PDA

View Full Version : Open letter from Eddy Levi



Gattaca
08-01-2006, 12:15 AM
Eddy Levi has asked me to publish the following letter to the Australian chess community. (He doesn't currently have internet access.) He said his motivation was to provoke discussion about the whole issue of withdrawals from chess events.

Open letter from Eddy Levi

Having withdrawn from the 2005/06 Australian Championship, my letter to Gary Bekker cited the main reasons as

(1) Back Pain - evidence of seeking chiropractic treatment through a concierge at the hotel between rounds 2 & 3 (after a win!) was provided.

(2) A "Business" concern - a missing bin at my investment property was reported to me (2nd hand) as a missing beam! This was disconcerting to say the least.

(3) My bad play, which was largely affected by (1) and (2).

My point is, the problems were not so bad that I could physically not continue, so I did not seek or expect an official approval.

I have long felt that the bar is too high for approvals for early exits in Swiss tournaments (as distinct from Round Robins). Players bouncing along the bottom rarely cause pairing inequities for the top players. Whilst there is the creation (and sometimes the elimination of) a bye, isn't this overshadowed by the freedom to enter tournaments with the knowledge of not needing to be critically ill before a withdrawal is approved? Wouldn't this encourage more players? (especially in big Opens)

Many will disagree, but I suspect the positives would outweigh the negatives if we had a more flexible system.

Eddy Levi

PS. I am just posting this for Eddy and won't be entering the discussion or passing on questions or opinions to Eddy.

Cheers, Gattaca.

frogmogdog
08-01-2006, 09:08 AM
i agree with eddy levi that withdrawers from swisses are often needlessly demonised.

i think the main problem is if opponents are left waiting for a no-show (one way to reduce this issue might be to decree chess games forfeited on time after say 15 minutes -- in most sports you can't turn up late and expect to play).

but it's bizarre that you can potentially withdraw from say a university degree with less hassle and penalty than from a chess tournament.

and if it's an individual event (not a team one) i can't see why it's anyone else's business if someone withdraws. being put into a position where you need to publish your personal medical details to stop going onto some morons' hate list is absurd.

i think the swiss vs round robin distinction is significant though. withdrawals from round robins are potentially more disruptive and it's reasonable "gently encourage" players who've already won some games to continue if possible.

but in a swiss, unless it's a contender as just happened in the junior, it generally makes bugger-all difference if a player vanishes. let's all be nice to each other for a change, it's only a game.

Trent Parker
08-01-2006, 01:06 PM
I cannot disagree more!

If a player enters a tournament he or she should play the whole tournament unless there is a compelling reason that that person cannot play the tournament.

Frogmogdog, you are correct! It may leave a person waiting, however it may also cause a bye as it has in the Australian Championships. People who have paid bloody good money to play chess in the Australian championships have to miss out on a game just because some selfish person decides to withdraw from the tournament.

There are some people here in Brisbane who think that Levi should recieve a hefty penalty for withdrawing. I have heard some person say 10 year ban from all ACF events (which may include GP events as the GP is an ACF thing)

Garvinator
08-01-2006, 01:11 PM
I have also heard that Mr Levi is a repeat offender for this kind of thing.

shaun
08-01-2006, 01:37 PM
A post in 3 parts

Part 1: In defense of Eddy he has been consistent in his position. When he withdrew from the 2000/01 Australian Open (on 3/6 and AFTER a win), he informed the organisers in advance, gave a reason (difficulty sleeping), and made the same case for allowing withdrawls as he has made here. So at least he is up front about his actions, unlike some other repeat offenders (one who withdrew from one of the current events as well), who try and make it out that it is the organisers fault, or challenge any proposed santions on the grounds that no one else gets punished so why should they.

Part 2: On the topic of punishment, Ian Rout came up with a sensible solution when the ACT had a problem with players withdrawing from the ACT Championship. If you are an unaproved withdrawer from an event, you are not eligible to play the next time the event is held. eg Withdraw from the Australian Championship, you cannot enter the next one.
I would extend this further and say if you serve your time but then repeat your actions it is a 4 event ban, then a 9 event ban (ie offence squared as the suspension).
Blanket bans didn't seem to work (eg player banned from all events, enters a small club event, ban gets extended another year etc until the suspension is so long the suspension just gets removed altogether), but selective bans seemed to be more succesful.

Part 3: I have always thought that the organisers could go the other way and just throw out players who had no mathematical chance of winning. eg There is a box on the entry form which states that the player commits to playing all rounds of the event, but a player could leave it unticked and reserve the right to withdraw without punishment. However if it gets to the stage in the tournament where the player cannot possibly win (eg 4 points off the lead with 3 rounds to go), the player is removed from the draw (and is not eligible to win any prize money), thanked for contributing to the tournament finances, and then sent on their way.

Kaitlin
08-01-2006, 03:07 PM
..or wat about if they have to pay a withdrawal fee - banning them from the next comp is a bit harsh .....you cant help it if you get sick or your house burns down and you cant stop thinking about it and think about chess. :(

frogmogdog
08-01-2006, 05:42 PM
just read the above, gotta few quick comments.

1. the ian rout approach of banning from the same event for the following year is ok by me. it's talk of blanket bans from chess for years just for withdrawing (as against say cheating or assault) that i think is crazy.

2. charging a withdrawal fee is kinda mean to someone whose house just burnt down! anyway, withdrawers are being financially penalised, they pay for a tournament that they don't complete. although i suppose you could consider charging a deposit for important events eg players in aus champs have to put up say $50 which is refunded if they don't withdraw.

3. creating byes is a non-issue in most tournaments (ok, not this one) because there's just as much chance a withdrawal will remove a bye as create one. plus tailenders are not uncommonly grateful for a rest and free point anyway.

jay_vee
08-01-2006, 05:49 PM
Yes, some opens I've played in use a surcharge to the entry fee that is returned during the last round if you have played all rounds. I think that's a good thing; if yo r house burns down during the tournament, the withdrawal fee is certainly not one of you major worries anyway.

firegoat7
08-01-2006, 06:05 PM
I cannot disagree more!

If a player enters a tournament he or she should play the whole tournament unless there is a compelling reason that that person cannot play the tournament. Idealistically yes, practical reality no.



There are some people here in Brisbane who think that Levi should recieve a hefty penalty for withdrawing. I have heard some person say 10 year ban from all ACF events (which may include GP events as the GP is an ACF thing)
Whoever "these people are" they are complete an utter idiots. To suggest that Eddy Levi ought to be banned from ACF events for 10 years is nothing short of lunacy.

I still believe that the reason most people withdraw is because they cannot face losing. Therefore I believe that it would be a much easier decision for them to face, if they already knew that every fofeited game was going to cost them a huge number of rating points, more then if they had actually lost every game by physically playing. Its a status issue with these people not a monetary one. I doubt that somebody like Eddy would even blink if he had to pay a $1,000 fine :hmm:

cheers Fg7
P.S. For over ten years Eddy Levi has sponsored the Australian Masters, he deserves a little more respect then simply being classified as an "idealistic' policy.

WhiteElephant
08-01-2006, 07:25 PM
I believe that players should be able to withdraw from a chess tournament for ANY reason without penalty, unless they are a serial withdrawer.

I would be in favour of penalising once-off withdrawers if there was inconvenience caused to either players or organisers but I don’t see how either of these groups is inconvenienced.

1) Players will be inconvenienced if the tournament is a round robin, and separate withdrawal rules should be drawn up for such tournaments. But since nearly all tournaments in Australia are swisses (or some version thereof), this is hardly relevant – if anything, the players are better off because they have a greater chance of winning a prize.

Also, I do not consider a win on forfeit an inconvenience – the player who wins still gets a point!

2) Organisers will be inconvenienced by having to press a few extra buttons and take the player’s name out of the draw. That is some extra stressful job!

Some anally retentive bureaucratic organisers will also dislike the loss of control, and feel personally affronted when someone withdraws. (How can someone withdraw from MY tournament???) I believe this is the major reason such penalties are imposed.

Many of these organisers/ bureaucrats need to realise that this is only a chess tournament. A hobby for 99% of competitors. Things happen outside chess – work, illness – for example, the reasons Eddy Levi cited. People have lives and those lives take precedence, you shouldn’t have to produce a doctor’s certificate plus a filled out out prescription, plus a chemist’s receipt etc etc to withdraw from a tournament.

Such stern measures are a deterrent to entry and organisers need to consider that rather than their fragile egos. Perhaps there should be a penalty imposed once someone has withdrawn 3 times over a particular period – the specifics need to be discussed. But any sort of ban for Eddy, a top player, who has outlined his reasons for withdrawing and supported Australian chess over many years – what a joke!

pax
08-01-2006, 10:13 PM
I tend to agree that withdrawals from large Swisses (if done before pairings for the next round are done) tend not to inconvenience anyone, and so penalties should be limited.

I would, however, regard the Australian Championships (and other small elite Swisses) differently. With only 30 players, the dynamics of the event substantially change with the withdrawal of a player (especially when the withdrawal results in the introduction of a bye). A penalty is approriate for an unapproved withdrawal from this sort of event.

WhiteElephant
08-01-2006, 10:43 PM
I did consider this as I was writing my post - yes, you are right, the Aus Championships/ Aus Open does have a different level of prestige to other swisses and a witdrawal should not be something that is done without some thought.

Someone simply not turning up to a game and then the rest of the tournament should be treated more harshly in a national championship.

What are the criteria for a withdrawal to be approved?

Has Eddy Levi's withdrawal been approved? I would have assumed that his reasons would be more than sufficient whether this was an Aus Championshops or not, but some people seem to disagree?

pax
08-01-2006, 11:06 PM
I did consider this as I was writing my post - yes, you are right, the Aus Championships/ Aus Open does have a different level of prestige to other swisses and a witdrawal should not be something that is done without some thought.

Actually, I would regard the Championships differently to the Open. The Open is a large Swiss, and the withdrawal probably has a small effect. The Championship is a small field compared to the number of rounds, and a withdrawal has a significant effect.

As to the specifics of this case, I will leave it to the organisers and the ACF to judge.

Garvinator
08-01-2006, 11:43 PM
also Eddy gave very little if no opportunity for the arbiters to question him at length regarding his withdrawal to see if his reasons were actually valid. I am not saying that they arent, but since he does have a track record of withdrawing from swisses, it doesnt bode well.

As to who is affected, lets see, in this small field:
1) all the players that he beat and are now battling for a rating prize
2) Those who received a bye, therefore getting one less game than they paid for and would have reasonably expected

I am sure there are many other reasons, but we will start here.

eclectic
09-01-2006, 02:40 AM
nevertheless his financial contribution to and hence his free seat at the australian masters will still be welcome ... won't it?

pax
09-01-2006, 08:22 AM
As to who is affected, lets see, in this small field:
1) all the players that he beat and are now battling for a rating prize


Well he only beat one person (Wallis), and there aren't any rating prizes...

WhiteElephant
09-01-2006, 09:53 AM
also Eddy gave very little if no opportunity for the arbiters to question him at length regarding his withdrawal to see if his reasons were actually valid. I am not saying that they arent, but since he does have a track record of withdrawing from swisses, it doesnt bode well.


Why do the arbiters have to question him at length? This isn't an interrogation. If he had reason to withdraw then obviously the reasons are important enough to him.

What track record does Eddy have? He has withdrawn once that I know of a couple of years ago. Have there been other instances?



As to who is affected, lets see, in this small field:
1) all the players that he beat and are now battling for a rating prize

This is just speculation. The players he beat may have lost to someone else anyway and now get an easier draw as a result of it.


2) Those who received a bye, therefore getting one less game than they paid for and would have reasonably expected


If the withdrawing player had not entered the tournament to begin with, there would have been a bye anyway. It is only one game and a free point- many people love having the bye.

Garvinator
09-01-2006, 10:01 AM
If the withdrawing player had not entered the tournament to begin with, there would have been a bye anyway.
For the Australian Championship another player would have been added to make up the even numbers.


It is only one game and a free point- many people love having the bye.
I doubt this very much. I reckon most ppl hate having a bye, especially when it costs them an extra nights accommodation and food, drink etc in the middle of a tournament. Not much fun shelling out for all that and then not even getting a game.

pax
09-01-2006, 10:02 AM
If the withdrawing player had not entered the tournament to begin with, there would have been a bye anyway. It is only one game and a free point- many people love having the bye.

This is not correct. If he had not entered, another player would have been invited to play the Championship. So from that point of view there is at least one person who might be very upset with the withdrawer! Secondly, I don't think players at the bottom of an elite event appreciate having a bye. They are there to play chess, not sit on their arses.

Garvinator
09-01-2006, 10:04 AM
Why do the arbiters have to question him at length? to find out whether in their opinion the withdrawal is an approved withdrawal or unapproved withdrawal for their report to the acf council after the tournament. If the arbiting team determine it is an approved withdrawal, then there is no further action and so the few extra minutes taken to DISCUSS the situation with the arbiting team is well worth it if your withdrawal is legitimate.

WhiteElephant
09-01-2006, 10:09 AM
to find out whether in their opinion the withdrawal is an approved withdrawal or unapproved withdrawal for their report to the acf council after the tournament. If the arbiting team determine it is an approved withdrawal, then there is no further action and so the few extra minutes taken to DISCUSS the situation with the arbiting team is well worth it if your withdrawal is legitimate.

What are the criteria for the withdrawal to be approved? I mean, how can an arbiter be in a better position than the player to determine whether the reason is valid? If a player says he or she is sick, can the arbiter say: 'sorry mate, you are not sick enough, I'll have to ban you for a few years'?

WhiteElephant
09-01-2006, 10:14 AM
This is not correct. If he had not entered, another player would have been invited to play the Championship. So from that point of view there is at least one person who might be very upset with the withdrawer! Secondly, I don't think players at the bottom of an elite event appreciate having a bye. They are there to play chess, not sit on their arses.

Oh, ok fair enough about another player being invited instead.

I don't necessarily agree that all players are averse to having a bye. Some see it as a chance to rest/ get a free point/ observe other games, etc. Also, I don't think that players enter a tournament to get an X number of games for their dollar. Of course, there will be some who do not want a bye, but I don't believe it is just a blanket negative thing as some arbiters suggest.

Garvinator
09-01-2006, 10:14 AM
What are the criteria for the withdrawal to be approved? I mean, how can an arbiter be in a better position than the player to determine whether the reason is valid? If a player says he or she is sick, can the arbiter say: 'sorry mate, you are not sick enough, I'll have to ban you for a few years'?
well in the past my understanding is that arbiters at the Aus champs or Aus open have asked for a medical certificate. Considering these can be dodgied up rather easily i have been told, this isnt an unreasonable request for our number 1 event in Australia.

eclectic
09-01-2006, 10:32 AM
ggrayggray,

is it deemed an unapproved withdrawal if proven to wreak sufficient havoc on someone's competitive .... calculations?

well you know ...

[insert wink here]

bobby1972
09-01-2006, 11:00 AM
i am sure he had good reason to withdraw,its not a capital crime its just a chess turney.bans and rating deductions are just crazy talk.

frogmogdog
09-01-2006, 01:44 PM
i struggle to understand how some people can be so earnest a withdrawal.

eddy levi had probably been looking forward to and planning this trip and tournament for months.

then he starts playing and discovers he isn't enjoying it -- whether that's due to back pain, anxiety, depression, poor play or whatever is only relevant to him.

the result is he'd rather stop playing and the main victim of his actions is himself. it's sadder for HIM than for any other player or organiser.

i've been involved in another individual sport where the response to national championship withdrawals was to check everything was ok and that nothing could be done to help.

in comparison, chess players expect ritual spankings and gonadal extraction.

no wonder i limit myself to junior development and haven't played in a serious adult tournament for 30-odd years. anyone would think people attracted to chess were naturally argumentative (yeah ok, insert smilie here).

PHAT
10-01-2006, 03:36 PM
A withdrawal at anytime can be reasonably needed

A player/team in any sport must asked to show evidence of the "need" to withdraw.

A habit of withdrawing - say ~20% of tournaments played? - should be met with a bond requirement - say 2 X entry fee. If the habit is not broken after a few years, a black ban (assuming their isn't a chronic illness involved.)

Is this not reasonable?

BTW, the "did not show up or ring" player should be expelled from the event, notwithstanding a catastrophy. Mea culpa: I did a no show once (in >300 games) by misreading the next round as being played the following day. I donned a hair shirt and copped a zero point bye for the following round. My expulsion would have been a reasonable penalty for the lack of careful reading - unless my inclussion could prevent a BYE for some other player.

firegoat7
10-01-2006, 04:11 PM
A withdrawal at anytime can be reasonably needed

A player/team in any sport must asked to show evidence of the "need" to withdraw.

A habit of withdrawing - say ~20% of tournaments played? - should be met with a bond requirement - say 2 X entry fee. If the habit is not broken after a few years, a black ban (assuming their isn't a chronic illness involved.)

Is this not reasonable?



Nope, it is is not reasonable.

Chess needs chess players, even the flippant ones. That is why banning or forcing players to pay bonds is counter productive to what chess needs. Like I said before, I believe it is a particular psychological mindset that habitually withdraws from tournaments. All that really needs to be addressed is their (that psychological mindsets) fears. All you really need to do is to show that withdrawing is a worse option then finishing the tournament, hence my reasoning in pushing a rating point reduction for habitual tournament withdrawers.

I see little point in pushing a authoritarian line that aims to discourage people from playing chess. The aim should be to encourage people to play chess.

cheers Fg7

McTaggart
10-01-2006, 04:15 PM
i am sure he had good reason to withdraw,its not a capital crime its just a chess turney.bans and rating deductions are just crazy talk.


I agree with Bobby1972,there is no need to get our collective knickers twisted over this,Eddy does not have to give a reason for his withdrawal but it is nice if he does. Fron an arbiter's point of view it is sad/undesirable etc but not the end of the world. The ones that the tournament organisers hate are the "no-show" bastards,especially in tournaments were their opponents have travelled a long way to play. These people,in absence of a very good excuse,should not be allowed to play in the next event,ie. simply not invited:

Ian Rout
11-01-2006, 03:28 PM
Part 2: On the topic of punishment, Ian Rout came up with a sensible solution when the ACT had a problem with players withdrawing from the ACT Championship. If you are an unaproved withdrawer from an event, you are not eligible to play the next time the event is held. eg Withdraw from the Australian Championship, you cannot enter the next one.
If I can clarify this a little, my proposal was not aimed so much at the event(s) from which the withdrawer should be excluded but the manner in which the process should work.

The context was that one player in particular seemed rather prone to developing mystery illnesses after losing a couple of games in the ACT Championship and falling off the pace, and I think another may also have come up with some dubious reason at one point. What I suggested was that withdrawers should be excluded from entry to the next two years' Championships unless ACTCA determined otherwise.

This might sound like simply banning the player but the subtle difference is that it is not a ban but an entry criterion. The onus of showing cause is shifted; rather than the ACTCA having to make a decision to exclude someone, that player instead has to show cause why they should be admitted, which isn't hard if it's a demonstrable one-off bona fide instance but somewhat harder for a dodgy or repeat instance.

The point is that playing in major events should be a privilege, not a right. Meeting a standard of play may be one criterion, but being capable of finishing the event should reasonably be another. Similarly in the Australian Championship. Most players are admitted on "proficiency". A number of people were rejected on the basis of proficiency or did not apply because they expected that outcome - yet those players are surely of greater proficiency than someone who is not even going to finish the tournament. I'm sure that Lee Jones, for instance, would have scored more than one point.

On the related issue of does it matter - well in a low impact Swiss probably not, so long as arbiters are told. On the other hand organisers can impose what rules they choose and can accept entries from who they want, so the "because I can" argument cuts both ways.

Some people have argued that nobody is hurt by this withdrawal and players who get a bye would/should be grateful. This is nonsense. A couple of the players who got byes have travelled from distant states. Another may be an applicant for the Women's Olympiad team. None of these players benefit from a meaningless unearned point. Moreover from the point of view of Australian chess it looks highly unprofessional for players to simply stomp off because they are losing, and such players are not good role models. Imagine Collingwood refusing to play out the 2005 AFL season because they didn't want to get flogged any more.

Incidentally the ACT Championship is now just run as a Swiss where taking byes (with notice) is accepted and I don't think the rule was ever actually invoked, but it did abruptly end the run of disappearances. Whether this was because of the consequences or because it helped to make the point that it was a serious tournament that should be treated that way I can't say.

Don_Harrison
11-01-2006, 03:37 PM
Imagine Collingwood refusing to play out the 2005 AFL season because they didn't want to get flogged any more.

One can always live in hope!

Kevin Bonham
11-01-2006, 11:26 PM
Agree with Ian Rout's comments in #30. Additionally, while in the Aus Champs there are no consequences for ratings prizes, in the vast majority of open swisses there could be - especially relevant if any form of tiebreak occurs as a withdrawing opponent really does not help one's sum-of-opponents'-scores total at all. Better therefore to say that we're just not going to put up with unauthorised withdrawals even in tournaments where not all of the arguments against them apply. Otherwise you get players saying "but you let X withdraw from event Y, so why can't I withdraw from Z"?