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Interview with the FFE President, Diego Salazar
By WGM Alina l'Ami

23The tournament in Paris makes the headlines all over the World. Could you name the reasons determining you to organize an event of such magnitudes?

I had three main objectives in mind: the general development of chess, giving to the French players and spectators the opportunity to meet elite players and, last but not least, to offer our best arbiters, like Laurent Freyd, the chance to gain experience at this level and become even better.

Paris - opening ceremony 199
The FFE President, Diego Salazar, during the opening ceremony of the sixth FIDE Grand Prix

Are you happy with the way things are going in this tournament?

I have every reason to be satisfied. The participants, the sponsors, all the people involved in the organization are happy with the event – this always brings satisfaction. Since everybody is happy, I am happy as well.

You had to organize this event in a very short period of time. How do you feel about the practical problems involved and the way you overcame them?

We never considered time as a real problem, given the importance of holding such an event in Paris; we just needed to organize in optimal way and work in the rush mode. However, some extra time would have helped, allowing us to promote the tournament better, to invite more people, to find other partners and, why not, to make it even better!
When we received the proposal to host this event we were just too glad to accept, since this is one of the best ways to promote the French Chess Federation and its competiveness. The difficulties we had to overcome demonstrated that we can organize an event of such caliber – the sixth FIDE Grand Prix.

Welcome to the French Chess Federation! With IA Laurent Freyd and GM Marie Sebag

How and when did you become interested in chess?

I learned how to play chess from my father; actually there were three generations of chess players in my family. Later on I was elected as the President of the Echiquier Chalonnais chess club (ed. Anish Giri is playing for this club!). Initially we had five members, then 25, then it escalated to 100 and so on…
Over the last ten years Echiquier Chalonnais chess club was a constant presence in the French clubs’ top ten and we even won the French high league in 2010. This allowed me to meet top GMs like Anish Giri or Leinier Dominguez, to make strong connections within the chess world, such as Germany, etc…
As the President of the FFE things acquired a different proportion now.

Watching up-close the chess struggles

You have recently been elected as the President of the FFE, how do you see the relations between you, the FFE and FIDE?

I intend to give my best to the FFE as its President, but also to the international chess scenes…I intend to work closer with FIDE, to create a model worth to be followed and to bring it forward to a broader audience.

The FFE President with Svetlana Titova (Deputy Director General on Economy and Finance of
Titan GP, one of the main sponsors) and the FIDE President, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov

Do you plan to organize such events like this Grand Prix in the future?

As mentioned before, it is important to popularize chess. Of course we would like to continue organizing international or worldwide acclaimed events but this is not such an easy task. So it is important to do things in the proper order and progressively, just like we did at the Echiquier Chalonnais chess club. And it is important to help the chess clubs because they are the seed from which strong GMs will rise!
I know there are so many things to do and to take care of, but I would like to encourage chess on all levels and not only at the top. We need to have chess in schools, youth institutions…

Do you have specific plan about how to achieve your generous aim?

There is not so long since I have been elected, but I think we already made good job. For the future, it is important that we re-structure the activity of our federation, I am more specifically following a model used at the handball or table tennis federations; we have 150 volunteers who joined us and this is of course a great help for the FFE. We need to stop thinking we are the best, compared to other sports... We are actually behind... So we have to act.

In the FFE headquarters

I wish you good luck and… to surpass the other sport federations!
© FIDE Grand Prix 2013    |    |