Rimini, Italy, September 25,
Yes, Congress officially started on Sunday morning. And yes, we've been quite silent so far, as both Franklin and John wrote on TCCMB! But you know the way it is, these ICCF Congresses: lots of work, many people to meet, and very little time to do everything
I hope you did not miss yesterday's report, which included Alan Borwell's opening speech. This time I am a little bit more inspired, as we copied the "writing area" we had during the 1999 Congress in Thun, Switzerland: everyone at the bar, having drinks, and yours faithfully surrounded by friends, writing at the super speed my two fingers allow! This is definitely OK!
The weather in Rimini has been horrible since Sunday morning, when it started to rain. It has stopped every now and then, but it pours down at the worse time: during our lunch break (when we leave the Hotel) and after 18 hs., when we are free!
And the bad weather makes worse the fact that we miss so many friends who -for one reason or another- could not make it to Rimini for our annual gathering. Each participant must have his own list of dear friends who have not come, and I have my own. Although I only met some of them once, I miss those who play chess here on Earth, like Alan Rawlings, Mart Tarmak, Gianni Mastrojeni, Sven-Ake Kronberg, and Gottardo Gottardi; John Knudsen, Grayling Hill, Wes Green, and Franklin Campbell. And of course, those other friends who are now playing the royal game in a heavenly checkboard
After the welcoming speech by Guido Bresadola (from ASIGC, the host federation) and the Opening speech by ICCF President Alan Borwell, we handed several awards for distinguished chessfriends who have devoted much of their life to Correspondence Chess and ICCF in particular. Honorary membership of ICCF was bestowed upon Nol van' t Riet (Netherlands) who received his well-deserved award with a standing ovation; Raul Ramirez (Argentina) and the "grandfather of Italian correspondence chess" Renato Incelli (Italy). Additionally, Bertl von Massow medals in Gold (for 15 or more years of service to ICCF) were given to Olavi Halme (Finland) and Ralph Marconi (Canada), and a medal in Silver (for 10 or more years of service) to Gianni Mastrojeni (Italy).
Any structure needs changes every now and then so that it stays healthy, updated, and flexible. Therefore we have been studying several changes for the future in ICCF's structure, to go in hand with the modern times. But these are just plans and ideas for the time being, and they will be developed in the next months. Once again, the Treasurer's report showed a healthy financial situation, but it was sad that several federations had not sent their reports in time, which delayed the work of the Treasurer and the Auditor! The relationship between ICCF Officials and National Delegates must be fluid because we both need each other for the successful accomplishment of our goals.
On the Sunday afternoon we were divided into two Working Groups: the first one dealing with Internet and New Technologies related to better services for correspondence chess and its players, and a second group dealing with Tournament arrangements. But I'll come back to these two groups as soon as their suggestions have been put forward to Congress, hopefully on Tuesday.
However, there's one big news I can't wait to write about, and that is the resignation of Soeren Peschardt (Denmark) as ICCF Webmaster. This came as a shock to most people, but those who know how stressing and eroding that job can be agreed with his wishes to have some fresh air after three successful years in that position. (IMHO, Soeren is running for ICCF President ;-P). Now the problem was to find a suitable replacement, and it came in the form of three people (you see, Soeren is so BIG in all aspects, that three people were needed to fill his shoes!). And here comes the first "TN" (Theoretical Novelty) of this years' Congress: the new Webmaster is a woman! I do not know how much thought she put into this decision, but Evelyn Radosztics (wife of the Austrian Delegate) took up the challenge, and together with another woman, Marina Luz Tinjaca' of Italy, and a man (finally!) Marco Caressa from the same country, will helm www.iccf.com in the years to come. We wish them much success in this task! (I can't wait to read the first recipe! Let it be against the Kings' Gambit, OK? Sorry, I couldn't let go of the opportunity for an easy joke!!).
The Sunday session was over, and the welcoming banquet was ready for us. We ate and spoke and ate and took pictures and ate and rested and ate and had toasts for our missing friends and ate Did I say we ate? Because we had five courses! There was a piano player who contributed to a pleasant evening with several classical tunes. However, the most interesting moment came when Dmitry Lybin from Belarus played a special song on the piano, which was dedicated to our late friend Martin Christoffel from Switzerland. Martin had asked Dmity to play this piece in Rimini for him, and so Dmity practiced it during the year and fulfilled his friends' request on Sunday night. After dinner some people stayed up late at the Hotel bar.
The Congress session on Monday was scheduled to start at 9:30 AM, and promptly it did with the absence of two participants: Chris Lueers and me! We went to bed extremely late the previous night and did not hear the alarm clock; therefore we woke up at 10:20 and simply jumped into our clothes and hurried down the street toward the Hotel where Congress is being held. We missed a good part of the discussion on Rules and Clarifications, although not much progress had been made, as the issues being discussed were quite problematic. One of the most interesting and wild discussions was on the receipt date of e-mail messages: most people complained on the unfairness of checking one's e-mail messages some minutes before midnight, only to find that a new move has been delivered and you have 5 or 6 minutes to answer if you do not want to spend a day! (If you receive a move on 23:55 and answer 10 minutes later on 0:05 of the next day, you have taken 10 minutes but as time is counted in days you have really taken 1 day to answer the move!). Another funny point was made when moves are sent to a player living west of you, because sometimes the receipt date is declared as the day after it was sent, when in reality (due to the time-zone concept) the move might have been received about the same time it was sent!
Some time later it was time for Nol van' t Riet to gives us an update on the Jubilee tournaments. On July 1st we started the "World Champions" Tournament, sponsored by the Max Euwe Association (Monaco), in which all living World Champions participate. The games of these 9 Grandmasters will be available before the end of the year at www.iccf.com, as soon as all games are different, and with a 3-move delay.
Additionally, the Dr. Werner Bayer Stiftung (Foundation) is sponsoring two GM groups and four IM groups for ICCF Officials, with several prizes for the top qualifiers. This is the list of players in each group, with the new ELO, and colours not yet assigned:
GM Group "A":
GM Group "B":
IM Group "A":
IM Group "B":
IM Group "C":
IM Group "D":
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