Dreaming of Manchester!

y Valer
Eugen Demian


Dreaming of Manchester!
by ICCF-IM Valer Eugen Demian

2001 was an unusual year for our society. It proved to be a turning point generations to come will remember for quite a few reasons. The correspondence chess community will also remember it as the year of the Rimini congress. Oh yes, Rimini! Who can forget that? Any report did not offer justice to the incredible experience our Italian friends offered us all. It was the congress when the ICCF Server project was launched, where Mr Shri H. J. Samtani (India) spoke so many times with wisdom, as well as when Chris Lueers (Germany) launched the ICCF Champions League. I remember like it was last week how excited people were to be part of such new concept of team play regardless of nationality; some teams were already assembling their line-ups before the congress was over!

The qualification season is coming to an end. Twenty something games deciding the last qualification spots are being adjudicated this summer, as we all get ready to move ahead to serious divisional competition this November 2004. All 22 qualified teams for division A have already confirmed their participation. It is going to be a tough battle there considering there will be one group left after the 2004-2006 season. Division B teams have confirmed their participation in an overwhelming number. Divisions C and D will also offer a good challenge for anyone.

Looking back at the season winding down it is hard to choose a defining moment; there have been so many! Allow me to do my subjective top 5 list as I recall them.

1. This is a competition reflecting the true spirit of "Amici Sumus" and it comes from the essence of assembling participating teams based on friendship and not national flags. Hope I am not in minority when I am pleased to see the multicultural spirit - backbone of our Canadian society - spread into the World of correspondence chess. Each one of us has something to offer, to bring their particularities into a reacher, friendlier family.

2. The World Wide Web is the virtual paper of the new century. ICCF-CL has also been touched by this angel. I can remember the pleasure of seeing its dedicated webpages prepared and updated like nothing else before by Klaus Wrba (Germany). The bar has been raised in ICCF from that time on.

3. The excitement of the league spread like wildfire on TCCMB and several websites accross the World. Let's not forget the gauntlet thrown down by team CC.COM with their website and logo. It was just a matter of time until others caught up with it. Franklin Campbell (USA) came with the idea of gathering all logos and website links; now this is the cement holding together and inspiring players all around our corrrespondence chess community.

4. Have you had your dose of trash-talk yet? It proved to be an attractive feature on TCCMB and some teams websites. It brought into the league a new dimension of competition, something not seen in other ICCF competitions. Of course some do not like it, so for them it came the "Fortune Teller" virtual crystal ball. Too bad we didn't have the manpower to keep it going more often.

5. Forget for a minute the pain of sending your intention to play for your national team, just to know XX GMs will anyway be selected before you. When was the last time you've been named team captain and could make decisions on behalf of your team? John Knudsen (USA) gave the league its first team/ player finder facility, one we now dream of improving to an interesting "player transfer" facility comparable with soccer, hockey, or basketball.

I am sure each one of you reading this has his own selection of top moments, as well as of low moments. Let's not go over there for now. If you have suggestions, critiques, or want to offer everyone something you would like to see, please don't be shy and let us know! Do not wait for others to do it for you, but do as those ones who made the league possible did.

I am going to stop now with a short summary of the most important achievements in the league during the qualifying season, achievements put together by Marius Ceteras (ROM). More details of these achievements can be found on TCCMB and on this page !.

a) More than 50 ICCF title norms have been scored from LIM to GM.
b) A tournament performance rating of 2900 has been scored by Vladimir Napalkov (Chess Victory, Russia) in group 2, board 3.
c) The only 100% score 10/10 has been scored by the same Vladimir Napalkov (Chess Victory, Russia) to ensure a 5 point overall margin of victory for his team
d) Top 100 tournament performance rating does not go below 2474 and sees players of a wide spectrum of chess abilities who raised their playing level in the league.

Have I got you excited yet? Want to become the Manchester United of correspondence chess? There's only one thing you need to do: get into the league this fall! Registrations start July 1st, 2004.



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