The World Championship for Senior Teams, played in Prague from March 5 to 15, successfully gathered nearly 500 participants in the age categories 65+ and 50+. Unfortunately, further to COVID measures taken by the Czech government, the tournament had to be stopped two days early, after 7 rounds.
In a digital survey carried out after the tournament, respondents expressed their appreciation for the way organisers handled this particular situation. At the same time, also their comments and ratings about other aspects of the organisation are highly valued as a way to continuously improve the quality of FIDE events.
- The World Championship for Senior Teams, scheduled March 5 to 15, 2020 was concluded 2 days early, after just 7 rounds. This was the result of successive measures taken by the Czech government in order to control COVID-19.
- Participation was successful, with 55 teams in 50+ and 51 teams in 65+, for a total of 482 players.
- Each championship (50+ vs. 65+) took place in separate hotels, 300m apart.
As the tournament was stopped at the end of round 7, this satisfaction survey had to be carried out digitally, inviting players to respond over a period of several weeks after the tournament.
- In total 147 out of 482 participants took part in this survey – a response rate of 30% which is actually quite high for a digital survey. On the other hand, and for obvious reasons, this response rate was well below the response rates of roughly 70% reached for last year’s senior events (individual and teams) in Rhodes and Bucharest.
- Response rates were 36% in the age group 50+ and 24% for 65+.
- 58% of respondents found that the corona situation was well handled by the organiser. Additionally 35% found the handling “acceptable”.
In particular, participants appreciated the way in which both tournament halls were converted after Round 4 in order to comply with initial government instructions allowing maximum 100 people per room. Unfortunately, when two days later the government brought the maximum down to 30 people per room, there was no option than to stop the tournament.
Still, some players felt that FIDE should have cancelled the tournament before the start.
Moreover, some comments related to the fact that FIDE’s Medical Security Protocol as announced on the website was not fully observed.
- The overall appreciation was rather positive, but results and comments show a big discrepancy in opinions.
22% very good; 46% good; 18% average;.10% poor
In particular, opinions expressed by Czechs and by Germans, who together represented 50% of all participants, were almost diametrically opposed.
This discrepancy was mainly caused by dissatisfaction with the quality of some of the hotels, or by the way many players were unhappy about the application of anti-cheating rules – as discussed below.
- As happens all too often in senior events, many players were unhappy about the quality of their hotel
14% very good; 36% good; 33% OK; 17% poor
As continues to be the case for FIDE events (as opposed to ECU events), players are obliged to stay in hotels chosen by the organiser. In Prague, this meant that players stayed in 6 different hotels, most of them close to the playing venue but rather far from the centre of Prague.
Not less than a quarter of all players commented about the poor quality of hotel service and meals, or about an unacceptable price/quality ratio. Moreover, the choice of location, far from the city centre , was regretted.
- In spite of difficult conditions relative to corona, 71% of respondents rated arbitration and the management of the tournament as very good or good.
36% very good; 35% good; 18% average; 11% poor
Nevertheless, in their comments 27% of all respondents criticised the very strict way in which the FIDE anti-cheating rules were implemented.
Partially these rules came as a big surprise for many participants, as it was the very first time anti-cheating rules were implemented in a world senior event.
Most of all, players experienced a radical change of atmosphere, which for many seniors may have been, for many years, their main reason for taking part.
It should be noted that an estimated 90% of participants are amateurs and club players who traditionally enjoy taking part together with their friends and watching, or occasionally playing, some famous grandmasters.
More specifically, they regretted the fact that they were not allowed to stay in the tournament hall after finishing their own game and analyzing it with their opponent, so that they could not watch the games of their team mates or those at top boards.
- Playing conditions were generally rated positively, in spite of uncomfortable rearrangements made because of corona.
28% very good; 40% good; 21% average; 8% poor
However, many players regretted the fact that both tournaments were played in different hotels. Moreover, respondents in the category 50+ complained about limited space in-between tables, as well as about the lack of an analysis room.
This is a selection of comments in order to reflect deep-held feelings of participants. As is quite common for surveys, critical comments often outweigh compliments and may be harsher than suggested by the ratings. Nevertheless, this is important feedback which should help to set norms for future tournaments.
1.Handling of the corona crisis
- Organisers did well in a difficult situation. (Male 65+ Scotland)
- Organizers and tournament directors have been under stress to make the tournament work and I give them credit for that. (US Male 50+)
- Well done for a quick reaction to government measures! (Male 65+ Germany)
- The situation was misjudged. The World Senior Team Championship should have been postponed indefinitely because of the enormous risk of travel disruption. Flights out of Prague stopped at midnight on March 15. Many players had to reschedule. It could easily have been worse, with lots of people unable to get out of the Czech Republic. (Male 50+ Wales)
- Hotel quality
At least 20% of all respondents commented very negatively about the quality of their hotel
- This is definitely poor quality of rooms for the money collected. This is 2-stars based on my US experience. (Male USA 50+)
- This needs addressing. This is the second FIDE world seniors event I have attended in the last 6 months and in each case the location of the hotel was too far from the city, the hotel meals were very poor, and the rooms were unsatisfactory.(Male 50+ Wales)
- I have been to many FIDE chess tournaments. This was the worst hotel I have stayed in. The reception staff were surly. The food was mediocre. I spent three extra nights in a similarly priced hotel in Prague. It was better in every respect. (Male 50+ Wales)
- The actual cost of the hotel was much lower than what we were charged. Mark-up of 50% in organizers pocket is not acceptable. (Male USA 50+)
- Very unfriendly staff. Guest lounge and bar unworthy for a hotel. (Austria, Male 50+)
- This was far from the proclaimed 4-star hotel! (Male 65+ Germany)
- Food poor, location terrible (Female 50+ England)
- It was very expensive (950€ for the stay, half pension) The food was not good: poor in quality as in variety. The hotel was not near the center of the town. Clean: yes. The rooms were clean and the housemaids clean the room every day. That was good. But expensive. Relation price/quality below standard. (Male Belgium 65+)
27% of all respondents criticised the very strict way in which the FIDE anti-cheating rules were implemented. (Note that these rules even forbade players to wear analog watches in the playing area.)
- Worst of all were the anti-cheating rules! Except if FIDE really demands this, a radical change is required here! This can surely be done differently, and more player-friendly! (Male 65+ Germany)
- If I had known beforehand about these rules, then I would not have participated in this tournament. FIDE must rethink this! We are mostly only amateurs, and no professionals! (Male 50+ Germany)
- I was very sad that after my game I had to leave the playing area because of the anti-cheating rules. In fact such a tournament is for us interesting as we can watch chess legends in action. I don’t think it makes sense to apply these rules for seniors as there isn’t much prize money involved, and it is all about the atmosphere of “gens una sumus”. For the next event we are now warned, and will only take part if these rules will be adapted. (Male 65+ Germany)
- Players who finished their game had to leave the playing area – what an impertinence! (Male, Austria)
- I like to play these team championships also in order to follow the games of my team mates, as well as other games. This is what we are paying for! (Austria Male 50+)
- Quite a shock and really bad was the fact that we had to leave the playing area after finishing our game. Apart from that, there was no way to follow the other games as a spectator. Are these strict rules really necessary? A tournament should also be enjoyable, including watching games! (Female, 50+ Germany)
- The enforcement of anti-cheating was to the detriment of the event. We were made to feel like cheats, being suspected at all times. The rule to force a player to leave the playing area immediately needs looking at. Players are highly involved in their team's performance and should be allowed to watch the finish of the match. (Male, Wales 50+)
- I enjoyed the tournament overall but this was restricted and limited by the arbiters with glee kicking us out of the playing hall with their petty rules. This is not a candidates tournament, or world individual championship, it is a bunch of old people trying to enjoy a chess holiday, plus a couple of serious teams. The Old people are the majority. Think of them. (Male 50+, England)
- Technically for the chess, no problems. MAJOR issue with the rules regarding having to leave the playing hall after finishing a game. We are all in our declining years and a big part of playing is the team, and seeing the matches of other players. You have removed this. You say it is to stop cheating. Well I would rather relax the rules and risk the cheating than have these rules. Very very annoyed with this. May not come in future as a result. (Male, England 50+)
- A player wasn´t allowed to remain in the playing premises after finishing of his game. Bad! I
got the impression that the organizer overworked the safety regulations of FIDE (Male 65+ Sweden)
Dear Chess Friends,
Thank you for processing and sending the survey results.
We have only a few notes on each point that you can use at your discretion:
As for dissatisfaction with the FIDE rules, as organizers we also think that they are set too strictly, which spoils the good feeling of the event for amateur teams, of which there are over 90%, but we cannot blame the arbiters for strictly following the rules. Looking to the future, it would be good for the relevant commission to rethink this and propose new measures.
As for the results of the survey, we think we were “harmed” by the low percentage of completed questionnaires compared to previous years (due to the fact that players could not complete the questionnaire on the spot, but evaluated everything online after the event) because the one who was dissatisfied has a greater motivation to express his opinion than one who was satisfied. Complications with the oncoming coronavirus epidemic and negative fide measures were certainly not beneficial in the overall assessment, but we were not able to influence them in any way.
On the part of the organizers, the maximum effort was made for the best possible course not only of the championship as such, but also of the accompanying service. Due to the expected record attendance (a few days before the event, 120 teams were registered), we had to use 2 playing halls within one complex and expand the offer of hotels by another two. However, during this expansion, we tried to maintain a wide range of prices in the range of 32 - 88 EUR / person and night.
During the correspondence with the team leaders after the championship, we felt very good, because more than 90% rated the event within the possibilities of the epidemics as managed and successful (only 2 teams out of about 40 expressed dissatisfaction).
In the 30 years we have been organizing chess tournaments, we consider this tournament to be the most challenging, mainly due to the upcoming epidemic, which has forced us to deal daily with reducing the capacity of playing halls, early team departures, hotel cancellations, increased hygiene, etc. We are happy that the championship was completed at least until the 7th round and the winners could be announced. All participants received valuable souvenirs, certificates of participation for individuals and teams, if the situation allowed, there were side events such as a trip to the city center, a blitz tournament, etc. After the championship, all obligations regarding early departures of players were settled.
All measures during the tournament were consulted with both Ozgur Solakoglu and Jan Rooze, who deserve a big thank for their cooperation and help in coping with this difficult event.
If necessary, the above information may be supplemented by details.
With best regards
Dr. Jan Mazuch, Director of WSTCC 2020
World Senior Team Chess Championship 2020 - http://wstcc2020.net/
CZECH OPEN - International Chess and Games Festival - http://www.czechopen.net
CZECH TOUR - International Chess Festivals Series - http://www.czechtour.net
I would like to add my comments below regarding the tournament and survey.
- World Senior Teams Championship 2020 at Prague was one the most difficult and challenging event of FIDE because of the fast growing pandemic situation at Czechia, Europe and all over the world.
- Organizers put huge effort to run the tournament by cooperating FIDE. They really deserved a big congratulation and respect.
- In spite of the all negative issues happened because of the fast-growing pandemic situation, FIDE and organizers managed together to finalize the tournament after round 7 and organize the closing ceremony.
- We have to mention special thanks from the entire chess community to the Deputy Minister of Health of the Czech Republic Roman Prymula who, besides being a FIDE master, is also an epidemiologist - the biggest authority of the country in this field. He personally supervised the situation of the World Senior Team Championship. Mr. Prymula also assisted before the tournament started: when there was a shortage of sanitizers and masks, he helped the organizer to get supplies, so the tournament could follow all the advice and recommendations from the medical commission.
- There were many issues happened during the tournament. Organizers had forced to deal daily with reducing the capacity of playing halls, early team departures, hotel cancellations, increased hygiene, etc.
- All participants received souvenirs, certificates of participation for individuals and teams. They planned side events such as a trips and a blitz tournament, etc.
- After the tournament organizers refunded accommodation payments of participants who had early check out due to early finish. They sent emails regarding refunding process and proposal to all participants that whom effected from the early finish of the tournament.
- Special thanks to all Organization and Arbiters team who worked hard successfully to run the tournament.
- Regarding the survey;
- EVE provided facilities to make the survey online and %30 of the participants completed questionnaires. That is a lower ratio compared with previous tournaments in which players completed the questionnaire during the tournament (not online).
- During evaluation of the survey, we have to take into consideration that %30 of all participants answered survey and the percentages shows the ratios due to %30 of the participants. Also we have to take into consideration, in that kind of surveys, the dissatisfied participants has much more desire to express their opinion than the ones who were satisfied.
- 58% of respondents found that the corona pandemic situation was well handled and 35% found the handling “acceptable” which makes %93 in total where it shows the success of the organisers and FIDE.
- The overall appreciation was 22% very good; 46% good; 18% average which makes a in total %86 as a high percentage.
- Most the participants, totally % 83, were satisfied about the quality of their hotel.On the part of the organizers, due to the expected record attendance (a few days before the event, 120 teams were registered), tit was decided to use two playing halls within one complex and expand the offer of hotels by another two which had a wide range of prices in the range of 32 - 88 EUR / person and night.
- As it was an official FIDE World Championship, anti-cheating rules were followed. I think it also shows the respect to the tournament and players. On the other hand we could discuss with related commissions to follow some special anti-cheating measures for senior tournaments due to the regarding requests came from some of the players.
FM-IA-IO Ozgur Solakoglu
FIDE Events Commission Chairman
- To review the application of anti-cheating rules for seniors - or at least for team championships which are essentially amateur events with very little prize money, and where at least 90% of players pay for their own travel and lodging.
- To attach much more attention to the price/quality ratio of hotels (which includes location!), and possibly to reconsider the current rule of obliging players to stay in hotels designated by the organiser (cfr. ECU).
Senior Chess Director
May 11, 2020