ICCF 2002 Congress
Seixal, Portugal, October,
"So here I am once more,
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:
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.
|Back to Congress Home Page|