[Retros] Ch5: Place of the Retro Logics

Kevin Begley kevinjbegley at gmail.com
Sun Jun 22 11:39:09 EDT 2014

>"Maybe you’ve got a different concept of “timestamp” in mind from what I
imagine here. I am thinking of something extremely course-grained: perhaps *one
tick of the clock every 3-5 years*. "


In fact, I understand the concept of your suggestion much better than you
do, because I posited, many years ago, that this was one of two
alternatives, which WFCC might consider.

I wrote that WFCC had two options to define "orthodoxy" (their term, which
has never been defined):
1) Orthodox Chess can either be a single rule book (possibly, but not
necessarily, one of FIDE's rule books), or
2) Orthodox Chess can represent the set of ALL FIDE rule books (past,
present, and future), specified either according to publication date, or a
conditional specification of some prior rule book, among the orthodox set.

So, get this straight:  you certainly were not the first to make such a
suggestion (in fact, it is very likely that this idea precedes my first
comments, by several decades).

And, long before you ever came to this realization, that WFCC might apply
the latter option, I already understood what you are still struggling to
understand:  all the reasons why the second option would constitute a

Respectfully, I see no reason to believe that you even comprehend the
meaning of "course-grained" -- you are certainly not using it correctly.
For your reference:

*Granularity* is the extent to which a system
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/System> is broken down into small parts... For
example, a yard [can be] broken into inches, [which] has finer granularity
than a yard broken into feet.

*Coarse-grained* systems consist of fewer, larger components than
*fine-grained* systems; a *coarse-grained* description of a system regards
large subcomponents while a *fine-grained* description regards smaller
components of which the larger ones are composed.

Source: Wiki.

*There is nothing "course-grained" about your "timestamp" suggestion (or
whatever you want to name it, now) -- in fact, it is FIDE, not you, not
WFCC, which will completely control the granularity. Therefore, you are
only suggesting that WFCC continue to bow to FIDE. *

>"Surely even our limited resources could support that kind of geological
evolution? "

You are still missing the boat, completely, Andrew.
There is absolutely no need for us to burden ourselves (and our resources)
with the maintenance of the false orthodoxy you have belatedly suggested --
we gain absolutely nothing from this, except to allow the orthocentric
composers to preserve the fantasy of "realness" (which, in fact,
constitutes a gain of less than nothing, for a problem society).

FIDE Rules (USCF Rules are no better) are inherently incompatible with WFCC
These two objects serve two inherently unique, and independent charters --
the former must benefit a game federation, while the other serves as the
"base rules" for problem chess.

I'll make this easy for you -- let's put this in terms I know you will

In problem chess, WFCC is supposed to be a democratic federation
(presumably of, for, and by the problemists), which has reserved (and
chartered) authority (and responsibility!) to oversee (and maintain) the
base rules for problem chess.

In MtG, there is no democracy -- the base rules are the Intellectual
Property (IP) of some corporation (which generally operates based upon
financial incentives -- e.g., to maximize financial profits, over a desired

Orthodoxy, in problem chess, is nothing more than a reference to the set of
"base rules."
Now, consider how this analogy applies to new cards / new fairy elements
(read: NEW RULES, which deviate from Orthodoxy)...

MtG has third-party card manufacturers, which make agreements with the IP
owners of MtG, in order to license the rights to publish new cards.
These "owners" license these cards for a set period, for two reasons:
1) they realize what you (and WFCC) do not -- they can never permit a third
party to gain permanent control of their base rules (their orthodoxy), and
2) they want cards to expire, in order to increase new card purchases.

What you have proposed is that WFCC treat FIDE as the holders of
Intellectual Property -- you would have problemists license FIDE's base
rules, in 3-5 year increments.
You can talk endlessly about the granularity of this deal, but you can not
disguise the fact that this is a bad deal.

I hate to be the first to tell you this, but FIDE has zero intellectual
property rights for Chess -- Chess is public domain (it precedes FIDE by
many centuries)!  The same goes for USCF.

WFCC has an independent charter, and it (not FIDE) is responsible to act as
the sanctioning authority for Chess Problems.
Who are the third-party vendors in this analogy?  Simple -- the inventors
of new fairy elements, that's who!
And, whereas WFCC has no legal authority (based upon intellectual property
rights) to prevent new inventions, they certainly do have sanctioning
Not only authority -- WFCC has a chartered obligation to maintain a stable,
and logically consistent orthodoxy, and to prevent third-party inventors
from causing damage to its base rules (whether permanent damage, or in the
constantly temporary form you suggest).

>" I like looking at real sets of rules. That basically means rules based
in FIDE or USCF, Any set of WFCC rules (as opposed to conventions) is not

*That is a disgracefully ignorant statement, and its implication is
profoundly sickening.  *

>From the problem perspective, FIDE rules (and USCF rules) are no more real
than chess960... or even Circe, and Isardam, on a Mobius board.

The point is this:  orthodoxy means nothing more than a set of base rules
-- think of it as a springboard... in fact, as a virtual springboard (since
the base rules do not even require that a single problem be drafted under

>From this base set of rules (WFCC orthodoxy), you can realize ANY (and
EVERY) set of rules -- regardless whether you chose to pretend that the
realization constitutes "realness" (in some game sense), or a fabricated
construct, which serves only the interest of problem chess.

>From my perspective -- the problemist perspective -- there is no such thing
as a game;  only the problem is real.
There are only rules which define the problem (constrain it, bound it, in
order that a solution may be logically determinant); no set of rules are
less real than another.

There are only two reasons for having orthodox rules in problem chess:
1) because every single set of rules can be better defined by referencing a
single base set of rules (a problem orthodoxy), and
2) because we may want to establish an economical context (in measuring
divergence from the simplest rules).

The other reason for orthodoxy (to keep the illusion that chess problems
are anchored to FIDE Chess, generally for the purpose of maintaining the
illusion of a false equivalence with FIDE Chess titles (e.g., FIDE GM), is
completely invalid, and should be rejected by everyone associated with
either form.
In your terms: the FIDE titles are the best analogy, in problem chess, to
the corrupting influence of money, in MtG.

It follows that only poor judgement could favor a specific set of rules,
based upon the pretense that one has significance for a game. To the
problem artist, the game does not exist, and can not be significant, in the
slightest.  If you want to make exercises for training players in a
specific game,  more power to you;  this endeavor, however, can not be
confused with the art of chess composition.

Back to timestamps... or time-ticks... or whatever you want to call them...
over whatever period that FIDE wants to impose upon you (at whatever rate
they see fit to make changes, in the interest of their players)...

Consider what you are actually advocating:
1) The rules which govern a problem will not be declared in the place
reserved for describing all the rules of any given problem (in a list of
fairy elements, and a glossary of fairy units).

Instead, the person attempting to appreciate a problem will necessarily
need to cross-reference a deliberately obscured set of rules, to translate
the meaning of your timestamp.

I could easily stop here, and rest my case -- by definition, this is an
improper means to stipulate the rules;  moreover, it is clearly a clumsy
But, your suggestion becomes abruptly worse, when you consider how the FIDE
winds might destructively impact the definitions for every fairy

2) If you define a fairy element such that it depends upon checkmate and
stalemate as a stable base class (orthodoxy), and years later, FIDE alters
the nature of these position states, it may completely disrupt the
definition of your fairy element.

Now, consider that your fairy element may be a base class for another fairy
element  -- for example, think how Madrasi provides a virtual rule base
(one further level removed from orthodoxy) for Isardam.
Most definitions for Isardam will depend, logically, upon Madrasi.

If you knock out the foundation, the damage is not contained -- the
definitions of fairy elements begin to successively fail, like dominoes!

And for what?  Where is the tradeoff for perpetrating these failures upon
the future?
What is your compensation for advocating to engineer a malicious

Your only answer:  "Umm, yeah, *you sure kept it REAL.*"

real chess rules -- something you will never successfully define, but you
want badly enough to believe in it,  that you actually think that you
perceive and experience "realness" as a physical phenomenon.
Realness, for you, has become a self-fulfilling fantasy.

To maintain a CONSISTENTLY TEMPORARY (time-stamped!!) parity between WFCC
Orthodoxy, and the rules of one player's federation, you would have only
succeeded in deluding yourself.
How do you not see that?

It does not matter whether the player's federation is FIDE, or USCF -- the
point you keep missing is: ANY player's federation will necessarily have an
independent charter (they must do what they must do, to serve the best
interest of their players).

WFCC has its own unique charter, which establishes its own unique authority
(and responsibility).
In order to serve the best interest of PROBLEMISTS, WFCC has a
responsibility exclusively to problems (not to any one game).

*It comes down to this... *

Either WFCC is a problem federation (such that all rules governing a
problem is considered equally "real"), or it is merely a sub-Federation of
one game federation, with members who happen to enjoy problems (such that
rules constitute an artificial bias, in accord with the parent's realness
If the former is true, then it would inherently constitute grounds for
every fairy enthusiast to seek a "real" problem federation, and leave WFCC
to play the bouncing bishop to FIDE's "REAL" (read: really inconsistent)
base rules.

The plain facts are as follows:
1) WFCC knows they can not defend their biased position,
2) WFCC knows that no definition can support the position that FIDE rules
are inherently more valid than those governing any fairy element,
3) WFCC knows that their sub-Album classifications can never be logically
defined (same goes for their specific Judge titles, which have no
4) WFCC is well aware that the FIDE rules have often altered the nature of
"Orthodox" problems, yet they have consistently done nothing about it (talk
all you like about preserving heritage, meanwhile WFCC carelessly watches
it burn),
5) Nevertheless, WFCC prefers to straddle the fence, likely to maintain
artificial support, and
6) *WFCC deliberately refuses to define itself. *

Don't believe me?  Visit their website: http://www.wfcc.ch/
Click the link marked "*What is WFCC?*"
Note the answer:  "*The World Federation for Chess Composition (WFCC)* is
the successor of the Permanent Commission for Chess Composition (PCCC)."

If you noticed that this is not an answer, congratulations -- you either
have amazing powers of observation, or you simply managed to remember the
basic question ("Just who does WFCC represent?").

The same question could be inherently answered, by asking WFCC to provide a
fundamental definition for the term, "Orthodox Chess"
Unfortunately, the answer always comes right back with the same shuffling
of feet -- WFCC simply doesn't have a definition for their term, which
fundamentally segregates all of the problems.

I do not mean to cast anyone (individual or organization) in a similar
light (there is no comparison), but the attitude toward fairy chess
certainly does remind me of the long, unfortunate period in my own
country's history, wherein the ignorant masses would justify inhumanity,
based upon terms they themselves could never define.
The only reason I dare to mention this, is... I like to think that I
learned the lessons from that unfortunate history;  one lesson is that we
must challenge even our friends (perhaps especially our friends) to define
their terms, before we accept the arbitrariness of their abject favoritism.

I challenge you -- and WFCC ... indeed, ANYONE -- to justify the attitude
that FIDE Chess is the only "real" orthodoxy, and that it remains so, with
each and every alteration (past, present, and future).

Until you manage this (hint: you will never manage it), I find this
"realness" attitude entirely revolting.
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