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  1. #1
    CC Candidate Master
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    Open letter from Eddy Levi

    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    Having withdrawn from the 2005/06 Australian Championship, my letter to Gary Bekker cited the main reasons as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.
    Last edited by Gattaca; 08-01-2006 at 12:19 AM.

  2. #2
    CC Candidate Master frogmogdog's Avatar
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    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.

  3. #3
    CC resident nutcase Trent Parker's Avatar
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    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)
    GO THE DRAGONS!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adamski's signature
    God exists. Short and to the point.
    This is the reason I do not wade into religion threads.

  4. #4
    CC Grandmaster Garvinator's Avatar
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    I have also heard that Mr Levi is a repeat offender for this kind of thing.

  5. #5
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    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.

  6. #6
    CC International Master Kaitlin's Avatar
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    Cool

    ..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.
    .. this Caketin is full of little spiders and watermelon seeds.....

    ..Chess is all about fear and psychology

    ..Chess is like an exam..... you havent studied for

    ..If you're good at Chess it means you are very intelligent and could potentialy do great things
    ..... but that you might have wasted that playing way too much chess

  7. #7
    CC International Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaun
    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.

  8. #8
    Account Permanently Banned firegoat7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by the chess nut
    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

    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.

  9. #9
    CC International Master WhiteElephant's Avatar
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    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!

  10. #10
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    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.

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