by Josef Mrkvička,
ICCF President




by Josef Mrkvička, ICCF President


That's me in India!


Dear readers, dear ICCF friends, 

Welcome to my next column in ICCF AMICI!


In this column, I inform you regularly about the work which has been done in the ICCF Executive Board in the period since the last ICCF AMICI issue.
Obviously, this column will be dedicated to the most important results of the

ICCF Congress 2004 in Mumbai, India.


This Congress, in conjunction with meetings of the ICCF Executive Board and the Management Committee, took place in the Retreat Hotel, Mumbai, India from
31st October to 6th November 2004. 


The Congress was arranged and hosted by the All India Correspondence Chess Federation (AICCF) and the hotel facilities and hospitality offered by AICCF, were excellent.


Participants of the Congress, and accompanying families and friends, were offered an extensive programme of events, including an excursion to the fascinating City of Mumbai and a visit to the ancient sculptured rock caves on Elephanta Island. 
There was also a programme for ladies and families provided by the hosts.


There was the traditional ICCF Blitz Tournament, a Simultaneous exhibition by GM Pravin Thipsay (IND) and an OTB chess match against players from the
Mumbai Chess Club and AICCF.


An optional post Congress excursion was also arranged by AICCF to the “golden triangle” cities of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, which was greatly appreciated.



President’s Opening Speech

In my opening speech, I emphasised that for the first time in the ICCF history, the ICCF Congress was hosted in India and in the Asian continent, and expressed heartiest thanks to the AICCF for inviting ICCF to their country, also in the Hindi language.

I remembered the late Mr. Haresh J. Samtani, the past President of AICCF, who attended to the ICCF Congress at Rimini 2001, Italy and was the spiritual father of the idea to organise the ICCF Congress in India, and expressed sadness that, because of his unexpected death two years ago, he could not see how his ideas had been realised.

I paid tribute to the memories of all CC friends who had died since the Ostrava 2003 Congress, including the CC Grandmasters Csaba Melegyeghi (HUN) and Alexey Tsvetkov (RUS), long-year ICCF Tournament Director Poul Rasmussen (DEN), CC International Masters Dr. Simon Fitzpatrick (AUS) and Michael Valvo (USA), ICCF International Arbiter and Captain of the winning Czechoslovak Olympiad team, Stanislav Foglar (CZE), national TD and chess publisher Gerd Giebel (BRA), chess journalist and Honorary Member of LADAC Luciano Camara (ARG), Jose Fumero Sánchez (ESP). He also remembered the

hundreds of people who had died in Spain and Russia as a result of merciless
and cold-blooded terrorist attacks.


I recalled the big changes which had come to pass in the overall correspondence chess environment in the past five years. Most of Nol van’t Riet’s visions as presented to the 1999 Congress in Switzerland about the future of correspondence chess in 2010, had already come true. The implementation of email and webserver transmission of moves had greatly speeded up CC games and tournaments. What had taken many years in the past, was nowadays completed in months or even weeks. Internet connection was no longer a privilege of those in highly developed countries, but was now available literally in all countries.
I emphasised that the ICCF Statutes should reflect such developments.


ICCF was facing strong competition from dozens of various email and Webserver chess clubs which cannot offer international CC titles but they do facilitate free chess games and tournaments worldwide. I stressed that, although ICCF is the only international correspondence chess organisation whose titles are universally recognised, and also are acknowledged by FIDE, it must not underestimate this competition and it needed to be ready to accept this challenge. ICCF must permanently monitor overall developments, be flexible and react quickly.
ICCF and National Federations must provide good service to all CC players, otherwise they would lose them to competitors.


I declared that in the year 2004, ICCF had entered a new era of its history – the era of Webserver chess. Since the ICCF 2003 Congress in Ostrava, it had taken only 8 months of a very hard work until the first test tournament was started on the ICCF webserver in July, 2004.  At present, ICCF was introducing all ICCF class tournaments to the server, including Grand Master and Master Norm tournaments and ICCF was able to host individual and team tournaments organised either by
ICCF or National Federations, and some federations had already begun to use this possibility.


I cordially thanked all ICCF volunteers who had contributed to this excellent achievement, especially the first Project Manager Iain Mackintosh, and reminded all National Delegates that they should feel committed to support “their” webserver system and to promote it enthusiastically within their federations and to their players.


I pointed out that ICCF finances was another hot topic of the Congress, and emphasised that current revenue and expense methodology was acceptable only when the majority of ICCF games were played by post. With the changeover to email play and the coming changeover to Webserver play, the timing of  transactions is no longer logical or acceptable. ICCF incurs and must pay many of its expenses on a quarterly or monthly basis. Therefore, like for any other business, the timing of ICCF revenue inflow must be adjusted to match its expense outflow. 


Finally, I proposed that Congress should focus on the overall ICCF “volunteer culture”.  So far, all ICCF Officials had been volunteers, including the President and all other Executive Board members, but they all had only a limited number of hours available for ICCF work. Consequently, it was not correct to “shout” at active volunteers to work harder, if they have not enough time to dedicate to all ICCF tasks.  With the ICCF Webserver system implemented, it had become obvious that the present ICCF volunteer culture and web chess could be in conflict.


In particular, the administration and support of the Webserver needed to work “around the clock”. ICCF had recruited many new volunteers for this work but, despite all efforts, it had not succeeded to cover key roles like Webserver Commissioner or Marketing Commissioner. 
Even if ICCF could recruit volunteers into these roles, ICCF could not insist that they
work fixed hours or contracted periods, and there will always be times where other
parts of their lives would take priority.
Therefore, I recommended Congress to consider whether some key jobs in the marketing and webserver area, might require some degree of professional and remunerated day-to-day work.


New ICCF members

Indonesia and Tunisia were accepted as new ICCF member federations.

Bertl von Massow Medals and other awards

The 16th World Champion, Mr Tunc Hamarat (AUT), received his World Champion Trophy – the traditional engraved metal plate with the final crosstable of the tournament.


Tunc Hamarat (right) receives his Word Champion trophy from the ICCF  President
(photo by Per Söderberg)


The trophy for the winner of the World Cup X, Frank Schröder (GER) was given to the German delegate.


Gerhard Radosztics (AUT) was unanimously appointed as a new ICCF Honorary Member.



Gerhard Radosztics

(photo by Per Söderberg)


The Bertl von Massow medals are awarded for 15 years meritorious service (in gold) and 10 years (in silver) to international correspondence chess and ICCF. They are based on criteria proposed by Hans-Werner von Massow in 1983, in memory of his wife Bertl, who herself was a great ICCF worker and supporter.


The Gold Medals for 15 years meritorious service were awarded to:


Manfred Gluth (GER)

Tim Harding (IRL)

Ulrich Wagner (GER)


The Silver Medal Awards for 10 years meritorious service were awarded to:


Jaromir Canibal (CZE)

Ilja Christov (BUL)

Carlos Flores Gutiérrez (ESP)

Thórhallur Olafsson (ISD)

Per Söderberg (SWE)

Achim Soltau (GER)

Uldis Strautins (LAT)




ICCF Financial plan and other financial matters


It was emphasised that an increase in tournament and rating fees would be necessary to secure ICCF’s financial well being in the years 2005-2007 and, in particular, to cover the operating expenses incurred for the ICCF Webserver.


The current revenue and expense methodology was acceptable when the majority of ICCF games were played by post.  With the changeover to email play and the emergence of Webserver play, the timing of transactions was no longer logical or acceptable. ICCF now incurred and must pay many of its expenses on a quarterly and a monthly basis, and therefore, the timing of ICCF revenue inflow must begin to match its expense outflow. 


After discussions, Congress approved by a substantial majority vote that,
effective from 1.1.2005:


-         all invoices from the ICCF to member federations must be payable within 30 days,


-         ICCF would start billing member federations half-yearly (at 30th June and 31st December, respectively), with invoices payable within 30 days,


-         the current year’s membership fee should be paid with the first invoice issued for that year (i.e. at 30th June of the current year) and should be remitted,
with all necessary details required by the ICCF Finance Director,
not later than 31st July of the current year.


I emphasised that National Federations would be expected to comply with this new schedule of payments. Any fees which were not paid within 30 days from the data of invoice would be considered to be "overdue" and a levy would be charged (in lieu of lost revenue), becoming payable immediately. 


Congress delegated authority to deal with ICCF investments to the Finance Director and the Executive Board. Congress did not accept the proposal to establish a business relationship with Access Bankcards to handle its international credit card transactions and asked the Finance Director / Executive Board to consider other options and to choose a credit card broker whose conditions would fully meet ICCF requirements. It was stressed that a new contract would be absolutely necessary for a successful implementation of an enhanced Direct Entry Scheme.


After a short discussion, Congress decided not to accept the Finance Director’s proposals of new ICCF tournament fees, which were considered to be too high. It established a special working group, which was entrusted to elaborate a new proposal and present it to Congress.


After considering the reasoning and recommendation for each fee level, Congress approved the new structure of ICCF tournament and rating fees, valid from 1.1.2005:


Event Type


Olympiad Team Preliminaries (per player) 


Champions League (per team and cycle)


World Individual Candidates (as first stage entry) 


World Individual Semi-final 


World Individual Ladies Semi-final 


World Individual Tournaments 7-player 


World Individual Tournaments 11-player 


World Cup 


Thematic Tournaments 


Master Norm Tournaments 


Grand Master Norm Tournaments   


Direct Entries (Champions League) – credit 


Direct Entries (Individuals) 7-player – credit 


Direct Entries (Individuals) 11-player – credit 


Invitation Tournaments Category I-III (per game) 


Invitation Tournaments Category IV-VI (per game)            


Invitation Tournaments Category VII-XIII (per game) 


Invitation Tournaments Category XIV+ (per game)           


Invitation Team Tournaments (per player)


International Open Tournaments (per entry)



Invitational and open tournaments which had been applied for and authorised before or at the ICCF Congress in Mumbai would be subject to fees at current rates valid until 31.12.2004, providing that the tournament start date was before 30.9.20005.


This authorisation would lapse if the authorised tournament was not started within 6 months of the declared intended start date or by 30.9.2005, whichever was the sooner.


All other invitational / open tournaments organised by National Federations, and submitted for ICCF approval, with start dates after 1.1.2005, would be subject to the new fees. 


Finally, Congress took into consideration the Financial Plan for the years 2004-2007, but asked the Executive Board to revise the budgeted amounts for the years 2005-2007, in line with the new level of the ICCF tournament and rating fees valid from 1.1.2005, and taking into account the scheduled ICCF tournaments and the operating costs which would be needed
for maintenance of the ICCF Webserver.



ICCF Webserver Project


ICCF now has a fully functional webserver, which is at the very least was equal to any correspondence chess webserver and superior to most of those which were available.  This had been achieved in only 8 months since the approval of the Webserver Project by the ICCF Congress 2003 in Ostrava, within the planned timescale for Phase 1 of the Project and within the budgeted amount approved by the Ostrava Congress.


Congress highly appreciated the results achieved by the Webserver Steering Group and in particular, the excellent work of Project Manager Iain Mackintosh (SCO) who resigned at 31.8.2004 from his position, for work reasons.


The Webserver Steering Group recommended Congress to move forward with Phase 2 of the Project and it envisaged that the ICCF Webserver system would eventually provide for:


1.      Every conceivable type of correspondence chess event

2.      Comprehensive direct entry process and player database with national delegate interface

3.      Rating list, norm qualifications, Eloquery, and calculations

4.      Switching modes of play

5.      Administration of non-Webserver events on server

6.      Games Archives

7.      Globalisation – multiple languages

8.      Message Board

9.      Player details

10. Advertising

11. Security improvements

12. Other (miscellaneous)


These additional functions in the Webserver would create a fully integrated tournament management and reporting system for ICCF, thus reducing the current amount of manual work, automate most of the tournament management functions, speed up the response time between results and their reporting to players, and increase the
potential for growth within ICCF and for its member federations.


The Webserver Steering Group presented proposals and recommendations on the necessary organisational measures and financial resources it envisaged for Phase 2 of the Project.


Congress decided that:


- Further development of the ICCF Webserver should be continued, after ongoing priorities had been established, with the work spread over several years, depending on development funding available for system enhancement.


- Phase 1 progress should be reviewed and priorities agreed and specified
for Phase 2 and thereafter.


- The Development Fund allocation for Phase 2 would be CHF 15'000 for year 2005 and resourcing would be discussed again at the Congress in 2005, for the year 2006 etc..


Congress asked the existing Webserver Steering Group to complete Phase 1 of the Project and to settle all ICCF financial commitments relating to existing contracts, with the external suppliers. The administration and maintenance of the existing
Webserver will be delegated to the Executive Board.


The existing Webserver Steering Group should elaborate a final report on the Phase 1, including an updated project specification which shows what has been done, what remains unfinished and contains all updates. It was envisaged that this "transition" period would finish by 31.12.2004. Thereafter the existing Webserver Group would be dissolved, with a new Webserver Development Steering Committee to be appointed to begin development
work for Phase 2 and beyond.


Congress empowered the Executive Board to hire professional assistance (individual or a company) to perform system administration of the Webserver, should this be necessary and appropriate. Operating costs for the system administration should be covered by increased tournament and rating fees.


Congress unanimously appointed Clive Murden (AUS)
as the new Webserver Project Manager.


Congress delegated the development work for Phase 2 to a new Webserver Development Steering Committee (WDSC) and unanimously appointed Alan Borwell (SCO) as Chairman of the Committee. The first members of the Committee to include Gerhard Binder (GER), Ambar Chatterjee (IND), Clive Murden (AUS) and Nol van't Riet (NED). Members of the Committee should work on a voluntary basis.


Regarding proposals for a National Federation Patron scheme, the Congress did not accept the suggestion from the Webserver Steering Group, to implement one-off Member Federation financial contributions, as was presented in its written report.  The concept of a National Federation Patron Scheme was referred back to the Finance Director for further consideration and recommendation.


Furthermore, Congress decided that:


·        national tournaments being played on the ICCF Webserver, approved by the World Tournament Director in the period prior to Congress, and started before 1.2.2005 will be free of charge.


·        for national tournaments approved after Congress and played on the ICCF Webserver, starting after 1.2.2005, a fee CHF 1 per game played, will be charged.

For approved international invitational/open tournaments organised by national federations and played using the ICCF webserver, the normal scale fee will be deemed to be inclusive of this special webserver fee.  


·        each National Federation would be entitled to use the ICCF Webserver for a national tournament of their own choice of not more than 15 players, with a start date in 2005, without charge.


Congress heard and approved a proposal from Alan Borwell (SCO) to initiate inter country schools tournaments on the ICCF Webserver, for nominated teams from a maximum number of schools per country, perhaps at both primary and secondary (senior) schools and perhaps universities/colleges.


ICCF Statutes


Congress unanimously approved the new ICCF Statutes and decided
that they would come into effect from 1.1.2005.
The full text of the Statutes was published on  on 27.11.2004.


According these new Statutes, ICCF will be able to discuss partnership agreements with other international CC organizations, subject to Congress approval.


The seat of ICCF remained the residence of the ICCF President, but further investigations will be made regarding the possibility of establishing a permanent
seat/office in one particular country.


Enhanced Direct Entry facilities did not become a part of the Statutes and mandatory for all National Federations, but they were offered to National Federations on a voluntary basis, from 1.4.2005. All National Federations were encouraged to join the enhanced Direct Entry Scheme for tournaments. The full text of the Congress Document was published on
on 17.11.2004. Short after Congress, England and Ireland declared their accession to the scheme.


Players’ eligibility provisions were added to the ICCF Tournament Rules, as a separate chapter.


In future, every National Federation will have only one vote in the Congress,
regardless of the number of their members.


Disputes on matters which do not fall within the jurisdiction of any of the ICCF Appeals Commissions will be decided by an Arbitration Tribunal, comprised of the Chairmen of the three ICCF Appeals Commissions.


It was decided that the decisions of all ICCF Appeals Commission will be final.



Future Congress arrangements


The recent experiences show that every year, it becomes more and more difficult to find a member country to host an ICCF Congress.


It has already become obvious that ICCF could no longer keep to the
established ICCF “3 to 1” schedule i.e. one Congress outside Europe after
3 successive European Congresses. ICCF could soon also face a unique
situation where no hosting country would be available for a future year(s).


The main reasons for the above problem are:

-         the decreasing numbers of CC players in almost all countries, with national  federations suffering from lack of financial resources,

-         it is difficult to find sufficient volunteers to participate in organisational tasks,

-         potential Congress hosts see/hear what has been provided by other federations and think that they need to provide similar facilities and programmes. If they realise that their organisational or financial resources are not sufficient, then they abandon the idea.


It was felt that it would be appropriate to reduce the organisational and in particular,
financial commitments of the hosting federation to the “essential” requirements,
leaving all of the other arrangements as “optional”.
Congress approved a new document which acknowledged the above aspects.


Congress accepted unanimously the invitation of LADAC to organise the ICCF Congress 2005 in Villa La Angostura, Argentina (in October/November 2005).


Negotiations were being held with Spain regarding the ICCF Congress 2006.
Sweden had withdrawn its option for 2006, because of a lack of support
by the Swedish CC Federation SSKK for the project. Spain was studying very
carefully the possibility of organising the 2006 ICCF Congress, if no offer was received
from any other Federation before the 2005 Congress in Argentina.


The ICCF President asked all National Federations to present their bids for the
ICCF Congress 2006, as a final decision probably could not be made until the
Congress next year. He reminded delegates that ICCF would have two successive
congresses in non-European countries, and therefore, it would be essential to have at
least two, or still better three, subsequent congresses in Europe.


The Congress location for 2007 is still unclear as the AJEC Board has not yet made any decision with regard to the possibility of it being in France. There are no bids yet for the year 2008.


The ICCF Delegate for England, Alan Rawlings, asked Congress for a first option for England to host the ICCF Congress in 2012, which would coincide with the 50th anniversary of its federation and he informed that Oxford was a possible venue. Moreover, he did not exclude the alternative possibility of arranging the ICCF Congress for 2007 to be in England, if this was to become necessary and deemed appropriate.


Tournaments area


A substantial review of the ICCF tournaments structure was postponed to the 2005 Congress in Argentina. It was recommended to consider extension of the existing cycle of World Championship stages by the fourth stage as: Preliminaries – Semifinals – Candidates – Final.


The organisation of the World Championship Semifinal and Candidates stages implies the accomplishment of two requirements: to have a 13 players groups and that the group’s average rating be above a given value, so the tournaments have the required minimum category. Consequently, sometimes these requirements can generate certain delays in the beginning of the tournaments, which causes a negative effect on players’ anxiety.


As an improvement on this status quo, it was decided to establish fixed dates throughout the calendar year. This will facilitate the submissions of entries, allow the players a better planning of their tournaments and a more functional organisation. These dates are: 15th February, 15th May, 15th August and 15th November of every year.


The proposal to introduce a new type of tournaments – Senior International Master Tournaments – was not approved by Congress.


For the invitational tournaments organised by the National Federations, it was decided that the number of invitations sent out by an organising National Federation would always have to be in line with the number of offered free places in a tournament. A deadline with a minimum of 1 month shall be given to any contacted federation until which any given invitation must be uphold and remains valid.


The Riga 1998 Congress decided to have 13-player World Championship Finals. Back then, we hardly knew the number of email games a player could reasonably well play, and the reflection time was 10 moves in 40 days. In the pre-Congress discussions, many top players supported a higher number of players in a World Championship Final. The Congress decided that the future Finals only would be played with 15 players.


Given the results of the pre-Congress investigations, it was decided to start the 16th Olympiad as a postal tournament, with 4-player teams. The start date will be 1st May, 2005.



Live coverage of games


Congress delegates were of the opinion that ICCF must have a valid ruling covering the live coverage of running games, immediately. However, it was stressed that the ruling should be part of Tournament Rules, as it contained penalties/sanctions, and not Code of Conduct Guidelines.


By a substantial majority voting, Congress approved the wording which had been decided and promulgated by the Executive Board earlier this year.  Simultaneously, Congress decided to remove the guideline from the Article 2 of the Code of Conduct Guidelines, and to move it to the ICCF Tournament Rules, as a new chapter therein.


Tournament Rules


An important change was made to the withdrawal rule: games will be adjudicated when an accepted withdrawal is approved, and when at least one game has been finished or on average all games have reached 25 moves.


Players’ eligibility and live coverage of games were added to Tournament Rules, as new chapters.


Playing Rules


Congress approved a new, complete set of ICCF Playing Rules, including
the Playing Rules for a Webserver play.

Individual and team rules were merged into one document.


For email play, the “phoney day” was eliminated. If a player receives a move after 8pm his local time, he can consider having arrived the next day.


For Webserver play, the conditional moves were eliminated.


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