Norwegian Chess Champion Faces a Democratic Dilemma as He’s Founding His Own Chess Club

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The Malta-based betting company Kindred Group with offices in Stockholm has offered the Norwegian Chess Federation a sponsorship agreement worth about five million euros, spread over five years. After he had launched and funded a new chess club supporting the sponsorship it sparked instant controversy.

Magnus Carlsen offered free membership to the first 1,000 members, with Carlsen paying the federation fees himself. The Norwegian Chess Association wants to vote on the matter on July 7th in Larvik and claims that Carlsen’s only aim is to liberalize both gambling and sports sponsorship rules in Norway. Carlsen on the other side, says the club is made to help new players and strengthen Norwegian chess.

Norwegian Chess Champion Faces a Democratic Dilemma as He’s Founding His Own Chess Club
Discussions around potential sponsorship from the Malta-based bookmaker Kindred Group have been going on for some time.  Norway’s long-term gambling and sponsorship policy does not want company deals that competes with the country’s own state-sanctioned gambling that largely funds Norwegian sports.

Norwegian Chess Champion Faces a Democratic Dilemma as He’s Founding His Own Chess Club
Morten L. Madsen, President Norwegian Chess Federation

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Promotion of foreign gambling companies is illegal in Norway and the government-owned Norsk Topping is the only licensed gambling company. The Norwegian supervisory board governing lotteries has therefore warned the chess federation against signing a contract.

Surprising move
“This is a bit of a surprising move by Magnus,” the federation’s president, Morten L Madsen, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), “so we’re trying to follow this as well as possible.”

Norwegian Chess Champion Faces a Democratic Dilemma as He’s Founding His Own Chess Club
The organizers of the Altibox Norway Chess tournament are trying to secure funding

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The chess interest in Norway has been booming thanks to Carlsen and wide national television coverage. Supporters see the deal as an opportunity to increase the number of members in the federation.

The bidding process for the 2020 Chess World Championship is open and the Austrian Chess Federation would have liked to see the next match in Vienna on the occasion on the federation’s 100th anniversary. However, previously it has dropped out in favor of expectations for the Norwegian bid.

Norwegian Chess Champion Faces a Democratic Dilemma as He’s Founding His Own Chess Club
Espen Agdesten, Magnus Carlsen’s manager

Carlsen thinks his move is worth the risk
Carlsen has been threatened to be shut out of Norway’s national athletics federation Norsk Idresttsforbund but as a chess player he thinks his move is worth the risk. Therefore, he is challenging the federation’s democratic principles. “He wants to buy a victory for the proposed agreement (between Kindred and NSF),” the chairman of Bergen Schakklub, Eirik Gullaksen, told NRK.

In Stavanger, where the organizers of the Altibox Norway Chess tournament are trying to secure funding to host Carlsen’s next world championship match in 2020, the controversial deal has caused an uproar. The organizers have announced they are no longer considering bidding.

Norwegian Chess Champion Faces a Democratic Dilemma as He’s Founding His Own Chess Club
Magnus Carlsen offered free membership to the first 1,000 members of his chess club, with Carlsen paying the federation fees himself

Great potential
Carlsen’s manager Espen Agdestein told NRK that “Carlsen thinks there’s great potential within Norwegian chess, but it’s completely impossible for the young players to really commit themselves to chess with the (low) budgets Norwegian chess has had and operates with.”

Carlsen has claimed that the federation did not help him much in the past, and now he thinks it’s time that this agreement is accepted, since it will mean a lot for the younger generation of chess players.

Norwegian Chess Champion Faces a Democratic Dilemma as He’s Founding His Own Chess Club, written by Tor Kjolberg

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