ICCF Press Officer
J. Franklin Campbell



ICCF Congress
Congress Report #1

Daytona Beach, Florida (USA), September 19, 2000.
REF: Congress Report #2000-1


Daytona Beach, Florida, USA , September 19, 2000.

Saturday September 16, 2000 marked the start of the ICCF Congress. The first day was modest ... the Presidium met to discuss the agenda and objectives for this Congress. In the evening we experienced the Welcoming Reception and met our hosts, ICCF-U.S. Secretary Max Zavanelli and his wife (and real force behind the organization of this Congress) Ruth Ann Fay. It was an opportunity to meet people I only knew as email addresses. I was hoping to make a quick report of the first day with some pictures, but hardware problems intervened. As I write this report of the second day Iím just hoping the Internet connection can be made and this report uploaded.

The official opening of the Congress occurred at 10:00 this morning. First came a welcoming message from Max, who graciously explained that when work was to be done we should turn to Ruth Ann. But when congratulations were being handed out, then we could see him!

ICCF President Alan Borwell spoke next, starting with a moment of silence for friends who have been lost to us, such as Walter Muir, described as the "Dean of American correspondence chess". Following there was a brief description of the difficulties faced in the early days of USA cc organization. Max Zavanelli received full credit for putting the USA cc ship right. Thanks for all your outstanding work, Max!

Alan Borwell then sought to characterize this year's meeting. Each Congress seems to have a theme: Emergence of new technologies (held in Buenos Aires in 1997); Importance of the players and how to relate to their needs and desires (Riga 1998); Past achievements and a look to the future (Thun 1999). This yearís theme is less dramatic sounding but extremely important: Playing Rules with flexibility to insure progression of games and to facilitate finishing of events. While lacking a romantic name this theme demonstrates the hard work delegates are committed to in order to make ICCF better serve the cc community.

The idea is that we need a good set of rules that will gain wide acceptance by the players but will enable tournament directors the flexibility to consider the circumstances when making rulings. Over and over I hear the same thing from the leadership of ICCF. Games should be decided on the board, not on some minor rules infraction. While we need to base any needed decisions on the basis of fair rules and we need to insure the proper progress of the games, ICCF does not want games decided by arbiters.

Following President Borwell we heard from the charming and energic Ruth Ann Fay. I could predict from my many dealings with Ruth Ann by email that I would not be disappointed by any Congress she organized, and I certainly havenít been. Unfortunately, Congress visitors have found the weather less than hospitable on Sunday, with the edge of a hurricane sweeping over the area. Ruth Ann characterized the weather as "liquid sunshine." Though the weather was gray and uninviting outside, inside it was cheerful and colorful. Congresses often feature entertainment that is representative of the host country. Could the USA match last yearís Swiss dancing in Thun?

First up were seven sweet little girls demonstrating the popular baton twirling seen at American football games and many other events. Their red outfits and enthusiastic show was a good start. Here I can reveal a rumor that was circulating concerning the entertainment. I was told by several people that we were going to see an Elvis Presley impersonator. Well, that would certainly be American! We all watched for the door to open and a fake Elvis to come prancing out. When the doors did open, though, we were treated to ANOTHER kind of all-American entertainment, a barbershop quartet. They were also dressed in red, but after that the similarlities to the previous act are few. This is a form of singing where the voices are in close harmony. Many of the songs are humorous or romantic in nature. My favorite songs were "Farewell to my Coney Island Baby" and "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" ... I left the hall singing this one to myself. The group was named "Force Four" ... fortunately the approaching huricane only reached Force One.

I was hoping to provide digital pictures with this report, but those pesky hardware problems donít allow it. Youíll just have to use your imagination.

After a short break we got down to the hard work of the convention. Alan Borwell mentioned that the Congress would be held entirely in English this year, to keep things moving quickly. He urged speakers to talk clearly and slowly and to avoid using difficult words, to avoid confusing the non-English speakers. While listening to these words I thought how reasonable and intelligent this advice was. Well, actually what I really felt the urge to do was to jump up and yell, "Eschew Obfuscation!" Do you also have moments like this? Fortunately, I resisted and Iím still here to write this report.

Alan Rawlings, the ICCF General Secretary, then took over the meeting. Apologies for absenses, proxy holders, voting rights and procedures and approval of the 1999 Thun Congress minutes were followed. I wonít outline every topic discussed, but in matters arising from the previous Congress we hit the first difficult decision, the suspension of membership by a member federation. Ukraine was suspended based on non-payment of dues for several years. It is hoped that this action will motivate the Ukrainian Sports Ministry to resolve the confusion problems in that country due to competing cc organizations. Hopefully Ukraine will fix their problems and return to ICCF competition soon. ICCF now has 62 member nations.

After this the Congress returned to much more pleasant activities. Two men who have made major contributions to international cc were honored by Honorary Membership in ICCF. The Congress overwhemingly approved the very popular proposals for these gentlemen:

  • Roald Berthelsen (NOR), who has been TD for countless Olympiads and World Championship cycles, plus Norwegian delegate for many years.
  • Carlos Germán Dieta (ARG), a key actor in Argentinian and South American CC (accepted by countryman Dr. Hector Tepper)

Following this were the Bertl von Massow Awards, given to recognize service to correspondence chess through the ICCF over a long period of time.

The Gold Medal awarded for 15 years of service:

  • A. Raúl Raminez (ARG), a worker for CC for very many years in South America.

The Silver Medal awarded for 10 years of service:

  • Ralph Marconi, current NAPZ Director and long-time TD and International Arbiter
  • Dr. Fritz Baumbach (GER), former World Champion and General Secretary.
  • Joseph Deidun, Sr. (CAN), World Higher Class TD for many years.
  • Ernst Kotzem (GER), TD of many years standing.
  • Georg Walker (SWZ), last year's Congress host and long time delegate.

Congratulations to these fine gentlemen for there well-deserved recognition! I got a chance to examine Ralph Marconiís medal and I found it quite impressive.

Next Carlos Flores Gutierrez presented his Treasurerís report. President Borwell followed up with a call to the federations to pay their accounts promptly to make the hard-working Treasurerís job easier. Hendrik B. Sarink (NLD) followed up with Auditorís report, stating that all was in order with the Treasurerís report. This is the kind of work that receives little outside recognition but is so important for the orderly conduct of business by an organization.

President Alan Borwell presented a detailed three-year financial plan, which included projections based on the financial numbers from recent years. A key component of it is the ICCF Development Plan, proposed to fund the promotion of correspondence chess. ICCF is already involved in cc in 62 countries, and we want to help additional countries get organized to insure the availability of international competition for people in every part of the world.

After returning from a break for lunch the Congress continued to slave over the rules (as, indeed, they continued to do the next day ... hey, guys, this is hard work). Ragnar Wikman, the Deputy President (Rules), re-stated his objective: "I want the rules to serve the players, not the other way around." In this spirit Congress forged on with fine tuning the rules to add flexibility and the application of our excellent motto "Amici Sumus" (We Are Friends). It is agreed by all the this is the appropriate approach to our incredible art/sport/science, but a really good set of rules can encourage this approach. Ragnar did a superb job of organizing the proposed changes, which he made available at his web site months ago. As a result, some valuable suggestions for correcting oversights or other errors were incorporated into the proposals before Congress time. Dr. Jaromir Canibal received special praise for his work during the last four years as Chairman of the Rules Committee.

Two additional topics wrapped up the dayís discussion. How should withdrawals be handled? What effect should a playerís withdrawal have on previously finished games, ratings and the crosstable? This is a difficult subject and no final solution was reached at this time.

"Live" coverage of correspondence chess events on the Internet was also discussed with many different opinions and suggestions. In the end I believe the following was the concensus:

  • "Live" coverage is an excellent vehicle for promoting the game and increasing peopleís pleasure
  • "Live" coverage on the Internet makes cc into a "spectator sport"
  • Instant reporting of moves can lead to problems and in many cases should be avoided
  • A delay of approximately three moves in reporting game positions would solve most problems once all games in the event have taken different paths
  • Events that will be covered "live" by the organizer should include this information in the tournament description, so players wonít be surprised by the coverage after they have already committed to playing
  • ICCF should make no attempt to regulate "live" coverage of ICCF games by individuals, except to encourage them to observe the guideline concerning the 3-move delay.

ICCF is already publishing "live" coverage of two major cc events at the ICCF web site at with the recommended 3-day delay.

Party time! Sunday evening finished off with a grand banquet in the Daytona Beach Hilton hotel, where the "hostess with the mostess" Ruth Ann Fay had arranged a wonderful meal with a jazz quartet that entertained us all evening. It was a festive occasions where the work of the day was (to some extent) put aside and old acquaintances and new friends were greeting, and we relaxed pleasant surroundings with good food, wonderful conversation, wine, music, the chance to mingle with world champions and some of the most knowledgable people in the world of correspondence chess, and wine. Oh, did I mention that before? Actually, the mid-part of this report was written after a number of glasses, so please take that into consideration!

I was thrilled to take group photos of the four World Champions present as well as other luminaries. Except for the inability to get onto the Internet to file this report the evening was smashing! Over all, I have found correspondence chess people some of the most agreeable people in the world. Our shared love for this fabulous art form and intensely competitive sport bonds us together and provides the opportunity to get to know each other better in other ways as well. For me personally Iíve gained a new appreciation for the people with which I do business via email and letter. Iíve communicated with so many of the people here over many years without the opportunity to really get to know them.

J. Franklin Campbell
ICCF Press Officer

l to r, Fritz Baumbach (GER), 11th wch, Grigory Sanakoew (RUS), 12th wch,
Hans Berliner (USA), 5th wch, Vytas Palciauskas (USA), 10th wch