in ICCF … A Proposal
by J. Franklin Campbell
(posted 8 May 2004)
There is a lack of
documented guidance for tournament directors in the ICCF. Apparently,
such guidance has been considered in at least one existing commission,
but there doesn't appear to have been any actual document produced
to outline the duties and responsibilities of tournament directors.
I advocate producing such a document to give a "job description"
for tournament directing, to list all the required functions,
and to give further examples of activities properly undertaken
by TD's. This would benefit both tournament directors and players.
It would be especially beneficial to new tournament directors
who would have guidance … a checklist of both required functions
and ideas to make their directing more effective.
Following is my best
effort to outline the duties and responsibilities, followed
by additional suggestions for making the tournament a better
experience for the participants. It is my belief that problems
can best be solved by avoiding them from the beginning. I also
believe the vast majority of correspondence chess players are
fair and honest individuals who are more than willing to conduct
themselves according to the ICCF motto Amici Sumus … "We are
Friends". The tournament director can provide the friendly atmosphere
which promotes this.
A proposed list
of tournament director duties
- Read and understand
the applicable rules of play
The TD should
be completely familiar with the current rules of play for
the event. Sometimes players and TD's confuse old rules
(or rules from another organization) with the ICCF rules
for this specific event. A careful reading of the current
rules for this specific type of competition as presented
on the ICCF web site should help avoid most problems.
- Send out tournament
The TD should
send each player a complete packet of starting papers with
full information on opponents, start/end dates, time limits,
etc. … everything the player needs to know to conduct play
in the event. The TD should inspect the materials carefully
before sending, checking for accuracy and completeness.
- Confirm participation
by all players
Each player must
be required to respond to confirm receipt of the start material
and confirm participation. If confirmations are not received,
the TD must follow up and determine whether or not the player
- Maintain complete
records of the tournament
To conduct a
tournament successfully the TD must have complete and accurate
records. It is the responsibility of each tournament director
to be sufficiently organized to insure proper record keeping.
Following is a list of important items that should be carefully
recorded for each player.
- Game results
- Leaves … vacations
- ETL's (exceeded
- Current address
and/or email address
- If appropriate,
mode of game transmission (postal or email)
- Report results
to the Ratings Commission
Ratings Commissioner requires an update each six months
of all new results during that six-month period. The TD
should maintain records with this in mind so such a report
can be prepared in a timely and accurate way. If a result
changes or was reported incorrectly, the next report should
provide the correction.
- Submit any required
Examples of TD
reports can be seen at the ICCF web site at: http://tables.iccf.com/TDreports/
Also, many tournaments are covered by a results service
in Chess Mail magazine, so results should be sent
there on a regular basis. If an on-line crosstable is being
maintained for the event, results should be provided to
the appropriate webmaster in a timely fashion.
- Confirm title
norms to the Qualifications Commissioner
Many events have
the possibility of earning title norms. When a player achieves
a title norm the TD should confirm this with a message to
the Qualifications Commissioner listing the details. This
is one of the nice moments for a TD, in my opinion.
- Maintain games
database for archive
The TD cannot
accept a result without the accompanying game score. All
the game scores should be carefully filed for future use
in archiving the tournament games. Note that current ICCF
rules require both players to provide a complete score to
the game. Personally, I think that should be changed so
that the loser need not send a report. In practice, losers
frequently do not send in game scores. The only advantage
I can see to insisting on receiving both game scores is
in case there is an error ... comparing the game scores
would usually clear them up. This seems pretty minor, though,
so why have a rule on the books that is not needed and is
frequently ignored by both the players and the TD? This
could lead to lower respect for the rules or, if enforced
by the TD, to extra work for the TD and irritation to the
players. I suggest dumping this rule and allowing the winner
(or White in the case of a draw) to report the result.
- Send periodic
reports to the players
The players should
be kept informed on the progress of the tournament. At the
minimum, a crosstable should be provided to each player
each six months. Players with email can be sent email reports.
Those without email addresses should be mailed printed reports.
- Resolve complaints,
If players have
any complaints or questions, they will send them to the
TD. It is the TD's responsibility to resolve problems and
answer questions in a timely fashion. If an issue cannot
be dealt with immediately, the TD should send an acknowledgement
to the player with notification that the issue is being
pursued. I would suggest an acknowledgement or answer to
the complaint/question should be made within two or three
days. Players should not be left in the dark, wondering
if the TD has received their message.
If the TD cannot
answer the question or resolve the problem on their own,
a more experienced TD should be consulted. If guidelines
are published, they should be consulted for answers first.
An effort should be made to resolve issues in a way that
is compatible with previous practice.
should be resolved without hearing from both parties. A
rushed decision without adequate investigations could turn
out to be incorrect. It is better to be slow with a decision
than to have to reverse a decision after more information
is brought forward. If a mistake is made, however, the TD
should be ready to change a decision. This isn't a question
of ego … it is a question of getting it right. Any decision
announced to the players should contain information about
how to appeal the decision. If a decision is reversed or
changed by the Appeals Commission, the TD should simply
accept this new decision and apply it appropriately, even
if the TD disagrees with the decision of the AC.
- The TD should
keep careful track of correspondence with players
The rules require
that players reply to the TD. E.g., in the individual email
rules it says, "If a player does not answer enquiries
from the Tournament Director, that player may be deemed
to have withdrawn from the tournament." So the TD must
be aware of the lack of response from a player and act in
a timely fashion. Of course, it is possible illness or another
unavoidable problem may delay a player's response, but the
TD should keep on top of these things. Also, in the case
of repeats the TD should be copied. Also, players are allowed
some lattitude in making agreements (to switch to email,
to change time control). The TD must be notified of such
agreements and approve any such changes. E.g., changing
the time limit may be deemed inappropriate for the competition.
It is advisable to anticipate possible problems, too. If
a game is swithed from postal to email, with the TD's approval,
then it is wise to require the players to specify the time
limit being used and if the first ETL ends the game. Without
a clear statement, the postal time limits and ETL rule would
be in effect, which may not have been the intention of one
or both of the players.
- The TD should
make every effort to insure the smooth running of the tournament
and the active enjoyment of the event by the participants
At all times,
the ICCF motto Amici Sumus should be in evidence.
suggestions for Tournament Directors
In addition to the
required duties, the TD may be able to make the event run more
smoothly and be a more pleasant experience for everyone. Of
course, not every TD will have the necessary facilities, expertise
and temperament to follow these suggestion.
- Provide a friendly
atmosphere and encourage Amici Sumus through communications
when a regular progress report is sent to the players, it
is possible to take on the role of cheerleader by encouraging
cooperation and friendly relationships. I regularly point
out to my players how smoothly the event is running due
to the cooperation and friendly attitude by the players.
Many of the problems between players are due to simple misunderstandings
or misinterpretations of intentions. Very seldom will one
player intentionally try to cheat her/his opponent or intend
to insult the opponent. It is easy to read insults into
quite innocent statements. It is easy to believe your opponent
is trying to get away with something. It is not always so
easy to see things from the opponent's viewpoint.
friendly atmosphere though the TD's correspondence with
the players can set the tone for the whole event. Ideally,
players will resolve minor differences between themselves
without the need to consult the TD. If they feel inclined
to cooperate in this fashion, due to the friendly atmosphere
created by the TD, then everyone benefits. When disputes
become battles of the rule book and accusations are flying
back and forth, not only is this a problem for the TD, but
is seriously affects the enjoyment of the event for many
players. The TD's should consider themselves ambassadors
of good will, and they should make ICCF events as much fun
for everyone as possible. A little humor and good will can
go a long ways towards making this happen.
- Provide as much
information as possible to the players
There are various
ways the players can keep informed. If you have access to
a web site, you could keep a tournament news page on-line
so players can easily see who is on leave, what results
have come in recently, which players have had to send repeats
to which players (could indicate a pattern), any major news
(such as a player achieving a norm or clinching a place),
upcoming milestones (tournament closing out, call for results
before making a rating report), when a player has withdrawn,
etc. I would suggest that this is private information for
the participants only, so a link to such a page should not
be published and the proper META tags should be use to prevent
search engines from finding the page. Frequent email or
postal reports could serve the same purpose.
- Maintain a computer
database of the game scores
If the TD adds
the games to a tournament database as results are reported,
this has several benefits.
- Accuracy of
the game score is confirmed, allowing any errors to be
corrected immediately. It's remarkable how many game scores
will be received with errors. It may not even be possible
to get corrections at a later time. Many game scores are
discarded or lost after a few months/years.
- Confirm the
result reported is consistent with the actual game position.
If you get a report of 1-0 but Black has the better position,
then you can question the report immediately. This can
prevent recording results improperly and avoid the need
to later make corrections.
one game at a time in proper PGN format is much easier
than someone inputting a large number of games at one
- This makes
it easy to send a complete PGN file to the games archivist
at the end of the event, making life a little easier for
the poor archivist.
- You can distribute
a complete database of the tournament to the players after
the event ends.
- You can make
backups of the games receive by sending an occasional
copy of the database to another person. In the case of
NAPZ and ICCF-U.S. games, I have a backup area available
on the ICCF-U.S. server for maintaining backup copies,
so in case of personal problems (health issues, computer
crash, death, etc.) the games won't be lost. Something
similar could be done for tournaments in other zones.
- It may provide
increased interest and pleasure for the TD, who gets to
see a large number of interesting games played by the
A clever and resourceful
tournament director can certainly find additional approaches
to the job. There is nothing wrong with supplying personal initiative
and creativity to directing tournaments. Posting pictures of
the players on a tournament page on-line, involving the players
in other ways in the event, showing games from the event "live"
(within the guidelines in the ICCF Code of Conduct), arranging
special prizes for Best Game, publishing a book after the event
… there are a lot of possibilities.
If you have corrections
or additions to make to the above ideas, please send them to
me and I'll consider making changes reflecting your good ideas.
Hopefully, in the near future the ICCF web site will have a
document similar to this one. A good reference list of decisions
made in the past, opinions by experts, a discussion forum for
tournament directors and discussions of interpretation of the
rules by the Rules Commissioner would all be very useful.
© 2004 J.
Franklin Campbell. All rights reserved.