[Retros] Comments on Messigny tourney results

afretro afretro at yandex.ru
Sat May 28 05:28:36 EDT 2005

Dear Tom and Pascal,
I did not mean to say that ALL or MOST thematic tourneys should be judged according to a technical procedure. I just wanted to say that if SOME thematic tourneys were so judged, participants would have only themselves to blame for their unsuccessful performance. I don▓t believe anyone will question the fact that competition is more typical of sports than of art. ⌠Artful■ judgment is based on judges▓ inner preferences; it is hard to imagine two judges separately producing the same sequence of awards in a tourney with many entries; moreover, if a judge was to evaluate entries in the same tourney twice, then, provided that the inter-judgment period was long enough, certain differences between the two award patterns would be quite likely.
I know perfectly well that in many realms society hates changing established rules. One example is football, where the referee is still prohibited from resorting to video replays, in spite of the fact that doing so would greatly diminish the arbitrariness of refereeing. On the other hand, in ice hockey, as far as I know, judges have already been using instant replays. I feel that, in the long run, chess composition will start using judgment based on ⌠technical merit■ more frequently.
In connection with Tom▓s remark, I would like to mention the attitude assumed towards thematic tourney judgment by the once number one FIDE Album points scorer Valentin Rudenko. In an article published in Russia he strongly objects to what he describes as the WCCT tendency to judge the thematic sections according to criteria used in judging non-thematic, informal tourneys. He believes that only thematic points should count in such cases. I don▓t claim that his approach is impeccable and should be enforced. Of course many objections can be raised. On the other hand, his approach is not totally unfounded. Indeed, suppose a contest has been announced for the best project of a trade center. One of the participants submits a project which is obviously inferior to a few others, but he incidentally suggests that a nice stadium be placed nearby. Even if the designed stadium looks better than Wembley, what does it have to do with the initial contest requirement?
All right then, we may agree or disagree on some points, but the most important thing is that we all love both the artistic and sports aspects of chess composition, don▓t we?
Yours most sincerely,
May 28, 2005

>Hi Andrey,


>I agree with you that we probably need stricter definitions. But I

>totally disagree with you when you say that the SPG Thematic

>Tournament held in Messigny emphasizes this.


>First I'll describe the context.


>Messigny is the annual french meeting for chess problem enthusiasts.

>Many events take place during a long week-end, going from friday

>evening to monday after lunch : french solving championship, a fairy

>chess tournament, the general meeting of the AFCE (French Association

>for Chess Composition), and many more. To me, one of the most

>important aspect are discussions with other chess problem enthusiasts

>that I only talk to by mail the rest of the year.


>And it is in that context that there are Thematic Tournaments that are

>organized. There were enough TT so that each participant tried to

>compose something in at least one of them : fairy chess, orthodox #3,

>studies, helpmates, joke problems and SPGs.


>Now back to the SPG theme itself.


>Laurent Riguet, the organizer of the meeting, asked me 3 weeks earlier

>to chose a theme and judge the SPG tournament. I chose the theme for

>the exact context that I describe above : it should not be a difficult

>theme and it should also allow interesting problems.


>I knew that I would prefer problems showing the theme in interesting

>ways, rather than showing the theme many times in as few moves as

>possible. And I didn't care about "objective criteria". This is not

>sport, this is art.


>My definition was maybe not clear enough. I tried to explain what a

>line and an interception meant to me. I didn't care if it was not

>completely clear, because the composers for whom the TT was organized

>where present at the meeting and could ask me for clarifications.


>I added the "definition" of interception because I wanted it to be

>used. I didn't want an interception to be "used" only to avoid some



>The example was just there to show that the theme could be easily

>done. The problem is not interesting at all. I think that such an

>example shouldn't be of very high quality, to encourage participants

>to make more interesting entries. It was just that : an example.


>Some composers asked for more details about the theme, even by email.

>I accepted all the ways that the theme could be interpreted, so I

>would have a maximum of entries. Of course, I preferred some kind of

>interceptions over other. White pawn e2 intercepting a black rook at

>e6 was at the borderline of the definition. I knew that I wouldn't

>enjoy very much problems using such "interceptions". But why should I

>"a priori" eliminate it ? Maybe someone composes an overwhelming SPG

>using this feature ?



>This is just my opinion. I understand that other people may have

>different opinions. And this is also true for the judgment !



>I hope to see you all, retro enthusiasts, next year in Messigny.


>Best wishes,




>Retros mailing list

>Retros at janko.at


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