Friday, February 25, 2011


I reread my old Chess Life magazine (old habit as a lullaby or when i am in the restroom) and in July 1988 issue mentioned about New York Open 1988 which was won by then unknown Russian IM (!) Vassily Ivanchuk (USD20,000), second prize went to Cuban GM Guillermo Garcia (USD10,000) and so on...

While Ivanchuk happily bring back USD20k back to then USSR, GM Garcia bring back USD 0 to Cuba due to this US law (Trading with the enemy Act) that prohibit ‘enemy’ from taking out money and goods from US.

‘Enemy’ according to this act is countries which US considered as enemy such as North Korea, Iran, Myanmar, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Liberia and so on. Enemy could also be individual like Osama Laden or late Malaysian’s Nordin Mat Top

As a result GM Garcia’s USD10,000 is put into Trust Account and will only be released after US Government no longer consider Cuba as the enemy.

Fortunately, this US10k will still enjoyed interest (bet by now the amount is already double). Unfortunately, now, 23 years later US still considered Cuba as US enemy, and this fund should still remain frozen.

What does this Act mean to you and me?
After 9/11 US Government, President George Bush widen the power/scope of this law and passed amendment to this law that among others, allows (the controversial) wiretapping without court order as well as for banking industry, stricter flow of fund to the ‘enemy’.

To you and me this means we, even from Malaysia, cannot remit US Dollar to enemy of US such as to Iran, North Korea, Cuba very careful because once you do this, your money will be freeze by US and will only be returned back to you after ‘enemy’ become friend. Nobody knows when....

This GM Garcia incident reminds me of our own Norazman...Well, you are not alone and not the first... Entering a chess tournament, winning good cash prizes but went home empty handed (albeit due to different reasons)!

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