… and now I am in Rimini. Congress started on Sunday morning, therefore it is time for my first Congress report…
I have been in a lot of pain the last two weeks. I wrote my previous report on a Monday night, sent it by e-mail to Franklin Campbell, and went to bed. In the following hours we saw on TV the terrible events that shocked the entire World, and I could not reconcile the light-hearted mood of the written report with what was going on in reality just hours later. And I struggled to write something else. Some call it "writer's block". In this case it was a bit of guilt, a bit of anger, some shame, and a lot of pessimism.
Before coming to Rimini I spent a couple of days in Rome, which seems to be just a perfect place for introspection, for contemplation: a city that rose to be one of the greatest empires in human history, but later crumbled to dust. Rome left a legacy, in the form of its laws and its culture. What will the legacy be of last week's events?
Every nation around the globe condemns terrorism, and half the world is preparing for war against it. Can Humanity forget 5000 innocent deaths from citizens of more than 50 countries?
When I studied English Literature more than a decade ago, one of my favourite readings was English Poetry from the First World War. It was interesting to see how the high spirits of the beginning of the War, when most people were sure of a quick conflict to be decided in favour of Great Britain, were later changed to a general disillusion and the knowledge that War was not what everyone expected. Let me share with you a brilliancy by Thomas Hardy:
Sometime after the tragic events, ICCF decided to implement one week of mourning, during which period the games were stopped and no time was counted. It was our sincere way of expressing the grief for the inexplicable loss of so many lives and the destruction of so many families. We even considered cancelling the Congress, but the general opinion was that Congress should proceed as planned. Somehow, this is a way of winning a moral war: because the objective of terrorism is to disrupt our lives, our way of living. And by holding our Congress of friendship, we make a statement against hatred and fear.
In his Opening Speech, President Alan Borwell made a very special mention of these sad incidents that have shaken our community, the chess community. This is the full text:
(To be continued…)
"Buongiorno, amici. Good morning friends.
Dr. Bresadola, members of the ASIGC Council, distinguished guests and correspondence chess friends, it gives me very great pleasure to respond to your warm welcome and to your kind remarks.
However, first of all, I must begin with some rather solemn and serious words.
During recent times, international sporting activities have been over shadowed by tragic events in the USA and the enormous loss of life of citizens of America and from many others Nations of the World.
Last Sunday, at our Village Church in Scotland, I was thinking about what I could say today, when an elderly lady came over and gave an envelope to my wife Moira, containing some old Press cuttings, for Moira to use in our Church Magazine. Amongst them was one from a War time Service of Thanksgiving called "Let us Pray for the Peace Makers" - It was an unexpected thing to happen, and maybe it was an answer to my prayer about what to say today.
I would like to read it now, whilst we think about those who have suffered.
"Eternal Father, wonderful in counsel, excellent in wisdom, we pray for the representatives of the nations who are called to the task of laying foundations of peace and of settling the affairs of this distracted and embittered World.
Inspire their minds, enlarge their vision, direct their councils that, humble and wise, fearless and unfaltering, they may stand for righteousness and truth.
We pray also for the peoples in whose name they speak, raise the minds of men everywhere, above the mists of suspicion and hatred, into a pure light of justice and goodwill, that freedom and peace may be established amongst all nations."
Thank you for listening to these words, which seem very appropriate in these modern times, even though many decades have passed since they were spoken.
Sadly there are some friends who are unable to be with us this year and one of them was a very dear and personal friend to many of us - I refer, of course to Dr. Martin Christoffel (SWZ), our Assistant Treasurer, who died in March.
Martin was a wonderful person, a fine CC player and organiser throughout his lifetime and we miss him greatly, but give thanks for his service and dedication.
Other CC friends who have also passed away since our last Congress are Joel Adler, the LADAC Treasurer in Argentina, and Karlis Ozols from Australia.
We were very sad at the news of the death of Gianni Mastrojeni's wife and we send him and his family our deepest sympathy.
In respect to the memory of all CC friends who have passed away since our meeting in Florida, our dear friend Gianni's wife, and of fellow citizens of the USA and the rest of the World whose lives were ended or shattered last week, could I please ask you all to stand, bow your heads and observe two minute's silence in "memory of all departed friends and fellow citizens of the World"…
(two minute silence was observed)
Guido, we are delighted that our Jubilee Year Congress is being held in your country and that our celebrations coincide with those of ASIGC, which also has also reached its 50th Jubilee - a remarkable and very happy co-incidence!
Italy is one of my favourite countries and I have had several holidays in some very beautiful places like Tuscany, Verona, the Lakes and, of course, Venice, but this is my first visit to the Emilia-Romagna Region or to Rimini, one of your most famous and popular holiday resorts. So what do we think, when we slowly think of your country, spaghetti, ravioli, gelati, chianti, - Ravanelli, Pavarotti or…Verdi?
No, we think about Incelli, Mastrojeni,Tani, Sampieri and all other Italian correspondence chess organisers and players!
Italy has a rich chess heritage going back to famous ancient over the board players like Leonardo da Cutro and in more recent times, Italy's first GM, Michele Godena who qualified for last year's World Championship Finals.
In correspondence chess, your most famous players of the last 50 years were GM Mario Napolitano, who finished only ˝ point behind Cecil Purdy in the first World CC Championship and IM Dr. Giorgio Porreca, who was 5th in the 9th World CC Championship. In this Congress, we are delighted that we have Italian GMs taking part in Massimo De Blasio. Your own GM Claudio Casabona was the recent winner of the Memorial Napolitano.
However, Italy has also excelled in team events, winning the last three Coppa Latina tournaments and featuring strongly in European Team and Ladies Olympiads.
It is famous for matches with large numbers of players, with over 1000 boards in the Italy v Germany match and Italy v 70 Nations, currently being played and has been second only to Germany in the numbers of ICCF players.
It has organised several international invitational tournaments, including the Armando Silli and Mario Napolitano Memorials.
The only previous time when Italy was host for an ICCF Congress was in Rome in 1970, but it has been represented by a strong delegation at many Congresses.
Your delegate for many years was Dr. Renato Incelli who, along with Gianni Mastrojeni , attended a famous meeting in 1969 after which, ASIGC soon gained complete autonomy for Italy, and sole recognition for international purposes and membership in ICCF. In 1970, your fine Telescacco Magazine began and is still being published some 31 years later - a very fine achievement.
On the administration scene, you have outstanding organisers in Italy, with many actively involved in international correspondence chess and with ICCF.
In recent years, we have had fine support from Dr. Gian-Maria Tani in various functions and he is our World Tournament Office Commissioner, as well as an active Tournament Director, Gianni Mastrojeni, who is TD for Ladies World Championships, Leonardo Madonia, as Controller of our important Thematic Tournaments Office and, like Marco Caressa, a TD for Class Tournaments. And, of course, Pietro Cimmino, who has done excellent work as our Games Archivist and with system developments. Welcome to all our Italian hosts!!
This year, we have some new friends attending an ICCF Congress for the first time and I would especially like to welcome the President of AICCF, the All India Correspondence Chess Federation, Dr. Haresh Samtani.
We have new delegate Bruce Kover and our good friend Jose Amorim and their wives from Brazil, Dario Biella Bianchi from Peru, Valer- Eugen Demian from Canada, Eric Ruch from France, and Duncan Chambers, deputising as Delegate for England for Alan Rawlings, who sadly has not been able to come this year, for important family reasons.
Could I also give a special welcome to Roald Berthelsen and his wife Annki. Roald has had some health problems which have prevented him coming to Congress for the last 2 years, but it is great to see him with us again - his work for ICCF as TD for World CC Championships and now with the Olympiads is very much appreciated by us all ! Last year, deservedly, Roald was made an ICCF Honorary Member.
We are delighted to have many old friends from Latin America, North America and Europe with us again and I extend a very warm welcome to you all!
We are very pleased this Jubilee Congress in Italy has attracted families of the delegates and officials, which has been a feature of ICCF traditions in the past and I hope that it will continue in the years ahead. May I wish the ladies and all families a very interesting visit and that you will enjoy the friendship and social activities, which our hosts will be kindly providing for us all this week!
Many others not here, I know have been involved and I would like to give them a "special thank you" today in my welcome to you all to this Jubilee Congress.
From a personal point of view, this year is also a special anniversary for me as this Congress is the 21st in succession which I have been privileged to attend, the first having been in London in 1981, where some 40 delegates were seated around rather narrow tables in quite a small room. I was one of the youngest in attendance, although over 40 years old !- how times have changed, looking around this assembled youthful gathering today for our Jubilee Year Congress!
There were 6 others here today who were in London in 1981, namely, Roald Berthelsen, Heikki Brusila, Ted Bullockus, Olavi Halme, Horst Rittner, and Nol van 't Riet - if I have missed anyone who was there, please "wave your arms"!!
It has been customary, for many years for the ICCF President to introduce a special theme at the Opening Ceremony of Congress and since my appointment in 1997 in Argentina, I have continued with this nice tradition.
In 1997, I referred to the challenge which we faced with the rapid emergence of new technologies and the Internet, and opportunities they would offer to our great game, whereas in 1998 in Latvia, my theme emphasised the importance of our customers, all the CC players of the World, and the need for us to adapt and relate to their various and differing needs and aspirations.
In Switzerland, on the threshold of the new Millennium, I referred to our great history and achievements and looked into the future. I emphasised the need to utilise our unity of purpose and bonds of friendship and our ability to operate collectively in true partnership, irrespective of our different cultures, languages and sometimes, diversity of personal opinion.
Last year, with our first Congress in North America, in Florida, our meetings were focused particularly on rules issues, and I emphasised the need for ICCF to provide a rules framework which ensured games were progressed in a way which provided for player enjoyment and interest and avoidance of disputes.
So my theme for that Congress was for Rules which were clear and simple, but flexible enough to satisfy current and future needs of players, so ICCF could attract the widest possible range of chess players to world, zonal and national tournaments, using whatever form of transmission.
Of course, as each year goes by, it will become more difficult to find a new and important theme, and for Rimini, we maybe think of relaxation and holidays!
But NO, for this Jubilee Congress, I would like us to focus on the need for "achievement" of our visions and "delivery" of our plans for the future.
When I was looking at the list of CC friends and enthusiasts coming to Italy, my overwhelming feeling was one of admiration of the skills and abilities of all the individuals who would be attending but asking whether "we are utilising such talent to its best collective effect."
At Congress each year, we have far reaching discussions, with lots of good ideas being offered and we decide and agree "what needs to be done", but maybe we are not so good at delivering. We all go back to our homes feeling "buoyant" about our experiences at the Congress and with a determination to "achieve" but, somehow or other, things do not quite work out as we had visualised and we do not achieve those expectations.
We are all volunteers and lead busy lives and have family and domestic commitments, so it is quite understandable correspondence chess cannot be given the foremost priority - it is only a game!!
However, there is also a danger that some of us commit ourselves to trying to do too much whilst others, who might be more willing (and capable!), are not being asked to take on the tasks they are not only able to do, but would enjoy.
I am not just talking about people here today, but other excellent ICCF friends.
So my theme for this year is that "we need to better utilise the talent available to achieve an even better delivery of all of our agreed plans". If we can all bear this in mind throughout this Congress and try to organise the tasks which need to be done, using all the resources available, then I think we would see results!
Well, that is more than enough from me on serious matters and I would just like to conclude by expressing the hope that we will have a very successful and happy Congress, full of the "amici sumus" spirit and that you will enjoy your visit to Rimini so you will have very happy memories of it, for years to come!
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with the greatest of pleasure that I now declare the "ICCF Jubilee Year Congress - Rimini 2001", duly opened.