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MatPlus.Net Forum Competitions Open letter to Mr. President of the WFCC
 
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(1) Posted by Alexander Leontyev [Thursday, Apr 5, 2012 10:56]; edited by Alexander Leontyev [12-04-07]

Open letter to Mr. President of the WFCC


Dear Mr. President of the WFCC Harry Fougiaxis!
I want to indicate one problem for you. Some strong solvers from Russia, even in a season when they show perfect results, sometimes can’t take part in the W(E)CSC even as individuals, because them don't include in the application of Russia. This happens because of strange methods of selection of solvers to the W(E)CSC in our country. For example, in 2008 I was second in the Rus. champ (after Evseev), and 3rd (2nd between Russians) in the World Cup – 2009 (after Evseev and Ukrainian Kopil), but I was not included even in number of 6 solvers from Russia in the ECSC-2009. Fresh example - in ECSC-2012 will not take part a champion of Russia–2011 E. Fomichev, a bronze prizer of Russian ch.–2011 D. Pletnev and I with my modest 5th place in Rus. ch. and 34th place in rating-list of solvers. I think this situation is OBVIOUSLY UNFAIR, because in ECSC-2012 will participate Russian Petrov, though his results and rating in 2011-12 years are much worse. Also participant Selivanov, that took part in all latest W(E)CSC since 1992, has no good results in the last time. He didn’t take part in the Russian champs since 2007. In 2007 he was on the 15th place in Rus. champ after the 1st day with a lag of 22,5 points from leader, then he didn’t come in the 2nd day, but with a little help of obliging judges (Gurov and Vladimirov) was not included in the table of final results. I can show more examples, when Russian solvers with high results were undeservedly deprived of right to take part in W(E)CSC.
I think, that WFCC must be interested in participation of strongest solvers in W(E)CSC, and also in observance of sport principles and principles of fair play, and for these reasons I think that WFCC is morally obliged to make some actions to change this strange and UNFAIR situation. For example, WFCC can adopt a rule that as an INDIVIDUAL solver from each country must be included the solver with the best result from the latest national champ. (Of course, it will be solver which was not included in the team of his country. And of course, if this solver will refuse from this right to participate, it will pass to the solver with the next best result in the national champ and so on.) Or WFCC can adopt another rule – that solver with rating not lower than 30th (40, 50?) position have right to take part in W(E)CSC over quota. May be it have sense to adopt both these rules.

With great respect and great apologizes for troubles, Russian solver Alexander Leontjev.
 
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(2) Posted by Kevin Begley [Thursday, Apr 5, 2012 16:39]; edited by Kevin Begley [12-04-05]

Isn't this (a fair system to determine inclusion, based upon solving strength) already in the Russian Team's interest?
Why do you need the international body to determine who participates on your national solving team?
Can't you imagine what an outcry of unfairness there might be, if your team were chosen by delegates of other, COMPETING countries?

International delegates may not have your team's best interest at heart -- in fact, their interest might be entirely contrary to your national interest!

Why not focus your efforts on improving your country's internal selection policies?
Surely, your compatriots can be persuaded that more fairness in the selection process (however that may be implemented) would tend to result in higher team placement.
Why would a team elect to send anything less than their best willing solvers?

If there is widespread discrimination against a particular group/class/gender, on an international scale, I would agree with some international effort to assure equal opportunity for inclusion... for example, if there were evidence that countries were systematically denying women solvers an opportunity to compete, I would agree that the International Body should consider some form of pressure/intervention.
But, this sort of discrimination is not your claim -- you are suggesting that a corruption (by favoritism/ineptitude?) is sufficient grounds to warrant an international takeover of your team's selection process!?

The difference is, a poor selection process in Russia would only reflect negatively upon the Russian team, itself; whereas, a widespread policy of discrimination may reflect negatively upon the entire sport (solving).
It should be inherently in Russia's own interest, to establish a more objective criteria, which helps select your best possible team.
And, it may be completely contrary to the interest of international delegates (each of whom represent a competing country), to provide assistance.

I have some disagreements with my own country's policies, when it comes to awarding national composition titles.
Though I haven't yet had much success in convincing my countrymen that a more objective criteria might provide better encouragement for composers, I certainly would not ask WFCC to provide international oversight.
This is a national matter, which requires an internal solution.

Why would your complaint warrant the WFCC's involvement?
Have you tried resolving this matter internally?
 
 
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(3) Posted by seetharaman kalyan [Thursday, Apr 5, 2012 17:27]; edited by seetharaman kalyan [12-04-05]

While the selection of the team for Russian should be left to their Federation, WFCC can perhaps allow solvers with high rating to take part in the Europian or World solving championship in their individual capacity and compete for the individual championship.
 
   
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(4) Posted by Kevin Begley [Thursday, Apr 5, 2012 17:40]

Forgive my ignorance, but is it not already possible to compete individually?
If not, then how can WFCC claim any validity in their title (of individual solving champion)?
It would make no sense to unfairly inhibit individual participation in a competition which intends to recognize the strongest individual.

I was under the impression that it is possible to send a number of teams (even incomplete teams) to this event.
 
   
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(5) Posted by Kevin Begley [Thursday, Apr 5, 2012 17:59]

>"...WFCC can perhaps allow solvers with high rating to take part in the ... World solving championship in their individual capacity..."

How highly must a solver be rated, to be granted participation in this competition?
Higher than the lowest rated solver on any given team?

If WFCC intends to award the title of "World Solving Champion" to an individual, it must allow every individual a credible opportunity to compete.
Otherwise, the legitimacy of this "individual" title would be highly questionable.
 
   
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(6) Posted by seetharaman kalyan [Thursday, Apr 5, 2012 18:40]

Sorry I was under the wrong impression that only individuals sponsored by their federation are allowed to participate.
 
 
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(7) Posted by Juraj Lörinc [Thursday, Apr 5, 2012 20:10]

Kevin: "If WFCC intends to award the title of "World Solving Champion" to an individual, it must allow every individual a credible opportunity to compete.
Otherwise, the legitimacy of this "individual" title would be highly questionable."

Sorry, Kevin, but such approach of national nominations to championships with quotas is quite usual in many sports. E.g. in whitewater slalom, there are very strict national quotas and it is a national organization who nominates participants, each country deciding their own nomination criteria.
 
   
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(8) Posted by Kevin Begley [Friday, Apr 6, 2012 01:39]; edited by Kevin Begley [12-04-06]

No, Juraj, in this case, we are talking about not merely a sporting contest -- we're talking about a world champion title for individuals.
Go ahead and list the other sports which award such a title, but prohibit individuals a fair opportunity to seek competitive participation.

I can't think of a single, serious sport, which awards a world champion title (on an individual basis), but restricts individual entry on the basis of a non-transparent selection (to state it nicely!) of competitors (in the guise of a national team).
If that's what the title represents, its legitimacy (in claiming to bestow the highest individual solving honor) is certainly called into question.

I don't see how it helps to name other sporting contests which are based upon a similarly unfair (if not dishonest) competition, but I certainly look forward to reading your list of analogous sporting failures!

Is there really an Individual World Champion of Whitewater Slalom, designated on the basis of a national quota, with challengers limited by something other than an objective measure?
I don't believe such a contest would be worthy of any sport -- certainly not one which presumes a legitimate authority to award an Individual World Champion.

If I were a competitor for such a title, regardless of the sport, I'd very much want it to live up to its name.
That way, in the event I won, I could say that any individual in the world has a legitimate, transparent, and objective path to challenge my title.
And, if I can't say that, how can I call myself a World Champion?

Not only would I be kidding myself -- I would have become a pawn who serves to perpetuate an illegitimate sporting contest, in the interest of an unsound ego.
I expect a winner would understand that their first duty is to assure the legitimacy of their sport.
 
   
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(9) Posted by Juraj Lörinc [Friday, Apr 6, 2012 03:05]

I was writing about whitewater slalom as this sport is extremely popular and successful in Slovakia recently, thus gaining quite a coverage, so that I know the regulations.

Well, what about figure skating? I admit I do not know precise rules, but my impression is that each member country of the international organization can nominate normally one participant for each discipline and some more successful countries from previous championship can nominate 2 or 3.

The nominees have to fulfill some criteria to be eligible, but as soon as there are more potential participants than their country quote in the discipline, it is up to national organization (country) to decide on the nominee(s) for World Championship.

I admire your many words, but none of them has convinced me about ineligibility of such system.
 
   
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(10) Posted by Kevin Begley [Friday, Apr 6, 2012 06:42]; edited by Kevin Begley [12-04-06]

I don't know much about figure skating, but in my country, skaters openly compete for spots on the national team.
I presume participation in the world championships is earned -- not decided by some bureaucratic delegates in a cigar room.
If the determination were conducted otherwise, it would be a real pity -- not only for the legitimate challengers who are denied a fair contest, but also for the sport itself!
If you conduct a competition in a manner that unfairly prohibits challengers (on the basis of something other than merit -- yes, including a national quota!), you forfeit all claim to legitimacy.

The sport of Chess Problem Solving should provide every individual a fair opportunity to compete to earn the honor of the title, "individual world solving champion."
There is no legitimate reason to apply a national quota limitation (designed for a Team Solving Contest), as a determinant for challengers to a title that is bestowed upon an individual.

I have great respect for the long line of solvers who have earned the title, "World Champion."
It's nothing like the title for individuals in chess composition -- solving titles are earned on the basis of objective merit.
However, this title apparently does now require a more legitimate contest, which is evidenced by the facts of the original post (legitimate challengers have been denied any reasonable opportunity to contest for participation).

You can believe whatever you want to believe, Juraj -- just know that strong beliefs are insufficient to legitimize a continuation of a defective contest.
If you want the Individual World Champion title to continue to have legitimate meaning, the sport must provide an opportunity for all individuals to compete fairly, for the right to challenge.
If the sport continues to deprive individuals of a fair opportunity, not only does it call into question the authority of the organization which awards this title, but it also calls into question the integrity of the sport itself.

I'm sure there are some delegates who would prefer to take advantage of the national quotas, in order that they might improve their constituents chances to procure this title (whether deservedly, or not).
And, being fundamentally unwilling to accept that the present contest is unfair, they'd watch the sport's very integrity erode in the face of their rampant partisan representation.
If you think an unfair contest is in your country's best interest, perhaps alternative sports might have something better to offer.

It is just not worth risking the integrity of this sport (Chess Problem Solving) -- even those presented with good chances for a selfish outcome must ultimately appreciate, the best outcome is a fair contest!
 
   
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(11) Posted by Dan Meinking [Friday, Apr 6, 2012 09:05]

@Alexander: If the Russian Federation wishes to hand-pick its "team" of solvers, there probably isn't much the WFCC can do to change that. However, the WFCC absolutely should allow all qualified solvers to compete for individual honors. The only question is: what would constitute as "qualified".

@Harry: Although any method of selection is subjective, the new "Rating List" (see link in the left-hand margin) seems a reasonable measure, at least for the time being. A simple proposal:

(1) Anyone with a 2200 or higher rating qualifies for individual honors
(2) Anyone representing their national organization (up to 3 candidates) qualifies for both team and individual honors
 
   
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(12) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Friday, Apr 6, 2012 15:33]

Sometimes there is a problem with allowing any individual
with a rating higher than X to participate.

For 15 years or so, in Hamburg the qualification for the
all-German chess championship was played by the qualificants
of the next lower level, plus any GM/IM who wanted to
siphon off the prizes^W^W^W^W help the poor patzers to the
chance of playing FIDE norms.
So far, so good, but the tournament was played in Swiss mode,
with the results that I played myself to exhaustion against
one GM after the other just to be always overtaken in the last
round by some lucky geezer.
After 15 years, some heckler suddenly realized where all
the Hamburg money went and asked why it should be used to
stuff foreign GMs. (*Hamburg* GMs rarely ever played -
why should they - they were qualified for the German
championship by default, see ruling above.)
I bet with a decent qualification system I would have
qualified for the German championship more that zero times
in the 15 years (Hamburg master one year before the system: me;
Hamburg master two years after: me.)

The example might be a real bad one, depending on the mode the
solving championship is done. (I don't know.)

Hauke (lousy 2300 ELO)
 
   
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(13) Posted by Kevin Begley [Friday, Apr 6, 2012 18:13]; edited by Kevin Begley [12-04-06]

I'll second Dan's proposal -- it provides qualified solvers an opportunity to participate in the contest for the individual world championship; and, what could be wrong with that?

I also understand Hauke's point -- corruption in tourneys (and the rating system) is always a concern.
But, I think any contender (with a serious chance to win the WC title) would have no difficulty rising above a 2200 rating requirement.

I wonder -- should there be some allowance for OTB players, as well?
I mean, suppose a 2700 OTB GM would like to participate... ?
I can't imagine anybody would say no -- so, why not make some allowance for this possibility, as well?
I don't know what cutoff should be applied to OTB ratings (I suspect considerably higher than 2200), but it certainly would be fun to see some OTB GMs give solving the ole freshman try.
 
   
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(14) Posted by Dan Meinking [Friday, Apr 6, 2012 19:10]; edited by Dan Meinking [12-04-06]

I would amend my 'simple proposal' as follows:

(1) Anyone with a 2200 or higher solver rating qualifies for individual honors
(2) Anyone with a FIDE solving title (eg. GM, IM, FM, WGM, WIM, WFM, others??) qualifies for individual honors
(3) Anyone representing their national organization (up to 3 candidates) qualifies for both team and individual honors

@Hauke/Kevin: OTB players not meeting the above criteria belong in Swiss tourneys, not solving tourneys. :-)
 
   
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(15) Posted by Kevin Begley [Saturday, Apr 7, 2012 03:29]

Dan's second proposal is even better... but still, when I try to imagine Dan blocking Kasparov's entry at the door, pointing him away to some patzer-swiss, I keep seeing this image of a watch falling in slow-motion to the ground... then everything goes black, and I hear muffled questions about smelling salts. :)
 
 
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(16) Posted by Alexander Leontyev [Saturday, Apr 7, 2012 08:18]; edited by Alexander Leontyev [12-04-07]

7) Posted by Juraj Lörinc [Thursday, Apr 5, 2012 20:10]
"Sorry, Kevin, but such approach of national nominations to championships with quotas is quite usual in many sports. E.g. in whitewater slalom, there are very strict national quotas and it is a national organization who nominates participants, each country deciding their own nomination criteria".

I can show another example with right contrary approach. See our neighbours - the IINDIVIDUAL European chess champ-s with their several hundred participants and where can take part any European. http://chess-results.com/tnr66864.aspx?art=1&rd=11&lan=11&flag=30&zeilen=99999
 
   
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(17) Posted by Dan Meinking [Saturday, Apr 7, 2012 09:40]; edited by Dan Meinking [12-04-07]

@Kevin: In the unlikely event that Garry, Vishy and Magnus magically appear, I amend the proposal as follows:

(1) Anyone with a 2200 or higher solver rating qualifies for individual honors
(2) Anyone with a FIDE solving title (eg. GM, IM, FM, WGM, WIM, WFM, others??) qualifies for individual honors
(3) Anyone representing their national organization (up to 3 candidates) qualifies for both team and individual honors
(4) The sponsor/organizer reserves the right to select up to (say) 7 additional competitors for individual honors

All other OTB players are relegated to the Swiss tourney where they belong. :-)
 
 
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(18) Posted by Juraj Lörinc [Monday, Apr 9, 2012 21:53]

@Alexander: Well, of course, I do not contradict that. My point was that national organizations deciding on its nominees for world championships are not specific to chess problem solving, it appears also in other sports.

Of course, the individual national organizations can decide on hard qualification criteria. Indeed in Slovakia we do have hard criteria for the right to represent Slovakia at WCSC and ECSC, even if unwritten. The order of Slovak solvers at Slovak national open championship in given year is decisive. Naturally, anyone can give up their place in competition to further interested solvers and it is quite common the right goes down.
 
 
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MatPlus.Net Forum Competitions Open letter to Mr. President of the WFCC