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The USCF at the 84th FIDE Congress Print E-mail
October 11, 2013
uscfcongress.jpgThe 84th FIDE Congress held in Tallinn, Estonia concluded on Wednesday.  Representing the USCF at the Congress were:  USCF President Ruth Haring, Zonal President Franc Guadalupe, USCF Delegate to FIDE   Michael Khodarkovsky, Chess in Schools Commission member Jerry Nash, Qualification Commission member Walter Brown, and Social Project Commission Councilor Tony Rich.  

Also present from the U.S. were FIDE VP Beatriz Marinello, Chair of the Women's Commission GM Susan Polgar, and Consultant to the Chairman of the Chess in Schools Commission and member of the Rules and Tournament Regulations Commission Sevan Muradian. 

Professor Ken Regan presented a draft paper on the topic of anti-cheating issues which you can find at http://www.cse.buffalo.edu/faculty/regan/Talks/ .  Ken is a member of the FIDE ACP Anti-Cheating Committee (ACC)   Franc Guadalupe was appointed by the Qualification Commission as Liaison between the QC and the Anti-Cheating Committee.  Proposals of this Committee will be discussed next year at the General Assembly in Tromso, Norway.

Ank Santens from New York has been working with FIDE over the past year on improvements to the regulations, and served as a scrutineer in the election held during the General Assembly this year in Tallinn. Commission meetings were well attended by members of the USCF delegation. 

Franc and Walter attended the meetings of the Qualification, Rules and Tournament Regulations, Arbiters, Development, Swiss Pairing Programs Commissions, in addition to the Continental Meeting and the Executive Board meeting.  Of special interest to our players was the approval of titles. 

IrinaHappycats.jpgCongratulations are in order to GMs-Elect Daniel Naroditsky, Mackenzie Molner, and Irina Krush.  The GM title approval for Krush first required approval of a norm from the 2013 Women's World Team Championship where Irina had a fantastic performance exceeding 2600, with wins against former World Women's Champion GM Alexandra Kosteniuk and then-World Women's Champion GM Anna Ushenina.  After that event, Franc submitted the request to award a GM norm to Irina, although the three-GM-opponents requirement was not met nor was the event included in the list of World and Continental events that award norms without regard to that requirement.  After discussion at the QC meeting, she was awarded the norm and the event will be added to the list.  In anticipation of this approval, the title application was ready and turned in for immediate consideration, and was successful!

LukeHVslide.jpgAlso approved, were the IM titles for Thomas Bartell, John Bryant, Luke Harmon-Vellotti, and Aleksandr Ostrovskiy.  The title request for Adarsh Jayakumar, however, was not approved because two of the three events required were submitted under Rule 1.43e of the FIDE Title Regulations.  Specifically, that rule deals with Swiss System events in which the competitors include at least 20 FIDE rated players not from the host federation.  Unfortunately for Adarsh, in two of the events the 20-player requirement was "met" by a player or players who played as little as one round.  That, the QC ruled, did not meet the definition of "competitor" at the event.  Lesson learned - we must have 20 foreign players in all rounds!

Also earning a "Conditional" title, to WIM, was Sarah Chiang.  Sarah, whose FIDE rating stands at 2102, must now achieve the required 2200 rating and the title will be hers. 

All titles are subject to a 60-day waiting period starting on the date the application was posted to the FIDE website.  Congratulations to all the players!  Congratulations are also in order to Tony Rich whose International Arbiter title was approved.  Our other two FA title applications were found to be flawed and, therefore, not approved.  Another significant change for titles is that those earned as result of rating, i.e., FM, WFM, CM and WCM will now require 27 games, just like the norm-based titles.  Prior to this change, players could get an FM title, for example, if the initial 9-game rating was at least 2300.

There were significant changes approved by the Rules and Tournament Regulations Commission.  We are quite familiar with the 3-fold repetition of position and the 50-move rule.  Both of these require a claim by a player.  However, now the arbiter can declare the game a draw, without a claim, after 5-fold repetition and the new 75-move rule.  The requirements remain the same as in the old rules.  In order to resolve the issue of players making a move before the opponent presses the clock, the rule that "once a player makes a move, his previous moves are considered to have been made" was added.

There will be future articles dealing with all the details of the FIDE Laws of Chess and Tournament Rules.  The changes will be posted soon to the FIDE website.  Organizers and arbiters are reminded that effective 1 July 2014 all FIDE rated events must comply with FIDE rules.  For now, that is being enforced only on Title (Norm) events.

This was Jerry's first Congress and he found it quite informative.  He attended the Commission meetings for Social Action, Chess in Schools, Development, and Ethics as well as the meeting of the Chess for the Disabled Project. The meetings were designed both to introduce ongoing activities as well as elicit feedback. They revealed the range of challenges facing federations around the world to increase membership, raise the rating levels of top players in developing federations, reach children at risk, and open new opportunities for the disabled to play in international tournaments.

The first World Championship for Disabled is scheduled for Dresden, Germany, October 21-29, 2013. Jerry, a member of the Chess in Schools Commission, was asked to report on his ongoing work with educators to implement chess as a teaching tool to reinforce literacy, math, critical thinking, and life skills. He reports that along with the information acquired in the meetings comes the opportunity to network with representatives, discover the challenges faced by other federations, and return home with a renewed enthusiasm for the worldwide efforts to advance chess both as a sport and as a means to positively impact society.

Tony attended the Social Projects, Social Action, and the Swiss Pairings Commissions meetings, in addition to the EB and General Assembly.  In the Special Projects Commission meeting, Tony reports that Sandra Guisso presented on "Chess That Sets Free", a program designed to teach chess and vocational skills in all prisons in the Brazilian state of Espirito Santo. The prison population is comprised primarily of 19-30 year old Afro-Brazilian men. They have run the program for the past 9 years, and in that time, prisoners were tasked with making chess sets/boards to sell, as well as learning how to play.  Ms. Guisso said the program has 12 groups, each with 15 prisoners, who learn and play chess for 50 minutes, twice a week. Compared to the general prison population, participants in the program had a recidivism rate of just 27% (amazing!).  Tony asked how the issue of self-selection (i.e.: Prisoners who decide to participate in the program would be more likely to succeed once out of prison, compared to their counterparts) is dealt with. Ms. Guisso said they actually selected the worst-behaved prisoners to participate.  She reported that their findings, including the efficacy study, would be made available upon request. 

The Social Action Commission is new, and the first commission meeting was in New York in April, 2013.   The Technical Commission was primarily focused on issues in the FIDE Handbook related to tournament hall conditions, the testing of chess clocks and electronic scoresheets, and tie-break systems used in official FIDE competitions.  Testing procedures for chess clocks and electronic scoresheets are not clearly defined, and the group decided further time was required to develop them. 

TEC Chairman, Mr. Filipowicz, pointed out that there are different tie-break systems in use at many of the official FIDE team events, including Olympiads, World Team Championships, Continental Team Championships, etc. In addition, these tie breaks effect issues related to individual board standings for purposes of individual medals. The commission agreed these should be standardized wherever possible, but no action was taken to determine the best tie break systems. A subset of the commission will investigate the issue further and will prepare a recommendation at the next FIDE Congress.

In the Swiss Pairings Commission the topics discussed included: problems with ambiguous pairing options using the Dutch system, recommendations on approval/disapproval of various pairing software submitted for FIDE endorsement, and general clean-up of wording, formatting, and structure of section C.04 (Swiss Rules) of the FIDE Handbook.  The primary problems in the Dutch system relate to how to pair groups comprised of players from different score groups (floats). Apparently, there are scenarios in which the rules, if expressly followed, produce pairings that seem unfair and unnatural. In addition, issues related to color history could produce a very non-human pairing result (i.e.: if two players must face each other, and both have a strong color preference (one due to having the same color three times in a row and the other because his color balance is greater than +-2) the alternating color history takes precedence. The end result is you could have a player who finishes the tournament with a color balance greater than +-3. There were suggestions on how to resolve these issues, but it was decided that further investigation was needed before making changes.

Perhaps the most useful thing to come out of the meeting was an agreement to make sections C.4.1 (Basic Rules for Swiss Systems) and C.4.2 (General Handling Rules for Swiss Tournaments) contain all of the mandatory and shared rules for Swiss variants (Lim, Dutch, etc.), while the sections for each variant would explain where they differ from C.4.1&2. Furthermore, the commission agreed that C.4.1 and C.4.2 should be "human-readable" and explain pairing using words (rather than mathematical constructs and numeric references). The aim is to have a section that less experienced arbiters can read and understand without a significant investment of time and effort.

Another "hot" topic was the proposal for the "Arena," the FIDE Internet Playing Zone.  This will be a service offered to registered players who have a FIDE ID number.  The design, construction and administration of the system will be provided by the Italian firm "Premium Chess."  National federations will have no financial responsibility for the games of their players.  Games will be rated using the current Rapid and Blitz rating systems, and Bullet will be added.

Michael Khodarkovsky, in the absence of other Trainers Commission members, chaired the meeting of the Trainers Commission, http://trainers.fide.com/, and fielded many questions from the floor.  Michael also serves on the newly formed Journalists Commission.  Ruth attended the Women's Commission, Arbiters Commission, Events Commission, Constitutional Commission (with Michael), and Verification Commission where she serves as Secretary. The Women's Commission presented achievements and plans for next year which included the suggestion to publish a yearbook as other commissions do.  Judit Polgar won the 2012 FIDE Caissa Award, the "Oscar of Chess."

USCF President Ruth Haring at the blitz tournament
Of particular interest to many were the proceedings of the Constitutional Commission where the question was posed: Is this an election year by virtue of the fact we are holding an Extraordinary General Assembly to elect the Electoral Commission, Chairperson and commission members at the meetings of the Continents? It was decided that an election year means a year in which elections for the Presidential Board is held, and thus we were holding an election in a non-election year.  The next question was if electoral regulations apply for an election in a non-election year.  Precedent was found in the regulations to suggest that in the Extraordinary GA we should use rules written for an analogous situation.

In the Verification Commission there was lively discussion about money flows into FIDE which were earmarked for the Chess in the Schools project and a request from the meeting for a more detailed report on use of those funds. As expected there were also questions and discussion of the purpose of various fees, charges, and write-offs.  There are new events such as the World Senior Team and the World Handicapped Championship and the USCF will follow up later with information on these events and he related qualification procedures.

At the meeting of Continental Americas, GM Darcy Lima from Brazil was elected to serve on the newly formed Electoral Commission.  Ms. Margaret Murphy from the U.S. Virgin Islands was nominated to chair that commission.  No other business was discussed and the meeting concluded quickly.   All members of the official USA delegation attended. President Haring introduced Jerry Nash to the convened assemblage of Continental Americas Delegates, many of whom he works with to register youth members who participate Continental events.

FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov opened the 84th FIDE Congress with a speech in which he announced that he plans to run again, but did not announce the remainder of his ticket.

The evening of October 7th, we were invited to Garry Kasparov's Presidential election kickoff reception and dinner.  Garry introduced his team, and those who were unable to attend had video messages for the crowd.  The ticket includes St. Louis ' Rex Sinquefield who is best known in the chess world for his sponsorships of US Championships, Women Championships, and Junior Championships.  This year Rex added the prestigious Sinquefield Cup to his calendar of premier events. 

The Kasparov Team also includes Belgian wireless entrepreneur Jan Callewaert, co-founder of KCF Europe;   Sheikh Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Hamed from the UAE, who in addition to his very impressive business empire, has a long-standing passion for chess and his educational foundations promote chess in Abu Dhabi schools; current FIDE General Secretary Ignatius Leong from Singapore who sits on the current FIDE Presidential Board and has been awarded the titles of International Arbiter, International Organizer, and FIDE Senior Trainer and has very active in working to improve the Commission process;  and Afrika Msiman,  President of KCF South Africa., who has served as a development officer for CHESSA, and is a trustee member of Moves for Life, a south African Chess organization.    More info on the Kasparov 2014 campaign may be found at www.kasparov2014.com

Franc400.jpgZonal President Franc Guadalupe is our Executive Board member and the only one of our delegation with a vote in it.  He represented us well, and having networked with his colleagues, kept us well informed so that we were not surprised by agenda changes, etc.
The agenda for the extraordinary GA initially contained an agenda single item, to elect the Chair of the Electoral Commission.  On the eve on the GA, after review of certain paragraphs of the electoral regulations that required clarification or corrections, this was added for review, discussion and approval.   Michael Khodarkovsky is the delegate and votes for USCF at the General Assembly.  Our Delegate and President have the right to address the GA.

At this 84th FIDE Congress General Assembly, there were relaxed rules regarding proxy assignments and reassignments, this being an election in a "non-election year", as compared to the regulations which will take effect for the Presidential election, and so members of our team were assigned as proxy holders for Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.  On the morning of the GA, all candidates other than Ms. Murphy had withdrawn their names from consideration, and so Ms. Murphy was unanimously elected as Chair of the Electoral Commission.  Clarification to electoral regulations were discussed and unanimously approved, ending our FIDE business in Tallinn.

To summarize, US Chess was well represented in Tallinn.   We actively participate and contribute to the FIDE governance process, and as our representatives continue to become better known, we are having more opportunities to serve in key roles on commissions.
The Arsis Handbell Ensemble

In the evenings, for those not writing up commission meeting minutes, FIDE had scheduled activities including a performance of the Opera Rigeletto by the Estonian National Opera, a blitz tournament at the Paul Keres Chess House Club and Museum, tourist excursions including an old town walking tour and a trip to the Estonian Maritime Museum.  The Opening Ceremony for the 84th Congress featured a concert by the Arsis Handbell Ensemble, and the various welcoming speeches by host organizers and local officials.   All in all, a very well conducted and superbly organized event!

Reports from the FIDE Congress are still being posted to the website.  Please see http://www.fide.com/ for updates.