Issues regarding the selection process seem to be one of the hotter issues being discussed recently over the blog. There was also a comment raised that the selection process should not be based on a single event but should be based on several events. If this is so, the events used for the selection must also be FIDE rated events using classical time control as it would be “inconsistent” to use rapid events for this purpose. But, is this process practical and doable? Do we have enough FIDE rated events to have a reasonable pool of players for a proper selection process? Are the FIDE rated events strong enough to be used as selection criteria?
In organizing FIDE rated events, the main challenge is time. It is without a doubt that rapid events are much more popular than classical FIDE rated events as the time taken to complete a tournament is much less. In most cases, rapid events are over within 1 day (2 days at most) and can be done over a single weekend, almost nullify the need to request for leave or off day for working adults. On top of that, the entry fees are reasonably cheap, less stressful and fun. For FIDE Rated event, the tournament can last up to a maximum of 2 weeks or at least 4 days – 2 rounds a day with 7 rounds minimum. To make things worse, the entry fees are a bit on the high side, very demanding (as it requires good preparation), stressful and almost always, a player who is working may have to request for leave and approval (and applying for one) may not be as easy as it seems. So, for most working adults, there is a need to consider taking leave to participate in a FIDE Rated events, and if they are selected to represent the country in an International, another set of long leave needs to be applied. With most companies providing only a limited number of leaves for their employees, two long leaves for chess does not seem like a favorable option considering that leaves may also be needed for family outings, Raya, Chinese New Year, school holidays, first day of school, marriage, etc. which are more important than chess.
For the organizers, the main challenge is to get sponsors for the event, and financing a FIDE r rated event is not as cheap as one would imagine. Four days rental for a decent playing hall can run into thousands and payment for arbiters and tournament helpers (depending on how big the event is), can also be rather substantial. This does not include the cost to prepare or rent sets and clocks, stationary items and other additional cost such as transport (to transfer/rent tables, chairs and equipments), board and lodging. And board and lodging are also issues for most outstation players who plan to play in any FIDE rated event. And the longer the event goes, the cost continue to increase. And managing a FIDE rated event is not a simple walk in the park especially having to manage foreigners and international GM and IM who can be fickle minded, not to mention some local players who can also be quite a pain.
But let us not look at the issues faced by the organizers as we can assume that the finance part of it (in organizing events) is taken care of. Further, the issues faced by the organizers are of a different nature than the issues faced by the players. Whether the number of players actually hit 100 or 200 or 300, or only 10 players, the event has to go on. The main thing is to get the players to play. And if the suggestion of selecting players that are active in the local FIDE circuit is to be used as one the selection criteria, do we have the number of players to play in FIDE Rated events? Do players will start coming in the hundreds to play in these FIDE rated events? At the same time, how many FIDE events does a player need to play in order to be considered? Interesting to note that if a player needs to take at least 3 days off to play in one FIDE rated event, 3 events will cost a working adult 9 leave days which is almost half of the total leave allocated for a year. And if he has to play abroad, another 5 to 10 days leave is required with the balance to be divided between families, trips, vacations, festivities – certainly not much to spare with!
One of the ways to populate the country with FIDE rated events is to have each affiliate (or State) to organize their own FIDE rated event – at least one per year but, are the affiliates or states active or resourceful enough to organize their own FIDE Rated event? Can they mobilize their forces to find sponsors, venue and officials to conduct their own FIDE Rated event? Some affiliates have criticized MCF for not being active enough to help the affiliates but, are the affiliates making any attempts to help themselves? Maybe some do but what about the others? What about states that do not have any chess association? To whom the burden of organizing a FIDE rated event should fall onto? And, would the event be able to attract strong players to participate?
In the absence of FIDE rated event, what is the best way to conduct the selection? Some of the ideas that can be used are:
- Snce National Closed is one of the “must” event, this should be the main event used for selection in the absence of other events
- Since there is a lack of FIDE Rated event, other non-FIDE events with shorter time control (but with increment – to imitate the “FIDE environment) can and should be organized as substitute events. These events can also be organized over a shorter period i.e. 7 rounds instead of 9, to be played over 2 days (or 3 days the most).
- Since the National Rating reflects a player’s activeness in the local circuit, selection should also be based on the National Rating ranking
- However, in view that the National Rating is based on both rapid and classical time, a separate rating needs to be prepared to reflect player’s performance in events mentioned in no. 2)
- Since FIDE rating list is a good indicator for international references (as to reflect the player’s strength compared to other players around the globe), the usage of the FIDE rating list should be continued except for the players who have been marked as inactive by FIDE.
- And players should commit to a training camp (if it cannot be done during weekdays, at least during the weekend) for a certain period before being considered for the National squad and attendance should play a major role. Training session should contain proper training material, syllabus, references and should not only be based on chess as a subject but should cover other subjects as well such as psychology, team building and other sporting activities
- But, all in all, a final selection series should also be based one or more round robin event in order to choose the best of the best.
These are just suggestions and I am sure more guidelines can be added. Some takes time to materialize but a few (such as number 1, 5, 6 and 7) can be implemented almost immediately.
What do you think?