in many other fields of life. If you sum up the CV’s of the five of us you will get more than two hundred (!) years, full with the initiation, organization, managing and arbitration of hundreds of chess events. And speaking of wisdom, well, at least three of our team members are better chess players than me…

Q: People also describe you as a successful ECU Treasurer. Tell us more about the ECU finances during the last four years?

Almog Burstein: If I have been a successful ECU Treasure, it has mainly been due to two board members – General Secretary Sava Stoisavljevic, who has done a tremendous job in collecting the fees from the organizers of the European Championships, and Accountant Kurt Gretener, the former ECU Treasurer. The three of us have been working in full cooperation and understanding as the financial committee of the ECU which keeps our body financially strong and stable.

Q: Tell us more about your future plans if elected for a second term?

Almog Burstein: My main plan in the next couple of years is simply to continue to help Silvio and Sava, together with the other board members, strengthen the ECU as well as the status of chess in Europe.

Q: Why the national delegates should vote for Mr. Danailov and your crew on the upcoming elections in Tromso?

Almog Burstein: Because of all I have said up to now…

Q: In this connection, what is your opinion about the proposal of the Georgian Chess Federation to the ECU General Assembly in Tromso to waive the President’s stipend from the ECU budget and transfer it to Chess in School in Europe?

Almog Burstein: This is a very bad proposal. The ECU President is not an honorary position. This is a full-time job and the President should dedicate all his time and energy to the task of promoting Chess in Europe in general and the European Chess Union in particular. Of course, if the President is a full-time minister, or a member of the parliament or an industrialist, etc., he should not get another salary.

Note also that these are empty proposals and promises, aiming not to make the European Chess Union more competitive and persistent, but to achieve short-term dominance in the election campaign. The behavior shows the intentions. Those who use such hollow ideas as their primary weapon, will manage the ECU in the same manner – silly talking without strategic vision and real action for the development of our organization.

The President’s stipend was adopted unanimously by the ECU General Assembly in 2007, not by us. Why no one until now has opposed that? Why this “ingenious”  proposal was made just a few months before the new elections? I think the answer is clear.

And to finish the topic – it is not serious to discuss the President’s stipend because of one more reason – its amount is nothing special compared to the European salaries.

Q: What will be your motto if you become again ECU Treasurer?

Almog Burstein: Chess – the Game of Europe!

Q: What about the Burstein system developed by you and the forthcoming Olympiad in Tromso?

Almog Burstein: The Burstein Pairing System was used in 8 Chess Olympiads from 1994 to 2008! Since then some of the pairing rules have been changed by FIDE, and it is up to them to find out what is the best pairing system for such huge events.

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Mr. Almog Burstein (Israel) – ECU Treasurer – CV

Mr. Almog Burstein, born in 1950, an economist and accountant, has been involved in all kinds of chess activity for more than 40 years. In 1976 he was the Deputy Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Haifa Chess Olympiad, which was the first Olympiad to use a computer and to be run according to the Swiss System. Ten times (more than anyone else in the world) he was a member of the Olympiad Pairings Committee (now incorporated into the Technical Administration Panel). In 1994 – 2008 the Chess Olympiads were run according to the Burstein System. Nowadays Burstein is the ECU Treasurer, Member of FIDE’s Executive Board, Secretary of FIDE’s Technical Commission and Chairman of the Chess Committee in CSIT (the International Confederation of Sport for Workers and Amateurs).

As an International Chess Arbiter (since 1977) he has been the organizer and/or arbiter of many local, national and international tournaments, including, among many others: Chief Arbiter of the World U16 Youth Championship (1985), Nanjing Super Tournament (2010), World Senior Team Championship (2011), European Club Cup (2012); Deputy Chief Arbiter of the World Team Championship (2005), World Blitz Championship (2006) and the World Championship Match Anand-Karlsen (2013).

Almog Burstein was also quite successful as an amateur player. In simultaneous exhibitions held in Jerusalem he drew against World Champion Garry Kasparov (in 1996) and won against the world’s best woman player, Judit Polgar (in 2005). In 2007 he took second place in the World Amateur Championship.

In 1994 – 2006 Burstein was involved in the Israeli political life, holding public positions such as Chairman of the Hod Hasharon (his hometown) Worker Council, CEO of Shinui (the Liberal Party of Israel) and Deputy Mayor of Hod Hasharon.

You could download the interview and CV in pdf format from here:

1. Almog Burstein-interview

2. Almog Burstein CV

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