Semi finals

Discussion about all aspects of the ECF County Championships.
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Carl Hibbard
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Re: Semi finals

Post by Carl Hibbard » Sat May 30, 2015 9:04 pm

Mick Norris wrote:
John Philpott wrote:Essex would quite like to know the answer to Neil's question as it is rather difficult to arrange a semi - final without being sure of the identity of the opposition!
Warks are through, not Yorks
This another people in charge can only comment in the other place?
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Carl Hibbard
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Re: Semi finals

Post by Carl Hibbard » Sat May 30, 2015 9:12 pm

Is Alex allowed to comment as this gets farcical?
Andrew Zigmond at the other place wrote:Many people have already guessed that there was a dispute in this match which was played on Sunday 17th May and originally won 10 1/2-5 1/2 by Yorkshire. There has been some speculation in other media about what might be going on and the ECF is now in a position to put the facts in the public domain.

Warwickshire raised a query over the Yorkshire board order. The problem was that the Yorkshire player on board 7 had a grade of 131 in the January 15 grading list (the list Yorkshire opted to use) and the player on board 8 was 154 which is obviously outside of the ten point rule as specified in rule E2.3. The specific rule reads as follows;

E2.3. If a player plays on a board below another who is graded (or deemed to be graded) more than 10 ECF points lower than the player, then that player shall be deemed to be ineligible, and treated in accordance with C3.3. The captain must use a single Grading List for the purpose of this rule. The penalty shall not apply where the written consent of the opposing captain is obtained prior to the start of play.

Rule C3.3 which determines the penalty reads as follows;

C3.3. The penalty for playing an ineligible player in any match shall be the loss of the game for that player and a win for the opponent, provided the opponent is present and eligible; plus a deduction of one penalty point for each ineligible player from the resulting total score made by the County in that match. The game(s) will still be graded according to the result of the game as played. The Controller may impose an additional penalty if he is satisfied that the inclusion of an ineligible player was deliberate or wilful.

The query immediately presented a problem for me as Controller as I play for Yorkshire and therefore have a conflict of interest. However my initial reading of rules suggested that it was only the Yorkshire board 7 who was ineligible and thus the penalty was the loss of the game concerned and a further point deduction. The adjusted score was 8 1/2-6 1/2 to Yorkshire which did not affect the match result and I duly amended the result on the Oxford Fusion website after advising both captains (several eagle eyed viewers noted this amendment). I did not feel that the conflict of interest was a problem at this stage as I thought I had ruled against Yorkshire in the dispute.

Warwickshire then queried my decision informally with Alex Holowczak (the Home Director who plays for Warwickshire). Alex and myself had several discussions about the exact interpretation of rule E2.3 which, on close reading suggests that any player who played BELOW a player graded more than ten points lower is deemed ineligible for the purposes of rule C3.3. This would mean that the Yorkshire players on boards 8 through to 12 plus board 15 were ineligible which, after deductions, would mean that Warwickshire won the match by a wide margin. There was further discussion as to whether such a drastic penalty was intended.

At this point I was forced to withdraw my earlier ruling due to the perceived ambiguity over the rules and my conflict of interest. The result was also made private on the results server until a resolution could be found. As Alex also had a conflict of interest it was agreed to refer the matter to David Sedgwick for an initial ruling. David's ruling was that there had indeed been a violation and that Rule E2.3 required that the Yorkshire players on boards 8-12 plus their board 15 be ruled ineligible. Yorkshire appealed this ruling.

The appeal was heard by Julian Clissold and the original ruling was upheld. Therefore Warwickshire progress to the semi finals of the U160 where they will face Essex. There were unavoidable delays in the dispute process due to the unusually large number of people involved and the ECF would like to thank all parties for their patience.

There will obviously be discussion now as to whether the penalty was proportionate to the violation. I would like to put on record here that the rules of the competition fall under the authority of the Director of Home Chess in conjunction with ECF Council and the role of the Controller is to interpret the rules as they stand and deal with all administrative matters in the first instance. I wish to state here that I personally support a review of the rules in this particular instance.

Andrew Zigmond
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Jonathan Rogers
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Re: Semi finals

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Sat May 30, 2015 9:15 pm

I would be curious to know whether Warwickshire even objected before the match began and then played the match under protest?

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: Semi finals

Post by Carl Hibbard » Sat May 30, 2015 9:17 pm

Jonathan Rogers wrote:I think Alex H will be hard pressed to defend that decision in any place. It is even worse than two years ago (Kent v Middlesex, Open SF) when at least the decision followed the rules (the real problem lying with the penalties in the rules themselves). I don't see how a five point winning margin over the boards, as is the case here, can possibly be written off due to one player wrongly playing down a few boards; and the rules this time certainly do not compel such a perverse conclusion.
(I would be curious to know whether Warwickshire even objected before the match began and then played the match under protest?)
It's more important that he is hard pressed to given his limitations and the total lack of activity over there.

The other forum may relaunch but a dead duck is still a dead duck.
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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: Semi finals

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Sat May 30, 2015 9:28 pm

It's somewhat unfortunate that the dispute involved the two counties that caused both the relevant Manager and the relevant Director to have conflicts of interest.

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Re: Semi finals

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Sat May 30, 2015 9:33 pm

I edited my earlier response (captured nonetheless by Carl) because I had not then seen Andrew's summary (above), which is helpful and enables me to understand the issue more easily than beforehand.

But I still think there is much to be said for reading into the rules a general provision that match captains must protest before the match begins, if the violation was already apparent at the time, if they are later to rely on the point on appeal. Then the offending team, which in all likelihood does not realise its own offence, has the chance to change their board order, being "on notice" of the possible consequences if they do not. But where the match continues without protest and results in a resounding win over the boards it is an absolute disaster to overturn the result on account of an interpretation of the rules. People do not give up their time to play team chess if everything can be overturned on appeal like this.

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: Semi finals

Post by Carl Hibbard » Sat May 30, 2015 9:35 pm

Yorkshire seemed to be pushing their luck U160 grading wise.
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David Sedgwick
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Re: Semi finals

Post by David Sedgwick » Sat May 30, 2015 11:45 pm

IM Jack Rudd wrote:It's somewhat unfortunate that the dispute involved the two counties that caused both the relevant Manager and the relevant Director to have conflicts of interest.
Indeed so. I ended up in loco controlleris.

Jonathan Rogers wrote:I edited my earlier response (captured nonetheless by Carl) because I had not then seen Andrew's summary (above), which is helpful and enables me to understand the issue more easily than beforehand.

But I still think there is much to be said for reading into the rules a general provision that match captains must protest before the match begins, if the violation was already apparent at the time, if they are later to rely on the point on appeal. Then the offending team, which in all likelihood does not realise its own offence, has the chance to change their board order, being "on notice" of the possible consequences if they do not. But where the match continues without protest and results in a resounding win over the boards it is an absolute disaster to overturn the result on account of an interpretation of the rules. People do not give up their time to play team chess if everything can be overturned on appeal like this.
From my statement explaining my ruling:

The Rule [further] specifies that:

“The penalty shall not apply where the written consent of the opposing captain is obtained prior to the start of play.”

In the present case the Warwickshire captain has stated that the Yorkshire captain arrived a little late and as a result did not provide a completed team list until after play had commenced. Hence Warwickshire did not have the opportunity even to see the Yorkshire list prior to the start of play, let alone give their consent to a derogation from the Rule. To the best of my knowledge this is not disputed by Yorkshire and I have ruled on the basis that the Warwickshire statement is factually correct.

David Sedgwick (in another place) wrote:
Andrew Zigmond wrote:There will obviously be discussion now as to whether the penalty was proportionate to the violation. I would like to put on record here that the rules of the competition fall under the authority of the Director of Home Chess in conjunction with ECF Council and the role of the Controller is to interpret the rules as they stand and deal with all administrative matters in the first instance. I wish to state here that I personally support a review of the rules in this particular instance.
I would support such a review. I too incline to the view that on this occasion the penalty was disproportionate to the infraction.

Surrey County Chess Association have a similar 10 point rule. Crucially, however, their rules also contain the following provision:

“Where more than one stronger player plays below a weaker player then the number of such stronger players deemed to be ineligible shall not exceed the number of weaker players playing above them.”

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Re: Semi finals

Post by Angus French » Sat May 30, 2015 11:50 pm

Jonathan Rogers wrote:I edited my earlier response (captured nonetheless by Carl) because I had not then seen Andrew's summary (above), which is helpful and enables me to understand the issue more easily than beforehand.

But I still think there is much to be said for reading into the rules a general provision that match captains must protest before the match begins, if the violation was already apparent at the time, if they are later to rely on the point on appeal. Then the offending team, which in all likelihood does not realise its own offence, has the chance to change their board order, being "on notice" of the possible consequences if they do not. But where the match continues without protest and results in a resounding win over the boards it is an absolute disaster to overturn the result on account of an interpretation of the rules. People do not give up their time to play team chess if everything can be overturned on appeal like this.
I don't understand this. Surely the onus is on the 'offending' team not to offend rather than on the opponents to anticipate the offence and point it out?

The hole in the rules through which the Yorkshire team has unfortunately fallen has, I believe, been known about for some time and I suspect it might have been raised by Richard Haddrell at the ECF AGM in 2013. See the SCCU's report here.
SCCU Report on the 2013 ECF AGM, item (1).b wrote:This leaves the 10-point Rule's lopsided penalties in place, and we'll be interested to see how they fix them.

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Re: Semi finals

Post by David Sedgwick » Sat May 30, 2015 11:58 pm

Angus French wrote:The hole in the rules through which the Yorkshire team have unfortunately fallen has, I believe, been known about for some time and I suspect it might have been raised by Richard Haddrell at the ECF AGM in 2013. See the SCCU's report here.
SCCU Report on the 2013 ECF AGM, item (1).b wrote:This leaves the 10-point Rule's lopsided penalties in place, and we'll be interested to see how they fix them.
As I've noted above, Surrey have a fix in place.

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David Grobler
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Re: Semi finals

Post by David Grobler » Sun May 31, 2015 9:41 am

All very unfortunate. As a member of the Yorks U160s , I was looking forward to a nice day out in two weekends time.
I'm not sure the team captains prior to the match actually "swapped" team lists....However , both lists were available for anyone to look at . After about 30 mins of play , I got up to check out how bad my opponent actually was ....and being a bit of a sad person who had read the rules the previous night , immediately spotted the grading problem and pointed it out to our vice captain . My error was in thinking our board 7 was ineligible , and we had therefore lost that one...and suffered a further 1 point penalty . It was only on getting back home I found out that we were going to get five losses and five penalties ! The rules are very clear....and Im surprised its taken so long to sort out quite frankly . Its clear to me that this was simply a very unfortunate mistake by us . Yorkshire were not trying to gain an advantage , but were simply playing all the players in their Yorkshire grading list order (which we thought was a more accurate measure of strength). A few of the team have already swapped e mails on this ....and I think there will be a lot of unhappy players....but we can have no complaints.

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Re: Semi finals

Post by Richard Bates » Sun May 31, 2015 10:08 am

It seems to me that the ECF are so bad at drafting rules which aren't susceptible to completely perverse outcomes that they should always incorporate a get out clause allowing those judging on disputes to overrule a strict literal interpretation of the rules as written where such perverse outcomes arise. I'm sure that, outside of a few sticklers, the vast majority of players are perfectly happy to accept "common sense" rulings, where such rulings are backed up by sound arguments stating why the literal interpretation of the rules should be ignored. If necessary with the involvement of independent persons where they are perceived conflicts of interest. Teams are not going to pursue the ECF to the House of Lords over it. And, although my knowledge of the law is extremely limited, I believe I am correct in saying that even real Judges are allowed to take into account the likely intent of law-makers when ruling on badly drafted laws.

As far as the Counties Championship is concerned my view is that there should be a strong presumption in favour of match results on the day standing and would much prefer sanctions to be applied by means other that affecting that result. Only where there is an obvious case of the offending team having deliberately sought to break the rules might this be different. Players on the day should know where they stand when making decisions at the board. In some ways I think it would be preferable if there is the potential for results on the day to be over-turned that the outcome is (as in eg. football) the zero tolerance of disqualification. I don't really like the effect of sanctions to be dependent on the margin of the original victory.
Last edited by Richard Bates on Sun May 31, 2015 10:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Semi finals

Post by Mike Gunn » Sun May 31, 2015 10:35 am

I agree with Richard, but this situation is unlikely to change while a majority of the chess playing community is prepared to support the illogical and unintended consequences of a badly drawn set of rules. In the short term the only hope for us is if the ECF agree to subcontract the writing of the County Championship rules to Surrey ...

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Re: Semi finals

Post by Richard Bates » Sun May 31, 2015 10:49 am

Mike Gunn wrote:I agree with Richard, but this situation is unlikely to change while a majority of the chess playing community is prepared to support the illogical and unintended consequences of a badly drawn set of rules.
I think you overstate. The "majority" of the chess playing community obviously has no interest since it is completely irrelevant to them. It is more that, such as there is 'support' for consequences, it is because it is ultimately difficult to argue against the rules being applied as written (as long it is just perversity that is the issue, as opposed to ambiguity). It would be different if the discretion for the Controller to ignore the rules was specifically written into them.

On the specific incident here - it is illogical for the penalty to exceed the penalty applying were the board in question to be defaulted.

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Re: Semi finals

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Sun May 31, 2015 11:07 am

David Sedgwick wrote: ....
In the present case the Warwickshire captain has stated that the Yorkshire captain arrived a little late and as a result did not provide a completed team list until after play had commenced. Hence Warwickshire did not have the opportunity even to see the Yorkshire list prior to the start of play, let alone give their consent to a derogation from the Rule. To the best of my knowledge this is not disputed by Yorkshire and I have ruled on the basis that the Warwickshire statement is factually correct. ....
Thanks David, in that case I agree that my suggestion above doesn't really apply

Angus French wrote: ...
Surely the onus is on the 'offending' team not to offend rather than on the opponents to anticipate the offence and point it out? ...
.

I don't agree with this, though. If it is very obvious that an infringment has occurred (as I say, not this case as it turns out) then opposing captains should say so at the time, rather than keep quiet, saving the point for a possible appeal should the match should be lost over the boards (in the criminal appeal courts this point is quite often applied). The idea that captains should check that everything is in order with team lists before play begins was also applied in a 4NCL dispute, at the end of 2000/2001 (though that was a borderline case because the error made was discoverable but not so very apparent to the other captain).

I suppose it is not so easy to find another interpretation of rule E.2.3. It makes sense, even though it seems disproportionate when applied in this case; and given that the ECF has in the past had rules which had the effect of overturning match results on the basis of expired ECF membership, I would even hesitate to say that the application of the rules in this current case is unintended.

Oh well, I guess that Essex U160 at least have an easier SF than they had been expecting .... :P

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