In the first part of the interview, Margaret Murphy talked about the intervention of a FIDE Vice President into the internal affairs of a recognized national chess federation. Despite the three months ban by the FIDE Ethics Commission, the (now former) FIDE official Nigel Short continued to publish unproven accusations on his Twitter feed.
Q: In Part 1 of the interview you said that your brother played the VI tournament for the first time in his life. And this tournament ended up in the FIDE Fair Play Commission. What was so intriguing about this tournament? What happened?
A: Well, once again, all I know is that Nigel wrote two letters to the Fair Play commission on May 14th. And he also mentioned many things in his letters, that had nothing to do with the tournament, but had to do with the Ethics case that he was involved in. Well, when he wrote these letters to the Fair Play Commission, he was only found guilty by the first chamber of the Ethics Commission. So he was in between two guilty verdicts (ed note. The Appeal Chamber later also found Nigel Short guilty and imposed a ban). But the Ethics had given him a warning not to interfere with the USVI Chess Federation.
I was copied on a letter that the Fair Play Commission sent to the Qualification Commission and Ethics on June 4th. In his complaint, Nigel Short went on about the games and he wrote about my brother, and things that had nothing to do with the tournament, personal things.
I don’t know what was going on as the Fair Play Commission just copied me on their report that they are going to unrate the tournament. And I didn’t even understand that I was involved with this until they sent it to the Qualification Commission and to the FIDE office. But I didn’t even know that I was the defendant, as an organizer. They’re charging me into two categories because I was the organizer of the tournament, and I played in the tournament. And Fair Play asked me about two of my games, they asked me, “you had a winning position in one game. You were a rook up, why did you offer a guy a draw?” I said because I was in time control. It was the game G60, no increments, I had very little time left and he had 30 minutes. I knew he is a stronger player because he played at our club, so I know the guy. I was just lucky, he made a mistake and I was up a rook.
Then they said “in your game with Delgado, you had a losing position. Why did you ask for a draw.” Why are they asking me for one position where I had a winning position why then did I ask for a draw, and then they asked me in a losing position why did I ask for a draw, as if you can’t ask for a draw.
As far as I know, they haven’t spoken yet to either of the opponents that I’ve been questioned about. They didn’t question the player I had a losing position with and I asked for a draw. They didn’t ask him why did you “give her” a draw if you had a winning position. Nigel had written in his letters to the Fair Play Commission some things about that game, too, saying that the man was from Puerto Rico, I was the organizer, so he was doing it because I was the organizer. This is very degrading. He retracted that comment when he realized how bad it was. And I told them the truth, I said I asked for a draw because I was in a losing position, and he looked tired. And they found me guilty. Fair Play has made its decision. It’s two segments, and I don’t really understand what they’re doing.
One (segment) is an administrative complaint, and that’s the one they supposedly did, but they didn’t speak with the arbiter, and they didn’t speak with the organizer. They spoke with me as a player, but they didn’t ask me as the organizer “Did you notice any irregularities? Did you notice anybody talking?” They didn’t ask me anything about the players. So that’s the one they found us guilty for and derated the tournament, saying the games are absurd. One of the games was my brother’s. In the first game he played and he beat the best player of the club somehow. I don’t know how he did it, I guess it was luck. This same game, his opponent, one of the better players, blundered a queen. And when they asked this player “Colin Heim, why did you blunder your queen?” Heim called me and said “why are they asking me this? If I knew it, I wouldn’t have done it.” I said I don’t know, they’re asking me these questions too. You see, it’s funny, because all the games, the five games they questioned us about, what really struck me, they didn’t speak to anybody else. They spoke to the president of the federation, for one of the games. The vice-president of federation, one of the other games, the treasurer of federation, and another guy they spoke to is Heim. Heim is the one who spoke to the Ethics and said Nigel offered him a $5,000 bribe. It’s very curious that the games the Fair Play picked out, why out of more than 30 games they pick three of the officers and the one guy that has reported attempted bribery? Obviously, there’s something wrong. And this was the administrative complaint.
Now we have a new request on June 24th from the Fair Play Commission. Now they are investigating the unsportsmanlike behavior of players. So this is a second investigation that they just sent out the questions for. In the second one, they are telling me I had unsportsmanlike behavior. And I said how was my behavior unsportsmanlike? I don’t even understand the question. What are you accusing me of? I can’t answer your question if I don’t know what you are accusing me of. And they said match-fixing. Wait a minute, as fat as I know, and maybe I am wrong, match-fixing is when you know the outcome before that game. And this didn’t happen. At least it didn’t happen in any of my games, and I didn’t see anybody or witnessed anything like this. So now they’re starting the second complaint for match-fixing.
Q: There is still no final decision on this?
A: They derated the tournament. They took the rating points away from the players. And they took it so the arbiter didn’t get credit for it. I didn’t get credit for it as an organizer. One of our players who gained 50 points in this tournament had his 50 points taken back from him. For everybody, all the games were derated, and this is the other thing I don’t understand. Not just the games that they questioned. They took all new ratings away, they completely derated the whole entire tournament.
Q: Did you raise this question within FIDE?
A: I did, and the President of FIDE told me there are two avenues you can take. He told me that if it concerns the ban, like the derating, that has to go to the Ethics. And if it concerns the (disrespectful) manner in which they asked the questions, like I told him they haven’t talked to the arbiter, they haven’t talked to the organizer, how are they coming to conclusions? And he said that issue you can bring to the FIDE Council. So it’s very confusing. And then I got the letter on July 1 from the Fair Play Chairperson telling me that I only had seven days to appeal from the report that was received on June 4th. So now they are telling me, July 1, that I have seven days.
Q: Did they communicate this decision with you?
A: No, they just sent me this copy. And I asked why am I being copied at this? Am I the defendant? And they said you will be considered the defendant as the organizer. I said how when I didn’t get any questions about the organization of the tournament? Nobody has asked me anything, they asked me only about my two games.
Q: When was this tournament taking place? Remind us please.
The end of April, it was the last two days of April, and the first of May.
Q: And this tournament was supported by FIDE, right?
Yes, by the Planning and Development Commission of FIDE.
The US Virgin Islands Chess Federation held their 2022 World Chess Federation (FIDE) Spring Festival Chess Tournament at Education Connections VI in La Grande Princesse, St. Croix, from April 29 – May 1. Twelve players competed in the 7-round swiss tournament, including five rated players. Logan Childers Pickett (Puerto Rico) was the highest rated player in the field (rated 1794) and won the event scoring 6.5 points. The final rankings can be seen below. FIDE Planning and Development Commission supported the event with $5,000.
2022 World Chess Federation (FIDE) Spring Festival Chess Tournament – Final rankings:
1.Logan Childers Pickett (Puerto Rico) 6.5 points (FIDE Rating 1794)
2.Edwin G. Delgado (Puerto Rico) 5.0 points (FIDE Rating 1538)
3.Ivan Mendez Serrano (Puerto Rico) 4.5 points (FIDE Rating 1707)
4.Justin M Hair (St. Croix) 4.0 points (FIDE Rating 1505)
5.Colin Peter Heim (St. Croix) 4.0 points (FIDE Rating 1455)
6.Margaret Murphy (St. Croix) 3.5 points (FIDE Rationg 0)
7.Akelam Romain (St. Croix) 3.5 points (FIDE Rating 0)
8.Anthony Mongiello (St. Croix) 3.0 points (FIDE Rating 1435)
9.Malchi Monday (St. Croix) 3.0 points (FIDE Rating 0)
10.Michaela Lynn Cowart (St. Croix) 2.5 points (FIDE rating 0)
11.Ernest Thyberg (St. Thomas) 1.5 points (FIDE Rating 0)
12.Matthew Cafee (St. Croix) 1.5 points (FIDE Rating 0)
Q: Related to this, in other tweets of Nigel Short, he claimed that you didn’t provide proper receipts for the funds provided by FIDE. This sounded strange as you are actually a member of the FIDE Verification Commission which is exactly checking invoices, receipts and spending.
A: It was very foolish to ask that question. Because three days after the tournament I sent to PDC (Planning and Development Commission) all the receipts for all of the money, and I believe it was $148 leftover. I even asked them “What do you want us to do with this leftover money”. I had receipts for everything. The airplane, the hotels, the supplies, every penny, very detailed, in the excel sheet. And PDC accepted this. And they contacted me and said but you have to send the report, too. I made the report, and then I sent it back with the whole thing altogether.
So, the interesting thing about this is that nobody told me that those receipts are not acceptable. What happened is that receipts came from hotels.com. So I talked to the President of FIDE, I sent him my private bank statement and I told him please don’t share with anybody. I am showing you where the money has been charged to my credit card. But Nigel continued to tweet more and more.
The President said that the thing is if you book something on any of those sites, hotels.com, you can cancel it and you can get your money back. And then I thought about it, and I said you know what, you’re right. I contacted the hotel, I explained the whole situation, they gladly helped me obtain the papers. So now we have the original receipts from the owner of the hotel showing the checkin and checkout dates. We sent these receipts to the FIDE President
Q: The President you mean Arkady Dvorkovich?
A: Yes, and I sent him these, and I said if you think this is not sufficient, please let me know. The FIDE President said, “looks good”.
Q: Then how did Nigel Short know that the receipts came from hotels.com?
A: Oh. I skipped this. He demanded that PDC (Planning and Development Commission) give him the receipts.
Q: In what capacity did he ask for that?
A: First as an individual. And I understand the FIDE President told Nigel that you can’t do that. You have to do it with the FIDE Council. So I don’t know if that’s how he got them. I now have to assume that he went to the FIDE council, I guess.
But the funny part is when I saw Nigel’s receipts. I told the FIDE President just the other day when I talked to him – I want you to take note that in Nigel’s receipts, one of them from Saint Vincent is from Bookings.com. And this is the same thing as hotels.com. So how do we know he really stayed there?
Q: You are in Verification for such a long time, and you see all kinds of receipts and papers. Can you tell us, if it’s not secret information from FIDE, how Nigel Short submitted his receipts for the past four years as the FIDE VP. He was very active traveling all over the world, visiting chess federations…
A: Well, in general, all the receipts are on the spreadsheet, and one heading is Vice Presidents’ travel. And It’s kind of grouped together. I honestly never noticed anything out of line with that.
But with these recent verifications, I suspected, but I couldn’t prove it, that I couldn’t find any hotel that he stayed at in Saint Croix when he visited USVI. And everywhere else he had a hotel listed in the receipt. FIDE did not pay for the hotel for 8 days in Saint Croix, so I investigated it. And Nigel has submitted in his original budget that no hotels are required for Saint Croix. This was before he left on this trip. Therefore, he knew before he went on his Caribbean Tour that he was going to be hosted by someone in St.Croix.
So my question to FIDE was where did he stay? I am still waiting for an answer. I will fill you in, because I can find out. But I don’t want to do it another way, I’d rather do it within channels that follow the protocol and I am asking FIDE, where did he stay. Because in the second Ethics report it was pointed out that in this one page of the appeal that Nigel was hosted by Gail Widmer and her husband John Dempsey.
And that set the bells off in my head, well he met with all these national federations, met with their Presidents, and then he came to Saint Croix and he had a simultaneous exhibition at the club of John Dempsey, a member of the association.
I went to this club to see Nigel’s exhibition. The US Virgin Islands Chess Federation Treasurer and Secretary accompanied me. We were also accompanied by a player from another club, the same person that refused the bribe from Nigel. I went and sat at the front table. And I waited for Nigel to come and say hello to me, well, he got out of the vehicle, he passed my table, looked right at me, and kept walking to the tables where he played the games. It was unbelievable, so embarrassing. Nigel never made any attempt to speak with the FIDE recognized USVI Chess Federation. Instead, he openly showed his support for a group of people that were attempting to replace our federation within FIDE.
Q: But this was an official FIDE trip to your chess federation?
Absolutely. Because FIDE paid for it. I saw the receipt saying ferry Tortola (BVI) to Saint Thomas (USVI). And then he submitted the receipt for the airplane ride from Saint Thomas to Saint Croix, on the same day. And then he submitted the receipt from Saint Croix to London, when he was finished in Saint Croix, a week later. So he did give those receipts to FIDE and got reimbursed for those. And that’s why I ask, where was he? I looked at the receipts for the hotels. I saw it from Tortola, I saw it for Dominica, I saw it for Saint Vincent, and I said, wait a minute, where’s the receipt from Saint Croix?
EDC appeal ruling 56: “However, it is equally clear that Mr Short lost his sense of objectivity and sound judgment in pursuing the USVI Chess Federation and Ms Murphy with much vigour and determination”
EDC 58: “It is indeed surprising that FIDE permitted Mr Short at all to embark on his fact-finding mission to the US Virgin Islands given the fact that Mr Short was a promoter of the resolution before the FIDE Council for the suspension of the USVI Chess Federation and the evidence of existing animosity between Mr Short and Mrs Murphy. It must have been obvious that Mr Short’s objectivity was compromised from the outset, before he even put a foot on US Virgin Islands soil.”
Q: Do you know any other cases that Nigel Short was involved in the federation’s internal affairs, like in the same way as he was involved with the Virgin Islands?
A: I just know that he went to the British Virgin Islands. And it’s my understanding that he’s threatened them. I have an email (about that) for not having the constitution. Now, has he been (involved) with any other federations? I cannot say for sure about that.
Q: Can you explain the issue of the USVI Olympiad player’s eligibility?
A: Saying that we have illegal players on our team is absolutely ridiculous. It is absolutely ridiculous that the (then) FIDE Vice President didn’t know the statutes of FIDE. And his post where he puts the VI flag next to the US passport to try to show the differences. Evidently, Nigel doesn’t realize that the United States Virgin Islands is part of the United States of America. Residents of the US and the USVI are all citizens of the US. The statutes of FIDE say you have to be either a citizen of or a resident of the country that the federation is in. Nigel wrote that nasty remark about Nakamura joining the USVI team and so on. But technically, the whole entire team could reside in the US, or Puerto Rico, Guam, or Samoa. And if they want to change that in FIDE, they need to change the wording. And maybe there’s a lot of wording that is invidious, but this is very clear. It states they need to be a citizen of / or a resident of.
The player in question is training our national team. We have no money for trainers, so in our previous constitution, we put in the clause that states if we can get the trainer to train our national team for one year or more, we will offer them a place on the team if they are from a federation that we can legally do that. We have done this since 2010, twelve years we’ve done this.
All of the sudden, this student/trainer, who attends college in the US, and the other two boys that attend college in the US, whose families still reside in the Virgin Islands, according to Nigel’s tweets are not legally on the team. He said that now there’s only one guy in the team who lives in the Virgin Islands. So he’s saying that the college kids now, don’t reside in the VI. There is also a clause in our constitution that states that university students and people in the military are exempt from the living in the Virgin Islands statute. He’s twisting things to make something it’s not.
But, the thing is, that in both our constitution and in the FIDE statutes, if Nigel had read them, he would have seen that this is legal. So when they started this big argument in the VI Olympic Committee, the VIOC President told me “Margaret, maybe you can’t do that anymore with the trainer”. I said alright, so in the amended constitution that we removed the trainer clause. This amended constitution is the one that FIDE approved in March 2022. It states after this Olympiad, this will no longer be in effect. From now on, from this point forward, you have to have a residence in the Islands for 183 days in a year. But this guy has been training the team, when it was covid, he actually started to train the team for more than a year.
You know, it’s such a shame that someone of Nigel’s intelligence has to lower himself to this level. I mean, we are one family, if this is a problem, the FIDE council, or FIDE should reach out to the federations and help the federations. Now they have seen all this dirty laundry put to the VI chess that made chess look corrupt in a tiny little place. I mean there are less than 100.000 people in VI, and this is sad what he’s done. And I don’t know where it’s going to go, but it probably won’t end with the Ethics, it will probably go further. And the big question is why. This is what nobody knows.
Q: Can you guess (why Nigel Short got involved with USVI internal affairs)?
I mean, you could guess. But if I make any guesses I would be the same as Nigel. And what do I think about this? I think they should have an investigation and ask Nigel, why did you do this? Did somebody ask you to do this? Who asked you to do this? If we could determine the answers to these questions we might get the truth as to why Nigel visited the US Virgin Islands and did not meet or speak to the FIDE recognized federation, especially since he was on “a fact finding trip” representing FIDE as a FIDE Vice President.
Q: Did you submit any note to the FIDE council?
A: I will, I couldn’t do that while I still didn’t know if he was the Vice President or not. FIDE is accusing my little federation for doing all these things, and you know sometimes you have to look at yourself in the mirror, because accusing somebody or something for doing something maybe it is because you are doing it. Sometimes, this is the human nature of people. If someone’s calling you a liar, they are the liar, if they are calling you a thief, they are the thief. And Nigel has insulted me. I mean, he has hundreds of tweets. I don’t understand why Ethics is not imposing the ban.
Q: Maybe you have to submit another appeal?
A: I did, last Saturday. I sent all the tweets that are a breach of Article 11.6 (a, b and c), I sent the FIDE statutes regarding residency, I sent the constitution, the old and the new one to show that Nigel was not telling the truth when he said that this team member was illegal. So I sent them everything.
Q: Do you have any information back from the Ethics?
A: Nothing. I only heard back from the FIDE office. I had to send two emails because he has so many tweets. And every day he’s adding something on it. But the point is made. I don’t need to send additional insulting tweets of Nigel every day to the Ethics. I don’t think it would be good for me or the Chairman of Ethics, because I have already proved what Nigel continues to do despite the warning from the Ethics Commission. But there’s such a huge question, why hasn’t something been done regarding Nigel’s continued bad behavior?
Note: Nigel’s tweets regarding the USVI Chess Federation stopped the day that Part 1 of this interview appeared in Chessdom.com
Q: Maybe he cannot stand for the Election in Chennai?
A: I asked two different people about that, and I know he can’t stand to be the FIDE Official, but does that mean he can’t be the FIDE employee also? And this is what happens because much of the charter needs to be clarified. Because if Nigel is found that he can’t run for office and just for example, they give him some salary position. You know, maybe something on the Management Board, I don’t know. Is that legal?
Q: Is this situation with your federation more difficult and stressful for you than having the Electoral commission in 2014?
A: Absolutely. This has affected my health. I don’t sleep well. It’s affecting me. I had covid about a month and a half ago, but I haven’t recovered completely. I believe that my stress level is very very high because of this situation. Because as the President for 28 years, I’ve never had a charge brought against me, and the Virgin Islands Olympic Committee told FIDE the same thing. There’s never been a charge against the chess federation. And I had to wait all these years to have somebody like Nigel attack me. The worst part is we don’t know why.
Q: And what is your opinion on the 4-year mandate of President Arkady Dvorkovich?
A: I would say the jury is still out on that one. I admire many things and I told him this. I think he’s done an excellent job in marketing FIDE. I think he has made good strides in making it more modern and more appealing, I think he’s done a good job with having more active young people. I don’t want to say something like they said about my brother concerning his age. But this is the time when you need to have some balance, especially with the new members and the more experienced members. I pray for young people to come and administer my federation, to be president, to be vice president, secretary, and so on. And maybe to have one more experienced member to guide them. I think the FIDE President has done a good job of trying to make it younger and appealing more than people my age would do. I think that’s where he’s done a good job.
And again, if you want the Board of Directors in any company, or the CEO, do you want your friends or your enemies in that board? Any company… You don’t want your enemies on that board.
Q: Do you think he had enemies on the board?
No, but I think he has many friends. And I think there’s nothing with this to appoint, as long as you don’t get accused from the outside of playing favorites. And it’s the question when you have all these same kinds of people, who are friends, how do you get an opinion from the outside? You need to have at least one person, who you trust their opinion, saying well maybe you are not looking at this right. Maybe you should step back. You don’t want all the people to be too close to you and always agree with you.
Q: What about the NDIs and the closing of the Council meetings?
The Council meetings, I really think they need to do something about them. I was called for that Council Meeting on October 2nd, and I found it extremely disturbing. At one point I attempted to ask a question. I wanted to know if the Council members had seen the supporting letter from my Olympic Committee President, and I was told that I could not ask questions.
And in the US they have hearings like this, and I said to the President, is this an interrogation? Why can’t I ask questions? I said to him well why don’t you ask them if they’ve seen the letter. So Mr. Wilkinson jumped in and said to Margaret I have seen the letter. It should be noted that I was not given the opportunity to question my accuser, Gail Widmer.
But the format needs to be more diverse. It needs to have people who can see things from different angles. Nigel Short has been showing my personal information in his recent tweets.
He showed some of that same information to the FIDE Council at the October 2, 2021 meeting, when he asked the FIDE Council to suspend the USVI Chess Federation, before he was assigned to make the Caribbean Tour, including a visit to the US Virgin Islands. Something isn’t quite right here…
In addition to the questions raised in the first part of the interview:
- Is there a behind-the-scenes deal to secure a well-paid position in the Management Board for Nigel Short?
- Does FIDE need a, currently Russian-dominated, body placing itself above the FIDE Council?
- Will Nigel Short follow through on his promises for transparency given during the Presidential campaign in 2018 and publish the financial interests he had as a member of the FIDE Council?