FIDE-Rated Event Reporting, Part 2

We continue our discussion of how to report your FIDE event smoothly.

fide gens una sumus
The FIDE motto means “We are one family.”

Part 1 was about the pre-work that goes into being Chief Arbiter of such an event.

This time, let’s see what you need to do in order to start the tournament and run it smoothly.

 

Pairings

All of your players are entered into SwissSys with the correct USCF and FIDE IDs. If using Swiss-Manager, all of your players are entered there too, and you’ve customized the appearance of your event on chess-results.com.

What you do next depends on whether you have a Round Robin or a Swiss.

 

Round Robin

Draw random start numbers for your players; their ratings and titles are irrelevant. I let Swiss-Manager do this for me as far in advance as I can, and then publish the pairings to chess-results so that the players can prepare for their games.

Of course, you can have the players physically draw the numbers themselves if you have time before the event, e.g. the day before Round 1. Once the numbers are selected, all pairings will be made automatically.

Berger Pairing Tables
Once the players have their start numbers, all pairings are pre-determined. The FIDE page in this screenshot includes round robin pairings for up to 16 players.

SwissSys can also randomly draw numbers and pair your RR, but remember that this program was originally designed to run USCF and not FIDE tournaments: make sure to select “Berger/FIDE” and not “Crenshaw” under “Pairing Rules…”

How do you know it has paired correctly? Player #1 will have White in the first two rounds.

Since the entire tournament is now paired, you just enter results as games finish. For a norm RR, there’s nothing to calculate — either a player makes the required score or they don’t.

 

Swiss System

Here things are different. The most important task is to enter all of your players’ correct FIDE ratings. That will be their official rating on the first day of the month your event begins. Wrong ratings, wrong pairings!

swisssys_fide_mode
If using SwissSys, make sure the FIDE pairing engine is turned on when pairing a FIDE-rated Swiss!

Whether you pair with SwissSys or Swiss-Manager you should now produce identical pairings, but with SwissSys remember to turn on FIDE pairings!

USCF pairing rules can sometimes produce more than one valid outcome. That’s not the case with FIDE (Dutch) pairings; there is only one correct answer, as the algorithm is very specific. Don’t even think about changing the pairings it gives you, as doing so could invalidate any norms earned!

 

As with any tournament, double- and triple-check that you have entered all results properly before pairing the next round.

In a norm tournament, keep an eye on possible norms the last couple of rounds so that you’re ready to make the certificates if needed (more on that in Part 3). Also, it’s nice to let players know what they need in the last round (win, draw, or even a loss) to earn a norm. Some players will ask, so know how to calculate the answer! Let me know if you would like me to create a post on how to do so.

 

Scoresheets/PGNs

You ordered carbonless scoresheets, right? Collect the original (white copy) from the players.

This past summer a GM ripped up his white copy in front of me and threw it in the trash — insisting “this is mine” — but he’s wrong about that.

[Article 8.3 in the FIDE Laws of Chess reads: “The scoresheets are the property of the organiser of the competition.”]

Anyway, unless you’re using DGT boards for every game, create a PGN file for each FIDE-rated section and enter the games during rounds. You’ll have time for this, as each round should last 4+ hours (with a minimum time control of 90 minutes for the game with a 30 second increment).

If you are using DGT boards for some or all games, download the PGNs after each round and add them to your files.

 

Final Thoughts

The actual running of the tournament has less pitfalls than the pre-event stuff, but still requires care.

Questions or comments are always appreciated!

Up next in Part 3: what you need to do at the end of your event.

FIDE-Rated Event Reporting, Part 1

fide logo
FIDE, the International Chess Federation.

Congratulations! You’re going to be Chief Arbiter of your very first FIDE-rated event. It may even be a tournament offering IM or GM norms!

What information do you need to submit? How? And by when?

Remember: National Arbiters (NA) may be Chief Arbiter of FIDE-rated events that do not offer title norms. A FIDE Arbiter (FA) or International Arbiter (IA) must be the Chief of norm events.

Here in Part 1, I’ll talk about pre-event “gotchas.” Part 2 will cover what to do during the tournament. Finally, Part 3 will discuss what to do after the event has ended.

While some info here can be helpful to any arbiter, these posts are aimed at USA arbiters submitting events to the US Chess Federation (USCF, or US Chess).

 

USCF Responsibilities

You need to email your event’s information to the US Chess FIDE Events Manager (currently, IA Brian Yang) so that he can register your event with FIDE. You cannot do this yourself, and must go through US Chess. You can email fide@uschess.0rg.

For a title norm event (you’re an FA or IA, right?), you need to send the info to US Chess at least 33 days before the start date of your event.

For a non-norm event, you can send the info a mere 3 days 6 days before the start. [FIDE needs the info 3 days prior, from US Chess. Thanks to IA Judit Sztaray for this correction!]

Which information to include? Below is the info I sent Brian to register the 2023 New York Winter Invitational – GM A. Feel free to steal this template:

Tournament Name: 2023 New York Winter Invitational – GM A
City and State: New York, NY
Number of players: 10
System: RR
Start Date: 2023-01-12
End Date: 2023-01-16
Time Control: 90 minutes with 30 second increment from move 1
Playing schedule:
Round 1: 11/12 7PM
Round 2: 11/13 12PM
Round 3: 11/13 6PM
Round 4: 11/14 12PM
Round 5: 11/14 6PM
Round 6: 11/15 12PM
Round 7: 11/15 6PM
Round 8: 11/16 10AM
Round 9: 11/16 4PM
Chief Arbiter: Andre Harding (2008335)
Chief Organizer: Keith Espinosa (30911044)

Note as well that you need to have a Chief Arbiter and Chief Organizer (a person, not an organization) when registering your event. Include their FIDE IDs, as I have done here. The CA and CO can be the same person.

When your event is registered, it will be assigned an Event Code and look like this on the FIDE website:

fide tournament details
If this page doesn’t exist, your tournament doesn’t exist to FIDE!

 

A Very Important Detail

USCF rating report screenshot
Two FIDE-rated sections, one USCF rating report.

TDs usually include all event sections in one USCF rating report. You can do that when submitting FIDE events for USCF rating, too.

(I’ll talk more about the rating reports in Part 3.)

 

When it comes to FIDE-rated events, however, each FIDE-rated section must be registered as a separate tournament! Behold:

fide events rated
Two USCF-rated sections in one USCF rating report become two separate FIDE events!

 

The email snippet above registering the January 2023 event was actually four times as long, because I had to send essentially the same info four times to register each section: GM A, GM B, IM C, and IM D. Cut and paste is your friend here…

 

SwissSys

If for some reason you don’t already have a copy of SwissSys, you now need it! That’s because you need to submit your event for FIDE rating using SwissSys files.

This means, even if you use Swiss-Manager as I do, prepare your SwissSys files before the tournament!

Create as many sections in SwissSys as you need for your event as you would for a normal USCF tournament. Enter all of your players (if your event is far in the future, update regularly).

Now, as you register players, the “I.D. number” field should contain their USCF ID. In the “I.D. #2” field, enter their FIDE ID number! Search the players on ratings.fide.com

Which rating to use? I enter the players’ current FIDE ratings, but this doesn’t matter UNLESS you’re going to pair a FIDE-rated Swiss tournament with SwissSys. Then it is a must (more on that in Part 2).

[Edit: IA Tom Langland mentioned a combined USCF/FIDE rating database I was unaware of, which should make this process much easier! I found it here: https://www.kingregistration.com/combineddb]

Check that the players have current USCF memberships, as you would for any non-FIDE-rated event. However: any GM/IM/WGM/WIM whose FIDE country is not USA is exempt from having a current membership. They just need a USCF ID number. So get your foreign players a USCF ID if they don’t have one!

[Edit: IA Sztaray reminds us to make sure all players in FIDE-rated sections have FIDE IDs! Get info from the players (federation, gender, birth year) and email fide@uschess.org to get new IDs. When you have them, enter this info manually.]

 

PGN files

This applies to norm tournaments: GM, IM, WGM, and WIM.

    • For a norm to be valid in a round robin event, a PGN file of all games in the tournament must be submitted to FIDE [in our case, we send them to the US Chess FIDE Events Manager].
    • For a norm to be valid in a Swiss event, PGN files of all games from norm-earners must be included. It’s not required to include all games.

Keep this in mind! If you’re not using DGT boards, you will be entering lots of games into ChessBase! Even if your event doesn’t require the submission of PGN files, strive to collect all game scores.

Order carbonless scoresheets — NOW. Collect the top (white) copy, while the player keeps the bottom (yellow) copy. While you’re at it, order lots of pens.

 

Final Thoughts

This is more work than you anticipated, am I right? Yes — and you must be very detail-oriented.

Doing all this pre-work, however, will make your life much easier when it comes time to submit your event for FIDE rating.

I would appreciate any questions or comments from other arbiters or prospective arbiters!

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Swiss-Manager: Essential for Arbiters?

Rarely used in the USA

In March, I wrote that SwissSys is essential for U.S. tournament directors. I neglected to mention WinTD, which other TDs swear by, and I believe is still the tournament management software used for National Scholastics.

When it comes to FIDE-rated, title-norm events run in the United States, I believe Chief Arbiters should use Swiss-Manager (in conjunction with SwissSys, as I’ll explain in a future post). However, few do.

 

What is Swiss-Manager?

Swiss-Manager is tournament management software authored by Friend of FIDE Heinz Herzog (Austria). It is approved to make FIDE “Dutch” pairings (which must be used for Swiss events offering norms, unless a different pairing system is announced in advance — if FIDE officials cannot replicate your pairings, any norms earned may be invalidated!).

It can make pairings, print charts, and so on — just as SwissSys, WinTD, and other such software can do. Swiss-Manager also creates perfect norm certificates: just print and sign!

I will say SwissSys creates the most aesthetically-pleasing printouts, after some fiddling with the fonts.

However, Swiss-Manager has one massive advantage no one else can match: chess-results.com.

Chess-results is the undisputed go-to source for international tournaments: event info, registered players, pairings, results, standings, games, and sometimes even photos! It’s the standard in most major chess countries, except the USA!

 

International Presence

When preparing to run my first title norm event in November 2021, I decided to purchase Swiss-Manager and learn to use it.

This event consisted of three ten-player round robins, and SwissSys (which I have been using since 2003), could easily handle it. But I wanted entered players (and prospective entries) to see all the important info in a place where players around the world are accustomed to looking for it, on chess-results.

In November I will be running the 2022 New York Fall Invitationals. To find out about it, one just needs to go to chess-results.com, click on “USA” under “Federation selection,” and then click the name of the event. They will then see this:

chess-results screenshot
Players interested in the 2022 New York Fall Invitationals can find all important info here.

 

I’ll point out some things:

  • The orange banner at the top can be used to display info you want to stand out: here, I want to make clear this is a 10-player norm RR. When the field is complete, I put in the required score for GM/IM norms. Towards the end of the event, I use it to remind players of the early start time on the final day!
  • For some reason, the rounds say “0” until the pairings are made (in round robins, but not Swisses). I don’t know why. Of course, it should be “9.”
  • The list is sorted by rating, and the “No” is the order I entered the players in Swiss-Manager. Only after I tell Swiss-Manager to make pairings does it randomly assign round robin Start Numbers.
  • The five events (GM A, GM B, IM C, IM D, and NM E) are linked. Clicking the one you’re interested in takes you to its page. This is tricky to implement the first couple of times, but not so tough once you get the hang of it. I highly recommend doing this if your event has multiple sections.
  • You can customize the info displayed a great deal, including player flags (as I do), and all the federations participating across events. For standings, I also set it to include rating performance and rating change info.
  • Don’t forget to enter the playing schedule in Swiss-Manager (and upload it to chess-results).

 

Cost

Swiss-Manager is not cheap, at 150 euros. In my view, however, this one-time cost is a worthwhile investment, and you don’t have to pay for any updates/upgrades. Most importantly, the ability to upload info to chess-results.com is included.

Bobby Fischer World Champion 1972 Commemoration

Bobby Fischer (1943-2008) became the 11th World Chess Champion on September 1, 1972 when Boris Spassky phoned his resignation of the adjourned 21st and final game of their title match.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Fischer’s triumph, the world-famous Marshall Chess Club hosted a Bobby Fischer World Champion 1972 Commemoration. This event, fittingly, began on September 1 and consisted of two ten-player round robins: GM A and IM B.

GM A players could earn a grandmaster norm by scoring 7 points out of 9 or an international master norm by tallying 5½ points out of 9.

The IM B section required 7 points out of 9 for an IM norm.

I served as Chief Arbiter. The event was organized by IM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy and America’s newest International Organizer, IO Keith Espinosa. Congratulations, Keith!

 

GM A

Hungarian GM Gergely Kantor (Hungary) finished in clear 1st Place with 7 points. GM Mark Paragua (Philippines) followed with 6 points, while GM Djurabek Khamrakulov (Uzbekistan) and FM Sandeep Sethuraman (USA) tied for 3rd-4th place with 5½ points.

GM A round 7
FM Chen — GM Kantor and IM Korley — Zeltsan in Round 7 of the GM A event.

Sethuraman earned his 2nd IM norm in the process, as well as 35 FIDE rating points, taking his live rating to 2371. If he plays in our November event, perhaps he can earn his final norm and cross the 2400 barrier required for the IM title? Anyway, congratulations Sandeep!

 

IM B

FM Gus Huston (USA) won this section with 6½ points out of 9, just missing out on his 2nd IM norm. The 30 Elo points he gained, however, will take his FIDE rating back over 2300.

Round 1 of the Bobby Fischer Commemoration
Round 1 of the tournament on the 50th anniversary of Bobby Fischer becoming World Champion!

GM Michael Rohde (USA) and Zachary Tanenbaum (USA) tied for 2nd-3rd place with 5 points. The latter had an impressive debut at the NYC Invitationals, and will hopefully return.

 

More Info

You can find more information on the event website. Results, standings, and all 90 games from the event can be found on Chess Results.

 

Coming Up Next

From November 9-13, the New York Fall Invitationals will take place in Long Island City, NY. There will be five sections this time: GM A, GM B, IM C, IM D, and NM E. The NM section will be a six-player round robin over three days with no norms on offer.

2022 New York Summer Invitationals: Results

Hilton Garden Inn Midtown Park Avenue
The playing venue, in a great location! Photo: TripAdvisor

The 2022 New York Summer Invitationals concluded on July 11, once again organized by the dynamic duo of Keith Espinosa and IM Aleksandr Ostrovskiy.

The event featured four sections: GM A, GM B, IM C, and IM D. GM and IM norms were available in the A and B sections, while only IM norms were on offer in C and D.

Overall, two IM norms were achieved.

Let’s see the results, shall we?

 

GM A: Grandmaster Class

Polish GM Kamil Dragun finished in clear 1st Place in this section with 6.5 points. GM Djurabek Khamrakulov (Uzbekistan) followed with 6 points, and GM Ante Saric (Croatia) tallied 5½. This trio dominated the event.

No norms were earned this time; 5 points would have scored an IM norm for FMs Liran Zhou and Maximilian Lu, though the latter will presumably have his IM title approved at the next FIDE Congress in August.

A GM norm required 6½ points, but no one ever looked very likely to earn one during the course of the event.

 

GM B: Don’t Lose

Joseph Zeltsan (USA) won this section with 5½ points out of 9, winning two games and drawing the rest. In addition, he earned his second IM norm. Congratulations!

IM Bryce Tiglon (USA)GM Leonid Yudasin (Israel), and FM Aaron Jacobson (USA) tied for 2nd place with 5 points. Jacobson could have earned his final IM norm with a win over tail-ender Qibiao Wang (China) in the final round, but only managed to draw.

The GM norm in this section was a full 7 points out of 9. Maybe next time?

 

IM C: Just Win

FM Tanitoluwa Adewumi (USA) scored 7 points out of 9, winning the section and scoring his second IM norm. He’s now 2-for-2 in the New York Invitational series. Congratulations!

FM Akira Nakada (USA) once again came just a half-point short, finishing 2nd with 6½. Rating favorite IM Mykola Bortnyk (Ukraine) came in 3rd place with 6 points.

 

IM D: Fight Club

GM Michael Rohde (USA) emerged victorious, tallying 7 points out of 9. The veteran GM showed great form throughout, and was motivated to post the highest score among the four groups, which he did (along with Tani)!

IM Arjun Vishnuvardhan (India) followed Rohde with 6½ points, and IM Nikolai Andrianov (Russia) scored 6. Because the IM norm was 7 points, the norm seekers went after the top three, but their attempts backfired.

While no norms were earned, this section was a bloodbath; it was common for Group D to go well after the other sections were done or nearly so! Only 17 of 45 games ended in draws.

 

More Info

You can find more information on the event website. Results, standings, and downloadable games can be found on Chess Results.

 

Coming Up Next

From September 1-5, the Marshall Chess Club will host the next edition of the series, the Bobby Fischer World Chess Champion 1972 Commemoration, in two sections — GM A and IM B.

Bobby Fischer became World Chess Champion on September 1, 1972; 50 years ago. I was born 11 years later on the same date.

The 2022 New York Summer Invitationals

After three successful norm events in November 2021, January 2022, and April 2022, organizers Keith Espinosa and Alex Ostrovskiy have scheduled another group of norm tournaments in midtown Manhattan from July 7-11.

This event will feature four sections: GM A, GM B, IM C, and IM D.

I’m honored to once again serve as Chief Arbiter.

You can find more information on the event website. Results, standings, and downloadable games will be updated on Chess Results.

Most games will be broadcast on various chess servers, including lichess, chess.com, ChessBase, etc.

Winning the World Open

Winning the world open: Strategies for success at america’s most prestigious open chess tournament

Winning the World OpenAuthors: GM Joel Benjamin and Harold Scott
343 Pages. New In Chess, 2021
Get it on Amazon!

Note: I may receive a commission on products purchased through Amazon links on this page. Thanks for your support!

 

An Uniquely American Phenomenon

There is no chess event quite like the World Open.

The first thing that stands out is the massive prize fund, and chess hopefuls from around the world show up hoping to win their share. For example, the 50th edition (Summer 2022) will guarantee $225,000! First prize in the Open section is $20,000. First prize in most of the class sections (Under 2000, Under 1800, etc.) is $10,000.

A few other events have popped up over the years offering huge prizes, but none have lasted.

Many players only play this tournament and a few others each year; the World Open has the toughest competition most players will ever face. Many players relish that challenge.

It’s not cheap, either: there are no sponsors, and the prize fund is made possible entirely by the entry fees collected from players. The lowest entry fee for the upcoming edition was $308; if you enter on-site, you’ll pay $350! Factor in travel, hotel, and food as well…

In some ways, I think this boosts the popularity of the event! The 2019 edition (the last before COVID-19) drew 1,348 players.

 

A Fruitful Collaboration

Readers of NYSCA‘s Empire Chess already know that Harold Scott is one of the best chess journalists we have in the United States currently. He is also a chess Expert and an experienced tournament director.

GM Joel Benjamin hardly needs an introduction; the three-time U.S. Champion (1987, 1997, 2000) reached the Top 25 in 1987 and has been writing chess books and magazine columns for decades.

What’s the result? High-quality writing and analysis! You get insightful prose commentary, and not an endless stream of computer lines.

The first World Open was held in New York City in 1973, and the book has a chapter on each decade of the tournament’s existence. It also features one chapter for each of 16 previous winners, including Larry Christiansen, John Fedorowicz, Gata Kamsky, Hikaru Nakamura, Alexander Shabalov, Alex Yermolinsky, and co-author Benjamin himself.

The last two chapters of the book contain 30 quiz positions from critical World Open battles, and their solutions.

 

I Almost Forgot…

The World Open is infamous for players attempting to cheat in various ways to win prizes: human and electronic assistance, intentionally mis-marking results and doctoring scoresheets, even hiding or changing their identity…

The book contains an amazing chapter recounting some of the skulduggery attempted over the years. I was present for the 2006 incident but didn’t deal with it directly, as I was chief of the Under 1400 section…though I did get an anonymous phone tip(!) about a player in my section!

Yeah…welcome to the World Open!

 

Winning the World Open is a must-buy for anyone interested in this most unique chess tournament. You get important historical background on Bill Goichberg and the Continental Chess Association; the World Open itself decade-to-decade; fascinating interviews with more than a dozen winners; and a selection of well-annotated games.

Highly recommended.

SwissSys 10: Essential for USCF Tournament Directors

The Mark of a Professional

Swiss-Sys
Thad Suits’s software has been a key TD tool for over 30 years. Image: SwissSys.com

I’ve talked in the past about becoming a USCF Tournament Director. At first you’ll be running small club or classroom tournaments, or assisting more experienced TDs at larger events.

If you decide to get into the TD game long-term, you’ll need the tools of the professional: laptop, laser printer, and SwissSys!

 

What Does SwissSys Do?

SwissSys is tournament management software created by Thad Suits that, as the name suggests, helps tournament directors run Swiss-System events smoothly. Often … very large events with multiple sections and hundreds of players! The computer TDs at the World Open, for example, use SwissSys.

Not only can it make pairings, it prints them neatly for posting as well as other items like standings, wallcharts, and so on.

[A brief rant: Experienced TDs hate the term “pairing software,” as it suggests we are not responsible for the pairings the computer spits out. On the contrary, we are responsible for understanding the pairings, being able to explain them, and overriding them if we think an error has been made.]

SwissSys can also handle round robins, such as quads, and team events.

 

Learning Curve?

Very small. The menus are intuitive and if you tinker with SwissSys for half an hour, you’ll get the hang of it. It’s very user-friendly and non-tech-savvy friendly.

The toughest part? Learning the process for downloading and installing new rating supplements. This is important in order to quickly enter players without having to go to the USCF website to look up every player individually.

It’s also possible to import tournament entries from an excel spreadsheet or other database.

You can use SwissSys for FIDE-rated events, too (remember to turn on FIDE pairings, and you cannot alter pairings once made in norm events!).

 

Don’t Go Without

pairing card
Yep, this used to all be done by hand! Image: Kansas Scholastic Chess Association

In the past, way before I began TDing in 2002, directors paired by hand using pairing cards and needed to handwrite pairings, standings, and so on! I can only imagine how time-consuming this would be.

Merely having a laptop, printer, and SwissSys can earn you directing gigs. Many organizers run small, almost-informal events in schools and just need someone to pair and print the charts. These tournaments aren’t always USCF-rated, either.

If you’re efficient, friendly and, most of all, reliable … you’ll keep getting invited back. Also, a good reputation spreads quickly in the TD World.

 

Cost

A new version of SwissSys 10 is $99.00. Best money you’ll ever spend as a TD … but don’t forget that laser printer! I care for my old HP 1020 like a newborn baby, even though it’s now well into adolescence …

You’re not a professional TD until you have your own software. So what are you waiting for?

My Arbiter Journey: End of the Beginning

Prospective arbiters — read this! For everyone else, it may not be that exciting…

Rekindled Ambition

As recently as two years ago, I did not think I would pursue becoming a FIDE Arbiter or International Arbiter.

I did pass a FIDE Arbiter seminar in 2010, and worked a few tournaments as a Deputy Arbiter in 2009-10. I somehow didn’t get the FA title, however, and over the years didn’t decide to pursue becoming an arbiter.

When I was approached about being Deputy Arbiter for a Grandmaster Norm round robin tournament to be held in August 2019 at the Chess Max Academy in Manhattan (i.e., close to home) my interest in becoming an arbiter returned.

 

A Small Part of History

IA Grant Oen, responsible for FIDE Events in the USA at the time, informed me that I had to become a National Arbiter before I could officially work FIDE events. For this I needed to take and pass a National Arbiter exam with an 80% score. This exam is written and graded by the USCF, and only Senior TDs or above can take it (Associate National TD and National TD are the two higher ranks).

After working on the exam for about eight hours, I sent it back to Grant and I passed with a 93% score (112/120). Now I had to do another FIDE Arbiter seminar and get three tournament norms since my efforts from 2009-10 were long expired.

FA seminar norms are good for four years, and FA tournament norms expire in six years. Since the early 2000s, player norms (e.g. for IM or GM) never expire, and players sometimes achieve norms decades apart.

Abhimanyu Mishra and his dad Hemant with Max Dlugy. I encouraged them to pose for this photo, and I believe I took it with Hemant’s phone!

After a positive experience and earning a norm in the first GM norm event, I assisted in another in November 2019 where I got my second norm. I worked under IAs Eduard Duchovny (USA) and Diana Tsypina (Canada), respectively.

At the end of the second event, I got to meet FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich! Brandon Jacobson earned a GM norm, and Abhimanyu Mishra became the youngest International Master in history by achieving his final IM norm with an ultra-solid nine draws in nine games!

Mishra actually earned his first IM norm in the August event, and in July 2021 he became the youngest GM ever.

These events would actually qualify for International Arbiter (IA) norms, but one must have the FA title before earning IA norms, and you can’t reuse FA norms in an application for IA! C’est la vie.

 

Other Technicalities

We’ve seen that a successful FIDE Arbiter application needs a seminar and passing an exam (with at least 80%), and three tournament norms. But the three norms must include two different types of tournaments (the most common event types are Swiss-system, round robin, or team). A candidate can use only Swiss tournaments if one is a Swiss event with 100+ players, at least 30% of them FIDE rated, and at least seven rounds.

In addition, participants from at least two FIDE federations need to participate, unless the event is a National (adult!) Championship (open or women, individual or team). And I didn’t expect an invitation to assist in the U.S. Championship or U.S. Women’s Championship anytime soon!

Well, those are round-robins anyway. I had two round robin norms, so I needed to find a Swiss to assist in — the requirements for team events are even more strict, and very hard to achieve for US-based arbiters because we are probably the only major country that does not have a National Team Championship.

But first … pandemic!

The world shut down, including over-the-board chess tournaments. In May 2020 I participated in an online FIDE Arbiter seminar and passed the course successfully.

I now needed the Swiss, and I was pretty determined to get it done as soon as things began to reopen. I did not want to let it linger.

 

Not the World Open

A five-round Swiss would have been good enough to complete my FIDE Arbiter title, but with such events it can be unclear in advance if enough players will enter such that the requirements listed in the previous section are met…

Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown, the event site. Photo: visitphilly.com

When the school year ended in mid-June I contacted IA David Hater, who hires TDs for Continental Chess Association tournaments, and got on the staff of the 2021 Philadelphia International. It would be my first CCA event since 2010!

Held directly before the World Open at the same location, this event draws dozens of titled players — FMs and IMs pursuing norms, and GMs playing for prize money and guaranteed cash for participating (as they afford opportunities for others to earn norms by playing them).

I arrived in Philadelphia on Friday night, June 25. The tournament ran from Saturday, June 26 through Wednesday, June 30. Two rounds per day Saturday through Tuesday, and the final (9th) round on Wedesday.

Overall, I had a great experience!

There were no disputes throughout the entire nine rounds. The atmosphere was serious but cordial, and the toughest part of my job was setting clocks and making sure players didn’t leave without submitting their scoresheets (FIDE requires this)! The players were outstanding, too, when it came to respecting the mask-wearing requirement of the event.

FM Vincent Tsay earned his second IM norm, and in fact clinched it without even needing to score in the final round! He ended up drawing tournament winner GM Vladimir Belous anyway. Belous scored 7 points out of 9, along with GM Hans Niemann and IM Andrew Hong, but received a small bonus for having the best mathematical tiebreaks.

At the end, it was appropriate that my final FA norm certificate was issued by one of my long-time mentors, IA Steve Immitt, who was the Chief Arbiter of the event.

The current US Chess FIDE Events Manager, IA Chris Bird, helped ensure all my documents were in order, arranged for me to pay the 50 euro fee to USCF, and sent off my FIDE Arbiter application to Baira Marilova at the FIDE Elista office.

The application now appears on the FIDE titles page, to be hopefully approved at the next FIDE Council meeting, which I believe meets in early August.

After that: my pursuit of the International Arbiter title! Stay tuned!

Chess Tactics: Del Campo — Matros, 2020

Charlotte Chess Center logo
Charlotte Chess Center and Scholastic Academy. charlottechesscenter.org

The Charlotte Chess Center and Scholastic Academy is currently organizing two concurrent 10-player round robin tournaments: a Grandmaster norm event and an International Master norm contest. Unlike in a Swiss, each player in a round robin knows exactly how many points he will need to score in order to secure the GM or IM result.

IA/IO Grant Oen is the Chief Arbiter, and FA Peter Giannatos is Chief Deputy.

Norm events are exciting, especially if one or more players is closing in on the needed score!

FM Balaji Daggupati clinched an IM norm after only 6 rounds! He needs 1.5/2 for a GM norm.

IM Hans Niemann leads the GM norm event with 5.5/7. One win or two draws in the last two rounds will give him his final GM norm, and push his rating closer to the needed 2500 to earn the highest title in chess.

Three players still have chances to earn norms in the IM event.

I’ve annotated the following sharp battle from the very first round of the IM event.

 

Control possible line openings against the enemy king!