the Heritage of Correspondence Chess
by J. Franklin Campbell
(posted 15 July 2003)
Those of us who have
been trying to recover lost information about our cc past are
very aware of the difficulties. Game scores have been lost,
important information about major events, such as crosstables,
names of players and officials, and dates covered by the competition,
can be difficult or impossible to retrieve. A number of individuals
are working to improve things. I have some specific suggestions
for improvements in the way we support these efforts. Perhaps
some of these things have already been implemented at the international
level or by some national federations. If so, I would like to
see these efforts publicized. Note that I am discussing these
issues in an ICCF perspecitive.
Tournament Director Duties
are in a unique position to capture and preserve information.
ICCF rules already require players to report results with complete
game scores to the TD to obtain credit. As far as I know, tournament
directors are then not given any direction on what to do with
these game scores. I am making an educated guess about what
- The game scores
- They are piled
in a corner ... eventually some or all get lost.
- The game scores
are treated like personal property to be used for a book or
to barter to someone else who may write a book.
- They are collected
but then, through bad health or other personal problems, they
become unavailable. In some cases they (and other records)
are discarded by the family.
- The games are
collected and forwarded to an archivist for permanent recording.
I think few people
would disagree that the last possibility is the best. Undoubtedly,
it is more common now than it was some years ago, but we must
make this the normal approach and provide the guidance to insure
that it happens.
To keep people informed
and to insure that proper records are published, the TD's should
also be directed to supply results and standings in a regular
and standard fashion. Right now I believe it is a hit or miss
proposition, with each tournament director placed in a position
of "recreating the wheel" and inventing her own approach.
Here are some of the things that I've heard that other TD's
do plus some of the things I do.
- Confirm that the
game scores are correct and consistent with the reported result.
I got burned once when the result was reported incorrectly.
A look at the final position would have caused me to question
it and get an immediate correction. Now I check each game
score as it arrives to confirm the result I'm recording.
- Provide results
to the ICCF Ratings Commissioner for calculating ratings.
- Report title norms
achieved by participants to the ICCF Qualifications Commissioner.
- Report pertinent
news via magazines and web pages.
- Provide results
on a regular basis to the appropriate magazines that publish
a results service (such as Chess Mail).
- Acknowledge results
received from players.
- Distribute reports
to participants on a regular basis with results, crosstables
and any other pertinent information and announcements.
- Maintain a web
page with tournament news, such as repeats sent, vacations,
results received, etl's awarded, etc.
- Distribute files
of finished games, or provide a method to download them from
I'm sure there must
be other functions that some TD's have found useful to perform.
Of course, TD's must also deal with complaints and solve various
problems not connected with the subject of this article. I would
suggest that an ICCF Commission could look into the subject
of TD duties and activities and come up with a unified set of
recommendations and/or requirements for tournament directors
(and duties of other office-holders, as well). In business this
is often referred to as a "Job Description." It sets
forth in clear terms what should be accomplished by a person
in a particular job. Not only does it provide a method of evaluating
the performance of the job holders, but it provides a useful
guide so the person with a job knows what is expected.
of Important Information
Even if a tournament
director or other official is doing her best to collect and
store important data, in extreme cases this information can
be lost without proper attention to backing up the information.
Here are some possible scenarios.
- The tournament
director's house burns down, destroying all the tournament
- A computer hard
drive crash occurs, destroying information.
- The TD dies, or
becomes very ill, making communication impossible. Contacting
family and friends trying to gain access to tournament records
is not an attractive idea and may be impossible.
- The TD moves or
loses interest. Records may easily be lost.
Here I have some
specific recommendations, some based on my personal experience.
- Results should
be published on web pages immediately, making them available
to the chess community, whatever should happen to the TD.
In my case, I keep a complete copy of all web pages on my
personal computer, so failure of the hosting company would
not cause loss of records.
- Crosstables should
also be made available on the Internet, providing players
with current standings and providing an opportunity for players
to detect and correct mistakes. I could add that in these
days of instant communication, the players have come to expect
this kind of service. Also, records that are well kept but
inaccurate are to be avoided, so the ability to have information
checked by many people and corrected quickly is a big plus.
- Games should be
entered into a computer database immediately, preserving them
even if the paper copies (or emails), should be lost. Note
that this also allows the TD to immediately confirm that the
game score is accurate and that the reported result is consistent
with the game score provided.
- Databases of games
should not be trusted to hard disk storage only. I make occasional
backups to CD's and also upload critical databases of ICCF-U.S.
games to the ICCF-U.S. server. Note that this also largely
solves the problem of me dying or becoming unbalanced ...
in this case, the database could be retrieved from the server
and there would be no need to search my personal computer
or my home office for backup CD's.
In summary, I believe
it is important to establish norms for TD duties and responsibilities.
A commission could explore the various possibilities and create
an appropriate "Job Description." Also, methods of
insuring that important information and game scores are not
lost could be established. This should include recommendations
for backing up material and insuring the loss of a single individual
wouldn't jepardize access to that material. In some cases this
may require providing access to servers and a documented method
of backing up material on this server.
© 2003 J.
Franklin Campbell, All Rights Reserved.