A Quick Review of the Year
2005 was an interesting year in chess, including for me personally. We've had an important ICCF Congress in Argentina, where a new President was elected. It was a critical meeting to fill the open offices, which included other Executive Board offices of Financial Director and World Tournament Director. The USA continues to be well represented in the top offices of ICCF. FIDE also had a big year with the FIDE World Championship tournament. What will happen with the reunification of the world championship idea? FIDE seems determined to avoid reunification, and now many people act as though the FIDE champion is THE world champion. I personally had some rare recognition with the CJA award for the Best Correspondence Chess Web Site, ICCF's award "Friend of ICCF" for my site, and a nice article about me in Chess Life. Alas, I can't match those items with victories over the board. Still, I had many enjoyable games on the ICCF webserver and finished my playing schedule in the Chess Mail ICCF-Webchess Inauguration event with 4-2, including a draw vs. the Grandmaster who won the section with an extra half point. As you start planning your competition "after APCT" I suggest checking out the ICCF webserver. If you have an Internet connection, I recommend it as the best way to play cc.
Happy New Year!
As I write this it is a few days after Thanksgiving. I have just returned home from a family reunion (no cooking for four days!), have a bad cold, and am starting to make Christmas plans, including two birthdays and my wedding anniversary (31 years). I wish all my chess friends a happy and successful new year.
I want to thank FIDE Master Alex Dunne (CC Director for USCF) for featuring me in his November 2005 Chess Life column "Check is in the Mail". He contacted me a year ago about doing a column on me since he tries to cover all new USA title holders and I had just received my International Arbiter title at the 2004 ICCF Congress. In his column he called me a "Renaissance Man", what fun! If you want to read more about me and see a nifty picture of me wearing my ICCF cap, check out page 46 in the Nov. 2005 Chess Life.
ICCF Elects New Officers
At the annual ICCF Congress, held this year in Villa La Angostura Neuquen, Argentina, several new officers were elected. After previous President Josef Mrkvicka had to resign just after the previous year's Congress, Deputy President & Development Director Max Zavanelli (USA) took over as acting president pending election of a new president (Max Zavanelli is also the ICCF-U.S. Secretary representing USA interests). As I previously reported in this column, there was enough concern among the member nations for some to call for an Extraordinary Congress to discuss leadership and financial matters, but a vote by the national federations narrowly failed so these issues were put off to the regular Congress. It therefore became critical that this year's regular Congress handle these important issues.
I am happy to report that all vacant offices have now been filled with highly capable people. Here is a rundown on the new Executive Board members.
President … Mohammed Samraoui (Algeria, but living in Germany). The election this year was contested with Dr. Claudio Goncalves (Argentina) getting 17 votes, Med Samraoui getting 38 votes. Both appeared to me to be highly qualified candidates, but Samraoui's lengthy service as the Zonal Director for Africa/Asia probably gave him the edge with voters. Fortunately, Dr. Goncalves was willing to serve in another capacity (see below).
Financial Director & Direct Entry Coordinator … Michael Millstone (USA). This was an interesting story. Shortly before Congress the previous Financial Director Grayling Hill (USA) resigned, leaving the financial records incomplete. Ruth Ann Fay (USA), the North American/Pacific Zone (NAPZ) Zonal Director (who also runs the ICCF-U.S. office for Max Zavanelli) stepped forward to put the books in order and make the appropriate reports to Congress. Michael Millstone was anxious to be of service to ICCF and was to be nominated by the USA to become the new Direct Entry Coordinator. He worked closely with Ruth Ann on the ICCF Financial reports for Congress and became convinced it would be useful to combine the job with that of Financial Director. Therefore, at Congress he volunteered to take on this important job, and he was enthusiastically confirmed in this office by the National Delegates (ICCF voting members). More below.
World Tournament Director … Frank Geider (France). About a year ago the previous WTD Chris Lüers (Germany) resigned, citing his opposition to the "leadership style" of the acting president. This marked the beginning of the "ICCF crisis" I have mentioned in previous columns, as far as I am aware. The Direct Entry Coordinator John Knudsen resigned a short time later. These positions remained vacant till now. These positions were impossible to fill by appointment before Congress (for reasons unknown to me) and remained vacant for quite a while. France nominated Frank Geider to fill the vacancy.
Marketing Commissioner … Claudio Gonçalves (Argentina). This is another position that had remained vacant for a long time. Africa/Asia Zonal Director Mohammed Samraoui had volunteered to handle the job on a temporary basis. It was great to see Dr. Goncalves rebound from losing the presidential election by immediately making himself available to serve in another important capacity. He has excellent professional credentials, so I expect great work from him.
Online Games Archivist … George Pyrich (Scotland). This isn't an executive board position, but I personally consider it a very important job. Former archivist Wes Green (USA) had done a superb job for the previous six years establishing and maintaining an on-line games archive of ICCF games, but he found that it was time to retire from that position for personal and health reasons. Thanks to Wes on a job well done! He has been helpful to me in setting up the USA and NAPZ archives by explaining the PGN standards he established for the ICCF archive. If you're familiar with the PGN game file format you're also probably aware it was set up for OTB games, not for correspondence games. Certain compromises had to be made. For instance, the date header is used for the "Start Date" of the event. The "Rating" header for each player is her/his rating at the start of the event.
To summarize, three of the nine executive board members of ICCF are USA, Max Zavanelli, Michael Millstone and Ruth Ann Fay. This is the governing (executive) body of ICCF.
Michael Millstone, FD & DE Coordinator
Many didn't know Michael Millstone (USA) before he became the ICCF Financial Director and Direct Entry Coordinator. He is an experienced ICCF player with well over 100 games finished, a rating of 2402 and an International Master (IM) title awarded in 2003. He has a Master's Degree in Business with majors in both Finance and Accounting and is currently pursuing a PhD in Business with a specialty in organizational management. In an on-line interview I conducted he said, "I was inclined to start giving back to this wonderful organization". He started by directing some tournaments and acting as a team captain. Now he has taken on some additional and very significant roles. Good luck to Michael in this very important work. To read the entire interview go to the Interview section of my web site The Campbell Report.
For those unaware of the Direct Entry program of ICCF, it is a way to sign up for ICCF events on-line, bypassing the normal requirement to enter events only through your National Federation. With so many commercial webservers and email groups offering easy entry into events, many feel it is important to offer this service. But bypassing the National Federations is considered inappropriate by many members (the members of ICCF are National Federations, not individual players). This is still a work in progress, but it is considered very important by many of us. I normally just send my entries to Ruth Ann Fay at the ICCF-U.S. office, but for many it would be much easier to sign up for an event on-line. Michael has promised to work on improving the DE system, and he'll have a lot of work to do to work out all the details.
USA Team Announced for ICCF Olympiad Prelims
The ICCF-U.S. office has announced its team for the upcoming 17th Olympiad preliminary round.
The start date has been delayed to allow additional teams to enter. The last news I have is that 45 other teams have entered: Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cuba, Denmark, Ecuador, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, ICP, India, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and Venezuela. ICCF currently has 65 member nations, so the field could expand.
More News from the ICCF Congress
Deputy President Max Zavanelli and Membership & Services Director Pedro Hegoburu gave this summary of the achievements of the 2005 Congress.
Of course, I was very honored to receive the "Friend of ICCF" award. I was the webmaster for the ICCF-U.S. web site when it received the award in 2003.
I am also quite pleased to hear about the new manual for TDs. As a tournament director I have often felt the need for some guidance and am glad to see some standardization and documentation of TD duties. There is a concept: "TD Bingo". This refers to the element of luck concerning which TD you have in your event. One TD may make one decision, while another may make another, if the rules are not sufficiently clear. Hopefully this new TD manual will clarify some of the unclear rules as well as provide TD's with a complete checklist of their duties.
The awarding of the next Congress to Dresden, Germany is sure to be popular. The recent Congress in Argentina was the second straight Congress outside of Europe, the home of the majority of ICCF member nations. It was not well attended. The previous Congress was in India, another difficult destination for many individuals. I predict a big attendance next year. I'm personally hoping to attend. It might be worth mentioning that travel difficulties caused two people to abandon their attempts to attend Congress. The new President Mohammed Samraoui ran into difficulties with travel plans and was unable to attend and chair the Congress. Past President Alan Borwell (SCO) had a flight cancelled and had to return home after a failed attempt to reach Congress. This is his first missed Congress in 25 years! Another who went missing in action was Søren Peschardt, Delegate for Denmark. After failing to get a full discussion of the events that led to the call for an Extraordinary Congress added to the Congress agenda, he walked out of Congress as a matter of principle. His statement can be found on the ICCF Congress web site http://correspondencechess.com/congress/.
Correspondence Chess team at FIDE Olympiad
As mentioned above, ICCF will be fielding a team for the OTB 37th Chess Olympiad being held in Torino, Italy May/June 2006. The details still must be worked out, but apparently Mohammed Samraoui, since elected ICCF President, attended a recent FIDE meeting and convinced FIDE to accept an at-large team representing ICCF. FIDE and ICCF recognize each other as the official bodies of OTB and correspondence chess. They recognize both organizations' rating lists and titles. I believe this is the first time an ICCF team will participate in the OTB Olympiad, though. Many of us are hoping for the strongest possible team of cc players who are also competitive in OTB chess so we can hope for a good showing. The purpose is to promote cc among OTB players, so the total emphasis will not be on winning. I'll report further on this as things develop. It sure sounds cool!
Election for President of FIDE
Like many others I have complained often about the poor leadership of our OTB organization FIDE. Much of great value is accomplished every year by the lower level administrators, but the inept actions by the top leadership, lack of sponsorship due to this poor leadership, and general leadership style have been a tremendous disappointment. In particular, I think the position of President has been a disaster for many years.
The next FIDE election will take place in Torino in May 2006. At the beginning of November 2005 the Chessbase web site reported that Leo Battesti, the Vice-President of the French Chess Federation, will run for FIDE President in May 2006. He could be a popular choice among the European national federations. Later in the month another candidate was announced. Bessel Kok and Ali Nihat Yazici will run for President and Deputy President, respectively. Some believe that the business and organizational skills of the well-known Bessel Kok would make him an excellent candidate for the office. Though not yet formally announced, former world champion Anatoly Karpov has also made it known that he may run for President as well. I rather doubt all three will stay in the race, but it could be a crowded field. There is no doubt that the current FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov will run for re-election.
Though any of these candidates would seemingly be preferable to Ilyumzhinov it is certainly too early to count him out. He has proven to be a formidable opponent in the past and he knows very well how to win elections. In the TWIC article they said they didn't expect anyone, no matter who ran, to be able to defeat Ilyumzhinov. This could be one of the more interesting elections, though. I just looked on the FIDE web site to try to find information about the election. I didn't find any, but I did note three photos of Ilyumzhinov at the top of the site. I feel this says something. He has now completed ten years as president. You can read about his many accomplishments right there on the FIDE web site.
I recall reading that he was initiating a new rule for elections … a presidential candidate would be required to post a $1,000,000 bond, with 20% of it non-refundable. Perhaps my brain is not functioning properly since I can't find any reports to verify this. Speaking of $1,000,000, though, this is the amount Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has offered for the body of former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin. His body is preserved in a mausoleum on public display, and there is a public debate about what to do with Lenin. Some want to bury his body in a cemetery, others wish to leave him on display. Ilyumzhinov wants to move him, mausoleum and all, to his capital Ilista in Kalmykia. That Ilyumzhinov sure knows how to put on a show.
People vs Computers World Chess Team Match
In late November 2005 the second People vs. Computers match took place in Bilbao, Spain. Three FIDE world champions challenged three top chess computers. The players: 1999 FIDE champion Alexander Khalifman (Russia), 2002 champion Ruslan Ponomariov (Ukraine) and 2004 champ Rustan Kasimdzhanov (Uzbekistan). The chess computers: Hydra (First place in the IPCCC 2005), Junior (World Champion 2004) and Fritz (Second place at the Graz Olympics 2003). The humans performed quite well, but they still lost 8-4. In June 2004 the same three computers won by the same 8-4 score against Veselin Topalov, Ruslan Ponomariov and Sergey Karjakin.
The Liechtenstein Museum Match
I originally reported on this unique International cc match in my July-August 2005 column (photographs are provided in the on-line version published on my personal web site The Campbell Report). Apparently, my original report of a two-game match was in error and only a single game was played. That game has now ended in a draw, suitable for a friendship match of this sort.
GM Yoav Dothan (Israel) and SIM Khalid Chorfi (Morocco) played White, alternating moves between them. Black was played by SIM Pablo Salcedo Mederos (Cuba) and American IM Corky Schakel. SIM Mederos chose the Sicilian Defense on his first move, IM Schakel made move 2 and the players alternated moves for the rest of the game. Schakel wrote a report of the match for the Cuban cc publication. Here are the moves, as given on the ICCF chess webserver:
White: Khalid Chorfi & Yoav Dothan
copyright © 2005 by J. Franklin Campbell
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