86th FIDE Congress Underway
By Franc Guadalupe, Zonal President   
September 3, 2015
The 86th FIDE Congress is underway in Abu Dhabi, UAE.  This year we have a small official US Chess Federation delegation which includes FIDE Delegate Michael Khodarkovsky, Qualification Commission Counsellor Walter Brown and, of course, as Zonal President I am here as well.  In addition, present from the U.S. are FIDE Vice-President Beatriz Marinello, Rules Commission Secretary Sevan Muradian, Rules Commission and Arbiter Commission Member Carol Jarecki, and Chairperson of Women's Commission Susan Polgar. 

I left Houston, very excited to attend my fifth consecutive FIDE Congress.  After a nine-hour flight from Houston to Amsterdam, a five-hour layover, followed by a six-hour flight from Amsterdam, I arrived in Abu Dhabi at 9:30 PM on Tuesday, September 1st.  Then I had an hour-and-a-half wait in Passport Control.  By the time I finally arrived at the gorgeous facilities of the Novotel Abu Dhabi Al Bustan it was almost midnight, I was very tired and no longer as excited.  I am not one to sleep during flights, so the very nice accommodations were a welcome sight.  My first meeting was on Wednesday afternoon, so I was able to get some sleep which allowed me to recharge, and for the excitement to return.

The Qualification Commission meeting was very interesting and actually went into overtime. It is worth noting that changes to regulations take place every four years, and next time this happens will be in 2017, although clarification to regulations may take place every year.  With that in mind, the Agenda included the review of direct title regulations and rating regulations.  It also included a report of title applications as well as other issues. 

A total of 67 title applications for GM, WGM, IM and WIM were received and reviewed by the QC.  Seven of these applications were found to be faulty and were not approved.  Fortunately for us, none of the ones for US players were in that category!  Therefore, the QC has recommended approval of the GM title for Jeffery Xiong, and IM titles for Michael Bodek, Eric Rosen, Daniel Gurevich and Ruifeng Li.  What remains now is the approval of those titles by the Executive Board at the end of the Congress, on September 8 and, as Zonal President, I have a vote at that meeting.  All players with approved titles are subject to meeting the minimum rating - all of our players have already done so - and a 60-day waiting period since the posting of the application on the FIDE website.  For Xiong and Rosen, if approved, the titles will be effective at the conclusion of the Congress, September 16 for Bodek, October 6 for Li and October 9 for Gurevich.

Rating some online team events using the regular OTB system during a trial period was proposed.  This prompted a lengthy discussion and this proposal is still being evaluated.  If approved, this is likely to apply only to certain federations with team leagues or federations having difficulty organizing team events.  This will not be for norm events.  It was also proposed to allow faster rate of play (time control) for events with players rated at least 2200.  At the present time, if an event has at least one player rated 2200 or over, it requires a rate of play of at least two hours per player.  The 90-minute proposal is still under consideration as is the recommendation for 7-game norms. 

congresslead.gifAlso proposed was the exclusive use of approved FIDE pairing programs for FIDE rated events.  All recommendations will be discussed further and again at the next FIDE Congress, and if approved, changes will be made in 2017.   As a member of the QC, Walter will have a more detailed report on this meeting.

The Arbiters' Commission meeting ran very smoothly.  The Minutes of the Councilors' meeting that took place in Dubai, August 7-9, was discussed.  That included the appointment of a sub-committee to review arbiter applications that had been received.  Also discussed in Dubai was a proposal by the Wales Chess Union to lower the minimum age for the FA title to 18 years (from 21) and to 16 (from 18) for a National Arbiter.  After further discussion at this Congress, it was decided not to change the minimum age requirement for FA, but to recommend lowering the age requirement for NA to 17. 

The International Arbiter application of Steve Immitt received the recommendation of the Arbiters' Commission, as did the FA applications of Michael Kummer and Anand Dommalapati.  As is the case with titles for players, those are now subject to approval by the Executive Board.  I am adding the request for the FA title for Luis Salinas, here at the Congress, and that one will be considered as well.

Sevan had proposed to establish an internet seminar and exam for the training of NAs, but the Arbiters' Commission Chair pointed out that FIDE cannot interfere in the activities of federations to train their arbiters (NAs).  That said, the Arbiters' Commission may, if asked, offer help.

The anti-cheating guidelines for Arbiters were discussed, as were several cases.  The list of Lecturers for arbiter seminars was updated and the classification of arbiters was also discussed.  All attendees of this meeting were given a copy of the first issue of the Arbiters' Magazine.  The magazine is available on line at this pdf link.   The plan is to publish the magazine twice a year and the Commission welcomes input from individuals and federations.

Also discussed was a list of 53 arbiters who had requested classification upgrade (none from the U.S.) and 28 of those were not approved because the lacked the required experience.

As Secretary of the Rules Commission, Sevan read the Minutes of the Rules and Tournament Regulations Councilors Meeting that took place in Yerevan, Armenia, June 19-21.  Suggestions and input were solicited at the meeting in this Congress.  Most of the discussion centered on the next revision of the Laws of Chess (again, 2017) and most of the proposals were just correcting the language of these.  But, one proposal is to adopt a US Chess-like rule to correct illegal moves only if they occurred during the last 10 moves.  Currently, FIDE has no such rule and arbiters are required to go back as far as they have to in order to correct illegal moves.  Discussion of this proposal will continue.  Also proposed by one of the attendees was the issuing of a "yellow card" as a method of warnings during games.  This proposal did not receive any support from other attendees, nor did the proposal to change the scoring system to 2-1-0.  Also proposed was the (pawn) promotion only to a piece that had been captured and the removal of draws from the Laws of Chess.  Both of these proposals were considered drastic changes and were not approved.

During the next few days, Walter and Michael will also be submitting reports from the Congress.   I will submit the final report after the Congress concludes with the Executive Board Meeting.