ICCF Congress
Report 2005

By George Pyrich




ICCF Congresses are often quite eventful – this year, the journey to the Congress was very eventful! In my case, Iberia Airlines messed up and I had unscheduled overnight stops in both Madrid and Buenos Aires, arriving at Bariloche airport some 53 hours after leaving Edinburgh and a full 24 hours behind schedule, thoroughly exhausted and quite dispirited. However, I was very pleased to meet up with two old friends, Antonio Moura from Portugal and Armando Perez Perez from Cuba. Antonio had been immensely helpful to my wife and I when we’d first met at the Congress held in Portugal in 2002 – again, he was to be immensely helpful, negotiating (in Spanish) the arrangements for the car transport for the 50 miles or so journey to our hotel in Villa La Angostura. On arrival, I soon realised that I had been less unfortunate than first thought – my friend and fellow Scottish CCA representative,  ICCF Honorary President Alan Borwell didn’t make it all having been badly let down in Paris by Air France. ICCF Presidential candidate Med Samraoui was similarly unfortunate and also didn’t make it to the Congress.


Villa La Angostura is a small town of some 10,000 inhabitants situated, about 800 miles south from Buenos Aires, in the south-west corner of Neuquén, a province of Patagonia, one of Argentina’s largest regions. Situated in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, Villa La Angostura is a ski resort with many excellent facilities for visitors. The area’s truly spectacular scenery of snow-capped mountains, numerous lakes and woodlands attracts huge numbers of visitors all year round. A total of 35 officials, delegates and delegation members, unfortunately considerably lower than in previous years, along with some 15 family members attended the Congress and everyone greatly appreciated the warm and friendly hospitality of the Argentinean hosts. The Congress was arranged and hosted by the Liga Argentina de Ajedrez por Correspondencia (LADAC) and its President Carlos Cranbourne, and the hotel facilities and hospitality offered by LADAC were acclaimed by everyone.


The Congress commenced on schedule on the Sunday morning and after the now customary musical introduction, provided on this occasion by a local Argentine musical duo, playing self-made Argentine musical instruments, we had opening speeches by Max Zavanelli (on behalf of ICCF) and Carlos Cranbourne and Claudio Goncalves (LADAC Argentina). Former ICCF President Josef Mrkvicka also addressed the Congress, outlining progress made since our last meeting in Mumbai, India prior to his unfortunate and untimely resignation in January 2005. Max paid tribute to the memories of all CC friends who had passed away since the Mumbai 2004, including the CC Grandmaster Simon Webb (ENG), long-serving ICCF Tournament Director Harro Otte (GER), Vaclav Rut (CZE), Alvaro Rosa (POR), Giancarlo de Lorenzo (ITA), Alberto Laurencena (ARG) and delegate and Senior International Master Ilja Hristov (BUL). Delegates stood in two minutes silence to the memory of all departed CC friends.


Thereafter, it was down to business with membership matters with Congress approving a 65th member of the ICCF family - Burkino Faso. Next, Max presided over the award of Bertl von Massow Medals - Gold & Silver were awarded to Santiago Cardoso (MEX), Joachim Walther (GER), Jorge Deforel (ARG) and Silver Medals to Dimitry Lybin (BLR), Egbert Boesenberg (GER), Daniel Finkelstein (ARG), Guido Bresadola (ITA), Thed Klauner and Francois Riva (both LUX).


Thereafter, North American and Pacific Zonal Director, Ruth Ann Fay, assisted by Max, presented a report on ICCF´s finances. Following the resignation in September of the Finance Director, Grayling Hill, Ruth Ann had had the unenviable task of taking over control of ICCF´s finances and had put in much hard work in order to be able to present a Report to the Congress. Audited accounts to 31-12-03 showed Net Assets of SF 189,032 with surplus for year of just over SF 8,000 whilst unaudited accounts for year to 31-12-04 not showed net assets reduced to SF 140,196 following server expenditure of SF 101,162 and sale of some of ICCF´s stocks investments.  General expenditure for 2004 was SF 30,482 with income of SF 54,490 The remaining ICCF investments had performed excellently and made up the overall deficit after including server expenditure. Additionally, estimate figures for period to 30-09-05 showed net assets of SF 122,166 - note that accounts for 2004 and 2005 are still subject to audit.


The next task for the Congress was to fill the numerous vacancies on the Executive board and in other areas. Firstly Congress was delighted to approve the nominations of Frank Geider (FRA) and Michael Millstone (USA) to the posts of World Tournaments Director and Direct Entry Coordinator respectively. Next, Congress approved the nomination of George Pyrich (SCO to the position of ICCF Archivist, taking over from Wes Green (USA) who had announced his wish to retire. George is to work in partnership with postal game score archivist Laurent Tinture (FRA). We then held the vote for the vacant position of ICCF President with, to wide acclaim, Med Samraoui emerging victorious over Claudio Goncalves by 37 votes to 18. However, we weren’t yet finished, then approving the appointments of Michael Millstone and Claudio Goncalves to the positions of Finance Director and Marketing Commissioner respectively.


Next, Membership and Services Director (also acting World Tournament Director,
amongst several other roles!) Pedro Hegoburu (ARG) gave a really excellent and
well-informed and researched report from the Tournaments Commission with
recommendations (approved later by the Congress) of the introduction of new 4th
stage to the ICCF World Championship cycle (Preliminary sections, a new 1st stage
for those without pre-qualifications to Semi-finals and further stages), approval of
minimum categories for semi-finals and Candidates (7 & 10 respectively), revised
qualifications for the award of the  International Arbiter title and also changes to rules
in team events whereby substitute players may have games rated and qualify for title norms
(under certain conditions). Obviously, there was a good deal of discussion on all of this!


The day ended with another excellent presentation - this time, in the absence
of Alan Borwell, by Nol van ´t Riet (NED) on the work of the Server Group over
the year and its plans for the coming year (Phase 3). Nol offered detailed technical
information and requested approval for expenditure of SF 10,000, sum estimated by
server group as requirement for Phase 3 - of course, the Congress was happy to agree
to this! Nol said that we could expect to be asked to approve additions and refinements
each year from now on as we continually sought to further develop the server.


Day two witnessed discussions on the work of the President’s Commission and
ICCF Statutes, ICCF Archives, Webmaster and Internet matters, Marketing and
Publications and, finally, Title Qualifications. We began with a rather lively
discussion on proposals submitted by the Presidents Commission regarding
changes to the ICCF Statutes with regard to the arrangements for possible Emergency
Congresses and contingencies in case of an unexpected resignation of the ICCF President
(as had occurred, of course, during the year) which were eventually approved.


The Congress was pleased to note that Webmaster Evelin Radosztics planned
an almost complete revamp of the ICCF web site and that possibly we’ll have
cross-tables which link directly to the server. We were also provided with confirmation
that Michele Rinesi (ITA) had taken over responsibility for web tables from
Luz Marina Tinjaca’ (ITA) and that Raymond Boger (NOR) had succeeded Alex Dunne
(USA) as editor of the “ICCF Amici” web magazine. Next, Nol van ‘t Riet (NED)
presented a very interesting Marketing & Publications Report on behalf of the
absent Med Samraoui. Amongst many interesting developments are plans by
Fritz Baumbach and Vytas Palciauskas to produce a book on the World Champions
Jubilee event with biographical details and games by all the deceased world champions
as well as the annotated games of the event and another new section on the new
world champions crowned since the event started. We also heard from Pedro Hegoburu
of plans (since implemented!) to offer promotional unrated 2 game matches free
of charge to any player in order for them to try out play on the new ICCF server.


Thereafter, Qualifications Commissioner Eric Ruch (FRA) presented his
now customary excellent Report, confirming the qualifications of
17 new Grandmasters, 57 new Senior International Masters, 43 new
International Masters, 8 new Lady Grandmasters, 1 new Lady International Master
and 6 new International Arbiters. Eric’s Report also listed title norms for the
numerous new individual, team, zonal and invitation tournaments which had started
during the year, together with changes to norms which had been established previously.


The next main item of business was the Report of the Acting World Tournament
Director Pedro Hegoburu (ARG). Pedro’s Report focussed on numerous
important issues including changes to Tournament Rules, withdrawals,
adjudication of unfinished games, lists of suspended players, unused member
federation nominations to the World Championship, and the calendar of ICCF events.

Title Tournaments Commissioner Daniel Finkelstein (ARG) then reported
on the numbers of new title events during the previous year and outlined
plans for the new Olympiad 17 Preliminaries and the Olympiad 15 Final.

Pedro then reported to the Congress on behalf of the absent Non-Title
Tournaments Commissioner, Eugen Demian (ROM), confirming the increasing
popularity of the server in non-titled events and the starts of World Cup 14 under
the control of the Australian Federation as well as the Web Server Open Tournament
and the first regular season of the Champions League.

Congress also noted that the 2004 Congress had already assigned the organisation
of World Cup 15 to the Slovak Federation. This year, we received the news that
our Slovak friends proposed dropping postal sections and organising the event
exclusively for e-mail and web server players. Whilst these proposals were approved
following discussion, the Congress was very pleased to approve an offer provided
by Fritz Baumbach on behalf of the German Federation that they organise World Cup 16 (sometime during 2006) to be played exclusively by post.

Next, Pedro delivered Reports on behalf of the absent Postal Tournaments Organiser,
Gian-Maria Tani (ITA) and the Thematic Tournament Organiser, Leonardo Madonia (ITA).
The Congress was encouraged to receive news that it was expected that 2005 would see
much the same number of new postal events as in 2004 but slightly discouraged to be asked to grant approval to the ending of the Fischer Random events which had had a very low take up.

Congress then granted approval to proposals for numerous proposed new invitational events including some interesting promotional events to be played on the server.

Tuesday started with the presentation of awards and titles. Awards were presented
to the delegates of Netherlands and Italy in respect of new World Champions
Joop van Oosterom and Alessandra Riegler. Angel Acevedo (PER) and
Marcio Barboso Oliviera (BRS) were on hand to pick their Grandmaster awards
and Fritz Baumbach picked up the Gold Medals for Germany in the 14th Olympiad.
Lithuania took 2nd place here but Gold in the 6th Ladies Olympiad. Argentina I and II
took Gold and Silver in the 7th PANAM team’s event with Mexico getting Bronze.
Reports were presented by or on behalf of the various Zonal Presidents and happily
each were able to report on satisfactory progress during the previous year.


The new delegate for the Czech Republic, Petr Buchnicek was on hand to
announce an over the board tournament for correspondence chess players to be
held at the Silesian University, Karvina, Czech Republic in July 2006. It will be
an authentic FIDE rated event with a substantial prize fund.


The big news of the day was that an email was received from our new President,
Med Samraoui, confirming the participation of an ICCF team in the Torino Olympiad! -
Med had attended the FIDE Congress in Dresden earlier in the year and it seems that
his lobbying on our behalf brought forth a suitable reward!


The day ended with a lengthy discussion of the Playing Rules or more specifically
items such as "dead man’s defence" and the 40 day clause - the end result was
the passing of a resolution (by 25 votes to 19 with 3 abstentions) to have a revised
time limit of 10 moves in 50 days by 1 January 2006. Congress also approved
revised Rules and Guidelines with regard to adjudications.

The last day started with discussion of the ICCF events calendar and saw Congress
approve Pedro´s plan that (by and large) ICCF events should start during
even-numbered years whilst Zonal events would be given priority during
odd-numbered years. Thereafter, we gave formal approval to changes to the
Tournament Rules with regard to International Arbiter Qualification, qualification
to the World Ch. Cycle from events such World Cups and Zonal events,
Substitutions in Team events. Unfortunately the Ratings Commissioner
Gerhard Binder (GER) was unable to attend - nevertheless we all congratulated
him (again!) on his really excellent work and approved his plans to have
ratings for all events transferred (in stages) to the server by 2007.
Thereafter the Congress approved Ruth Ann Fay’s presentation of an "Arbiter’s
Manual" and also the formation of an "Arbiters Committee" (to be chaired
by former Deputy President Ragnar Wikman (FIN)).


More details of the Torino Olympiad emerged - ICCF will pay for players' bed and
board at the Olympic Village but players will have to fund their own travel there.
Each member federation will be invited to submit 2 nominations for consideration
for selection and the Executive Board will then select the team of 6 with 2 reserves.
Possibly not all the selection criteria will be entirely objective as the Executive Board
will likely seek to select those who will prove to be "good ambassadors" for ICCF.
Torino resident, Gian-Maria Tani (ITA) will be invited to serve as Team Captain.


Finally, Congress approved Dresden, Germany as the venue for the 2006 Congress
whilst an application from the Spanish Federation for the 2007 event was also
approved. Congress also approved that our friends from Finland should host the
2011 event as they celebrate their 50th anniversary that year.


All in all, I consider that this was satisfactory Congress with a number of
worthwhile accomplishments, particularly with regard to the reorganisation
of the World Championship cycle and the introduction of new rules with regard to adjudications and time controls. However, it wasn’t hard work all the time and the Congress participants enjoyed a number of more leisurely activities. The traditional blitz tournament was won by the oldest participant, former ICCF World Champion Fritz Baumbach (GER) and everyone greatly enjoyed a day’s excursion to Bariloche following the end of the Congress.





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