ICCF 2002 Congress
Seixal, Portugal, October,
On Monday morning we had some reports such as the Ratings report, which nobody objected in spite of the fact that Gerhard Binder still seems to rate my ICCF Blitz games!
Otherwise I cannot possible explain my rating loss over the years, if I do nothing else but play CC, work on my job and ICCF, have a nice time with my friends, spend time with my family… well, a normal, 24/7 life just like anybody else!
Jokes aside, Ratings are now better than ever, with two yearly lists and that wonderful tool called ELOQUERY! I had an interesting discussion with Gerhard regarding the concept of "inactivity", which we will surely continue by e-mail. In my opinion, a player stops being inactive as soon as he starts a new tournament. But for the ELO, a player is inactive until he has a new rated game. Therefore, GM Berliner -who came back to activity in the World Champions' Event- was "inactive" until he had his first result (a draw with GM Palciauskas) but it would have been more accurate to put him on the "active" list as soon as he had began that event. ELOQUERY seems to have an automatic trigger which changes the status of a player as soon as a game is rated, but maybe (or maybe not…) that should be changed to trigger whenever an inactive player begins an event. The example we have (GM Berliner) is an extreme and will probably never happen again… well, not until GM Santos from Portugal returns to activity, and that will hopefully happen soon!
A major change was made to Qualifications. A most sensible proposal from our Qualifications Commissioner / guru George Pyrich has set Title requirements equal for everybody. From now on, to become an International Master, or a Senior International Master, or a Grand Master, you must achieve two (2) norms over 24 games. The GM title still requires that a candidate player face at least 5 GMs, of which two can be replaced by 4 SIMs as a maximum.
The prior rules took into consideration that postal events took a long time to complete, and it was impractical to request two norms from someone when said norms would take him literally a lifetime to be achieved! Today, with the increased acceptance of e-mail CC which has reduced considerably the length o events, it seems natural to request two good performances for the award of any title.
You thought titles meant nothing?
The International Arbiter title also got a major change: in the old days (in fact, up until a few days ago!) a candidate IA had to perform in said task for 4 consecutive years (or 6 years if you had taken a leave). But his rule allowed someone to become an IA having only worked on one event during that period! Now the IA title will be awarded to someone who has been TD in at least 600 games and at least 20 sections.
Finally, Monday ended with the discussions about a much debated issue: that of Withdrawals.
In general, all players have at some point been unhappy with the way in which a silent or accepted withdrawal has been handled by TDs. In some cases all open games were adjudicated, in other cases they have been cancelled, in others they have been scored as losses, etc. Now ICCF has agreed on a "universal" guideline to treat withdrawals. From now on, the withdrawal must be justified, and in that case it is expected that the player will withdraw from ALL ongoing games and events and not from a particular event. In that case, all games will be cancelled. But games will be adjudicated if the player has at least finished one game, or if a game has reached at least ten (10) moves.
Congress also debated and approved a "Code of Conduct" for players, officials and federations. An Appeals Commission (for Non Playing Rules) was also created in order to analyse appeals not related to chess games and rules.
One last change I probably forgot to mention earlier is that approved for Country Codes. Starting from 1.1.2003, ICCF will adhere to the 3-letter code used by FIDE, which is very closely aligned to that of the International Olympic Committee and widely used by chess publishers. The next ELO list will feature the new country codes, and we will publish them on iccf.com for people to check and get used to.
This morning we started with the customary Title Awards, which were first handed to those recipients who had attended Congress, and then the rest of the awards are given to the Delegates. This was an extraordinary year in the sense that many officials received prizes! The full list can be consulted in the complete Qualifications Report. I was a very happy recipient of the IM Title, hopefully the remaining two titles will be achieved over the course of the next few years…
Another much awaited issue was that referring to the Web Server system. On Sunday afternoon we had a thorough debate in the Development Discussion Group, when it was reported that there had not been a significant progress made since the Rimini 2001 Congress, and that an Expert Group would be created to deal with this matter. The debate addressed many important issues such as web security, web mirrors, stress testing, shifting from e-mail to web-server play in stages, etc. The German Delegate GM Baumbach reported on the BdF's experience, having organised the Knut Herschel Memorial in early 2002.
Although it was unanimously agreed to proceed with further investigations and actions through the newly created Expert Group, the Chilean delegate GM Toro gave a word of caution in the sense that a future switch from e-mail to web-server CC should be done under almost perfect circumstances. There are many important issues to be discussed and solved and it is better to take a little longer but deliver a reliable service. It immediately came to my mind a case in which a participant of the World Championship Final, for example, having a lost game, would ask a friendly hacker to get into the site and alter or even destroy information! Sounds like a sci-fi movie, but often reality matches our wildest imagination...
After this important debate I followed with my Report on the Jubilee Book, showing in general different sections of the book on the overhead projector, and explaining the criteria we had used for selection of games, etc. Now that we know how to work with publications we might produce some more! We have 9 ISBN numbers left, so don't be surprised if we soon announce another book for the near future...
I also reported on Marketing issues, showing a draft of the ICCF Brochure that will be available at www.iccf.com and distributed to isolated players (those who do not have a National federation organised within their country) in the hope that they might start an organisation of their own. I also showed a draft of the Marketing Portfolio, and discussed new ideas for the re-arrangement of the Press Office, with many good proposals from some Congress participants and offers from people to help. We are now thinking about working with more people in that area and not just one poor guy whose shoulders are over-burdened with tasks!
Finally, some proposals were made regarding new tournaments to be run, especially some experimental Fischer-random events (unrated, organised by the Thematic Tournament Office) and an Amateur World Championship, for players with no titles and an ICCF or FIDE ELO below 2100, but further discussions will be continued and any news will be made at ICCF's website.
Evelin Radosztics followed with the Website Report. Our site now looks very nice, with many updates on all tournaments, and it was hoped to enhance its services with the Game of the Month column once again. But for that we need players to submit their masterpieces!
There was also a heated debate dealing with Player Eligibility (Transfers). My opinion was that if a player requests a transfer from one federation to another, it is because he is uncomfortable playing or representing it! The approved rules enable the "old" federation to object to the transfer, something I would have supported if it only meant a temporary veto due to unpaid fees, etc. but not an unfounded denial. However, all problems can be appealed to the newly created Appeals Commission (for Non Playing Rules).
The long day (discussions ended at 8 PM!) was happily wrapped up with a friendly match against a chess club in nearby Arrentela. The ICCF Dream Team (or was it "Drink Team"?) under the captaincy of Søren "The Red Viking" Peschardt, had these results:
On board 30 we had the youngest player (Ana, 16-years old) beating ICCF's oldest. But Ted will surely be back next year looking for revenge!
Candelas,H - Harding,T [C29]
Rittner,H - Barata,P [B07]
Balabaev,F - Pereira,R [B08]
Peschardt,S - Bravo,A [A52]
Bobone,D - Hegoburu,P [A04]
Marques,J - Pyrich,G [B27]
The following board was pre-arranged without GM Hall knowing it! Luis Reis is playing in the Gillman Memorial "A", together with Per Söderberg, Pedro Hegoburu… and Richard Hall. Richard thought Reis would be an easy prey, with the lowest ELO and a prior loss to Alan Rawlings, but somehow he has now been trying to SAVE their CC game for over a year…
Hall,R - Reis,L [C02]
However, IMHO, the "winner" of the night was Chris Lüers, who played a very beautiful lady in his board! Pairings were announced by our Captain and by Antonio Moura representing the Portuguese squad, but as soon as Chris' opponent was named, everyone turned around to take a good look at her! Well, maybe not everyone, but I did…
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