Chess-Czech tournament does U-turn on Ukraine players after warning

PARIS (Reuters) - A top Czech chess tournament has been forced to accept Ukrainian players after initially refusing to register them, following a warning from FIDE, the game's international governing body.

"The Teplice situation is resolved. The organiser changed his attitude upon getting a warning from FIDE," FIDE CEO Emil Sutovsky told Reuters on Thursday.

"We were very clear that Ukrainians can't be discriminated (against) - and they will be invited."

Last Sunday, the Teplice Open organiser told the NSS chess website that "the current political situation does not favour chess and the tournament is deprived of grandmasters from Ukraine, which even though they have signed up, we cannot accept for serious reasons, although reluctantly."

Nudged on Facebook by Czech International Master Tadeas Kriebel about those "serious reasons", organiser Pavel Kirs replied: "My personal opinion is that Ukrainian men of military age should fight with a weapon in hand on the battlefield for their country and not in peace with wooden piece in hand on a chessboard for money."

That refusal to let Ukrainian players sign up led to FIDE's intervention, and although registration has now closed, "the organiser promised to write back to the players he declined, today," Sutovsky said.

The June 10-18 Teplice Open currently has 231 players registered, 21 of them being grandmasters.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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