ICCF 2005 Villa La Angostura Neuquen - Argentina
Report by Dinand Knol, Delegate for South Africa (RSA)

27 October 2005 - 3 November 2005

27 to 28 October

Well it is off to another ICCF congress - this will be my 4th one. Everything started off well until my laptop gave up the ghost last night and with no time left to procure a new one or spares or what all the start now has become a dark cloud. I hope that this dark cloud will end up being one with a silver lining.

I have combined the days 27 and 28 Oct into one as that is exactly what they have become. A long day consisting of many modes of travel over a long distance with no formal night and/or sleep, only a few catnaps (not to be confused with nightcaps) in between.

Our planet geographical consists of 6 continents (politically there is one more) and at the tender age of about 3½ years I had concured the 2 largest ones (Eurasia and Africa). Now on 27 Oct 2005 (more than 40 years later!) I was going to add a third one to the list - South America! OK I know that to many of you out there this is nothing to brag about, but the proverb goes "every dog has its day" so let this old hound have his one!

After an one hour drive to the airport, two hours of waiting (when are they going to streamline aviation procedures?) and a ten hour flight I saw my new continent in the form of Sao Paulo in Brazil. A big and beautiful city surrounded by thick bush (or is this the start of the famous rain forests?) with heavy humidity at 30 C. The latter I can handle (Pretoria is 33 C today), but the former is not part of my frame of reference. A six hour stop over with not much to do and it is off to Buonus Aires in Argentina where we arrive after dark. Here it was much cooler than in Sao Paulo. By the time we leave for Bariloche the sun has returned and I admired BA which also met with my approval - a big and beautiful city on the shore of the Rio de la Plata - the widest river mouth in the world. Bariloche is cool and crisp and lies between snow capped mountains and crystal clear lakes. Another 80km or so by bus and finally we are in Villa La Angostura where the congress will be held. A quick afternoon nap to recharge and I will be ready for the rest of my longest day.

The past year has been a rough an unpleasant one for ICCF. Many resignations from top positions have been received and if this was not bad enough it was followed by mud slinging, allegations of an unverified (or unsubstanciated) nature and even direct personal insults. I hope that by the end of this congess all these matters will be a thing of the past as we can do very well without them.

A few hours later the phone rings - it is Pedro! Now I really feel that I am at congress! We go for dinner at a cosy restaurant a few kms away. Our group is already 16 strong. I meet new people - Daniel Finkelstein and his wife. There is a lot of catching up to do and the matters of the past year are the lion´s share thereof. Everyone is a little uneasy, but by the end of the evening we are all positive that with the right approach and frame of mind all problems and short comings will become something of the past.

At the end of last year's congress in Mumbai (India) we were informed that the 2006 congress would most propably be held in Spain, but now rumour has it that it will be in Germany - we better start polishing up our Deutsch ja!

29 October

I have now also learned that my cel phone's international romer (which performed well in Sao Paulo) is non existent over here. Many of my friends inform me that it is also so in their case - big deal! The dark cloud is still there.

After a rather late and quiet breakfast the early hours of the day are spend on personal matters and tasks. The hotel manager gives me a silver lining for my dark cloud by making a PC with full internet etc available - mahalha (that means free, gratis etc). I still cannot do an ET (phone home), but I can write and send messages. This improves matters drastically!

We have lunch in the hotel (there are already two of us here in La Posada). This number soon increases to seven and we prepare for the evening's 'get to know each other' function.

This event is held at the congress facility and soon old friends as well as new ones are united in a pleasant atmosphere. There is a lot of small talk and no 'tea time news' is heard. The only official topic that is 'dusted and entrusted' to all is the election of a new president.The two candidates - as we all know by now - are the local man Claudio Goncalves and the more well known Med Samraoui the present zonal director for Africa/Asia. Our hosts as well as the representatives of the surrounding countries make it no secret as to who their favourite is for the position.

After a very joyful evening we all return to our various hotels to get a good night's rest before the start of congress.

30 October

In the early hours of the day before and during breakfast we receive bad news. Med Samraoui as well as former president Alan Borwell are both not coming to congress this year. This is apparently due to a combination of missed, cancelled and late flights. Both of them have decided to return home.

We arrive at the congress facility with a not too warm feeling in our hearts.

Our host Carlos Cranbourne opens congress and introduces two local musicians who entertain us with numbers like 'don't cry for me Argentina', a local samba, 'I'd rather be', 'the land of my dreams' (composed by one of the two musicians), a number from Paraguay, another famous Argentinian samba and 'the inner landscape'.

Acting president Max Zavanelli and zonal director Guillermo Toros speak an opening word respectively in English and Spanish. This is followed by a word of welcome also in Spanish and English, but this time by Claudio Goncalves and Guillermo (it is now his turn to handle the English part).

After this follows Max's opening address a copy of which has been posted on this website.

After the tea break we start with the proper business of congress. I am not going to report on the details of all the discussions etc as a full set of minutes will be made available in the near future. And talking about minutes - the first item on the agenda is the approval of the minutes of the 2004 congress held in Mumbai.

The Bertl von Massow awards are next - the names of the recipients are also posted on this site.

The finances take a longer time to handle as we had the resignations of both the direct entry (DE) commissioner and the financial director (FD). Ruth Ann Fay (the acting FD) reports that it has become an urgent matter as the former FD did very little as far as the carrying out of his duties were concerned and a lot of loose pieces and ends had to be picked up and be tied together. A new DE commissioner in the person of Michael Millstone (USA) was indentified and appointed (his appointment was approved by congress).

A second light of a positive nature is that all the finances seem to be in order. That is all the cents (or should I say rappen) are accounted for. Congress thanked Ruth Ann for all the hard work she did - I have got the feeling that she had some valuable help from someone and that that someone was Michael.

The next agenda point is the filling of the vacancies on the executive board (EB). Only one nomination was received for the position of world tournament director (WTD) in the person of Frank Geider of France. He was unanimously elected by congress. Next came the position of FD for which no nominations were received. After a moment of silence Michael volunteered for the job. He was asked to present himself with a verbal CV. It turned out that he was no novice to ICCF having played CC in (ICCF) for many years and recently he has also been the TD for various events. He was unanimously elected by congress.

Last but not least was the position of president. The names of the two candidates have been mentioned above. All delegates with voting rights were issued with ballot papers and after these were completed they were counted by the acting president Max, Daniel Finkelstein (who had no voting right) and former president Josef who stood in for our auditor.

The result:

  • Med Samraoui 37

  • Claudio Goncalves 18

Med is therefore our new president. Well done Med!

A triumph for Africa in absensia!

The rest of the day is spent handeling more 'normal affairs' and the following points should be of interest to CC players in general:

  • The world championship cycle for individuals is increased from three stages to four with a preliminary (PRE) stage inserted before the semifinal (SF) one.

  • In future (from 1 Jan 2006 onwards) member federation nominations (MFN) will be for the PRE and no longer for the SF. The exception is when the player nominated has a fixed ICCF rating of 2400 or more in which case he/she will be placed in the SF.

  • The entry qualifications for all the stages are also slightly altered to fit in with the new structure.

During the evening we attend the opening banquet at the summer residency of the local provincial 'govenor'. A beautiful stately mansion situated in a stunning natural surrounding. We are treated to a traditional Argentinian 'braai', 'barberque', 'bbq', 'grill' or whatever the official name is. The main thing is that we (at least I did) enjoyed it very much. The local beer and red wine (and please keep in mind that I am a very 'fussy' South African wine lover) was excellent.

We were entertained by the musicians from the opening of congress. These guys are good and we had the opportunity to purchase CD's from them with their music on it.

31 October

This day was almost completely taken up by formal discussions as well as the handeling and approval of the various reports. There is really nothing exciting to report.

Things are moving fast during this congress as we are only a small number of delegates. This is, however, not a problem as one should never compromise quality for quantity.

Just before the morning tea break Pedro anounces that 'today is Dinand's birthday'. A song and many congratulations later give me a second silver lining.

To improve matters even further, Michael hands me a satelite phone and finally ET can phone home. A third silver lining for my, by now not so dark anymore, cloud.

The evening is spent in a cosy restaurant with me, Michael, Daniel, Eric, Pedro and Nol dicussing the final alterations and improvements to the playing rules for the WC events that were handeled in congress yesterday.

1 November

Tuesday, the third day of congress proper, starts off with the usual awarding of titles, medals etc. The proceedings are led by Eric Ruch our very able qualifications commissioner (QC). Due to the limited space of the facilities we are crowding each other to try and take photographs of the recipients. Fortunately with a bit of patience and a few 'go back and pose again' actions all is well that ends well.

The rest of the day is taken up more formalities and the only real point of interest is:

  • The default rate of play for email and webserver events is altered from 60 days per 10 moves to 50 days per 10 moves.

This was eventually decided upon after long (boring) discussions that had little or any solid motivation at all.

This was an excellent example of design by committee. What is that?! Oh you do not understand what I mean. I will explain with a simple question and answer (Q & A).

  • Q: What is the definition of a camel?
  • A: It is a horse designed by committee!

The evening is spend just relaxing with friends at the hotel.

2 November

The last formal day of congress is led by Pedro reporting back on the fine tuning that we six did on Monday evening in the restaurant. Especially Nol van't Riet made some very valuable inputs. Our work is rewarded with a unanimous approval by congress.

Ruth Ann tables the proposal for the formation of an arbiters commission (ACO). After a thorough and valuable discussion the ACO is unanimously approved by congress. Ragnar Wikman is appointed as the first chairman and the other members are Frank Geider (ex officio as WTD), Eric Ruch and George Pyrich.

A few more loose ends are tied up and fortunately no one mentions anything more about the unpleasant happening of the past year.

Fritz Baumbach proposes that the next congress should be held in Dresden in Germany. He distributes information leaflets to everyone present. After a short discussion his proposal is accepted and approved with thanks.

An invitation from Spain to host the 2007 congress as well as one from Ragnar on behalf of Finland for 2011 are also accepted.

Max closes the congress with a word of thanks to everybody who participated and contributed.

During the evening we hold the traditional blitz tournament in a local restaurant. There are 18 participants and the winner is Fritz Baumbach (who else?). The second place is taken by Petr Buchnicek and the podium is completed by Guillermo Toro. Well done to all three of them!

3 November

This is a day spent on a trip to Bariloche and surrounding areas. We travel in a big luxery bus to Bariloche to be joined by a chaming tour guide who (can you believe it!) can speak good English.

We are treated to views of the lake. Its many hotels, penisulars, small settlements, forests, snow capped mountains (and there are many of them - eat your heart out Switzerland!) etc.

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