Thun, Switzerland, September
This being my third report on ICCF´s Website, I am pretty sure you have already discovered what this is all about... Just in case you missed the previous two postings, *go and read them* (preferably in the following order: first, and then second ;-) It won´t take you long...
Today it is the turn of Tuesday´s report. I was an early riser, having received a most pleasant call from my sister in Buenos Aires in order to confirm her Law Degree! It was seven o´clock in Thun, but 2:00 AM in Argentina! After that I simply could not go back to bed, and so decided to take a bath and head downstairs to see who was already having breakfast.
I am not sure whether I told you or not our usual schedule, so I will do that today. We get together at 9:30 AM; debates are held until 11:15 AM, then we have a short coffee-break until 11:30 AM. After that we get back to the hall until 1:00 PM, a one-hour lunch follows (good opportunity to make new acquaintances, discuss tournament arrangements, or simply walk around this beautiful town before Congress ends!). At 2:00 or 2:15 PM we meet yet again until 4:00 PM, we then have the last coffee-break of the day, and the last stretch is from 4:15 until 6:00 PM. Of course, sometimes you have more meeting after that time, especially if you belong to many commissions and have to discuss issues either before or after giving your reports to Congress...
As you can see, we do not have much free-time! An believe me when I tell you that during this particular ICCF Congress (my third, BTW) we have had so many and in-depth discussions on various issues that we are (may I say for the first time) behind schedule. Now it is definitely sure that Wednesday morning will not be a free morning, we have been convened for 9:00 AM, that is even earlier than usual! However, this Tuesday morning we started with a "light" issue, but one which is most enjoyable: PRRRIZZESSS!!!
An incredible amount of prizes were handed out, and the nice touch was having some of the prize winners collecting their well-deserved titles themselves! Even the latest World Champion, the fantastic Tonu Oim, came up to receive his prizes as winner of the XIV Final! He gave an improvised, yet heartfelt speech, with special thanks to all his CC firiends all over the World! A nice gesture of his was the "simultaneous-like" style of handing out a first-day-of-issue commemorative envelopes with a cachet picture of himself on it, issued by the Estonian Postal Authority! And each one was autographed...
The only event which received more applause than the medal prizes was when Chris Lueers accidently shut the curtain to the stage where the Presidium was sitting, shutting them off from the rest of us. Then came the shouts of "Now the party can begin!" (from a certain Danish Viking) and thundering hand clapping and foot stomping echoed through the Congress Hall. This joyous noise was only stopped when the President restored order using the gavel (let´s congratulate our President for the impressive and natural use of the gavel, he did not in the least sound or look like the famous Monty Python sketch where two High Court judges discuss about "banging me gavel" and "waggling me wig"!!).
Our main focus today was the discussion of the Deputy President Rules´ report, which is always very long and detailed. Next year ICCF will start the first E-Mail Olympiads, so we approved the text proposed in order to deal with its particular rules. There were also many changes to the Ratings Rules, which is such a scientific bla-bla that not much people will understand. However, our "Rating oracle" Gerhard Binder knows exactly what needs to be done in order to improve yet even more our already excellent Rating system! I have never seen so many formulas together, at least not since I was in High School last decade!
Once this report was over we started with the Deputy Presidents´ Development report, which will be the last one ever... mainly because this position doesn´t exist anymore! It has been replaced by the Marketing Director. Though we did not have enough time to finish this section, good progress was made on two issues: ICCF Press Office, and Sponsorship.
I was in charge of talking about the first issue, luckily the whole audience was quite tired by then and they let me free as a bird soon after getting up in the stage and showing what I had done! And as easy a task it will be to replace me, because due to other commitments it will be impossible to do all the work that the ICCF 2000 Publication, the Press Office, and the Marketing Commission would require from me! I think it was a wise decision, we would not want an ICCF Congress in Florida next year AND a Hegoburu Congress somewhere else...
Sponsorship is something that was always missing from ICCF events. But Nol van´t Riet gave us his last gift as ICCF Presidium member by achieving a nice agreement with the world famous New in Chess company! Details are available here.
Finally, tomorrow morning we will try to end these reports as soon as possible, and try to get the whole agenda over by mid-day. Another hard-days´ work is waiting for us!
At 7:00 PM we attended a special reception from the Thun City Council. The opening speech was given by a member of the Council who is also the Head of the Thun Police. I wonder why they care to have policemen? Last night I saw bikes left all over the main street, unchained, and no-one seemed interested in stealing them! The ICCF President replied to this speech, and later handed our host a token of appreciation from ICCF: a very nice Scottish quaich (cup of friendship) used to taste whisky (in large quantities)!
We also used this opportunity in order to take an incredible number of pictures of the 6 World Champions gathered here in Thun with us. The nicest picture was taken in front of a beautiful fountain, unfortunately GM Fritz Baumbach decided to sit on its border and he wet his lower backside we generally use for sitting purposes!!
And now our usual set of quotes:
a) "Tell my Argentinean friends that the best steaks come from their country, followed by Texas" (NA/PZ Zonal Director Max Zavanelli, remembering the unusual bif de chorizo he ate during the 1997 Buenos Aires Congress!).
b) "I was not as lucky as Eckhard Lueers was in finding a collaborator in his house, because I had to resort to my Brazilian friends in order to get the CADAP E-Mail TO running!" (CADAP Zonal Director Carlos Cranbourne, extremely jealous at the unusual stroke of good luck Eckhard had!).
c) "We should all congratulate Nol van´t Riet on closing such a great Sponsorship deal with New in Chess, the most important chess magazine in the English-speaking world" (Chess Mail editor Tim Harding, on the Sponsorship issue).
d) "I am a capitalist, but you are still my friend!" (CADAP Zonal Director Carlos Cranbourne yet again, to the Cuban Delegate and friend Castellano Salinas!!).
e) "I have a very large family, maybe in a couple of years all the Presidium members will bear the *Lueers* surname!!" (DP-T Eckhard Lueers, replying to the Viceroy Carlos Cranbourne).