ACF Bulletin No. 19 - May 30, 1999

[please correspond directly with Graeme at ggardiner@somerset.qld.edu.au]

ZONAL

More correspondence is shown later in this news bulletin. Many thanks for
all the contributions to this debate and for sticking to the issues.

I'll cover my own thoughts on the matter by starting with a few facts and
finishing with what I hope I've learned to improve matters in the future.

When I was handed the baton to run with the zonal in December my first
concerns, as I believe they always should be, were that the event be
financially viable. I won't use the excuse that I didn't have enough time
to organise sponsorship but I will say that I don't believe that Australian
chess was in a state to be able to expect sponsorship. Sponsorship means
that we have to be able to offer something in return and I think we have
some work to do to be able to expect this. Even in the days of Cepacol I
don't believe this was a true sponsorship - in large part it was
philanthropy. One of the most important parts of the draft National
Development Plan relates to developing income streams. I encourage people
to have input to this plan when I travel around the states in early July -
a copy of the draft plan will be put up on our webpage before then.

Having said all that, we were fortunate that Surfers Paradise Parkroyal
came to the party and did us a great deal on the venue/accommodation. I had
a meeting with the General Manager, Greg Cox, on Friday and he advised that
they were very happy with the arrangement and would be pleased to repeat
the event (or similar events) on several occasions (provided that they are
held at down times).

When working out the budget it became clear to me that I couldn't make the
figures work on a small round robin where virtually all the players would
be seeds and entitled to free entry. Ian Rogers showed me how the event in
Ireland worked and I used that model. The FIDE Handbook is a daunting
document (especially for the inexperienced like myself) but fortunately we
found regulation 7.3 under Zonal Tournaments which reads "If in a zone it
is not possible to hold a zonal tournament under the conditions of these
regulations, the Zonal President is empowered to hold the tournament under
modified conditions". It was this rule which enabled me to put on a
financially viable tournament. I was also very pleased to open up the event
to more players.

At around this time Robert Jamieson advised me to be careful not to make
the titles too easy and I said that I would keep the average rating as
close to 2300 as possible. We worked out the budget, liaised with various
people in FIDE to make sure that what we were doing was ok, and proceeded.

During the time that entries were coming in I became aware of another FIDE
regulation (not under the zonal section of the handbook). Under item A.03
item 7 we have to pay to FIDE 100 Swiss Francs for each participant of
which 20% goes back to the organising committee (ACF in this case) and 20%
goes to the Continental President to cover his costs.

I must confess that under these circumstances I considered my fiduciary
responsibility far outweighed my worry about soft titles and I accepted
entries sufficient to (almost) balance my revised budget.

On the entry form I stated 4.5 pts = FM or WFM Titles, 6.0 pts = IM or WIM
Titles

This statement was based on my discussions with Gary Bekker and various
FIDE officials and was made in good faith. Some doubt has now been placed
on their validity. Various events occurred to cloud the issue. For example
we did not anticipate a complete absence of female overseas entrants. Some
people believe that some of the titles are invalid. Others, like Cathy
Rogers have interpreted the rules to say that they are valid. Michael
Freeman, Gary Bekker and myself believe that they are valid. More
importantly, bearing in mind the statement that I made in the entry form, I
believe that I have a responsibility to proceed and pursue the titles for
all those involved, which I will do.

My philosophy is to open up chess as much as possible and in many ways this
zonal was living proof that this works (try asking the players). I also
believe that opening up the world championship is good for chess. Many will
disagree and say that traditionally the World Championship is owned by the
World Champion. I say that the World Championship should be owned and
organised by the governing body and opened up to all the players. Certainly
I wouldn't hesitate to run a zonal on a similar basis again.

That said, I do agree that we have to tighten up the event so that the
titles have to be truly earned. I mean no disrespect whatsoever to the two
lowest-rated Australian players and all the players who got titles, but had
I not included these two players then most of the eight FMs that were
gained at the tournament would not have been. (Also we would have been
$1,200 short). In practical terms for the future I believe it is quite
possible that we will achieve a stronger demand for places based on the
success of this tournament and this in itself could solve the problem. Also
we may well be in a stronger position to obtain sponsorship. Whatever
happens I feel that we will have to be very careful to structure the event
to make sure that titles have to be earned - I can't sustain an argument
that some of the titles were not a little soft this time. We will also have
to be careful with the wording in future entry forms.

QUEEN'S BIRTHDAY WEEKENDER

My apologies to the NSW Chess Federation and Ashfield Catholic Community
Centre. In my haste to promote the Gold Coast Open on 19/20 June I
overlooked the Queen's Birthday Weekender which will be held on 12/13 June
at the above venue. It is a Grand Prix Class 5 tournament. I hope the
Sydney chess community get right behind this event.

GRAND PRIX

Gail Ransom has kindly given me the final results for the 1998 Grand Prix
and Andrew Allen is putting them up on the webpage. Cheques will be issued
very shortly. Andrew is also updating the 1999 Grand Prix scores with the
help of Ingrid Thompson.

COACHING

Nik Stawski has just issued some draft documentation re the National
Coaching Accreditation Scheme to chess coaches around Australia. If you
have not received the info and you are an interested coach please let me
know and I'll make sure Nik forwards it to you. Nik is keen to start
running courses later this year. Geoff Butler has also come up with a
couple of very good ideas. He is going to start up a national coaches'
association (professional body) which will primarily be concerned with the
professional development of chess coaches around Australia and the
development of coaching in the schools. As far as I'm concerned this will
be officially recognised by the ACF (subject to council approval). Geoff
also came up with the idea of holding an annual conference of coaches
immediately after the Doeberl Cup each year. I think this deserves support
and the ACF will provide some financial assistance if required (subject to
council approval).

WORLD JUNIORS

Manuel Weeks advises that the following junior selections can be confirmed,
the others are still subject to the selection committtee: U20 Max
Leskiewicz and Veronica Klimenko U16 David Smerdon and Laura Moylan U14
Zong-Yuan Zhao and Catherine Lip U12 Peter Jovanovic U10 Michelle Lee.

ASSISTANCE WITH THIS WEEKLY BULLETIN AND ALL CHESS MATTERS

I'd like to acknowledge and thank most sincerely my wife, Wendy, who is
selflessly putting so much into helping me with all the onerous tasks
involved.

Finally, I would very much like to reinforce what I said after the zonal
finished. The hours of work put in by arbiters Gary Bekker and Ian Murray
went well beyond the call of duty - their commitment was absolute. Manuel
Weeks played in the event, but the enormous amount of time that he spent
helping Gary with the bulletins and helping the juniors was at great cost
to his own performance. We should never overlook those people who
altruistically put a huge amount of themselves (and often their own money)
into the  administration of chess. They, like me, can probably learn from
this zonal event, but nobody should doubt their total commitment to the
sport. Along with Andrew Allen and Norm Greenwood, I believe that they are
doing a great job in the administration of Australian chess. Thank you.

CORRESPONDENCE


ROBERT JAMIESON:

Just a quick note to add my thoughts to the great Zonal debate.

I was very pleased for the three players who gained their IM title,
particularly for David Smerdon as we all want him to develop into a top
player, and attaining the IM title at such a young age should encourage him
greatly.

I do however agree with most of Peter Parr's comments. In my view the Zonal
should be a stronger and more prestigious tournament than the Australian
Championships and should have an entry cut-off to reflect that. For
instance the Vic Championship is normally open to players 2000+; the Aust
Championship to players 2100+; and the Zonal should be a higher cut-off
than that. It should be an elite tournament to chose the best player to
represent our zone, not a tournament designed to mass produce worthless FM
titles.

If one accepts that the main aim is to chose the best player to represent
our zone, then I think the organisers should ask themselves after the event
if it achieved that aim. If they decide that it may not have, then perhaps
next time they need to look at having more rounds, or a smaller and
stronger field, or a more attractive prize fund to help achieve that goal.
(This is not intended to be a criticism of the current event which I
understand was organised at short notice and without significant
sponsorship, but more a suggestion for next time).

Finally, I must say that I greatly enjoyed the coverage and the games that
were quickly available on the net, and my congratulations to those involved.

*****
DAMIAN NORRIS:

It is obvious Peter Parr's comments have ruffled a few feathers and I
suppose it is natural for players and officials involved in the zonal to
try and protect the integrity of the tournament and those prestigious
titles that have been "earned". However, one must be objective. It would
have to be one of the weakest zonals ever.

Every young aspiring chess player wants to achieve the coveted GM or IM
title (and to a lesser extent the FM title). But when "weak" club players,
that would probably not even be invited to compete in their own state
championship, are allowed to participate in this world championship cycle,
it does make a mockery of the tournament and any subsequent titles gained.

I have played in 2 previous zonals and to be able to participate in
(normally) such strong international competition is considered an honour.
In one such tournament, I could only achieve 1.5/11. In the same tournament
Tim Reilly started with 0/5 and Alex Wohl could not even achieve 50%. This
indicates the strength of previous zonals.

But when one can turn up on the Gold Coast, score 4 points against the
bottom rated club players, two of whom are only 1300 (I'm actually being
very kind to the Fiji rep), and 1/2 point from 5 against all other
opponents (some of whom are not much stronger), it does make you wonder
about the prestige of gaining the FM title. It is thus no surprise that the
title is often referred to as the Feeble Master title.

Because of politics in this country, I am not likely to be chosen to
represent Fiji in further international tournaments. Certainly all our new
crop of Feeble Masters, however, should not complain about Fiji's choice of
representative. It is just a shame that PNG or Solomon Islands or some
other similar strong nation did not compete to make things just that little
bit easier next time. After all only a little bit more than three quarters
of all participants scored 50% or greater.

I would suggest a few of these new titled players might like to buy me a
beer next time they see me (or preferably a Grandfather port) or if not at
least send a case to Fiji's chess president for trying to alienate me from
the Fiji chess scene. By not taking advantage of my humble chess knowledge
while I still live here, it is obvious Fiji's Filipino chess president is
not interested in helping to develop local talent in this country.

*****
PETER PARR (OAM) (FIDE International Chess Arbiter, 21 years; Former member
FIDE CHIPS Commission, 8 years; Former member FIDE Computer Commission, 4
years; Former member of the FIDE Rules Commission, 4 years; Former member
FIDE Arbiter Commission, 4 years)

A reply to recent correspondence from the recent Sub-Zonal Tournament

Bekker - Parr statement "it was not possible for any Australian to score an
IM norm in the zonal." Bekker says my statement is UNTRUE.

I refer to the FIDE handbook title regulations 8.5 "At least 4 opponents
must be from federations other than his own" The QLD zonal only had 3
players who were not from Australia so Bekker is wrong and my statement is
correct.

Bekker advises that in the 1993 Dublin Zonal a total of 11 players under
2300 gained the FM title. Nothing could be further from reality. The fact
is no player at all became a FIDE master from the 1993 Dublin Zonal. 11
players below 2300 scored 50% or higher in the 56 player event but none of
the players gained the IM or FM titles. A simple check of the FIDE rating
list several years after the Dublin Zonal clearly shows the 11 players did
not receive titles from the event. It should be noted that the chairman of
the FIDE titles and ratings committee is from Ireland and was his country's
highest rated player at the time of the Dublin Zonal. The format of the
Dublin 1993 Zonal was never repeated.

When two players who are friends with an average ACF rating below 2000 play
51 moves between them in a highly complicated game drawing by perpetual
check in super double quick time very soon after the start of the final
round I do not believe the arbiter should accept the result as a LEGITIMATE
game without question no matter who the players are. The arbiter should
speak to each of the 2 players separately. In the worst scenario I would
severely reprimand the players for breach of FIDE tournament rules (Co6 Iv
30). One month later the arbiter defends the players siting a number of
games with the same opening variation. Surely the arbiter can clarify the
matter by speaking to the players who are in agreement with the sequence of
events as relayed to others. I do not regard the worst scenario as cheating
but it is a breach of the FIDE laws of chess. One may say what if the 2
players turned up played ten moves each and agreed a draw isn't that the
same? The answer is NO - one is legal, one is not legal.

A full account of the game appears in Depasquale's Melbourne Age column of
22 May 1999. http://www.ozemail.com.au/~chesswd/cdp2205.html

"The actors in this charade made three errors, causing howls of protest
from chess players throughout the nation. Firstly, they played their moves
at break-neck speed, causing onlookers to suspect that all was not what it
appeared. Secondly, they overlooked that, in the modern era of million-game
chess databases, the source of their moves could be traced. Thirdly, the
moves lack credibility: if White chose 23.Qd2, isn't White just winning?"

PAIRINGS in ACF Bulletin 16 I stated "I understand the Swiss Perfect
pairing program not approved by FIDE and developed in Australia was used
for pairings in the zonal with the arbiter over-riding the program in
extreme cases. Arbiter Murray says I am misinformed in bulletin 17 and
chief arbiter Bekker agrees with Murray in bulletin 18 and says that the
pairings were performed manually not by Swiss Perfect as Parr suggests.
During the event however Bekker sent a lengthy email to 15 international
arbiters including myself explaining how the 2 arbiters in the latest round
had decided to over-ride Swiss perfect and manually altered one pairing! In
the pairing for round 7 I stated "by far the 2 highest rated players in the
event Solomon and Wallace were paired and the 5 players on 3/6 who were
aiming for 50% all achieved their target. Note the 2 arbiters differ in
their statements of matching colours of opponents for Solomon. By far the
two highest players should not have played each other. Pairings for round 7
was simple, colours was not a problem, four of one and three of the other -
sequence is not a priority. It is worth noting that in the Sydney IM FIDE
event recently the sole leader on 3? out of 4 was paired with a player on
1? out of 4 to ensure Australian players could play enough overseas player
for title norms. The arbiters are well intentioned in this regard but it is
a very clear breach of FIDE regulations. There is no 10,000 Swiss Franc fee
for the zonal, simply not correct.

Depasquale claims that the 1985 Zonal in the Philippines where he finished
in the top 8 was weaker than the 1999 zonal. Four leading Australians
competed with 14 others - 10 of whom were already International masters in
the 1985 zonal. Solomon was knocked out in the preliminaries with 1 out of
8 and Depasquale scored 1? out of 11 finishing in 12th place in the final.
The average rating of the 18 players was 2365 FIDE. It was strong in 1985.
The 1999 Zonal had 1 GM and 3 IM's but more than half the entire field was
below 2060 ACF rating. Only 1 of the 26 in the 1999 Zonal is rated above
the IM norm level. A number of players have suggested an open zonal is a
good idea. This is not in accordance with FIDE regulations. All rules on
how zonals are to run are in the FIDE handbook. :No federation has more
than 5 players in the zonal" is one rule. We had 23 etc.

It is sad to note that 21 years after FIDE introduced the FM title a number
of our FIDE masters now attach no prestige to the title. The FM title is
awarded to players rated 2300 or above with at least 24 rated games. With 6
Australians ranked outside Australia's top 200 players claiming FM titles
from the zonal our real FIDE masters are already upset and rightly so. For
a more complete picture of my thoughts on the zonal see my 2576 word
article in ACF bulletin 16 - every statement is correct and I apologise for
not having to address all points raised by other writers.

By the way FIDE does not allow an arbiter to score an unplayed game as a
win in a FIDE event to ensure a player obtains a fide rating.

Finally all international arbiters and organisers of FIDE rated events must
follow the rules and regulations laid down by FIDE in the FIDE handbook,
FIDE will only accept results of events held under their regulations.
Copies of the FIDE handbook can be obtained through the ACF. The recently
organised so called Manhattan system where a 6 round Swiss is held followed
by the top 3 playing 3 selected international masters who did not compete
in the first 6 rounds is NOT a legal system for obtaining FIDE title norms
simply because the 3 IM's have not actually played in a tournament at all
and no such system appears in the FIDE handbook TITLE regulations appear in
detail in the FIDE handbook B01 section 5.0

Administrators

The ACF and State Associations are all in need of more helpers to assist in
the administration of chess. On a national level the recently appointed ACF
President Graeme Gardiner has devoted a considerable amount of his time to
ACF work as well as his long involvement in junior chess. Gary Bekker has
been deputy ACF President for some years and directs numerous events, does
all the bulletins and everything else. Bekker like Gardiner, Murray,
Greenwood, Zworestine, Allen, etc. All need helpers so if you can spare
some time it would be appreciated by all. My letters are designed to be
constructive and I feel strongly that Australia should abide by the rules
and regulations of the FIDE handbook. FIDE does not allow club players to
compete in the world championship cycle. We are claiming 8 new men's FM
titles for Australia 6 of whom are over 100 rating points too low to
compete in our national championship. I think this is inappropriate.

*****
MAX FULLER (9 times Australian Olympic representative)

I fully agree with the comments made by Peter Parr in the ACF Bulletin
Number 16.

I am horrified that international titles are being devalued.

*****
JASON GRAHAM LYONS, International Arbiter

The Zonal: Substantial or Substandard?

Zonal tournaments represent the qualifying stage of the World
Championships. Their prestige is such that FIDE grants titles to players
who perform well in zonal tournaments, waiving stringent criteria on
ratings and norms. The recently completed Oceania Zonal, staged at the
Surfer's Paradise Parkroyal Hotel, has produced a glut of candidates for
these esteemed titles. There is concern within the chess community that the
open format of our Zonal denigrates, and may invalidate, these titles.

Peter Parr has already provided a history of the Zonal system (see ACF
Bulletin #16) and I refer readers to his article for a fairly comprehensive
overview. This article addresses three issues:
1) The problems facing the ACF in organising the Zonal.
2) The merit of the ACF's solutions to these problems.
3) Correspondence from ACF Bulletin #17.

The problems facing the ACF in organising the Zonal.
Financing an international tournament in Australia is no pleasure cruise.
It is widely recognised that chess in this country is in a financially
parlous state. As the Director of the QVB Chess Festival, I can personally
attest to the difficulties organisers encounter when trying to obtain
corporate and Government support for such events. I am already beginning
work on the next Festival, still a year away, and am hopeful at best of
being able to attract the sort of support anticipated by the QVB. The ACF
had only 3 months, and under the circumstances did well to arrange generous
discounts on accommodation with the Parkroyal Hotel.

Running costs for the Zonal included accommodation for the top players,
arbiters fees, FIDE fees, prizemoney, plus incidentals, totalling about
$7,000 in my estimation. Hopefully Graeme Gardiner's efforts to receive
Federal Government funding will be rewarded, but in the meantime the Zonal
needed to be financed. The ACF continues to have to chase yearly dues from
States, whose solipsism continues to see a duplication of resources through
State magazines, and is a stymie to the development of a National
membership scheme. The editors of Australian Chess Forum recently dismissed
funding as a priority, yet the primary reason the ACF chose to adopt an
open format for our Zonal was to raise sufficient money from entry fees to
make the event viable. Funding is clearly a major issue for Australian chess.

The merit of the ACF's solutions to these problems
The open format of the Zonal was a poor decision. The average rating of the
field was 2229, and as such is in no way comparable with the strength of
other Zonals as stated by Chris Depasquale, and quoted by Geoff Saw, in ACF
Bulletin #17. FIDE was consulted during the planning of the Zonal, and
advised the ACF to ensure an average rating of at least 2300. Players
competing in the event were told that the field would average over 2275.

The format used not only denigrates FIDE titles, but jeopardises all titles
being claimed from both the Men's and Women's Zonals. The other Asian
Zonal, conducted in Myanmar, is being scrutinised by FIDE because Myanmar
representatives made up 11 of the 30 players in the field. Australia had 23
of the 26 players in the Men's event. Despite the proliferation of local
players, the Myanmar tournament was by far the stronger event, with 4 GMs,
5 IMs, and an average rating of 2325 (compare this to our Zonal: 1 GM, 4
IMs, average rating 2229).

Geoff Saw is not inclined to apply for his FM title, and that's really the
point – he ought to! The title is supposed to recognise achievement, and
Geoff did achieve, scoring 5/9 against a 2241 field which included 2 IMs
(he held both to a draw) and a vastly underrated David Smerdon. Players are
declining to apply for the FM title nowadays because tournaments like our
Zonal create unworthy recipients. Australia may not be the only
transgressors, but that is a poor argument to justify our exploitation of
the FIDE system. We would all like to see more Australians earning titles.
Giving local players the opportunity to earn norms was the primary reason
Gary Bekker and I went to such lengths to add the Qantas Challenge to the
list of events at the QVB Chess Festival. However such efforts, and more
importantly the efforts of players who strive for years to achieve these
titles, are devalued by the comparative ease with which players could
obtain instant titles at the Zonal.

At least in the case of our Women's event the ACF can rightly state that
every effort was made to meet the requirements laid out by FIDE. That no
foreign players competed is no fault of the ACF, and the players should not
be penalised for the lack of interest from the female chess players of New
Zealand and Fiji.

Part of the solution lies in repealing the split of the 18 Asian Zonal
countries. It may be appropriate to maintain 2 zones, however an equitable
split, rather than 15 in one zone and 3 in the other, would seem a
reasonable compromise. Parr calls for the zonal to be a round robin,
however as I have already argued, this is currently not financially viable.
Our Zonals have traditionally consisted of two stages – a preliminary
tournament and a final – and I suggest this may be a workable compromise
between financial and ethical concerns.

Take our recently conducted Zonal as an example. Two preliminary divisions
(ensuring that there is an even number of players in each division). could
have been run, over 7 rounds. The top 4 or 5 players from each division
then qualify for a round robin final. The lesser lights still get the
chance to compete against the best in the region, but must do well to
qualify for the finals and the opportunity for titles.

Correspondence from ACF Bulletin #17.

I have already examined some of the issues raised by Parr in his thorough,
if didactic, article. All but the correspondence from the Rogers' can be
sourced via the ACF webpage.

In an April email, Ian and Cathy Rogers made a strong case for the awarding
of titles from the Women's Zonal. I fully agree with Cathy's statement that:
"…anyone who qualifies for the Interzonal (Laura's tournament may not now
be called an Interzonal but a World Championship – hardly LESS impressive!)
gets the IM title."
Of concern is that FIDE states the number of players from each country who
may compete in Zonals, and Australia entered more than is prescribed.
However as stated above, the ACF did its level best to get representation
from each zone member, so unlike the Men's tournament, there was no obvious
exploitation of FIDE rules.

Chris Depasquale's correspondence reminds me of a line from an old Irish play:
"The Right Honourable gentleman is indebted to his memory for his jests,
and to his imagination for his facts."
Chris attempts to validate our Zonal with a comparison to the 1985 Asian
Zonal, in which he also played. Chris notes that although his performance
was "in the low 2200's", he qualified for the finals, thereby justifying
his claim that our zonal was the stronger of the two. The average rating of
the 1985 Asian Zonal field was 2365, compared with a 2229 average this
year. Furthermore, the ratings system is inherently inflationary, which
means that by today's standards the 1985 field would average over 2400,
which is a massive difference. To qualify for the finals in 1985, one had
to finish in the top 6 in your division (there were only 9 players in each
division). Chris made the finals and finished with an overall score of
4/19. He scored a full point more in this year's event, despite playing 10
rounds less! In the same event Darryl Johansen performed at IM strength
with a total of 11, placing =3rd, whilst Stephen Solomon scored 1/8 in his
preliminaries, compared with 4/9 this year.

Chris provides a second dubious proof of the strength of the Zonal: that
Darryl, Stephen, and John-Paul Wallace performed below IM strength. I
submit the performances of these players owed to their own form rather than
the strength of the field. John-Paul is returning to chess after a lengthy
break and was not expected to hit peak form yet, whilst you have only to go
back to the Saintly Cup to find the last time Stephen and Darryl performed
below IM strength. No-one doubts the quality of these players, however they
were not at their best during the Zonal. On every measure our Zonal was one
of the weakest on record.

Chris states "I don't believe that anyone takes these (FM titles)
seriously". Chris himself has gone to the trouble and expense of applying
for one. Certainly with the proliferation of FM titles now, easily gained
when Federations allow a long tail of amateurs to compete in Zonals, the
prestige of the FM title has lessened. Jonathan Sarfati is an FM, and
writes: "I speak as a player who earned the FM title the ‘hard way'."

Others like Max Fuller value their recognition as a FIDE Master. If Zonals
are allowed to be run like a weekender, then in time the same devaluation
that results in no-one taking the FM title seriously will surely occur to
the IM title.

I am in complete agreement with Chris and Jonathan concerning the title
claims of Vladimir Feldman and David Smerdon. Outstanding performances
both, especially David's – just brilliant. It will be a great shame if, due
to the long line of amateurs allowed to compete, titles such as David's are
rejected. Those on the ACF who are in contact with the FIDE Qualifications
Committee are acutely aware of how real this possibility is.

Geoff Saw responded to implications that he had breached the FIDE Code of
Ethics in his final round game with Manuel Weeks. Geoff rightly points out
that many players agree to quick or theoretical draws, and quotes Darryl as
saying "players can agree to a draw whenever they want." Agreed, however I
don't think Darryl had in mind agreeing to a draw before the game
commences. Discussing which classical drawing line to play with your
opponent before your game is very much in breach of FIDE's Code of Ethics.

Roland Brockman is keeping an open mind on the format of Zonals. One
valuable point he makes is that to award international titles to club
players who score points off each other defeats the whole purpose. It has
already been widely reported that one player scored 1/6 against  FIDE
rated players and 3/3 against unrated players to earn his title (he beat
one of them in the last round to make it to 50%). In one sense I say good
luck to him. He did nothing wrong – entered a tournament, played 9 games,
scored 50%, earnt an FM title. Yet he'll receive a discounted entry to
tournaments based on this achievement whilst the likes of 3-time NSW
Champion Greg Canfell, with an IM norm under his belt, will be paying full
price. This lack of equity is difficult to justify.

Ian Murray, one of the two arbiters at the Zonal, addressed the issue of
pairings: "…colours [are] the overriding factor under the current Swiss
rules" I strongly disagree. The overriding factor is that for all
score-groups the top half should be paired against the bottom half. The
Dutch pairing system used at the Zonal does not require pairing changes for
colour until one player is about to receive the same colour 3 times in a
row, or is about to have one colour on 3 occasions more than the other.

I find that strict adherence to this can cause complications in later
rounds, and so if a player has a strong colour preference (e.g. 3 whites
and 2 blacks creates a strong preference for black) then I will try to
balance the colours, so long as that player is swapped with a player of
similar rating, and stays in either the top or bottom half as initially
assigned. The example quoted was after 6 rounds, where every player had had
3 whites and 3 blacks, so there is no justification whatsoever for pairing
the top two seeds in the score-group together. Criticism of the round 7
pairings is entirely justified.

Despite these criticisms, the ACF has done well to put together a Men's and
Women's Zonal under difficult circumstances. Furthermore, the creation of
these forums for debate increases communication and understanding between
us all, and I applaud Graeme and his committee for such an open approach to
administering the ACF.

*****
MICHAEL FREEMAN Email: nzchess@compuserve.com:

Thanks for the opportunity to express some views on the Zonal debate. I
have enjoyed the various opinions expressed and it is good to see so many
people with an interest....

Firstly, for readers who do not know who I am, I am currently the NZ
delegate to FIDE, one of four Asian members on the Executive Council of
FIDE, and the Deputy President for the Asian Continent. On the playing side
I have a modest 2205 rating and an ICCF IM title. The views I express here
are my own however, and do represent either the opinions of the NZ Chess
Federation or FIDE.

A bit of recent history...

At the Elista FIDE meetings in late 1998, the issue of splitting the
existing Zone 3.2 into 2 sub-zones was again raised. As the NZ delegate I
supported such a move, whilst the Australian representative Phil Viner was
not so sure. He also had guidelines from the ACF concerning this matter.
After discussions with people in ACF by email, meetings with other
Australian officials and players, it was agreed that we would accept the
offer of a new subzone for a trial period of four years. If, at the end of
this period, the countries felt it was not working, we have the agreement
of the other Asian Continental countries that we can rejoin the existing
Zone 3.2. The other part of the agreement is that we are still eligible to
compete in all other Asian events such as the Asian Teams, Asian Cities and
Asian Junior events.

After discussions with Gary Bekker and Phil Viner, I agreed to nominate
Graeme Gardiner as the Zonal President. It must be noted that this position
is independent from the position of President of ACF. Graeme will hold the
Zonal President position for four years, unless he decides to resign at any
stage, irrespective of his position with ACF.

So why do I support a new sub-zone?...

NZ has for some time being trying to gain IM norm opportunities within our
local tournament structure by changing the regulations covering the NZ
Championship, and hosting the occasional small IM event. Under the existing
FIDE Zonal regulations this presents another local opportunity to give
players an opportunity to work towards a title.

Many players within the Zone are attempting to make a living as
professionals with differing degrees of success. The winner of the Zone is
under present World Championship rules guaranteed $6,000 just for winning
the Zonal and qualifying for the first round of the knockout event. Not a
bad payday for playing two games in Las Vegas!.

The full Asian area now gets three players into the World Championship, two
from Zone 3.2a and one from our Zone 3.2b. This must be beneficial to
players in both areas financially in terms of the cash mentioned above and
the promotional opportunities that being part of World Championship should
bring.

So, the downsides...

There is now an obligation on Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and any other
countries we can encourage to host a Zonal each year. This is an
obligation, not a pleasure.

The zone will produce some players with FIDE titles that will be considered
‘easy' in parts of the world. However, that is not the fault of the players
concerned, nor a good reason not to be a Zone. This has been the case in
Africa for some years.

Zonal players will not get the opportunity to play other Asian players in a
Zonal as in the past. I agree, but with the proliferation of events
compared to a few years ago, this is not so much of a concern as many other
opportunities now exist. It must be remembered that zonals were only held
once every three years and few other events existed in this part of the
world. Times have changed.

About the Titles...

I agree with the comments that the Titles gained are probably ‘soft'
compared to the efforts other players have had to put in to obtain the same
title. However, don't blame the Zonal for this, but push to have the
regulations changed. I would fully support amendments to the Zonal
regulations that made the winners and/or 67% score gain an IM norm rather
than a title. Similarly, the FIDE Master part could have the rating minimum
included as for other events.

It is a similar matter to the debate concerning the ratings in one Asian
nation. They have gained a benefit from a loophole in the rating systems
concerning the Schev. type tournament format that is becoming very popular.
No wonder!. The obvious solution is to fix the rules.

The Next Zonal...

There is no obligation to have the same format for the Zonal each year. The
next Zonal will hopefully be in New Zealand in mid 2000, depending upon the
timings of the next World Championship cycle. A swiss event in New Zealand
would be harder to finance and find enough players of suitable standard to
compete, unless quite a few Australians wished to charter a plane to NZ.
Discussions with Graeme will occur once the likely potential dates are
known.

Other Nations into the Zone...

I agree with the sentiments that we should try to expand the Zone. Papua
New Guinea and the Solomon Islands seem immediate candidates, but I would
welcome any suggestions on how we could approach any of the other 16
nations in Sub-Zone 3.2a, or other nations.

*****
ROB HOCHSTADT:

Entry forms for the upcoming 7th Annual Suncoast Noosa Open Tournament will
be enclosed in the next issue of Queensland Chess Magazine due out in the
first week of June,

The tournament is a Category 5 Grand Prix event and will be held on the
weekend of June 26 / 27, a week after the Gold Coast Open. GM Ian Rogers is
a confirmed starter as is Hungarian IM Laszlo Hazai. Regulars at this event
include IM's Stephen Solomon, Alex Wohl and David Smerdon and FM Craig
Laird. Averaged 83 players over the past 6 years.

Over $2000.00 in cash and prizes. Digital clocks. Rate of play 60 minutes
each plus 10 seconds per move when time expires. 7 rounds commencing at
9a.m sharp on Saturday, June 26.

Director of Play is Gary Bekker.

Enquiries / Entry forms from Robert Hochstadt; 19 Elanda St, Sunshine
Beach, 4567. 07 5447 5056 (H), 07 5447 3638 (W) fetters@babe.net.au or
check the club's Web Page at www.squirrel.com.au/~sunchess/

*****
HILTON BENNETT

Chess Holiday in New Zealand - Australian Chess Players

The "North Island Championship" is generally the strongest tournament in NZ
each year after the NZ Championship, and the profile of the tournament is
being increased further in 1999 by running it as a FIDE Rated event. This
year's tournament will be played in two grades. The Championship Grade will
be an 8 Round FIDE Rated Swiss tournament for players rated NZCF 1900 or
over, or FIDE 2000 or over. The Reserve Grade will be an 8 Round tournament
run concurrently, open to players rated below NZCF 1900. Time controls are
40 moves in 1 hour 45 mins. and 30 minutes guillotine.

The event will be run over five days from 5th to 9th of July in Hamilton
(120km south of Auckland), and will be preceded by a 6 round North Is.
Rapid Championship (30/30) on Sunday 4th July. The various events will have
a total prize fund of NZ$3,500. Discounted accommodation packages are
available at the tournament venue, the Hillcrest Lodge Motor Inn.
Australian players wishing to play have various airline options to fly to
Auckland , or can fly direct to Hamilton from Sydney or Brisbane with the
Air NZ charter airline Freedom Air. Hamilton is also within easy travel
distance of a range of interesting tourist destinations.

I am happy to provide further information and entry details to anyone who
contacts me at my email address: hilton@ncs.co.nz or my postal address:
Hilton Bennett, P.O. Box 604, Hamilton, New Zealand

*****

yours in chess
Graeme Gardiner


-------------------------------------------

Graeme Gardiner
President, Australian Chess Federation
C/- Somerset College, Somerset Drive, Mudgeeraba Q 4213
Phone 07 5530 3777 (w) 07 5530 5794 (h) Fax 07 5525 2676 (w)
Email: ggardiner@somerset.qld.edu.au   http://www.somerset.qld.edu.au/chess/