Going, going, gone!
by ICCF-IM Valer Eugen Demian
The end of the qualifying season in ICCF-CL
came in with a few surprises despite our efforts to run
things smoothly. It had to be a combination of preparing the
registration for the new season, together with adjudicating
unfinished games necessary to determine unclear
qualifications. Let's examine briefly both issues, since
they were clearly interconnected.
Preparing the registration for the new season: one thing I
came up with was the idea to ask teams to confirm their
intent of participation in the new upcoming season. It was
obvious some teams would not participate anymore and others
will come on-board for the first time, so we needed to do a
projection of how the league would really look like compared
with the original plans prepared in 2002. Originally this
proved to be a very successful idea. Lots of teams confirmed
their participation with a simple "Yes" or "No". There was
no need for additional information such as team line-ups,
changes, etc. However I got a fair share of those as well;
funny how people have trouble following simple requests
because of being over-zealous. Simply put, I had no use for
that information at the time!
Now since confirmations were running smoothly, it was time
to prepare the adjudication process. This is one of the most
frustrating tasks in chess since everyone has an opinion on
how adjudications have to be performed; rest assure you will
hear it as soon as the adjudication will not be favorable...
Luckily the revised FAQ provided some protection with no
less than 7 rules (16 to 22) explaining the process.
Everything was ready to take the bull by the horns except we
needed "some" adjudicators of at least SIM title and a fixed
rating of 2500. We pledged for help and luckily we got two
great players committed. Honestly this was way beyond my
wildest dreams; now I was only crossing my fingers those 25
decisive games won't scare them off!
We had some private discussions between ourselves (the
ICCF-CL Support team) about how much time we should allow
players to prepare their analysis. In the end the majority
voted for a full month as written in the ICCF Playing Rules.
The point was the time frame: with those decisive games
called for adjudication Jun 1st, 2004, one full month of
preparation meant we got those analysis no later than July
1st, we added the time required by adjudicators to give
their verdicts (approximately second half of August) in all
games, plus any possible appeals. An optimist would say
there was no problem with this time frame; however things
looking nice on paper have a tendency of blowing in your
face when you expect it the least...
Players were very cooperative to begin with: 15 out of the
25 games called for adjudication ended in a draw by mutual
agreement. This was a huge relief to me in particular;
things did not look so bad afterall and we even followed to
Playing Rules! Now if only they would continue being
cooperative and send in their analysis in a decent time
frame... Unfortunately here the problems started: players
chose to wait until the last official minute of the last day
to send in their analysis and claims in all but 1 game. The
adjudicators did nothing for a month and then all of a
sudden had to solve those games. Now remember that we are
talking about active top players, playing meantime in very
high level competitions. In parallel think about all teams
already qualified, comfirmed and very much ready to play.
There was a lot of pressure and excitement in the air and
not everyone was on the "excited" side...
There were some minor email connection glitches between me
and both adjudicators. Definitely email has become lately a
nerve wrecking medium for correspondence chess. All in all I
was very impressed with the work done by both adjudicators.
They did not need any "special" instructions on how to
adjudicate; we had only a couple of email exchanges
explaining how things would be done and then they simply did
their job. That was some job! These adjudications would
always have a place in a reference database on how to
perform them. Only one game was appealed and personally I
was a bit upset. I knew who the adjudicator was and how long
it took him (around 3 weeks) to come up with his final
decision. On the other hand that game meant division C or D
for one team, so their appeal was kind of normal. It is not
easy to top the original requirements for adjudicators since
it was obvious I needed a GM or even World Champion to
perform the appeal. Now if you can find one with time in
hand to accomodate you right on the spot, please give me a
call in two years when the first season will be over!
I would need your help again...
Anyhow, a top GM helped me out and confirmed the original
Registrations could be an easy process if you have lots of
experience and people cooperate with you. Unfortunately for
me I had little experience organizing a correpondence chess
event of this magnitude, plus players and officials were not
cooperative at all. I will summarise some of the problems I
had to deal with during registration. This way we will
always have it written down to remind ourselves, or educate
any new guys coming on-board about what to be aware of:
a) The registration form was incomplete.
The ICCF current rating field was missing and I wasted lots
of time to identify the right players. Now try this as an
exercise: write down 4 random names of German players
forcing you to browse Eloquery for their rating from letter
A to W; calculate how much time you need to perform this
task, then multiply it by 54 (the number of German teams
b) Players and officials knew almost nothing about the
ICCF-ID they were supposed to put in. I got a big number of
registration forms without any IDs, with wrong IDs, or
simply with national or FIDE-IDs I did not need. Personally
I would consider it a must for every player to know his
ICCF-ID, the same he/she knows his current rating. Providing
the proper information is the minimum one can do to ease the
work for an organizer and have the event start on time.
Eloquery is such a great database and it is a shame not to
be familiarised with it. I strongly doubt it takes more than
30 minutes to become an expert in finding all sort of needed
data in it. If a team captain has to do it for 4 players,
the organizer has to look for 884 players!...
c) We offered the registration form in text format because
it is the simplest to prepare by anyone. However I got quite
some selection of different formats and fonts giving me lots
of trouble to copy and paste the information.
Have you ever had the task to write down Polish, or Czech
d) Team captains and officials showed very little knowledge
of what they were supposed to do. Now Franklin Campbell -
the ICCF-CL webmaster -
has done a tremendous job in putting lots of useful
However you can have the best information available; if they
don't read it, it creates a lot of frustration and delays
e) Lots of teams misunderstood the original request for
confirmation as a registration.
We posted clarifications at least 3 times to basically say
"confirmation" DOES NOT mean "registration". Some still did
not register (even after we extended the registration
deadline) and remained out of the competition; quite a few
got in because
I was flexible for as much as I could and accepted their
f) The decision taken by the ICCF Executive Board to offer
some server groups was very good! Too bad there was just
partial cooperation on behalf of the teams involved
to help us out setup full server groups.
The majority of teams specifically requested "No server
play" and left us with very little room to maneuver. It was
frustrating for a while, but in the end they are the ones
regretting this choice
g) Thanks to Frank Goebert we managed to have an advanced
webtables system in place for the beginning of this season,
transforming the job of posting results into a simple
exercise of 1 and 0. If you might think this is not
important, then do not forget the other webmaster for the
qualifying season had to be replaced!...
Now the league has started. It happened after a needed 1
month delay, but this does not matter anymore. Players will
enjoy their games, officials will take a breather and life
will go on to a better future on the server! Next time I
will share with you the joys and pains of the first weeks in
the league. Do not forget meantime to express your pleasure
by helping out your fellow TDs, organizers or officials. How
can you do that? It is very simple: read our webpages
weekly, respond to inquiries in a decent time frame, help us
correct mistakes, do your best to solve disputes in the
spirit of "Amici Sumus" and try our server!
Dec 15, 2004
Vancouver, BC, Canada