ICCF Marketing Director
Pedro Hegoburu


ICCF 2002 Congress
Congress Report (#1)

Seixal, Portugal, October, 2002.
REF: Congress Report #2002-1

"So here I am once more,
In the playground of the broken hearts…"


Yes dear readers, I am once again attending another ICCF Congress. This time we meet in Seixal, just south of Lisbon, in the beautiful Portugal!

Spanish belonging to the same language family as Portuguese, I would have expected to understand locals much better than I really do. "Portuguese Portuguese" is different than "Brazilian Portuguese": the locals speak much faster, and it seems like all sentences are compressed. But if they speak clearly and slowly and you pay close attention, you understand pretty well what they are saying. And if you STILL don't seem to understand, they'll do their best to explain: I have seldom seen nicer people! And what to say about the food and drink, except that it is of the highest quality!

Living far from the madding crowd meant I had to leave home earlier than most delegates do. And this year it also meant leaving home much earlier than expected, as the airline decided to cancel my flight and I had to take an earlier one with three hours' notice. I had no time to make laundry and simply left Buenos Aires with what I found clean, plus Abulafia IV. Who is not my wife or girlfriend… it's my computers' name.

After a 21-hour trip including a stop in Madrid airport, I arrived at Lisbon together with the Viceroy, who is none other than the Latin American Zonal Director. We were received by Rodrigo, a FIDE International Arbiter who took us to Quinta Valenciana, the hotel where Congress is being held. We were very entertained on our car ride listening to his anecdotes as Arbiter in several FIDE Olympiads. The fastest route to Seixal was -as Mr. Murphy would have predicted- the longest one, avoiding traffic through central Lisbon!

Upon arrival we met the Qualifications Commissioner George Pyrich and his wife Catherine, who had left Scotland a couple of days earlier. So they were the Scottish "conquerors" in a historical land of conquerors.

Delegates started to slowly arrive during Thursday and Friday, and on Saturday some of us had the usual Presidium Meeting followed by another shorter meeting with Commissioners. And later that day we attended the welcoming banquet, our first opportunity to meet new friends who are attending Congress for the first time, and see older friends since the previous year.


On Sunday morning Congress was officially opened with speeches from one of Seixals' Vareadores (Municipality representatives), followed by welcoming remarks by GM Alvaro Pereira (President of CNXC, the Portuguese CC Federation, and a well-known actor!) and finally from our President Alan Borwell. We had a minute silence in order to honour all our deceased CC friends since last Congress, amongst whom we should mention our former President Henk Mostert from Netherlands, Karlis Vitols from Latvia (our 1998 Congress host), Douglas Livie from Scotland, André Giraudet from France, and Carlos Ros Miró from Spain.

Here's the full Presidential Speech:

ICCF President's response to Host Organisation welcome:

Vereador Joaquim dos Santos, Mr. Pereira, members of the Comissão Nacional De Xadrez Correspondência, all correspondence chess friends, it gives me great pleasure to respond the very kind words of welcome from our hosts.

This is our first visit to Portugal and, indeed, to the Iberian Peninsula, for an ICCF meeting, and we are most appreciative of CNXC for inviting us to your country and to the Municipality of Seixal, for making this possible, with the interest they have shown in our Congress and for their excellent sponsorship.

We really are looking forward, with great expectations, to the programme of events you have kindly arranged for us, in the week ahead.

Last year, I began with some rather solemn and serious words, just after the tragic events of 11th September 2001, and referred to the enormous impact this had on the lives of so many citizens of the USA and many Nations of the World.

Those memories still linger with us and the aftermath continues - and seems likely to do so into an uncertain future. We can only hope and pray that ways will be found soon for peoples of the World to co-exist in peace and harmony.

Fortunately, we have a means of contributing to such an ideal, through our game of correspondence chess, which provides the opportunity for sporting competition, but also for generating friendship between peoples of all nations in the World. In the era of new technologies, this has become even more possible.

Sadly there are friends who are unable to be with us this year and, inevitably, some of these have died since we held our Jubilee Year Congress in Italy, including our Honorary President, H.J. Mostert from the Netherlands.

Henk Mostert, as he was known to many of us, played correspondence chess from teenage days, and he was a good player. But it was in the organising field where he gained distinction, initially in his own country with formation of the autonomous Netherlands CC Federation, NBC, which was established in 1966.

Today, we have with us one of the other founder members of the NBC, our Auditor, Henk Sarink.

Henk Mostert became involved in the international CC scene from the same year 1966, and was the Dutch delegate the next year, when he was also elected as an ICCF Vice President, and remained as one, until 1983.

He did tremendous work with the establishment of Ladies Olympiads and then as TD of the European Championships during the 1970s. In 1983, he became ICCF General Secretary, and in 1987, he was elected in Bloemendaal, in his own country, as ICCF President in succession to Hans-Werner von Massow.

For 10 years, Henk Mostert gave great service as ICCF President and many of us here today have very happy memories of those times and of our friendships with not only a great CC enthusiast and dedicated worker, but also as a fine person, with a positive outlook and personality. He will be sadly missed and we extend our sympathy to Janny, who is with us today, and to the Mostert family.

We have also lost other dear friends but I can only mention a few of them today.

In 1998, we held our Congress in Riga, where our host was Karlis Vitols and many of us remember the excellent organisation and hospitality, which Karlis and his colleagues provided in Latvia. Sadly, soon after that Congress, Karlis fell ill and after long suffering, he died in May of this year.

Another delegate, who also suffered a long illness, died earlier this year. Carlos Ros Miro was the delegate for Spain for 30 years and he was also the Editor of the excellent CC magazine, Mate Postal, which he founded in 1974 and published a remarkable 114 editions.

In November of last year, André Giraudet, who for many years was the delegate for AJEC, died. He was an ICCF Vice-President from 1979-83, during which period he was our host for a memorable 1982 Congress in Paris.

Other notable CC personalities who have died in the last year are Milan Jovcic (YUG), Dietmar Pillhock (NLD), Dr. Franz Thannhauser (OST) and Jack Collins (USA), who was the first US CC Champion and, just last week, I attended the funeral of Douglas Livie, a Scottish CCA Council Member for many years.

In respect to the memory of Mr. Henk J. Mostert and all other CC friends who have passed away since our last meeting, could I please ask you to stand, bow your heads and observe a minute's silence in memory of "all departed friends".

(one minute silence was observed)

Thank you.

Alvaro, we are delighted that our 2002 Congress is being held in your country, with its rich history in correspondence chess.

Your Federation is one of the smaller ones in membership of ICCF (rather like Scotland!) and this makes it even more commendable that you have been willing and able to host an ICCF Congress. Of course, you have a rich history in correspondence chess, which dates back for some 80 years, although CNXC was not constituted as an autonomous CC federation for Portugal, until 1983.

It is not really very surprising that teams from Portugal played in the first Olympiad of European teams and then in the first CC Olympiad, as we now know it, for all the countries of the World. In both of these events, Portugal achieved fourth place in the Finals. Indeed, Portugal also had a B team and one of your members from Oporto, Alexandre Gonçalves achieved a famous victory over Cecil Purdy, which was one of the only two defeats which the 1st World CC Champion, ever suffered throughout his CC career!

Your two Grandmasters, yourself and Luis Santos both did well in the very strong 13th World CC Championship Final and Luis Santos was in the top 5 rated players of the World, for 12 out of the last 14 years of the last Century!

You also have many other fine Portuguese CC players, with 5 Senior International Masters and 8 International Masters, which is excellent for a country of your size and population. I always enjoy receiving your Peão Distante Magazine and you are to be congratulated on maintaining such a good quality publication in these difficult times for printed magazines.

Portugal is famous for its discoverers, its wines and, of course, its chess playing actors! We look forward, Alvaro, to seeing your performance this week, and we might even award you with an Oscar next Friday!

This year, we have some new friends attending an ICCF Congress for the first time and I would especially like to welcome our guest from FIDE, David Jarrett, who is FIDE Treasurer and his wife Valentina - we hope that you are enjoying your time with us. I think that you are the first FIDE official to attend an ICCF Congress since Prof. Dr. Max Euwe, 30 years ago in 1972, in Arnhem.

From Afro-Asian Zone, we welcome Dinand Knol, who is the delegate for South Africa and, from Asia, Farit Balabayev and his sister from Kazakhstan. And we are delighted to again have representation from India, in Anil Kumar.

From Latin America, we welcome Armando Perez from Cuba, to his first Congress and Angel Acevedo Villalba, who we last met in Buenos Aires five years ago, is here from Peru with Dario Biella Bianchi. Hector Tepper and his daughter, whom we met in Florida, and our regular friends from Argentina, Brazil and Chile, with their wives - we are delighted CADAP is so well represented.

From North America, we welcome Santiago Cardoso, who is the first Mexican Delegate to attend a Congress, and his wife and our Executive Officer, Grayling Hill to his first ICCF Congress outside the United States and our other familiar friends from the USA and Canada.

From Europe, we have new friends, some with their partners, from the Czech Republic, Italy, Spain and, of course, from Portugal.

To all of you and to all other delegates, officials, wives, partners and families, I wish you a very warm welcome to our 2002 Congress.

Sadly, Med Samraoui and Gian-Maria Tani, have not been able to come, due to family illnesses.

As is customary, I would like to offer a special theme for this year's Congress.

In 1997, I referred to the challenges, which we faced with a rapid emergence of new technologies and the Internet, and 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 to their needs and aspirations.

In Switzerland, as we approached the new Millennium, I referred to our great history and achievements and looked to the future, emphasising the need to utilise our unity of purpose and bonds of friendship and our ability to operate collectively in partnership, irrespective of our different cultures, languages and diversity of personal opinions. Individually we are strong, collectively, we are even stronger…

At our first Congress in North America, in Florida, our meetings focused particularly on rules issues, and I emphasised the need for ICCF to provide a rules framework, to ensure that games could be progressed in a way, which provided for player enjoyment and interest, and avoidance of disputes. We will continue with this work during our meetings this week. For our Jubilee Congress in Italy, I suggested we should focus on the need for "achievement" of our visions and "delivery" of our plans for the future. We must continue with our work to further improve our speedier achievement of these ideals.

In recent weeks, I have been working closely with Pedro Hegoburu, the Editor-in-Chief of our ICCF Gold book. Reading about the history of CC written by Ivan Bottlik, the articles from most of our member federations and browsing the old tournaments and games, as well as looking at the old photographs has been a most rewarding experience.

It is so easy to forget about the fantastic work which has been done in the past by so many people to establish what we see and enjoy today. It is also remarkable that one of old elder statesmen, and our only Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Erik Larsson, has lived through and been involved almost for the entire period of organised international correspondence chess. He has sent us his best wishes!

This week, we have some 70 delegates, with partners and some with families, all here to discuss our wonderful game and to renew and develop our friendships.

In the week before Congress, I think we all have a feeling of excitement and of expectation about meeting together again. Every year, we seem to be reaching out further, visiting new places, meeting more new friends and experiencing the richness of the World of correspondence chess.

Dear friends, we have such a valuable asset, indeed a heritage, which we are all responsible for nurturing and taking forward with enthusiasm and determination. Yes, we do sometimes have a few problems to solve, but I am a great believer in the philosophy that "each problem, offers a new opportunity".

So my theme for this Congress is one of celebration - and of looking forward to further developing our unity of purpose and spirit of adventure, to ensure that the next 50 years of ICCF will be even more successful than our first 50 years.

Well, that is enough from me just now.

I would like to conclude by expressing a hope that we will have a successful and happy Congress, with our "amici sumus" philosophy shining through all our meetings and functions. I hope very much you will all enjoy this Congress.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with the greatest of pleasure that I now declare the "ICCF Jubilee Congress - Portugal 2002", duly opened.

Summarising some of the earliest Congress reports and decisions, we accepted membership from Venezuela, which under the leadership of TCCMB famous Germán Castillo and his team-mates will compete in Latin American and international events as an affiliated country. The bad news regarding Membership Matters is that 3 Federations were suspended (Malawi and Wales due to inactivity and unpaid fees; Yugoslavia for unpaid fees only). It was sadly noted that Wales had "fought" together with Scotland for recognition as an independent federation many years ago, when all UK players represented the United Kingdom and not England, Wales and Scotland separately.

Ragnar Wikman (ICCF Deputy President) surprised almost all attendants when he spoke on behalf of the Presidium in order to put forward a proposal to bestow Honorary Membership of ICCF to the current ICCF President! We had managed to keep the proposal secret for more than 6 months, and it was unanimously accepted by a standing ovation.

We followed with proposals for Bertl on Massow medals in Gold and Silver (for 15 and 10 years' faithful service to ICCF) for Gustavo Paz y Barriga from Peru, and posthumously to Carlos Ros Miró from Spain, who was Delegate for 30 years and editor of Mate Postal magazine since its creation more than 110 issues ago!

Medals in Silver were deservedly awarded to Russian Delegate Sergey Grodzensky, Scottish Delegate and ICCF Qualifications Commisioner George Pyrich, to Estonian Delegate Lembit Vahesaar, to CADAP officer and former LADAC President Dr. Héctor Ricardo Zabala and the last medal posthumously to the Latvian Delegate Karlis Vitols.

Our Spanish Treasurer submitted his report, informing that ICCF accounts are healthy and that starting this year ICCF will publish Profit & Loss accounts together with the Congress Minutes.

On Sunday afternoon the attendees were divided into three Working Groups (Rules, Tournaments, and Development) in order to discuss several issues which would then be reported to Congress for a final discussion and approval. The Development Working group in which I participated discussed Marketing matters including new tasks for the Press Office, plus a healthy debate on Internet issues such as the Web-server system for playing CC. Suddenly, problems such as security and hacking, server capacity, capacity planning, stress testing and many other obscure concepts were mentioned and debated. In the end (if we can say this debate has an end…) it was decided to create an Expert Group to better analyse the problems ahead and take the project forward, under the guidance of Grayling Hill!

The last two items on Sunday's agenda included the presentation of the ICCF GOLD book, of which you've probably read something already (please buy a copy, you won't regret it!) and then another presentation on the Presidents' Commission proposals for a new structure and offices to be implemented if agreed to by the Delegates.

Sunday finished with the usual Welcoming Banquet, in which our piano maestro Dmitry Lybin entertained the audience with three pieces by Scarlatti, who lived some time in Portugal teaching the King's daughter.

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