Impressions from the 2010 World School Individual Chess Championships – Part 2

by IA Sevan Muradian, founder of NACA

north ameracan chess

We have reached the two-thirds marker of the 2010 World School Individual Championship. Tuesday was a rest day which allowed those interested to explore the city or just plain old collapse. I didn’t have the chance to venture out into the city as I have a number of chess related projects I’m trying to complete before I get back, as my chess schedule will heat up with upcoming Chicago Blaze US Chess League season, the opening of the North Shore Chess Center, the Illinois Open State Championship, the Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk, the US G/30 and G/60 National Chess Championships, and finally the Illinois Class Championships.

So back to my impressions of this wonderfully organized international event. I am going to utilize this writing to document the way the Turkish Chess Federation is executing the event. There are striking similarities and differences between how this event is executed and how events are executed in the US. I think there are important lessons for US organizers to take away.

I will state that the design of the event is 1 round per day with a time control of 40 moves in 90 minutes followed by 30 minutes with a 30-sec increment from move 1. All FIDE rules are followed including the zero tolerance rule. So far only 1 person that I know of was affected by this. The Chief Arbiter did begin a countdown from 10 minutes before the start of the round, then an announcement every minute starting at 5 minutes till the round time. Once the round was to start all arbiters started the clocks of the players and play began (yes we went around to the clocks and people waited for us to get there before starting).

Let’s start off with the venue for this event. It’s being held at a sports stadium, the same one that will host the 2010 World Basketball Championships Qualifiers. This setup allows for the players and arbiters to be on the stadium floor with all accompanying people being situated in the stadium seating above the playing area. This configuration does allow everyone to be in the same general vicinity, with no spectators or accompanying people allowed on the playing floor. Of course there are at times noise related issues, but so far the arbiters and the stadium security team (always 4 stadium security members) have been able to keep the noise levels down to very low levels.

The next place we’ll take a look are sponsor banners. There are plenty of them from around a dozen different Turkish corporations. These banners are very visible being approximately 4 feet tall by 15 feet wide. They are hanging over the guard walls that prevent those sitting in the stadium seating from falling to the stadium floor.

We can turn our attention to the arbiter staffing of the event. There is a Chief Organizer, a Managing Arbiter (all arbiters including the chief reports into him) a Chief Arbiter, 2 Deputy Chief Arbiters (one for boys and one for girls, I’m the one for the girls), and then the section arbiters. Each section has at least 1 arbiter. For those smaller sections they help out with the larger ones. All in all we have a total of 16 arbiters for the event (around 360 individuals).

The arbiters, aside from doing the regular duties of resolving disputes, collects scores for all games in what I find an interesting manner. When a game is completed, the participants do not leave their playing station (and yes all kids including those in the U7 divisions followed this). Instead they raise their hands and the arbiters walk over there, confirm the result with both players, both players sign their scoresheets as does the arbiter (this is a FIDE requirement to have the arbiter signature), and the arbiter takes the top copies of both scoresheets.

Another thing that I saw the arbiters doing that I found interesting was that every half hour they way from playing station to playing station and record the times on the clocks. This is done in case there is a clock malfunction and times need to be reset as accurately as possible. Finally after all games in a section are complete, the deputy chief for that section (boys or girls) double checks the recorded scores versus the scoresheets, makes sure the scoresheets are in order, and signs off on all of them. Then they are handed to the pairing team that handles creation of the pairings for the next round. Also to note that arbiters would record any penalties that were assessed to players in each round and this was kept track of in case appeals were made later.

The event also does have another level of ‘management’ shall we say in that we have an appeals committee that is comprised of individuals from different federations. One of the members of the committee is Dr. Dirk DeRidder from Belgium who sits on numerous FIDE commissions. Dirk and I have spent a great deal of time discussing various aspects of FIDE chess over the course of the past few days. The appeals committee is used as a last resort from a delegation lodging a complaint. Of course to lodge an appeal with the committee it has to be done in writing within 24 hours and must be accompanied by a fee of 100 Euros which is refundable if the appeals committee agrees with the appealee.

Continuing with the discussion of staffing we turn to both the broadcast team and the tournament booklet team. Each team has about 6 people on it. The broadcast team is making sure that all 100 DGT boards are communicating properly with the software to relay the games. If an issue arises, they work with the arbiters to fix it as quickly as possible. The tournament booklet team is responsible for the creation and distribution of the event booklet after set rounds. They collect the scoresheets (because half of the tournament is not on DGT) to make sure all games are provided in the booklets.

Let’s turn to equipment which is a major factor here also. ALL equipment is provided for – boards, sets, and clocks. We have 100 DGT boards with DGT XL clocks and 100 standard boards/sets with DGT 2010 clocks. I find this as the single most important thing than any tournament organizer can provide to enhance the tournament experience. Make it easy for the players to just come play.

Now of course you don’t have to go out and buy 100 DGT boards and clocks as the Turkish Chess Federation did (DGT would be happy if you did though), but it’s not that costly to first start off with providing boards and sets and then work up to providing clocks. I found that this makes things much easier for the players and the arbiters because only 1 or 2 types of clocks have to be understood in terms of operations.

I’ve done this for all of my title norm tournaments and also the World Amateur. I’m providing all equipment for the 2010 Illinois Open Championships and also all of my events going forward. Because players were able to play with the DGT North American clocks, I was able that week to also sell 300 of them to individuals, chess clubs, other resellers because they saw it in action and saw the reaction of themselves and others. Oh by the way – I didn’t lose or have a single clock broken!

Getting back to the equipment. Each player was on a 4 foot table by themselves. No traditional 2 players per 6 foot table here. The chairs used were NOT typical hotel chairs, they were nicely padded office reception area type chairs. Of course scoresheets and writing utensils were provided but more interestingly all information regarding that round and the players were on the scoresheets. The Turkish Chess Federation utilizes form feed carbonless scoresheets so they can run it through a dot-matrix printer (yes those still exist and are quite useful) to print out all of the information (names of players, rounds, country designations, ratings, ID’s, etc). Also there are name placards for every player – printed in color and set in an acrylic holder. This is rearranged prior to each round along with placing the scoresheets for that round.

There were also two large projection screens situated properly to allow parents to watch the games as they cycled through or they could get on the stadium Wi-Fi and watch the games online. Now due to the final rounds being played, Wi-Fi is being disabled to get around any potential issues or claims of getting assistance from a players accompanying party. I find this an appropriate control for the final rounds as there are some all expenses paid prizes for top finishers to the World Youth.

I’ll briefly turn attention to the hosting of the players, staff, and visiting FIDE dignitaries (we will be having some high level FIDE Presidential Board members here starting on Wednesday). There are a number of hotels approximately 15 minutes from the stadium. Each hotel has 2 buses running from the hotel to the playing hall 45 minutes prior to the start of the round, and then 1 bus from the stadium to the the hotels each hour. Additionally breakfast, lunch, and dinner is also served at the hotels at set times. This is built into the room night cost for each person as far as I can tell and is partially subsidized by sponsorships.

In the final installment of this series, I’ll go through the challenges that we faced throughout the event.

Good Chess to All,

Sevan A. Muradian, Founder

North American Chess Association

International Arbiter and International Organizer