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Best Hungarian Chess Player to Compete in Romanian Colours

Barbara Bene 2022.09.05.

Earlier news proved to be true in the case of Richard Rapport, a Hungarian chess champion, who will be competing under Romanian colors in the future. The Hungarian Chess Federation disagrees with the move and has turned to the International Chess Federation (FIDE) for an investigation.

“It’s official! Richard Rapport will play for Romania starting today! Welcome to our team,” the Romanian Chess Federation wrote on Twitter, announcing that Hungarian chess champion Richard Rapport has changed his country on paper.

Rapport, a 26-year-old chess player, has been among the world elite for a year. In May, he placed 5th in the international rankings, and at the 2014 Norwegian Chess Olympiad, he won a silver.

The news is not entirely new, the possibility of a change of country had been hanging in the air since spring. Rapport had earlier met in Bucharest with Serbian-born Romanian businessman Sacha Dragic, owner of the sports betting company Superbet. The two men discussed the possibility of sponsorship and Rapport received a concrete offer after his next tournament in Warsaw.

After the news broke in the spring, the president of the Hungarian Chess Federation said that the organization was “determined to ensure that [Richárd] continues to compete under the Hungarian flag and bring glory to Hungarian chess and his homeland.”

The sponsorship of a few hundred thousand euros a year is not a big expense for Superbet, but for the chess champion it could be a golden opportunity to consolidate his place among the best, where he has now reached for the first time, Telex, a Hungarian news site reported. However, it was already known that if Rapport accepted the offer, he would have to compete in Romanian colors and occasionally play for the Romanian national team.

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The Hungarian Chess Federation was informed of the news on Saturday night, at the same time as the Romanian federation. The Hungarian organization’s president, László Szabó, said he had received an email from the International Chess Federation saying that the council had rejected their objection to Richard Rapport’s flag change, claiming that the Romanian submission formally complied with current rules.

I consider the rejection to be legally flawed and damaging to the sport, which sends a very bad message to young chess players around the world.”

“We will look into what legal options we still have, but I am glad that FIDE seems to have gotten its act together and is ready to review its current rule on flag changes, whereby a rental contract in the country in whose colors the athlete wants to play is sufficient. This is untenable, and we have proposed that a minimum of one year’s nationality should be required to become a chess player for another country. This is where we are now, we are looking at how to move forward,” László Szabó wrote in a Facebook post.

According to media reports,

Richárd Rapport has a frosty relationship with the Hungarian Chess Federation, and it was already known that he would not be playing at the 2022 Olympiad in India.

The reason for the deteriorated relationship could be, among other things, insufficient financial support as well as lack of care. According to Telex, Rapport had earlier said that the Hungarian Chess Federation had not wanted to support him and now they do not want to let him go.

Featured photo: Facebook Page of the Hungarian Chess Federation

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