On Sunday, the Romanian Chess Federation announced that the best Hungarian player, the 13th-ranked Richárd Rapport, will continue his career in Romanian colours.
Rapport was born and raised in Sé, near Szombathely, Hungary. His father was his main patron, who supported him and his racing with a nine-figure sum, while the Hungarian federation was not really able to help Rapport to reach his full potential in the last ten years. However, he has been approached by several countries recently because of his virtuoso and adventurous style.
At the end of May, the Romanians made the Hungarian chess player an offer he could not refuse, and he reached the final of the World Eights in Madrid this year, where he finished eighth after a good start. Rapport accepted the offer, but when the Hungarian federation responded by trying to keep him at home, it was too late. The state secretary for sport, Ádám Schmidt, who was appointed in June, also tried to help resolve the matter, but the process could not be reversed.
The Romanian federation had already started the transfer procedure for Richard Rapport and his wife, Serbian Jovana Rapport. Jovana has already played for Romania at the European Women’s Championships.
At the time, the federation’s president Vlad Ardeleanu wrote on social media that it was an honour and a pleasure for them to have an excellent chess player like Richárd Rapport, who was ranked fifth in the world at the time, representing Romania. He added that they wanted to integrate him into the Romanian team as soon as possible so that together they could achieve excellent results. Ardeleanu also said that they wanted to continue to maintain good professional relations with the Hungarian and Serbian federations. The MSSZ had earlier protested against the “change of flag” of Richard Rapport and said it would do its utmost to ensure that the grandmaster would continue to compete in Hungarian colours.
It came to the point that two of the members of the board of the Hungarian Chess Federation resigned because of the handling of the Rapport case.
László Szabó, the president of the national federation for three and a half years, took the flag for the Chess Olympiad in India in July, with Budapest hosting the next event in 2024. Rapport has not even played in Chennai, which is not surprising – after finishing runner-up at the 2014 Olympics, he was part of the Hungarian national team in 2016, but not after that. Rapport’s change of country is a sensitive loss, as it would be a bravo for the Hungarian team to finish in the top ten at their home Olympics.
According to press reports, the main sponsor of the 2022 Superbet Chess Classic Romania, Sacha Dragic, the Serbian-born billionaire owner of the Superbet company, has made Rapport an irresistible sponsorship offer that would give him a real chance of winning the world title in the coming years.
Source: MTI, Telex