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MatPlus.Net Forum General Should studies be given 1.66 points in FIDE albums?
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(141) Posted by Per Olin [Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 09:08]

Over half a century ago it was decided that "1 study = 1 2/3 problems", no explanations or discussions recorded. The rationale behind this 1.67 points for studies has been questioned in this thread. Evidently the only way to get an answer from WFCC is to have the matter on a WFCC meeting agenda.

In the end, the opinions of the members of this forum do not count for much. Decisive are the opinions of the majority of the WFCC delegates. The opinions of the present delegates, however, count only in case the matter is on the agenda of a WFCC meeting. Then the practice is continued or discontinued, rational or not.
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(142) Posted by Kevin Begley [Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 19:06]; edited by Kevin Begley [13-04-30]


I see the decision from the alternative perspective: "1 problem = three-fifths of one study" (the three-fifths corruption).
The whole idea seems born out of the "three-fifths compromise", from the Philadelphia Convention of 1787.
Both are synonymous with an unreasonable unfairness, based upon a faulty system of devaluing prejudice.
And, neither system ever provided a sound rationale for the inherent imbalance.

Incidentally, this 3/5 ratio was probably adopted directly from the Articles of Confederation (a document founded entirely upon the worst form of any systematic unfairness, in history).
It took 78 years (and a bloody civil war) to render this imbalanced ratio moot, in the U.S. Constitution -- which clearly demonstrates that there is no validity to the argument that a mere 50 years of historical unfairness provides any justification for a continuation of this inequitable ratio; nor will you find here any justification to passivity, in the face of endless unreasoned debate.

Note: the rationale for equity is based upon self-evident democratic truths. Lest Jacques forget, WFCC is a democratic institution, not a monarchy based upon divine authority. If you are going to subvert equality, a good reason is required (not the other way around).

If this inequitable practice is going to continue, why would anyone (are you listening, Jacques?) be opposed to an official WFCC statement, declaring the purpose for this imbalance?

Nobody yet can provide a single honest justification for the old inequities of this title scoring system.
Nor can anyone (are you still listening, Jacques) provide a rationale to excuse WFCC from issuing a clear statement, declaring the purpose of this continued imbalance (the three-fifths corruption).

If WFCC can not transparently provide a rationale, this unfair practice should promptly be replaced (by a fully equitable system).

A system based upon inequity does not only undermine fundamental fairness (justice for all), it is corrosive to the integrity of our problem art.
It shames us all (problemists should be a great deal smarter than to content themselves under this disgraceful cloud).

Representation should be apportioned fairly (and democratically), counting the whole number of compositions by each composer (or team), without unfair prejudice for any stipulation, aim, number of moves, or set of rules.

It's high time the delegates decided whether WFCC is a democratic problem federation, or a FIDE Chess Confederacy.
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(143) Posted by Steven Dowd [Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 20:24]

Per, your comment that," Decisive are the opinions of the majority of the WFCC delegates" is 100% accurate.

I can only agree with, "In the end, the opinions of the members of this forum do not count for much," in that the debate has become soured by individuals whose opinions I cannot fathom, who seem to want to bring Internet trolling to our own little world- and we don't need it. A large group can tolerate a certain amount of fractionation, a small one cannot. There is nothing worse than a family divided.

A rational debate here can inform our WFCC delegates and given the slow way we move, it probably will not be decided soon, even if it does come up on the agenda.

I hope more individuals with rationales on both sides of the fence come forward with reasoned opinions (name-callers need not apply, in my opinion) and that our governing body can come to a decision with that in mind.

If our opinions count for naught, why even try?
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(144) Posted by Kevin Begley [Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 20:34]; edited by Kevin Begley [13-04-30]


> "There is nothing worse than a family divided."

True; but, Abe Lincoln said it best, June 17, 1858: "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

And, continuing his words, "... I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other..."

That same prophesy guides us, as we now stand at the crossroads of becoming either a Federation of Problemists, or a FIDE Chess Confederacy.
Our delegation can not permanently endure its present interim position (devoid of any rationale for inequity, and absent any definitional foundation for division).

The only question remaining: can this union come together, without us having to resort to the incivility of civil war (and the enduring fractured misery of a prolonged reconstruction)?
It requires something of us all, which has been tragically missing from this long thread (and the internet, in general): leadership based upon mutual respect.
Let us hope that our delegates will better listen to one another (in some manner other than those enjoying a war, over popcorn).
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(145) Posted by Gady Costeff [Thursday, May 2, 2013 00:51]

Some preliminary notes:
* My purpose is to provide some data and methodology for a discussion. I have no interest in a specific conclusion.
* I think composition titles are unnecessary, though I respect both those who want them and their arguments and recognize that their reality and therefore evaluation, is different than mine.
* I will often refer to studies below, but only because I know something about them. The approach I discuss is applicable, I think, to any genre.

Fairness, like most concepts is incredibly complex. Take for example the question of fairness in taxes, assuming a society with just two people who earn annual incomes of 1000 and 100,000 rubles respectively.
Several tax systems can be proposed that are "fair" in different ways:
"contribution quality" - each pays 100 rubles so they are “fair” in the sense of equally contribute to society.
"post contribution equality " - everybody should have the same amount, say 1000 dollars, so we seek “fairness” in what society members get AFTER taxes.

These are two options among literally millions, and we have not even taken into account family size, medical needs and other challenges which may significantly alter what we consider is “fair”.
In short, a system that is “fair” in one respect maybe incredibly unfair in other respects.

There are two questions:
1. Is there “unfairness” in chess composition
2. Is so, is there an effective solution that will significantly improve matters

I took Hanu Harkola's list of Fide album points through 2003 containing 59 composers with 70+ points, or grandmasters.
I then recalculated the totals if studies received 1 point instead of 1.66. This required an estimate on my part as to how many of the points were from studies. I think I am within 10% of the truth but this can be done definitively once all albums/genre composer lists are available.

The results:
9 composing grandmaster who produced primarily studies would theoretically lose their title:
Mandler(from 97 points - to 68)

3 study grandmasters would retain their title:
Kasparyan (6th place overall 175.83 points moved to 21st with 106 points).
Gurgenidze (12th 153, 27th 92).
Dobrescu (18th 116, 48th 72).

2 grandmasters, Bron and Pachman, are excluded because I do not have a decent estimate of their album studies.

After the point adjustment, compring study composers as a group to problem composers:
Sstudy composers average 53% of the points garnered by problem composers. The median is 63%.

This means that if you wished to adjust, the adjustment facor would be in the 1.58 – 1.88 range.

If one actually wished to even out the two groups chances, make them ‘fair’ if you will, they could do worse than our great predecessors choice of 1.66

(Note again that similar discrepancies may occur with other genres and that we may not wish to adjust at all.).

The discrepancy could have several explanations two of which may be:

1. Studies are/were more difficult to compose compared to problems as a group (but perhaps not than each individual genre). Some possible reasons:
The raw possibilities in studies are much larger than bounded problems, including moremovers and proofgames. The main impact of this is that about 20% of studies are cooked. With software improvements and the emergence of tablebases there may get better.
It proves nothing but it is interesting that the Babson task has been accomplished in pretty much every problem genre by 1983 but not yet in the study domain.
Originality testing in studies, I suspect, is more advanced than other genres due to the HHDB which is a definitive collection coupled with CQL
On the other hand, this “difficulty” maybe changing, as in the last decade a handful of study composers have been using the tablebases to “compose” studies. Based on their at least tenfold productivity increase, we may be facing a different data set if more composers go that route.

2. Problem composing skills are more transferable
In other words, if you are a composer of X2 you are much more likely to compose a good X3 than a study composer. This means, possibly, that there is greater leverage in composing problems than studies.
Many of the great problemists on the list are omnivores, especially combining direct mates, helpmates, selfmates and fairies. This means for most problem composers access to at least 4 album chapters. The exception seem to be studies and retros though there may well be others.

The numbers quoted above are not definitive and are used for methodological purposes only. They may support some of these conjectures but if one truly wanted to be accurate, an ideal data set would have composer/genre/count.

My illustration used studies, but the issues may apply to other genres.

A completely separate issue is whether one should do anything about any variance. As noted above, “fairness” is a highly subjective matter.

Finally, the efficacy of a solution and its 'cost' are important and may change as the underlying reality of composition changes.
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(146) Posted by Gady Costeff [Thursday, May 2, 2013 01:14]


I made a calculation error. Here are the correct numbers

Problem GM - Study GM
Average 118 - 90
Median 94 - 92
factor(1.66) 1.31 - 1.02

Note that the numbers are not statistically waterproof since there are only 3 study GMs.

Apologies for the mistake.

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(147) Posted by Kevin Begley [Thursday, May 2, 2013 06:33]

>The results:
>9 composing grandmaster who produced primarily studies would theoretically lose their title:

This is a false analysis.
In many cases, the composers competed to earn a specific number of points.
If they were required to earn more, many would have likely composed & submitted more problems.

Furthermore, with respect to composers who had passed prior to the title system, this analysis neglects that the arbitrary number of points may well have been originally chosen such that it would guarantee that specific individuals would receive titles.
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(148) Posted by Kevin Begley [Thursday, May 2, 2013 06:42]; edited by Kevin Begley [13-05-02]

As to the issue of fairness...

1) Are studies really harder to compose?

There is no evidence, whatsoever, to suggest that this is the case.
Modern studies generally contain a thematic try, and a solution (both of which quickly resolve to an EGTB position).
It is far more difficult to compose a problem in areas where the computer can not provide assistance -- but, we do not reward based upon difficulty!

As to the number of study composers -- they are actually over represented.
Survey the number of problemists who earned a Grandmaster title, by composing strictly Retros, or strictly fairies.

2) Are studies the only group of problems which are less transferable?

Certainly not.
Retro composition is far less transferable than studies.
We do not reward those who venture into genres which may be less transferable -- why does the inequity only apply to Studies?

The fact is, the Study composers are less fluid, because they tend to come from a biased view (where orthodoxy is king, and the art of composition is subordinate).
Many of them are more interested in Chess (as a practical game) than in Problems (based upon some aspect of CHESS, as a canvas).
That may be noble -- and, as I've repeatedly stated, they may well deserve some special honor for adhering to this restriction.
But, this is not the title that is awarded by a Federation of PROBLEMISTS (that honor can only be bestowed by a FIDE Chess Confederacy).

In fact, I wish FIDE luck in this endeavor -- because, they will be forced to confront the fact that Chess (the game, defined by the latest version of the FIDE Player's Rulebook) has evolved in ways which impact (and undermine) compositions which were originally orthodox Studies (but are no longer valid, under the new rules).
If you can't even define an "orthodox" Study, how can you possibly justify the division (or extra points)?

Nobody is asking for full fairness.
Obviously, when the first realization of the Babson Task earns only one point -- less than that earned for a study found in the mutual zugzwang section of the EGTB -- you can't expect fairness.

What we do expect is either equity (for everybody), or a sound rationale for the imbalance (the three-fifths corruption).
We are asking that WFCC provide an explanation for the inequity (the lingering historical favoritism provided to orthodox studies).

Don't let the impossibility of full fairness be an excuse to continue this inexplicable historical bias.
That would be like justifying the "three-fifths compromise," based upon the impossibility of fully fair representation.
Democratic notions of equity are not so difficult: One Man is worth One Vote / One Composition is worth One Point.
Everybody else lives by this simple rule -- either provide a valid reason for maintaining the inequity (exclusively for Studies!), or live by an equitable solution.

If you want to strive for fairness, you'll have to burden the judges to award a point multiplier (based on difficulty, and many other complex considerations).
That is not an easy task, given that we have several autonomous sub-Albums (no longer a single Album).

We are a Federation of PROBLEMISTS (not a confederacy of Chess).
We all know why the bias exists -- it is born out of a favoritism for a specific set of stipulations (win/draw), under specific set of still evolving rules; and, this bias is enhanced by the pretense that there is some rough equivalence in the skill levels between the Grandmaster Composers, and the Chess Grandmasters.

I'm sure this helps sell books (and in some countries, it still provides people with an economic stipend).
Personal finance should not be WFCC's paramount interest; but, unfortunately, the delegates place their personal interests above that of our Federation's integrity.

We need to face facts:
1) FIDE Chess rules are not set in stone.
2) Win/Draw are not the stipulation of the player -- they don't even constitute the player's only set of goals (sometimes, players must prefer unclarity, and sometimes their task is to gain time by repeating the position, etc).
3) We are, in the end, an artistic federation of problem enthusiasts.

There is nothing pure about this set of stipulations (win/draw), nor the latest version of the game's rule book.
This does not constitute a valid reason to bestow an inequitable favoritism upon Studies (exclusively).

Our artificial umbilical bond with a specific board game (the latest version of the FIDE Player's rule book) is purely an historical accident (and this "game of the mad queen" was widely considered imbalanced and unenduring -- even by Capablanca and Fischer).
The game of Chess evolved from Shantraj, and Chaturanga (and its mutation has not yet ended).
Chess problems came long before the game.
WFCC's allegiance should be focused on the art of problems (not on the latest mutation of a fancied game).
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(149) Posted by Jacques Rotenberg [Thursday, May 2, 2013 07:44]; edited by Jacques Rotenberg [13-05-02]

@ Gad
You can also have a look at the general evolufion of the Fide Albums.
It says a lot about the negociations that were behind.

To be schematic, let's say that you have two main streams of thought :
a) chess problems are seen as an under product of the game, the game being the top. Problems (studies) having a place to show unusual faces of the game or having a kind of pedagogic use.
b) chess problems are mainly problems and are bound to chess only by accident.

From the beginning of our organization these two ways of thinking succeeded in living together - with hard fights! -.
The situation today is a kind of status quo.
Even if I belong more to b), I think that a) is very important.
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(150) Posted by Kevin Begley [Thursday, May 2, 2013 07:47]; edited by Kevin Begley [13-05-02]


Your sentence ("please") is lacking in the necessary verb.

My last post contains only two (not three) occurrences of the word "if".
What specific "if" troubles you?

The first "if":
"If you want to strive for fairness, ..."

That is not my "IF" -- I don't believe fairness is even possible.
We are asking only that WFCC provide an official rationale for the inequity, which is exclusively extended to Studies (which is not even a defined division, but essentially they reduce to a WIN/DRAW stipulation, under the latest version of the FIDE Player's rule book).

Yes, we consider this inequity to be a gross unfairness (based upon an undemocratic favoritism, from a fancied game).
That does not mean we are asking WFCC to provide complete fairness.

The second "if" pertains to WFCC's inability to define the "Studies" genre:
"If you can't even define an "orthodox" Study, how can you possibly justify the division (or extra points)?"

Kindly elaborate -- what's the problem here?
Do you want to provide us with a definition for this division?
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(151) Posted by Kevin Begley [Thursday, May 2, 2013 08:07]; edited by Kevin Begley [13-05-02]


Maybe the "if" to which you refer is based on the prior post:

"If they were required to earn more, many would have likely composed & submitted more problems."

You are, of course, aware (I shouldn't need to remind you) that there has been at least one composer who promptly quit, upon obtaining the Grandmaster title -- correct?

I have no doubt that others may have reduced their output/submissions, in a similar fashion, upon having obtained what they considered their highest title potential.

And, I have heard there was some criticism over this, at the time -- because this title was widely viewed as a vehicle to a governmental stipend.
Can you certify for us that those stipends no longer exist?

Face it -- the corruption in the title system has grown into a undefendable cancer.
Why do you want to keep pumping blood into a dying limb?

All these posts, and still nobody can provide a single answer to the question posed in the title:

WHY DO STUDIES (a division which you can't even define) -- and exclusively studies! -- EARN AN INEQUITABLE SHARE OF POINTS (versus all other artistic forms of problem composition)?

Not one valid answer -- just a bunch of poor excuses for a profoundly corrupt system of competition.
As much as I love problems, as much as I may admire some titled composers, I consider the unfairness of our title competition to be a shameful disgrace.
I can not fathom why anyone would want to participate in this charade (especially newcomers).
I don't even want to be involved -- and I know, very well, that the delegates will vote (yet again) in favor of their own personal interests (neither providing a reason, nor a remedy).
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(152) Posted by Kevin Begley [Thursday, May 2, 2013 08:51]

I think I will quit, entirely.
I can not justify a continued affiliation with a delegation that refuses to provide mutual respect for my participation.

Goodbye old friends, and good luck to you all.

If the situation changes, send me a postcard.
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(153) Posted by Sergiy Didukh [Thursday, May 2, 2013 13:07]; edited by Sergiy Didukh [13-05-02]

Deleted. A wise man said "Beware of the people without sense of humour"
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(154) Posted by Jacques Rotenberg [Thursday, May 2, 2013 13:56]; edited by Jacques Rotenberg [13-05-02]

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(155) Posted by Uri Avner [Thursday, May 2, 2013 17:01]

@ Mr Didukh

So you have a great sense of humour, but does it include any jokes about yourself?

Let me doubt...
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(156) Posted by Uri Avner [Thursday, May 2, 2013 17:31]

@ Kevin
I hope you'd still see this.
Don't walk away, please!
I like the way you think and I'll miss your views in the forum.
I was planning to refer to the issue of equity, but haven't found yet the time to do so.
The matter is not simple at all. Although equity should of course be reached, it has to be based on some principles which are not very easy to translate into concrete operations, but perhaps are worthwhile to talk about.
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(157) Posted by Steven Dowd [Thursday, May 2, 2013 20:30]

Yes, I rarely agree with Kevin but like to see his opinion and he always takes the time to explain his rationales. That is often sorely lacking here.

So please come back, old friend!
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(158) Posted by Sven Hendrik Lossin [Thursday, May 2, 2013 22:39]

It seems to me that Kevin is somehow obsessed over this issue so it is maybe better to take a time-out. I hope that he will find out soon that there are more important things in life than the points given for studies in the FIDE albums.
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(159) Posted by Kevin Begley [Thursday, May 2, 2013 22:45]; edited by Kevin Begley [13-05-02]

@Uri and Steven,

Thank you, friends... but, the conditions of my return would require some specific actions taken by delegates.
However pety the request, I fully expect no action will ever be taken.

I am a much richer person, for having participated in problem composition (particularly from having investigated a variety of aspects of Chess).
And, I have learned a great deal from fellow problemists (including several whom I may vehemently disagree with, on occasion).
I would like to continue... but, I can't justify further diplomacy with a fundamentally corrupt organization.

The truth is, a problemist may never find welcome under the umbrella of a chess player organization (FIDE).
And, it's not only the corrupt inequities (in title scoring) which trouble me -- I am also troubled by the enduring failure to define the sub-Album divisions (or even the very conditions which give rise to new sub-Albums), and the malicious neglect which prevents the establishment of a more universal codex.

I could go on and on about the fancied corruption of the strictly self-interested delegation; but the truth is, it's all been said before.
I was hardly ever original in providing any litany of failures.

My posts here have already become excessively repetitive.
I think everybody knows my position, only too well.
Survey my detractors, and you'll strain to find a credible counter-argument -- with whom can I even have a healthy debate, anymore?
It seems only to devolve into insult, anymore (not good for me, not good for the forum, not good for composition).
I can not be the sentinel "shame on the delegates" advertisement, forever.

Nobody can deny: something is fundamentally wrong here.
Yet, nothing changes (except the names) -- it's still the same old, unresolved "PCCC vs FIDE" argument.

Nowhere does our delegation even define what constitutes a "chess problem," nor does it define any of the sub-Album divisions.
You can not persuade any of them to provide a single rationale for the inequitable scoring system.
They do not agree what constitutes a sound problem (despite having an obligation to clarify this issue, within the codex, they prefer to deliberately avoid all matters to which any mild controversy may be ascribed).
They disagree about the rules of numerous fairy conditions -- leaving no official body with authority to sanction rules, no arbitrate disputes.
We can not even agree as to whether something should be classified as a stipulation, or a condition.
Even the most fundamental terms have no meaning.
Everybody has a unique opinion as to whether something is "orthodox" or "fairy" (we all pretend to know it, when we see it), but nobody can point to a definition for any of these fundamental terms.

We have chaos, based upon a popular corruption (the delegation has rendered itself completely useless).
It's not that they are unable to define these fundamental terms -- they don't do it because they don't fancy the result!
You can not expect an honest competition to take root, in such a polluted soil.
What are we going to do about it?

Protests have not worked -- despite having some of the best composers sitting idle (for years!), no delegate ever bothered to question how the competition process could be improved, to welcome full participation.
Today's delegates see their position as little more than a fixture in their personal biography.

They don't even pay attention when asked to vote on their dreary "Study of the Year" award.
Ironically, that selection is supposed to invite new composers (nobody cares that it is improperly titled) -- but it is selected by a group exhibiting zero interest in welcoming greater participation.

I have pushed, all I can, on this flimsy string -- the FIDE delegation refuses to budge.
I would urge everyone to abandon ship -- this organization has not earned your continued participation.

What am I going to do about it?
I am in search of a new federation -- one devoted to problem enthusiasts (rather than the latest mutation of some single, withering board game), which is equitably welcoming to all, unbowed by historical bias, and free of the cancerous title corruption.

I can not return, unless this delegation acknowledges (and begins to address) their persistent, corrosive failures.


Yes, I concede that I have been obsessed with the failures of this federation -- but, it is not one issue.
It is a host of issues (a few of which I have detailed, earlier in this post).
Many issues are the same old arguments I found, when I first came to this forum.
Sometimes, only the names have changed.
But, it has become worse -- many of these old failures have spread.

But, beyond all these issues, tied to my one obsession, I no longer feel that full participation is welcomed.
I don't feel welcome -- for the first time, I realize that some are systematically treated as inferior, by those lacking the ability to appreciate the broader scope of this art.
And, unless that changes, there can be no return.
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(160) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Saturday, May 4, 2013 16:02]

To add some horse sense to the thread (I'm a specialist for
horses/knights, OTB and problem :-) : The titular question, can
be solved, if ever, only by a democratic process. (It sounds
to me that the 1.66 points WERE decreed in a democratic process,
but I think I wasn't even born then.) Neither eloquence nor
witty name-calling nor argument cycling and recycling on
this board can change this.
Consequently, the next step would be asking the problemists
what they think about it. I suggest to set up a question with
the options a) 1.66 b) 1 c) don't care, free Internet polls
do exist, e.g. here:
What would interest me most would be the number of participants.
(I estimate the size of the problemist world on maybe a few
thousand, who has better data?)

And yes, I'm *fully* aware of all the shortcomings of such an
Internet poll...(Alternately, one could simply open a new
Poll thread on this forum.)

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MatPlus.Net Forum General Should studies be given 1.66 points in FIDE albums?