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MatPlus.Net Forum General Concerns about the future of WFCC
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(1) Posted by Marcos Roland [Thursday, Mar 10, 2022 16:31]

Concerns about the future of WFCC

Dear friends,

The sanctions against problemists from certain countries that are currently being discussed within the WFCC cause me great concern. I fear that the internal division resulting from the draconian measures suggested will be so serious that the very existence of the WFCC as a world entity will lose meaning and legitimacy.

I would like to say, first of all - speaking only on my behalf, it should be understood - that I am against any type of sanction against problemists for facts beyond the individual responsibility of each one. I understand that the greatest contribution the WFCC can make to world peace is to preserve peace within itself, even in the face of dire events such as wars.

I don't just think that the proposed punishments will have negligible repercussions in the overall picture of the struggle for peace. I believe that, if there are any repercussions, it will be negative. Hate and resentment can certainly only lead to more hate and resentment.

But I think I need not go into more details of my reasons. In the debate that is taking place among the Serbian problemists, President Borislav Gadjanski said a few words on the matter filled with great wisdom. I would very much like Bora's calm attitude to inspire the decision to be taken by the WFCC. I transcribe his words here, which I believe deserve to be made public, I hope he understands it that way.

Bora wrote (my translation, I hope it's comprehensible): "It is not easy to respond meaningfully and understandably to an intention that seems extremely destructive - self-destructive - for our small, inaudible, world organization of chess problems.

Can we, such people, at least slightly improve this world, contribute to at least one less bullet being fired in the conflict of world superpowers? No, but we can do it to ourselves, and it's not difficult at all.

Let's erase all Russian chess composers, all Russian chess problems, all problem themes created by Russian problem leaders. Let's ban Russian solvers and Russian problems from appearing at competitions. It is not difficult, but it is infinitely meaningless to the world and is nothing but the self-abolition of problem chess.

What would have happened if during the WWII, for example, only the New German or Logical School of Problem Chess was banned. What would be left of problem chess? Similarly, what if the work of British composers in the past was banned because of what the British Empire did?

In the XX century there was too much military aggression, human suffering, destructive ideology. European countries were involved in it, directly or indirectly, more or less.

So, to paraphrase the events from the New Testament: 'Let the problemist who is from that European state which has never participated in or supported military aggression against another country be the first to throw a stone at the Russian problemists.'

However, I think we can contribute to making this world better, at least for us problemists! Not by digging new trenches and bans, but by even greater cooperation and denial of all divisions imposed 'from above', from public and secret centers of power. In the midst of the biggest bans due to the C19 pandemic, we hung out by holding online solving competitions and regularly others, in composition, online and in magazines.

Let's be above this evil even now and find a way to cooperate, not to forbid ourselves."
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(2) Posted by Eugene Fomichev [Thursday, Mar 10, 2022 17:53]

A very sensible message, unlike the hurricane of paranoia of the last two weeks. As the Russian cartoon cat Leopold said (I hope at least sanctions were not imposed against him?): "Guys, let's live amicably!"
And it is high time for the WFCC to become a full-fledged federation, i.e. with legal registration and normal communication with FIDE. And then it turns out funny: the WFCC assigns titles and titles to FIDE, which are not even displayed on the FIDE website. In fact, these are fig printer papers.

Mr. Fomichev has been temporarily banned from the Mat Plus Forum because of inappropriate comments on this sensitive and very painful topic. (admin)
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(3) Posted by Dejan Glisić [Thursday, Mar 10, 2022 18:14]

Prohibitions moderate to all individual problemists are totally missed.
Not all Russians and Belarusians are to blame for the war. Such an approach would destroy the WFCC.
Good thinking, Marcos!
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(4) Posted by Alain Villeneuve [Thursday, Mar 10, 2022 21:32]

Thanks Marcos and Borislav. I fully agree.
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(5) Posted by Hauke Reddmann [Thursday, Mar 10, 2022 22:24]

My 10 cents: It will be neigh impossible that we can keep
the war out of MPF, since (as I already wrote) it besmirches
all international chess organizations, and always the eternal
question pops up: symbolic sanctions or not?
And discussions *will* burn, faster than any admin can
stamp them out, especially as they are partially legit
(insofar they are about our organizations).

Thus I propose a (hopefully temporarily!) subforum
"War and Peace" (or whatever you may call it) to which
all politics is moved. The only requirement there:
stay polite. I guess none of us problemists fired a shot.
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(6) Posted by Alain Villeneuve [Thursday, Mar 10, 2022 22:54]

Please answer more clearly, leaving "eternity" for... later !
Do you approve the absurd boycott of russian problemists, yes or no ?
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(7) Posted by Marjan Kovačević [Thursday, Mar 10, 2022 22:59]

Sub-forum for the future of WFCC?? And, main Forum for jokes?
The silence on MPF is frightening, but daily jokes don't help.
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(8) Posted by Siegfried Hornecker [Friday, Mar 11, 2022 00:12]

Yes, I am also worried, I am worried also about national federations.
I will gladly be open to discuss in private should anyone want to. If so, please contact me via e-mail.

My personal - non WFCC, non Schwalbe, non anything else - opinion is that Russian people should be careful under the new laws enacted there, but western publications should not deny them access or entry of tournaments, as the civilians are not the ones to blame for what happens. The same goes for other countries, I would very much prefer us all to stand together in the spirit of "Gens una Sumus".

This is probably the biggest crisis that problem chess is going through since many decades. My offer still stands that I will support anyone who comes to Germany, regardless of their origin, to achieve asylum here, provided they come from a country in war. But they also should notice that Germany might or might not be safe long-term, depending on how the situation evolves.

I will make a statement in my next monthly article, not regarding the current situation but war in general - if my publishers allow. This is outside of the WFCC, I speak solely on my own behalf. But I will copy it below. While this does NOT relate much to the current events, I would like to use it to show how we held together sixty years ago. As this is just a draft, it is unfinished, obviously, but I hope my point is made.

Following the text, I want to add the studies of the friendship tournaments, and in the end give a small statement against war.

I remember the times on MatPlus, when an energetic Milan built this platform to bring our small world together. His legacy was that we are united. Sadly the MatPlus and MatPlus Review magazines stopped, they were not viable anymore, but the forum remained, as a place for everyone to discuss chess composition. We should not have to discuss politics, war, but sadly we have to. I am deeply saddened by that, by humanity's inability to learn. And I think this is reflected in my text below. I also sent an anti-war text to Harold for the next EG. Maybe he will shorten it. Maybe not. I hope not. But it is his decision, and I would understand if he does. I tackle a different theme from the same tourneys there on the chess side. But I will also add the relevant text at the end.

Gens una sumus

Due to recent events, I will this time not speak on behalf of the WFCC, but on behalf of my own, my personal opinion. The Canadian/American TV show "The Outer Limits" showed us wonderful, mysterious, and outright thought-provoking stories. The 1995 reboot ended one episode with the following words that fit into the current day: "Sleep soundly in the knowledge that the dawn will come. Rest assured that our leaders are watching over us. But beware. For it is only their vigilance that stands between our restful slumber... and the end of the world."

While the episode dealt with the possibility of an invasion, in secret, by extraterrestrial forces, it is not far-fetched to apply it to the never-ending possibility of global war. In the new issue of "EG", the specialized endgame studies magazine, I write about a checkmate picture from a tourney in 1962. And I would like to speak about the spirit of said tourney today.

"I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds!" J. Robert Oppenheimer was astonished and in fear of the monster he had created. The era of conventional warfare had come to an end with the defeat of Adolf Hitler, and the final blow of the war saw the use of two never-seen-before weapons that in the blink of an eye could eradicate entire cities and kill hundreds of thousands of people. The simple message that was sent to Hirohito equaled to "Get out of the war or be destroyed", as the band "Wishful Thinking" would describe it in their song "Hiroshima", named after one of the two cities that were hit by this newly created horror.

Seventeen years passed. The United States and the Soviet Union, or rather the NATO and the Warsaw Pact, opposed each other in a Cold War. Both sides had upgraded the monstrous horror, made it fit into intercontinental ballistic missiles. Franz Alt later would write: "Bisher kannten die Menschen nur den individuellen Tod. Der atomare Holocaust wäre aber auch der Tod jeder Geburt und der Tod jedes Todes. Es gäbe erstmals in der Geschichte keine Erinnerung an frühere Generationen und keine Hoffnung auf zukünftige mehr. Wir würden die Toten nochmals töten und unseren eigenen Kindern die Waffe an den Kopf halten."
Roughly this translates to: "Until now, humans only knew individual death. Atomic Holocaust however would also be the death of all birth and the death of all death. For the first time in history there would be no memories of past generations and no hope for future ones. We would kill the deceased again and hold the gun to the head of our own children."
The word "holocaust", from Greek for "burning sacrifice" or "completely burnt", here refers to the Earth being completely inhabitable, "burnt", after such a war.
Both sides were ready to use their weapons, but none was ready to use it first. One mistake, one computer chip burning through, could have meant the end of the world. In 1962 the tensions escalated in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Humanity was as close to its own destruction as it got.

A few months prior, the first "Friendship Team Tourney" was held by chess composers. In endgame studies, the first section was won by Genrikh Kasparyan. The second section was won by the duo Alexey Kopnin and Vladimir Korolkov, the latter whom also won the third section as a duo with Vitaly Chekhover. The first issue of a newlyfounded quarterly named "EG" printed the studies, and the second issue explained:
International Friendship Match. This is a team composing event to be organised every 3 years. A
team represents a country. A FIDE composers' congress in Moscow in 1961 determined the basic
details, such as classes of composition - [Mate in 2, Mate in 3, Mate in 4 or more], studies, self- and help-mates. Three themes would be set in each class. The study themes and judges were, for the 1962 results announced this year:
1. Mate, with at least two black self-blocks. H.M. Lommer (England).
2. Twin positions (or more than two). Only a single discriminant allowed, though the stipulation
may vary. R. Voia (Rumania).
3. A white ambush (battery) created by a quiet move of the masked piece (R or B). Win or draw.
The late A. Gurvitch (USSR).
(Information obtained from Shakhmaty v SSSR (9/62 and 11/62).

Now for my EG article proposal:

Friendship in times of war

While I write this column (starting on 25 February 2022, when Russia attacked Ukraine), the threat of a global war has increased tremendously. Humanity once more faces its extinction because of people playing dangerous political games, with no regard for other people. History never repeats, but it certainly rhymes, as a 20th century proverb of unknown origin says.

60 years ago, some British enthusiasts founded a small magazine about some niche hobby that, as you will have to admit, is shared by you as well. The Cuban Missile Crisis was about to happen. An "International Friendship Team Tourney" had been held.

Six years ago, I met one of the founders of that magazine. We talked about World War 2, and he told personal stories that I believe he wouldn't want me to share. I only was able to talk about Vera Menchik, the Women World Chess Champion, who died in 1944.

Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan sang "We forgave the Germans, and then we were friends. Though they murdered six million, in the ovens they fried. The Germans now too have God on their side." His thought-provoking lyrics at this point start to get personal to me, and in another verse he manages to question all of humanity. "Through many dark hours, I've been thinking about this: That Jesus Christ was betrayed by a kiss. Now I can't think for you, you'll have to decide whether Judas Iscariot had God on his side." After demonstrating the cruelty, the horrors of war, demonstrating how everyone falsely claims that they have God on their side, he closes with the hope that "if God's on our side, he'll stop the next war." This song, "With God on our side", was published in 1964.

(Afterwards, chess content follows.)

To close this issue, I would like to recall some wise words from the past: "Gens una sumus!"
We are one family! In chess composition, this always was even more true. Let us put our own political differences aside and continue to coexist and thrive - and if you need help, don't be afraid to reach out to others! The last time I needed help, Martin Minski and Klaus Rubin visited me in Güstrow, you saw one of the photos from that meeting a few issues ago in EG. For many of us, life is a constant struggle, we know your pain very well, so if the war affects you, or anything else that requires help, reach out to friends, family, or if you don't have anyone, it is also fine to reach out to us.

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(9) Posted by Alain Villeneuve [Friday, Mar 11, 2022 00:34]

Yes Siegfried, I should have many things to comment, but just this one : I listen to Dylan since 1963, I obviously knew this song. But, almost 60 years later, in the hommage to Kennedy ("Murder most foul"), he says that "The Age of the Anti-Christ has only begun".
The question is : problemists (and others) will they take the opportunity to prove that he was too pessimistic ?
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(10) Post removed [posted on Friday, Mar 11, 2022 00:42]

This post is removed by administrator due to inappropriate content.

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(11) Posted by Michel Caillaud [Friday, Mar 11, 2022 01:10]

(this post is meaningless with the precedent post removed).
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(12) Post removed [posted on Friday, Mar 11, 2022 01:27]

This post is removed by administrator due to inappropriate content.

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(13) Posted by Rauf Aliovsadzade [Friday, Mar 11, 2022 01:34]

Michel,le mot "sans" dans votre message est redondant.

Mr. Aliovsadzade has been temporarily banned from the Mat Plus Forum because of inappropriate comments on this sensitive and very painful topic. (admin)
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(14) Posted by Marcos Roland [Friday, Mar 11, 2022 08:00]

Michel, on the other hand, it seems that, in the WFCC, you cannot be Russian without being sanctioned.
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(15) Posted by Dragan Stojnić [Friday, Mar 11, 2022 11:05]

Penalties and retaliation to innocent people only because their nationality are unacceptable.
Promotion such ideas are very dangerous,unhealthy and I am against every type restrictions for peace-loving sportsmen and artists.
Oust politics from our organization
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(16) Posted by Steffen Slumstrup Nielsen [Friday, Mar 11, 2022 12:32]

I consider this a very difficult moral dilemma, and it is a shame that most of the people who speak up are taking such one-sided stands.

It is one of the great tragedies of war (and nations) that people who just want to mind their own business (compose or solve in our case) is forced to take sides. I believe this is mainly a tragedy of war and only secondarily a tragedy of sanctions. All over Europe people are forced to get up from comfortable chairs. Some to write "political posts" on the Matplus-forum when they are not really politically minded people. Some to go to the streets and protest. Others to avoid getting hit by bombs. My sympathies are primarily with the third group.

I know of one Russian composer who is actively opposing Putin and the war. I have seen petitions signed by Russian scientists, publishers and OTB Chess players. But I've seen no united anti-war petition from the Russian composition community. Maybe it is out there somewhere?

In my view representatives of Russia should not be able to judge, organize or direct official WFCC tournaments for now, but as regards individual composers and solvers I am against a ban. For one thing, I dont really want my studies presented in a book of "the best problems made by non-Russians". This is just plain wrong.

By the way. Am I the only one whose stomach forbids them to compose these last couple of weeks?
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(17) Posted by Jacques Rotenberg [Friday, Mar 11, 2022 16:04]

Steffen, your stomach is your concern, your sentence
"...But I've seen no united anti-war petition from the Russian composition community. Maybe it is out there somewhere?..."
sounds horrible for me.

I fully agree with the words of Dragan

WFCC is a place for chess problem lovers.
General or political or military morality is not our concerns.
Political correctness is not our concerns.

I am stunned to be obliged to write this

The proposal of the BCPS shown by Marjan is a bad joke, it is difficult for me to believe it is true

If it is true, this proposal, line by line is a shame.
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(18) Posted by Alain Villeneuve [Friday, Mar 11, 2022 17:08]

Unfortunately, Jacques, it is not a "bad joke". I wrote to BCPS, asking my name be removed from the "fellows" list. I said "no, no, no, no" but it was not so funny than in Michel Polnareff's song.
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(19) Posted by Steffen Slumstrup Nielsen [Friday, Mar 11, 2022 17:29]

Jacques,you are right. I was wrong to write this. I apologize. It was written in anger.
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(20) Posted by Julia Vysotska [Friday, Mar 11, 2022 19:31]

No, Steffen, you're not the only one. I also feel those spasms in the stomach just from the names of some senders in unopened emails.
And the pills couldn't stop my headache after the shocking aggression shown by some speakers during WFCC meetings.
I believed that chess composition, as any other art, is above the politics and wars. That our small community of people, who share the same joy of creativity, will be the main support for all of us during these terrible times. Uniting us, not breaking everything from inside!

After Borislav's words quoted by Marcos (thanks a lot for it!) I couldn't add anything better. I'm not good in formulating any general statements. But days and nights I couldn't stop thinking about everything happening around.
I hope I'm not the only one who feels we don't have enough of information, we couldn't have a clear vision of what is happening between Russia and Ukraine, what was happening for 8 years. We can unite only in one thing: there's nothing more terrible than the war. All of us wish it would never happen. We want to save the Europe, to save our homes... And if we couldn't do much for it, let's start from saving WFCC!

I wish I could stay out of the politics in this unclear situation. But, unfortunately, being an editor of online magazine, being Latvian delegate and an organizer of the upcoming ECSC, being pushed by "sanctionsists" from all sides I have to react.

1) First of all, I'm against any sanctions to the individuals.


2) No changes on JF: fairy chess problems will be published and accepted for the tournaments as before (no notes on JF about it as I believe that "no sanctions" is a normal way of life which doesn't need to be reported).

This was the 11th(!!) email from Michael Lipton I've got and not the first one addressed to the editors of the magazines: "Please forward this email to any editors/boards/decision-makers of chess problem journals (and problem sections of chess or other journals), especially those who may disagree with the proposed action."

I believe in his propaganda Mr. Lipton has crossed all possible borders of ethics.
And what a hypocrisy is the phrase at the end of list of all sanctions against individual solvers and composers?! -
"These proposals respond solely to Russian State conduct in Ukraine and imply no criticism by the WFCC of Russian or Belorussian problemists as individuals."
Has BCPS sanctioned Russia's government with banning Russian composers from the magazine?! In our small society if any action can have other direction than personnel? Or maybe BCPS published hundreds of thousands of problemists from Russia so they couldn't be personified anymore?

Being an editor of JF for 10 years I've published problems by about 20 Russian composers. I know their names, I've met some of them, I exchanged some mails with them. These are people whom we know for many years! Why suddenly we should see them as our enemies? I will not.
I will continue publishing fairy problems the way I did it before. Same as before, I will not allow any non-ethical or inappropriate comments to appear on JF, and the authors of them might be banned from publishing their problems.

3) ECSC 2022:
Yes, Latvia supports sanctions against Russia/Belorussia. That's why at the moment I would vote against the team of Russia (maybe even as Russian Chess Federation, depending on the situation in Latvia) taking part in the current ECSC for several reasons:
a) The emotions of participants: we might still feel hard about seeing on the stage the country who started the war;
b) Organizing the official sport event in Latvia (Latvian Chess Problem Society with a status of Public Benefit Organisation, ECSC in the calendar of Latvian Chess Federation, Latvian chess players involved), I have to follow the current general statements by the government and sport associations. In this respect the situation is very much changeable, and might differ in May. I hope the local sanctions couldn't be higher to FIDE statements.
c) Whatever our decisions are, I would strongly not recommend Russian young solvers to appear for their emotional safety. Those kids are not guilty at all, but I don't see the way how to protect them from the possible aggression from our society on the first place, and also from the overall tension in the air.

After all, dear people, I'd like to tell to all of you: let's unite, let's not break our organization! In WFCC we all take part in some different activities supporting the work of our organization, taking some voluntary work, getting into cooperation with other members. No further cooperation is possible if we divide, if we jump into politics forgetting who we are and were we go. Let's stay human and support each other!
I hope to welcome many of you in Riga in two months, in a better mood, with a hope for spring and piece!
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MatPlus.Net Forum General Concerns about the future of WFCC