ICCF Press Officer
Pedro Hegoburu


ICCF Congress
Sunday Report (#1)

Thun, Switzerland, September xx, 1999.
REF: Congress Report #1999-1

Welcome everyone to the first ever on-line, completely updated and "out-of-the-oven" report on the ICCF Congress! For those of you, who are still wondering, what this is all about, let me tell you this: We will be posting daily updates on the main "inside" news developing and/or happening at the ICCF Congress, which is now being held in Thun (Bern Canton) Switzerland! By "we" I mean the ICCF Webmaster, Mr. Soeren Peschardt of Denmark, and your "guide" Pedro Hegoburu of Argentina, even though I will be the one to blame for this report, because Soeren will only "post it" physically on the Internet...

The Congress "unoficcially" started on Friday night, although the invitations stated that it started on Sunday morning: Many delegates tend to arrive on Friday evening or early Saturday. And why? Because many of us live reeeeeaaaalllly far away! This year we are honoured with the presence of George Stibal from Australia, and a lot nearer, but still living far away, we have GM Guillermo Toro Solis from Chile, and former World Champion Vytas Palciauskas from California (USA).

For those of you, who like statistics: There are 121 people attending the Congress (Delegates, ICCF Officials, friends, wives and even sons! We are not holograms or just e-mails after all!!), from thirty (yes, 30!) different countries, and from four continents!! An official ICCF record. More statistics? The oldest participant is GM Hermann Heemsoth of Germany, and the youngest is Fernando Campos of Argentina (only 5 months old!). OK, that was a joke, the youngest participant is Chris Lueers at 20 years of age (also from Germany, son of *the* Eckhard Lueers, who is ICCF Deputy President Tournaments). Chris is, as you all know, Head of the ICCF E-Mail Tournament Office. The final data: out of the 48 ICCF meetings ever held (either Congresses or Presidium meetings), two people hold the participation "record" with 35 appearances: Erik Larsson from Sweden, and another former World Champion, GM Horst Rittner from Germany.

I could really go on with these records. For example, we will have 6 (out of the 8) living World Champions sharing the ICCF Congress experience with us "mortals": Grigory Sanakoev and Mikhail Umansky from Russia, Vytas Palciauskas from the USA, Fritz Baumbach and Horst Rittner from Germany, and Tonu Oim from Estonia (who is the only player to win not one but *two* World Championships, quite a feat, eh?). Hopefully we will have the other two World Champions joining us at Daytona Beach next year (so Hans Berliner and Jorn Sloth, please check your Y2K agendas and don´t make plans for September!). The nicest part about meeting these "CC demi-gods" is that they are not unreachable at all: no bodyguards behind them, you can approach them as easily as I´m writing this paragraph, share a drink, comment on a game or move, etc. They don´t even charge you for autographs or photos!!

As I wrote earlier, Congress "started" on Friday night. For me it really started on Thursday evening, on my way to Buenos Aires airport, but I just got to Thun on Friday. Many people had already arrived, and on Saturday evening there were two "early" meetings, a small Presidium meeting comprising the President and the three Deputy Presidents, and another one for the full Presidium two hours later. Are you wondering what this "Presidium" is like? For starters, it is not something related to "jails" or "detention"! It is the Executive body of ICCF, made up by 10 people: the President, the two Deputy Presidents, the Treasurer, the General Secretary, the four Zonal Directors, and the Marketing Director (more on this later).

This Sunday morning we had the official opening, with introductory speeches by the Congress organiser, the ever-ready Georg Walker, followed by a speech from Mr. Neuenschwander (the President of the Bernese Parliament) who made a very appropriate comparison between Correspondence Chess and politics! For instance, he said that in both activities, you had to comply with certain "rules": Do not fight your opponent, but fight his plans; abide to fair play; do not underestimate your opponent; and so on!). The speech section was duly closed by Alan Borwell (ICCF President), whose speech can be seen here.

Speeches were immediately followed by a musical group playing traditional Swiss tunes, and after this amusing time the General Secretary gave his much expected report. During this last year, ICCF received affiliation requests from two countries (Kenya and Moldova, though the latter one did not yet fulfill all the requirements). So we are very happy to welcome a new member into our already big family! If Kenyan CC players are as good as their long-distance runners are, we´ll be in deep trouble!!

Another important moment was the award of Bertl von Massow medals for those people who have meritously worked on behalf of ICCF for a certain period of time (Bertl was the wife of Hans-Werner von Massow, who cannot really be described due to his immerse involvement in ICCF! Let´s just call him "Mr. Fernschach"). We had a medal in Silver and Gold (10 & 15 years of service) for Maurice Carter from the USA; medals in Silver for Tim Harding (Ireland, editor of Chess Mail magazine), Manfred Gluth (Germany, editor of Fernschach), Eberhard Gromotka, Ulrich Wagner, and Karl-Heinz Podzielny (all Germany). Medals in Gold were awarded to Poul Rasmussen (Denmark), Ivan Bottlik (Hungary), J.Ken MacDonald (Canada) and Dr. G.S. Benner (USA). Ragnar Wikman from Finland was honoured as new ICCF Honorry Member, following 25 years of hard work for ICCF!

On the sad note, GM Fritz Baumbach, former World Champion and General Secretary, is retiring from office, because he has recently started a career as Patent Lawyer in Germany. I´m sure, you did not think, he was a professional CC player... Surely his money prizes (well-deserved and earned, BTW) never paid for his postal expenses! A warm round of applause was given to Fritz as a "thank-you" for his work during the many years.

The Treasurer´s report followed, giving detailed information on ICCF Income and Outcome. It was very nice to hear, that finances are healthy (and approved by our Auditor, GM Henk Sarink from the Netherlands!). Sadly, three Federations had to be suspended due to the fact that they had outstanding fees, but hopefully they will soon be fully reinstated into ICCF. Two further Federations will be suspended, if they do not pay their outstanding fees or make a satisfactory arrangements with the ICCF Treasurer by December 31, 1999. Please do not be misled! The Treasurer might seem to be a "bad guy", but he is only doing his job! Carlos Flores Gutierrez is a very nice Spaniard, he is great Treasurer and a better friend of everyone!

Further discussions involved Financial Planning for 4-year periods (starting on 1.1.2000) which will be decided by the new Presidium. An this brings me to the last isue of this first report: the ICCF Elections, which are held every four years. Elections were held at Congress for several positions (President, Deputy President Rules, Deputy President Tournaments, General Secretary, Treasurer, and the newly created Marketing Director, in stead of the Deputy President Development position). In total there were 52 votes (delegates and proxies) out of a posible 63! So that is a record, too. The New Millenium will start with the following people ocuppying Executive offices: Alan Borwell of Scotland as President (re-elected), Ragnar Wikman (Finland) as Deputy President Rules (also re-elected); Eckhard Lueers (Germany) re-elected as Deputy President Tournaments; Alan Rawlings (England) for the General Secretary job vacated by Fritz Baumbach; Carlos "bad boy" Flores Gutierrez re-elected as Treasurer; and finally yours truly (i.e. me, Pedro Hegoburu!) as Marketing Director (in replacement of Nol van´t Riet, Deputy President Development). The Congress also decided to keep Henk Sarink as Auditor for another four-year period. One final quote: all elections were unanimously approved!

Today´s meetings ended with a special presentation by Nol van´t Riet on "Correspondece Chess in 2010", which was a great exercise defying the laws of predictability (if they exist!). Nol quickly noted that this presentation was not the prediction of what will happen in the future... but knowing him as most of us do, we are sure, his views will not be far from the "reality" in 2010!!!