Thursday, January 31, 2013

New Regulations from FIDE QC - Part 2

The other set of regulations that have been approved by FIDE are the revamped title regulations. Most of the work in this area was done at the QC Meetings in Istanbul in 2012, although there may have ben some 'tidying up' done afterwards.
The most significant change for norm events is that the time limit for title norms as again been dropped down to 90m+30s (for incremental time controls) or 120m for the first time control followed by 30m for the rest of the game (where no increments are used). Time controls can of course be longer that this.
Where there has been real change is in the area of direct titles. This had become a bit confused over the last decade, so clarification and consolidation was called for. Continental and Sub-Continental events have now been clearly defined, while the status of Regional events has now been clarified.
The major change seems to be how Zonals/Sub-Zonals are treated. Both are now treated as Sub-Continental events. The restrictions on the number of titles that can be awarded at Zonals has also been changed. Previously there was a limit of 1 IM and 2 FM titles on offer. For IM titles this is now changed so that the title only will be awarded to 1st, 2nd and 3rd (on tie-break), regardless of the score achieved. For FM and CM titles, the restriction on the number that can be awarded as been removed entirely, but the performance required has been lifted. For an FM title it is now 65% and for a CM title it is 50%.
To see what effect these changes might have, I had a look at the last two Oceania Zonals (NZ 2011, Aus 2009). From 2011, Andrew Brown would have still received his IM title (for finishing second), but Max Illingworth would have also earned the title, on tie-break over Moulthun Ly. Ly would have received the FM title (which he earned anyway), but Gareth Oliver would have missed out on his FM title (but read on).
From the 2009 Zonal James Morris would still have become an IM (he finished second), but for the FM title there would have been 4 new title holders. Bobby Cheng and Michael Steadman (who were awarded the FM title) would be joined by Moulthun Ly and Gareth Oliver!
So from a huge data set of 2 tournaments, it seems that the changes won't result in a rash of  extra 'Zonal' IM's/FM's.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New Regulations from FIDE QC

The FIDE Qualifications Commission has just published a new set of regulations for titles and player licensing  which come into effect  on 1 July 2013. (Click here for details) While the title regulations were discussed at the 2012 FIDE Congress, the new regulations for the licensing of players is a bigger surprise.
I'll start with the player licensing first. Essentially all players are to be registered with their National Chess Federation (NCF) and issued with a FIDE ID. The information gathered as part of the registration process includes: name, DOB, Place of Birth, gender, a photo, passport number, and existing FIDE ID.
The requirement to collect such information has already caused some ructions in various discussion forums, and on one level I can see why. Apart from the varying privacy provisions related to data collection and storage, there is clearly some information that cannot be provided. Not everyone has a passport number, and even for those that do, sharing it with others may also be a concern. Certainly in the case of the PNG Chess Federation, the vast majority of potential players do not have one. In practice that field is going to be blank for an awful lot of players.
While registration is free (at least for now), there are still financial costs attached to other parts of the regulations. Under the new regulations, all players in a FIDE rated event must be registered with FIDE before the start of the event, otherwise there is a 50 euro penalty charged to the organisers. There is an obvious problem with players who wish to enter an event and who aren't licensed. Given that the first contact most chess federations have with players is when they turn up to a tournament, it leads to a 'chicken-egg' situation in which a player can't play unless registered, while there is no point in registering a player unless they play. Having discussed this issue with QC Chairman Ignatius Leong, he suggests that NCF's license players when they play in their first domestic (ie non-FIDE rated) event. This of course still leaves the problem of players whose first event is a FIDE rated tournament. A better application here would simply require organisers/NCF's to register players at/after their first event, without penalty.
The other issue with the new system is that Federations can 'delist' players ie remove their license to play. At the 2012 Congress the FIDE Ethics Commission rules that while NCFs can sanction players belonging to their own federations, they cannot extend these sanctions to prevent players from playing in other countries. But under this new system, a Federation can apply a financial disincentive on such players, by removing their players license, and forcing any organiser who accepts their entry to pay an extra 50 euro penalty. A kind of 'end-run' around the Ethics Commission.
Apart from the flaws I have spotted, the major issue will simply be one of hard work. Federations who do not have direct membership schemes (eg Australia, England in part), will almost have to set up a de-facto one, to fulfil the requirements of the new system. Not that this is a bad thing in my opinion, but there will certainly be teething troubles to start with.

(NB: This post and the opinions contained are made in a private capacity, and not connected with any positions I hold on FIDE Commissions)