Round Cancellation

Author: Mark Kaprielian

December 1997

I.                    What can be done about a Round Canceled due to Weather (12-97)

A.            Relevant facts in considering what to do with some commentary immediately following the statement of the fact:

1.             (USCF) The USCF allows the cancellation of tournaments only under very limited conditions, one of which is "extremely inclement weather"

2.             (USCF) Under penalty of having the club's affiliation with the USCF revoked, the club is obligated to pay out guaranteed prizes unless it petitions the USCF for exception due to above mentioned above.

3.             (USCF) Due to publishing lead-time requirements of Chess Life magazine, tournaments that are three months away must be committed to and submitted. Commentary:  The Club has a responsibility to both local and visiting USCF members to hold events as advertised.  We do, from time to time get people visiting from out of state participate in our events, sometimes the whole event, sometimes only partial.  This contributes to the reasoning of not changing the January event.  It should be noted also that our events are indeed drafted unofficially for planning purposes, for an entire year in advance at all times with adjustments made as we progress through the schedule and until we need to commit to the advertising for the event.

4.             (USCF)  Tournament reports must be submitted within seven days after the "end date" of the tournament.  Commentary:  Ratings are calculated in order of tournament end dates.  If we were to complete this tournament beyond the next tournaments end date, everybody's rating would be calculated out of order.  The USCF does not go back and recalculate forward.  The ripples in ratings could be very significant and their effects on entry into major tournaments a mess.  I don't believe we have the latitude to change the announced dates of the tournament without prior notice.  This I believe eliminates the option of completing the tournament at a later date.

5.             Without a TD present, disputes, should they arise, might not be amicably resolved.  Commentary:  While of late it has been quite rare for any personal disputes to arise, it certainly has happened.  Also, there may be very legitiment questions, problems or situations that may occur.  While I can't pin down the USCF rules stating that games must be played with a TD in attendance, I would have to say it would, at the least, be very unwise to hope that 18 pairings, played on their own would occur without incident and within the proscribed time frame.  This eliminates the idea of completing the games with time and place arranged between the players.

6.             (Club) There is no established policy on cancellation.  Commentary:  In the past, research was done and other club Presidents and TDs were consulted but no clear policy seemed possible.  On only one previous occasion in the last three years did we have to cancel a round.  Commentary:  This was the first round of the Club Championships in April of this year and was due to snow.  As it was a six round event, the round was not much missed especially since no games had yet been played.  It did cause much confusion from start to finish.

B.            General commentary on the matter.

1.             We have 80 active players attending our events.  We average about half this number playing each month.  Each month the makeup of which 40 or so are playing varies a great deal.  Granted there is a hard-core group of about 20 people who attend almost every month.  The point I'm making here is that even on a monthly basis, the collection of players is very unique.  I do not believe it at all feasible that we could get agreement from the 36 players this month on a common alternate date or that it would be fair to expect that people would be required to attend another unscheduled round.

2.             Let's take a hard look at what is really at stake.  There are, I believe, three primary items:

a)             Ratings - Ratings are not adversely affected by the loss of a round.  Only played games count towards ratings.

b)             Prize Money - The loss of a round certainly effects the ability of players to place.

c)             Glory - The loss of a round may deprive someone the opportunity to say they placed.

3.             Lets now consider the idea of changing the time control to fit two rounds into the space of one.  This change would be addressing the issue of being able to place, hence Prize Money considerations and Glory.  Relative to the existing time control, we would be in effect saying, "lets play speed chess to determine the winner".  This will work to some peoples advantage and to others disadvantage.  From my experience, I firmly believe that the results will NOT be the same as if we had played our four regular rounds.  Many of our players do not like time controls faster than what we now play and in fact, we have essentially given up fast events because of repeated poor turnouts.  Granted, the story may be different now but deciding to go this route on short notice does not seem fair to me and I don't think it fair to let a vote decide it on game night (unless it were unanimous).  Also, remember that ratings are at stake.  So, just how important is the prize money to how many people and who has a better or worse shot at it due to changing the clock speed?

C.            Conclusion

1.             Clearly, the determination of prizes and glory will be impacted no matter what choice is made.

D.            Recommendations

1.             Given all of the above facts and considerations, I believe it is in the greatest good and of least adverse impact to the participants to simply drop out a round canceled due to weather.