Chess Life Cancels Correspondence Chess Column
The USCF magazine Chess Life is undergoing a facelift. When I received the June 2006 issue I noticed some big changes. The new editor Daniel Lucas has, with the assistance of a publication consultant, been redesigning the magazine, including the content. For one thing, the long-running column by Larry Evans has been cancelled (to tell the truth, I was getting rather tired of the constant Fischer references). As a photographer I was very pleased to see all the high quality photographs. They are no longer primarily record shots. Many of the portraits are really good. There is major use of white space and new designs and colors. I didn't like the chess diagrams, but I'm sure Lucas will be fine-tuning these things for several issues. I am looking forward to seeing how the magazine shapes up.
When the magazine arrived the first thing I searched for, as usual, was the cc column "Check is in the Mail" by FM Alex Dunne. Not only did I not find the column, I couldn't find any reference to correspondence chess at all. This raised flags … was the column cancelled, just like Evans column "Larry Evans on Chess"? I worked with Daniel Lucas when he served as President of the Chess Journalists of America (I'm the CJA webmaster) so I just sent him my questions to find out "from the horse's mouth". In response to my questions he sent the following comments:
He was referring to John Hillery who is the editor of The Chess Journalist, the quarterly journal of the Chess Journalists of America. I'm looking forward to reading his full comments in the June issue.
ICCF World Cup Tournaments
ICCF has announced the organization of the big open tournaments World Cup XV and World Cup XVI.
The Correspondence Chess Association of the Slovak Republic (CCA-SR) will be the main organizer of the ICCF World Cup XV Tournament to be played by email and server. The tournament will be played in three stages, with separate email and webserver sections in the Preliminary stage, which will start November 15, 2006. Registration will close on September 30, 2006. Multiple entries will be allowed for the Preliminary stage. Preliminary groups will have 7-11 players (round robin), with the winners of each group qualifying for the Semi-final stage. Other qualifications will depend on the number of entries for the Preliminary stage. Any tie breaking necessary to decide qualification to the next phase will be done in accordance with ICCF rules, principally by use of the Sonneborn-Berger method.
The German Correspondence Chess Federation will be the main organizer of the ICCF World Cup XVI Tournament to be played entirely by mail (post). The tournament will be played in three stages. The Preliminary phase is expected to start on December 15, 2006. Registration will close on October 15, 2006. Multiple entries will be allowed for the Preliminary stage. The preliminary round is expected to be finished no later than June 15, 2010. Preliminary groups will have 7-11 players (round robin), with the winners of each group qualifying for the Semi-final stage.
Americans may enter either event via the ICCF-U.S. office. Entry fee will be $25 for each preliminary section in each event. ICCF-U.S. deadline for entry into the postal World Cup XVI is Oct. 6. The USA deadline for entering the email/server World Cup XV is not stated, but I would suggest getting your entry in by Sept. 20 at the latest and a bit earlier to play it safe. Send check payable to "ICCF-U.S." to:
For more information check the ICCF web site http://www.iccf.com, ICCF server web site at http://www.iccf-webchess.com/, ICCF-U.S. web site at http://www.iccfus.com/ or email the ICCF-U.S. office at firstname.lastname@example.org
ChessFriends server fails
Several years ago Reimund Lutzenberger of Germany announced his vision of a chess server supporting high prize fund tournaments. He started the chessfriends.com chess server, a very nicely designed server and quite attractive. It had some wonderful features, and he started running some events with very high prize funds. Now the server is being shut down by the maintenance team. Mr. Lutzenberger does not answer emails or pay bills and cannot be reached.
I was quite impressed by this gentleman and even conducted a lengthy interview with him, published at my personal web site. There are rumors that he is now being pursued by the authorities in connection with some kind of Internet fraud. It takes me back to the strange saga of The Chess Connection in the USA. This was a first class organization that conducted prize events and attracted some of the best USA cc competitors. The magazine was first-rate, one of the best cc magazines published in the English language (published Jan/Feb 1989 through Jan/Mar 1991), and TCC became part of the USPCF. As such, TCC was invited to participate in the First National Team Championship (NTC-1) and might have been expected to challenge for first place (APCT won this event and is still the reigning USA cc champion). But overnight the organization disappeared. The owner/publisher was Richard D. Weiss. I have to this day not heard a word about what happened to him. Prizes and fees to columnists remained unpaid. The entry fees collected from TCC team members for NTC-1 also disappear without a cent being paid to the ICCF-U.S. office. Special arrangements had to be made to avoid forfeiting the entire team due to non-payment of entry fees.
So now we have one more promising organization that has passed into history.
ICCF not in FIDE Chess Olympiad
As reported last time, ICCF was apparently mistaken about being invited to participate in the FIDE Chess Olympiad in Torino, Italy. It was exciting thinking about going as a journalist and ICCF representative to publicize ICCF and report on the Olympiad from a cc point of view. In fact, I had put in considerable time and effort to produce a proposal for how ICCF could be promoted during the chess Olympiad. Oh, well, we all have unrealistic dreams from time to time. Following is the message sent to the Chess Today publication in response to the story about ICCF sending a team to the Olympiad. Israel Gelfer is an official in ICCF.
The language may be confused but we can understand the meaning, though at first I thought this meant that FIDE would only accept teams representing countries, just like the International Olympic movement. However, I then notice several non-national teams participating in the current Olympiad. Out of 150 teams participating in the open event (as opposed to the Women's event) the three non-national teams finished as follows:
The final sentence of Mr. Gelfer's statement provides the answer: "FIDE made three exceptions in the past but is not going to enlarge it." (My emphasis).
ICCF did have representatives at the FIDE Congress held during the Olympiad. I believe they must have explored the possibility that ICCF may participate in the future. I'm not optimistic, though. Should a cc organization participate in an OTB event? It would be fun, and it certainly would be interesting, but perhaps it is not something we should expect.
First International OTB Tournament for CC players
Perhaps the FIDE Chess Olympiad is not possible, but an OTB event has been announced that is specifically designed for correspondence chess players. As announced at the ICCF web site:
This certainly sounds like fun. Thanks to the Czech Republic cc organization for putting this event together … wish I could go. As I write this I look forward to tomorrow's World Cup (soccer) match between USA and Czech Republic (played on June 12).
Since this event is scheduled for July 1-9, 2006 it will be over by the time you read this. Hopefully I'll have a report next time on this innovative tournament.
FIDE Presidential Election
I cannot fully express my disappointment in the re-election of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov as President of FIDE. In Bessel Kok and his team we had a superb collection of professionals who could have restored credibility to professional chess. The future looked exciting for FIDE. I expected a fully professional web site, excellent organization and administration of the top FIDE events (World Championship, candidates events, proper sponsorship, a fully professional and trustworthy chess organization to support the chess players of the world), and instead we get more of the same amateur leadership we've suffered under for the last 11 years. Instead of major events taking place in Paris, London and New York City we'll probably see more events in Chess City, Kalmykia.
There were reports of huge payments for votes for the small countries of Asia, Africa, etc. Many of these countries have no professional chess at all, and the big payments for votes could be a difficult perk to turn down. I don't know that these financial payments for votes have been verified legally, but I have no doubt they occurred. There was also talk of the smaller countries not trusting an administration supported so completely by the big federations. Some of the Bessel Kok supporters even talked about the unfairness of the tiny federations have the same vote as the big federations like USA and Germany. Certainly, if you counted the number of players represented by the Kok supporters they would have hugely outnumbered those of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, though the federations within the Russian sphere of influence supported "their man".
The ChessBase web site reported that the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper contained an article that claimed the United States, Western Europe and Turkey had targeted Ilyumzhinov … "Remember how our figure skater Irina Slutskaya was robbed [of a gold medal] at the Winter Olympics in the same city - Turin."
It is possible that the very real concerns of those strong federations that supported Bessel Kok will cause Ilyumzhinov to do something positive about these concerns. I personally think it may be possible that those same Western countries may reconsider the value of FIDE as a professional organization and form a new organization to represent the professional sport of chess. FIDE is certainly not to chess what FIFA is to International Football (soccer). FIDE had its chance to move towards a truly professional organization and voted not to by a huge vote (96 to 54). I would be mildly surprised to see this defection from FIDE, especially if as seems very possible some of the concepts developed by the Kok team become incorporated into FIDE, but I do consider it a possibility. It will be interesting indeed to watch future developments.
The Liechtenstein Museum Match
Last July 2005 I reported on a most unique International cc match. SIM Khalid Chorfi (Morocco) and GM Yoav Dothan (Israel) would challenge IM Corky Schakel (USA) and SIM Pablo Salcedo Mederos (Cuba) in a great friendship match inspired by the artist Roland Stratmann, who would document the match with a work of art in the Kunstmuseum in Liechtenstein. The original 2-game match was finished with two draws. The artist found this to be unsatisfactory and requested the players to compete in a third game, hopefully resulting in a decisive game to decide a winner. The players agreed and the new game will have started on June 16, 2006 (after this column is submitted for publication).
As before, the ICCF server will display this game for viewers to follow. IM Corky Schakel has let me know his side intends to play the Dutch Defense with the opening moves 1.c4 f5. I'll report on this match again later.
The Kunstmuseum has a web site: http://www.kunstmuseum.li/
CJA Meeting at the US Open
Are you planning to attend the US Open in Chicago in August? If so, check the meeting schedules. There are a number of interesting meetings that occur during the US Open Chess Tournament. I'm planning to drive to Chicago for a day or two to attend the annual meeting of the Chess Journalists of America. I'm sure Helen Warren will be there, too. If you're there playing or simply watching, come by the CJA meeting and say hello. We cc players have few opportunities to meet in person. The USCF Correspondence Chess committee will have a meeting as well to discuss USCF plans for correspondence chess. With APCT closing down you may want to explore the possibilities for future play. CCLA seems to be making plans to expand their services, but USCF may also have some plans. I believe both organizations are exploring the possibilities to use the ICCF server for domestic tournaments. Currently you can play in International ICCF events on the server, as well as a few USA Championship events, open to members of APCT, CCLA and USCF.
Though such meeting schedules are subject to change, it appears the meetings at the US Open will be scheduled as follows:
Of course, there are many other meetings, but the ones above sound of particular interest and I'll try to attend them. Maybe I'll see you there!
Chess Server Commentary
Have you tried out the chess servers? I have little experience, except with the ICCF server. Having served on one of the original ICCF commissions planning the server I have a special interest in the ICCF server. A while back I wrote a tutorial on using the server. More recently I prepared a Tournament Director/Tournament Organizer Guide for administrators using the server. The ICCF server not only provides competition, but it also provides valuable tools for administrators. For instance, all events are now registered on the server, even postal and email events. The server displays crosstables on-line and allows the TDs to record results for the tables and for rating purposes. Placing these administrative tools on the server is a great service to administrators and makes running events and rating them much, much easier.
ICCF is a volunteer-run organization. Anything that makes it easier for the volunteers is good for the organization. Anyone with an ICCF ID# can play on the server after they are proper registered. Unlike most of the commercial servers, when you play you know exactly who you are playing, including their ICCF ratings. You can play ICCF-rated games. The ICCF rules of play are enforced and players can earn ICCF titles. It is simply an extension of ICCF play from postal/email to server, and I personally find the server experience much to be preferred. For one thing, there are no notation errors, the server deals with calculating time used/available, and maintains a database of all games played, though so far there isn't an archive of all games available (I'm sure an archive of games will be available in the near future). Disputes about time practically disappear from the game, a boon to both players and tournament directors.
Accumulated Time Issue in ICCF
Many of us have complained about the possibility in ICCF tournaments to accumulate vast numbers of days. With a time limit like 50 or 60 days to make 10 moves it is possible to accumulate hundreds of days, unlike past postal play at 30 days for 10 moves. A time limit like 3 days per move (no time accumulated for possible future use) certainly kept the game moving along. Even 30/10 kept the game moving, since in postal chess it was difficult to respond the same day as a move was received. It was difficult to accumulate more than two days per move, so after completing 40 moves moving quickly you probably wouldn't have more than about 110 days for moves 41-50. In email/server chess it is often easy to move in zero days and accumulate 5-6 days per move. After 40 moves you might have around 300 days to make moves 41-50.
Such huge numbers of days allow players to get lazy about responding, or worse intentionally slow down games. On more than one occasion I've had players reach bad or losing positions only to see them taking weeks or months to make moves. The official policy allows them to use their time any way they wish. This can make for unpleasant experiences with games slowing down to a snail's pace.
It will be interesting indeed to see what steps are taken at the next ICCF Congress to solve this problem of excessive time accumulation. Players accumulating hundreds of days they can use as they wish creates situations never faced in the past and, in my opinion, creates an unhealthy environment for cc play.
Next ICCF Congress in Germany
The German Correspondence Chess Federation (BdF) has made this announcement on the web site they have prepared for the next ICCF Congress, to take place in Germany:
The congress will take place from 14th to 20th October 2006. The venue is the Treff Hotel, Wilhelm-Franke-Str. 90, 01219 Dresden (Germany).
The ICCF congress 2006 is organised as a part of the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of BdF (the German Correspondence Chess Federation).
There is a nice web site with information about the coming Congress: http://www.bdf-fernschachbund.de/hpkongress/indexgbr.html
It is available in several languages, including English. It sounds like great fun to travel to Dresden to meet chess friends and discuss important cc issues. I'm hoping to go, but such travel certainly isn't trivial. I do plan to report on Congress, either in person or with the help of people at the Congress. If I go myself I'll be able to take lots of pictures and file on-line reports daily. Chess is more fun if you really get involved. I recommend it (getting involved) to every chess enthusiast.
An Invitation to Readers
With only two more issues of APCT News Bulletin planned I would like to invite comments, questions and suggestions from readers. My mailing address and a link to my personal web domain (where you can find my email address) appear at the top of this column. Soon my 18-year odyssey with The Campbell Report will come to an end. Helen Warren opened up a new world to me in 1988 with her invitation to write a regular column. In 18 years I've only missed one issue. In 1998 I created my correspondence chess web site using the same name The Campbell Report. All my APCT columns starting with Jan/Feb 1994 are archived on the web site. I've gotten involved with many other chess activities as well, many branching directly from my APCT column. It's been fun (and work) and I've certainly enjoyed all the messages, contributions and questions from my APCT friends.
Is there anything in particular you'd like to see in my final two columns? I'll need to hear from you by the end of August to insure getting it in time for my Sept/Oct 2006 column.
It's been a great ride, and my web site will continue on. I haven't decided whether or not to consider possibilities to continue my column elsewhere. To be honest, after 18 years of deadlines there is something appealing about taking a break. Time will tell. I do sincerely welcome any reader comments and will incorporate anything I receive in my final two columns.
copyright © 2006 by J. Franklin Campbell
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