Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Radical but Long Overdue - Enforcing Changes in Chessplayer Tournament Behaviour


The recent FIDE Presidential Board Meeting held in Athens from 31st May to 1 June 2008 finally addressed two long time issues in chessplayer behaviour during competitions - driven by IOC and International Sports standards - that of being punctual for games.

Chessplayers, for some strange reason have always been allowed to show up as long as an hour after a game has started and not only is this clearly poor sportsmanship but very often even a deliberate ploy to put an opponent off. And of course it encourages tardiness and clearly demonstrates a lack of professionalism.

With media being recognised as key to universal acceptance to recognistion of chess as a sport, it is clear that chessplayers would have to be dragged into line with their counterparts in other sports to be recognised as professionals. Not being on time (seated) at the start of a game would now be penalised with an immediate loss!

The 38th World Chess Olympiad in Dresden, Germany later this year was to be the first event where this new rule would be implemented but instead the young participants at the 9th ASEAN+ Youth Team Championships now being held in Danang, Vietnam, have been urged to show grandmasters how to conduct themselves!

A second problem - one that is constantly discussed by just about everyone - is that of quick (or even arranged) draws and here FIDE has failed with yet another half measure by stating that draws would not be allowed before 30 moves are completed.

The real problem is fundamental to what a competition is supposed to achieve, and for me one has to distinquish between a game result and the outcome of a match or tournament - for chess to be easily understood and appreciated as a sport, there needs to be winner and loser for every game.

It matters not that the winner is lucky or the loser valiant and the impact on players FIDE ratings cannot be a consideration either as that is based on competitive performance anyway.

Firmly implementing both of these long overdue changes will finally bring chess in line with the rest of world sport and in doing so allow the participation of the general public and international media so FIDE must show resolve and courage in making sure this happens.

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