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MatPlus.Net Forum General FIDE Albums in 21st Century
 
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(1) Posted by Milan Velimirović (+) [Wednesday, Jan 3, 2007 10:34]

FIDE Albums in 21st Century


Does the publication of FIDE Album have to be so painfully slow? We are well into 21st Century, but the process of selecting problems is the same as it was 50 years ago. I think that it is high time to make some radical changes. The only thing that should be preserved is a printed book, all that comes before it can be and should be made simpler, faster and even cheaper!

We have at hand resources for doing it. Internet is available now, many problemists are already using it and the number is constantly (and probably exponentially) growing. Very soon virtually EVERYBODY will use it!

We certainly also have the people who can provide the software tools for it. It is not as big job as someone may think. I have very clear idea about the whole project, and I am sure that somebody else also has one. However, it makes no sense to write the elaborate if there is a possibility that it would be in vain.

We just need the determination to do it. Any comments or opinions?

 
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(2) Posted by Juraj Lörinc [Wednesday, Jan 3, 2007 11:59]

Some comments and encouragement:

"Internet is available now, many problemists are already using it and the number is constantly (and probably exponentially) growing."

Yes, it is growing. But if exponentially, then the quocient is very low... simply there are too few problemists, so that you have not unlimited number of individuals to be hit by the Internet. Moreover despite use of the Internet, many of older ones have quite low level of computer literacy, that might prevent them from preparation of entries in given format.

"Very soon virtually EVERYBODY will use it!"

I do not think so. Stating something in capital letters does not give more weight to the statement. In my opinion, on the contrary, some (quite a few) older composers will never use the Internet until their death. If there should be some electronic means of communication the active help of others would be a must.

"I have very clear idea about the whole project, and I am sure that somebody else also has one. However, it makes no sense to write the elaborate if there is a possibility that it would be in vain."

I guess you wanted to start debate so that your ideas and further proposal might be refined before submission to the PCCC. That is the right way, I think, so that I would be waiting for some general summary of your ideas. Of course I would welcome positive changes in the spirit of your post, but I may be counted among those seeing a lot of obstacles. However, obstacles are here to be removed, aren't they?
 
 
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(3) Posted by Miodrag Mladenović [Wednesday, Jan 3, 2007 16:06]

I agree with Juraj that there are still lot of problemists that are not using computers. However I think that the optimal solutions should be to have some transitional period (couple of FIDE Albums with an optional usage of computers). I am sure that there are lot of problemists that will submit their problems in electronic format (once when it's available). So it should speed up production of album even if not all problems are submitted electronically. There are benefits submitting problems through computer. Confirmation email can be sent back to the composer to confirm that all problems arrived safely. Currently there is no obligation to confirm if problems reached tournament directors or not. Also, there are some expenses to send problems through regular mail. By email it's free without any costs. I am big supporter of creating program like this. Actually since I am a judge of selfmates for next FIDE Album (2004-2006) I am supporting this idea even more :)!

 
 
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(4) Posted by Milan Velimirović (+) [Wednesday, Jan 3, 2007 16:23]

OK, "exponentially" and "EVERYBODY" may have been exaggerated, but the fact is that the interval of 6-7 is too long (especially for older people).

I don't have in view only FIDE Album(s), although I think that a printed collection is very important: nothing comapares to a good book. However, it seems that Album has deviated from the original idea, which was solely to present the best compositions in period it covers. Titles spoiled everything and for that reason some composers don't even want to send their problems. For instance, can a selection of helpmates be representative without problems by C. J. Feather?

My point is that it is not up to the composer to decide whether his published work will be reprinted or not. Therefore, a good composition SHOULD (intentionally in capitals!) appear in FIDE Album. The composer may refuse the title, or better, the composer who reaches the norm should apply for tittle, but what matters are compositions, not composers.

Consequently, compositions should not necessarily be submitted only by authors themselves. Ideally they should be provided by editors of magazines or columns (most of them they are in acceptable electronic format when printed!) and processed by group of people appointed to maintain the data. There are mechanisms to enforce the editors to submit the material, and the simplest seems to be a list of recommended magazines, i.e. those from which the material is regularly received. Of course, composers should be allowed and invited to submit their own problems published in other publications (chess magazines, daily or weekly paper, even web sites, etc.).

All compositions should be globally uniquely identified and entered to a database, and then immediatelly available for public view. The viewers may comment and/or rate the problems, which could be a good "first filter". The remaining process of selection is to be defined, or kept as it is now only with simpler job for directors and judges. Once it is completed the publisher will have all the material almost ready for printing!

This is something that eventually will be done even if the FIDE Album is not the aim. The benefits of such unified global database are enormous. However, this task can be acomplished only by a collective effort, conducted by an official authority like PCCC which has the power to introduce the instruments which will compel the editors to submission of originals from their magazines or columns, and also to encourage the individuals to do it themselves.

@Juraj: Define "older people". If the data on your homepage is updated, then four years ago I was two times older than you: am I an older man in your eyes? :)

 
   
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(5) Posted by Uri Avner [Wednesday, Jan 3, 2007 18:09]; edited by Uri Avner [07-01-03]

Excellent idea, Milan! The sluggish way things are conducted now is out of fashion! After all, we are in the computer age. The time has come to use the new opportunities for improving the Album quality and accelerating its appearance. If you have any specific ideas about this I would be glad to hear them (please have a look at your inbox).
 
   
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(6) Posted by Harry Fougiaxis [Wednesday, Jan 3, 2007 22:19]; edited by Harry Fougiaxis [07-01-03]

Well, I wrote a few paragraphs and pressed on the submit button only to return back to the headlines page! I'm quite frustrated right now to re-write them again. Could you, please, increase the session time, turn on cookies, or whatever?
 
   
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(7) Posted by Harry Fougiaxis [Wednesday, Jan 3, 2007 22:27]; edited by Harry Fougiaxis [07-01-03]

 QUOTE 

All compositions should be globally uniquely identified and entered to a database, and then immediatelly available for public view. The viewers may comment and/or rate the problems, which could be a good "first filter". The remaining process of selection is to be defined, or kept as it is now only with simpler job for directors and judges. Once it is completed the publisher will have all the material almost ready for printing!


Evaluation of the entries cannot be a task of whoever. Judges do not spend considerable time on mediocre works, so such a "first filter" is neither necessary nor particularly useful, in my opinion. Regarding the database concept : as far as I can tell, Blondel and his team already use the WinChloe database for the production.
 
 
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(8) Posted by Administrator [Wednesday, Jan 3, 2007 22:52]

@Harry (timeout problem): Sorry about that, Harry, I thought that I had prevented such situation from the beginning. I tested it on my local network (Windows with IIS) and the reconnect in case of timeout worked OK. However, the real site is located on Linux server where I have limited privilegues.

I will try to fix the problem and prevent such problems as soon as possible, at least for input forms (forums, notes, originals...).
 
 
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(9) Posted by Harry Fougiaxis [Wednesday, Jan 3, 2007 23:39]; edited by Harry Fougiaxis [07-01-03]

 QUOTE 

My point is that it is not up to the composer to decide whether his published work will be reprinted or not. Therefore, a good composition SHOULD (intentionally in capitals!) appear in FIDE Album. The composer may refuse the title, or better, the composer who reaches the norm should apply for tittle, but what matters are compositions, not composers.

Consequently, compositions should not necessarily be submitted only by authors themselves. Ideally they should be provided by editors of magazines or columns (most of them they are in acceptable electronic format when printed!) and processed by group of people appointed to maintain the data.



I agree with you, in principle, because for me the FIDE album is mainly an anthology of compositions, not a competition among composers. By the way, as you may be aware, this issue was discussed by PCCC almost 10 years ago and the totally opposite approach was decided to be followed. Refer to http://www.saunalahti.fi/~stniekat/pccc/mnts97.htm parapraph 8.IV
 
   
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(10) Posted by Harry Fougiaxis [Friday, Jan 5, 2007 01:22]

I think that first we should take a closer look to the list of albums and the year of their appearance in the PCCC site. It is @ http://www.saunalahti.fi/~stniekat/pccc/fa.htm As we can see, after 1980 (i.e. album 1974-76) each cycle lasted 4 years, then with the new editorial team dropped to three, and right after down to two, even if more work was needed to reach the quality of these anthologies after 1988. The 1992-94 album was unfortunately again delayed to a 4-years cycle, mainly because a whole year was lost with the WCCI turmoil, which almost split the problemists' world into two. The latest two albums seem to settle down to a 3-year production cycle again.

Directors theoretically should need 2-4 months to number the entries, identify duplicates and prepare the spreadsheets. Yet, if someone is busy with other things in his private life, he may end up to 6-7 months; this can easily happen in the #2 and h# sections, due to the great number of entries. It seems that electronic submission and handling of the entries by the composers themselves in a centralised database could probably save this time. However, I guess that much more co-ordination would be necessary and it is a fact that not all problemists are using the Internet.

Then the judges usually need 7-10 months for their evaluation, anticipation research, etc. and we should add a couple of months for second-round considerations, exchange of opinions on doubtful cases among them and the director.

So, ideally, the selection in an "easy" section can be ready within ca. 10 months, or in the "most crowded" it can go up to 15-16 months. Theoretically, this leaves enough time to the publishers to achieve a total of 3 years' cycle. I am almost certain that the editors use WinChloe for the production and I know that the vast majority of the finally selected problems are already recorded in the database, which means practically no data entry is necessary, the solutions are accurate, no mistakes in the diagrams, etc. I assume that a lot of time has to be spent in the process of themes classification, preparation of the indices, translation, etc. I cannot have a firm opinion about this last part, since I have never been actively involved in that one.

All the above are mainly a rough description of the present timetables, no "constructive comments" I'm afraid. I don't know if with more intense commitment from all the involved persons, the production cycle could be reduced down to 2.5 years (ideally to two, but this sounds not realistic). The main "trouble" is that the process is a long chain and if a couple of rings get loose here and there, the slower is obviously prevailing...
 
   
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(11) Posted by Uri Avner [Friday, Jan 5, 2007 16:22]; edited by Uri Avner [07-01-07]

One factor in all this discussion is forgotten. It is the undeniably high proportion of serious mistakes made by Album judges.
This I would mainly ascribe to the impossible mission of making an accurate evaluation on such a high number of problems. On top of this, most of the problems submitted are of mediocre level and below, contributing to the judge's boredom, distracting him from doing an efficient job. Moreover, it plays a part in discouraging potentially good judges from considering this job in the first place.
 
 
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(12) Posted by Milan Velimirović (+) [Sunday, Jan 7, 2007 02:48]

In my previous post I asked if a selection of helpmates can be representative without problems by C. J. Feather. Few days after I received email by Chris with his reaction, and after further exchange of opinions he kindly summarized all in a text which is given elsewhere as PDF document.

I strongly recommend everybody to read the document Competition and Documentation. The opinion of a person with such knowledge, experience and talent must be considered seriously!
 
   
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(13) Posted by Milan Velimirović (+) [Sunday, Jan 7, 2007 11:35]

Regarding Mr. Feather's article Dmitri Turevski points out that:
"... similar discussion about titles, tourneys, judges and FIDE Albums is taking place at
http://selivanov.ru/newss/?act=show_news&id=51
its mostly in russian, but the main article as well as some entries has english translation."

 
   
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(14) Posted by Dmitri Turevski [Sunday, Jan 7, 2007 13:21]

There's a point stated on the selivanov.ru that Mr Feather may be missing in his article:
Titles/ratings are the essential part of the competition, while the competition is the major of few things that can attract new young people to chess composition. The last one is ... er ... absolutely good :)
 
   
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(15) Posted by Harry Fougiaxis [Sunday, Jan 7, 2007 19:56]; edited by Harry Fougiaxis [07-01-07]

I am not a supporter of titles myself (in fact, I do not really care), but frankly speaking, even after reading Chris's document, I have not understood why "titles spoilt everything" as Milan says. Furthermore, I fail to see how the "selective documentation by a central body inevitably leads to unfair and unrepresentative choices, which is unacceptable precisely because the existence of such bodies is justifiable only if they are genuinely representative and authoritative. Possibly a (very!) few individual human beings are capable of objective decision-making, but committees are not." Numerous volunteers spend countless hours in FA judging and I was really shocked to learn that their (our) work leads to unfair and unrepresentative choices. If it is so, may I ask Chris, with all due respect, why you have accepted to act as a judge in the current album?
 
   
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(16) Posted by Milan Velimirović (+) [Monday, Jan 8, 2007 12:10]

Harry: I have not understood why "titles spoilt everything" as Milan says...
I think that introduction of titles influenced the objectivity judging and, even worse, imposed two kinds of antagonism: based on nationality and/or genre.

Harry: may I ask Chris, with all due respect, why you have accepted to act as a judge in the current album
As Chris wrote me in a private message, he does not participate in online discussions becease he prefers to talk one-to-one. I think that he does not have to answer this question, he certainly had his motives to accept the judging duty and we should be grateful for his help.

I have been in similar situation in 1st WCCI. As a matter of fact, I don't think there is anybody who was against the way this competitions is organized more than I was: "recycling" the same problems over and over again. For PCCC congress in St. Petersburg (1998) I prepared a well prepared proposal which favoured composing the original problems, but nobody paid attention to it. Instead, the Committee accepted an over-the-night prepared scetch containing four clauses, two of which had "perhaps" or "maybe" meaning and literally ending with question marks. Despite I was disappointed, furious, and felt offended, I accepted to be the judge in twomovers section for two motives: (1) I thought that doing the job well I could reduce the damage; (2) it was a chance to see the compositions which otherwise I might never see. But my aversion to WCCI as the "world champion titles factory" remained the same.
 
   
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(17) Posted by Harry Fougiaxis [Tuesday, Jan 9, 2007 10:38]

There may have been certain judges, at least in earlier times, who probably favoured composers from their own country or friends in their evaluation, either deliberately or not. I cannot really tell because I do not have any direct experience from those years. If you have some specific examples, I would be glad to listen to them (a pm would be fine, if you do not wish to quote names in public). What I can certainly tell is that I never had such an experience in any of the five times that I acted as judge after 1986 in the h# section. I'm afraid that I did not quite understand what you mean by "genre", could you please clarify?

Regarding Chris : I received a direct answer to my mailbox and I explained why I asked this specific question. Just to avoid any misunderstandings, I obviously did not mean to question Chris's expertise (why could I dare?) It only seemed strange to me such a harsh criticism and as I wrote to him, I felt sort of "invalidated" after I read the paragraph I quoted.

Anyway, Milan, in my opinion, the main issue is not the titles. We should focus to find ways to make the judges' task easier and more enjoyable, and to diminish the possibilities of the score of one of the three judges to overrule the opinions of the other two.
 
   
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(18) Posted by Milan Velimirović (+) [Tuesday, Jan 9, 2007 11:55]; edited by Milan Velimirović (+) [07-01-09]

Harry: Anyway, Milan, in my opinion, the main issue is not the titles.

For me the main issue is not FIDE Album as well. The priority should be a public database. Once it is available, it would be logical to use it for many other things, including the enhancement of FIDE Album process.

Ideally, contact should be made with people in charge of existing database (WinChloe, PDB). Currently, PDB looks pretty "dirty" since there are, at least in Web version, thousands of unprocessed entries making some sophisticated searches (e.g. by themes) meaningless. A lot of job is needed to clean it up.

The state of WinChloe is unknown to me since I cannot use it, although I was probably one of first customers, since my disk where it had been installed crashed several years ago (I remember that I could not unregister that machine, and I gave up). Anyway, the usage of it is restricted and requires special progeam (WinChloe.exe).

I think that we should depend neither on individuals, nor on special program. For the beginning, only the database structure and protocols for data input/update/retreive should be defined and made publicly known. Of course, the database should reside on some server (and mirrored on other servers) and group of administrators/moderators appointed by PCCC will take care of it. The tools for database usage can be written at any time and contain the functions we cannot even imagine at the moment.

The most important issue is that this database should be public domain, anybody should be allowed to download its data partially or integrally and use in whatever way he is capable to do it. Album FIDE job will be then nothing but one of possible usages of our common database.
 
   
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(19) Posted by Harry Fougiaxis [Tuesday, Jan 9, 2007 12:55]

I fully agree with you about the database. PDB is very useful for h# and retros, however as you say for direct and reflex-mates a lot of processing should be done. As far as I can see, it is still updated with recently published retros; yet, it is a great pity that nobody works in the h# anymore.

Regarding WinChloe, you are right. It is in a propietary format, you need to pay for it and the whole work depends on volunteers and individuals. However, it is better than having nothing. I would also love we have a global database and I am ready to help in such a project, but since there has not been much activity towards this goal, I decided to invest in WinChloe (I'm actively contributing h#s and fairies during the past 18 months, or so).

Oh, and about the crash of your hard disc. You can simply ask Christian to remove your old user ID from the database in his server and assign a new one to you, which you will use for the re-activation.
 
   
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(20) Posted by Siegfried Hornecker [Monday, Apr 2, 2007 04:02]; edited by Siegfried Hornecker [07-04-02]

Milan Velimirović said:
We are well into 21st Century, but the process of selecting problems is the same as it was 50 years ago.

---

This is really a problem! Not only in terms of speed but also costs. Since around 60 studies of mine were published from 2004 to 2006 (of which I think, the most are not bad) I will have to send more than 200 sheet of paper from germany to the netherlands. Normally, three Din A4 sheet weigh 20 gram so this is more than 600 g since it must be sent at Din A5. Ok, it should only be a few Euro until then, still.

There are costs for the paper and for sending. Let's say 5 Euro until now. But then there are additional costs for ink. Depending on the printer one has (I have HP) it can be really expensive. For me, this may be 20 to 25 Euro for ink, I don't know. One cartridge has 10 ml (at the cost of around 18 Euro) what I think is enough for 200 Din A5 sheet (I didn't test it since I rarely print anything). I used maybe ten cartridges at my old printer (at a lot cheaper price, btw) from 2003 or 2004 to 2006. The one that originally was by the printer isn't empty yet but maybe only half full).

So at the price I have to pay for this, I could order the last FIDE Album or subscribe to ARVES for one year. Now, what if people live further away and publish a lot? What about - let's say - Ukrain where one only gets 80 Euro per month? I don't know the prices for the post there but I think it can be considerably expensive to send it in.

Even here - in Germany - we slowly get to a level that is even beyond that! We have one-Euro-jobs (yes, only one Euro per hour or a month of work for 120 to 160 Euro, then!) for a few months. At this rate, german composers just will not be able to send anything to the FIDE Album in 10 or 20 years or if they do, it will hurt.

At the moment this is restricted to people already without work, additionally to their money they get. But what if it becomes a regular work? Anyone who understands german is invited to read this article on Wikipedia: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/1-Euro-Job


So why not - optionally - the ability to send to the album per e-mail?
 
   
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MatPlus.Net Forum General FIDE Albums in 21st Century