by IA Sevan Muradian, founder of NACA
The 2010 World School Chess Championships has now drawn to a close. 9 rounds of international competition in 12 sections produced many memorable moments and also challenges, some unique to international competitions, some common with any activity involving children and youths.
One of the unique challenges faced was communication. 34 countries, 34 languages, with no guarantee that a common language was spoken. We had a number of languages available on the staff – Turkish, English, French, Russian, Armenian, Sinhala, and Nepali. We were able to address most language needs directly but when we couldn’t, we were lucky to have a coach or parent that could translate for us.
The linguistic challenge manifested itself in another fashion – the written word, or in this case the scoresheet. Given that there are many accepted scripts for notating a game, you have to be on your toes when playing through a game to resolve a dispute. When I get back home I’ll provide a picture and download of a pocket reference sheet that I use that helps with the language barrier. It also has a graphical aid showing the possible scores (1-0, 1/2-1/2, 0-1) with pictures under them to further assist (very useful with the youngest of players also!).
Identification of players and who their accompanying parties was another challenge. The Turkish Chess Federation (TCF) provided picture ID’s for all players and accompanying parties, which displayed their name, federation, age group playing in, picture, status (player, coach, staff). All arbiters also received this plus polo shirts that had ARBITER embroidered across the back.
There was security throughout the event to ensure no assistance to a player in a few ways. First no coach or parent was allowed on the playing floor unless there was a language problem and they were accompanied by an arbiter. Second the bathrooms of all players were kept separate from those available to spectators and accompanying people. Third laptops were forbidden starting with the 7th round for anyone sitting in the stadium seating. Finally we had the assistance of a private security firm that assisted in enforcing these rules.
So as you can see, some of the challenges were unique because it was an international event, and some were not so unique challenges. All in all it was a fantastic learned opportunity for me to compare US events with a European one.
It was also nice to finally put faces with email addresses such as TCF President and ECU Presidential Candidate Mr. Ali Nihat Yazici, Dr. Dirk de Ridder who sits on a number of commissions (Arbiters, Ethics, Technical, Swiss Pairings), and finally Mr. Georgios Makropoulos, Deputy President of FIDE who is also re-running for office on the ticket of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov along with Beatriz Marinello.
I was also given the honor to present the awards to those in the U-9 Girls section! This came as a complete surprise as I wasn’t made aware of this until I heard them announce my name as one of the two awards presenters for this section. You can also see the arbiters receiving their awards in the tournament gallery.
Awards for the arbiters
In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest thanks to the Turkish Chess Federation for having me at this wonderfully executed event. Even though I was an outsider from the other side of the world, I never felt as such because of the fantastic team and was made to feel at home. I learned a great deal on how the Turkish Chess Federation performs their flawless execution of high profile events. They’ve given me many ideas on how to improve the execution of chess events in the US.
Good Chess to All,
Sevan A. Muradian, Founder
North American Chess Association
International Arbiter and International Organizer