In recent months, SCF rolled out a slew of innovations.
1. HPE League
December saw the end of the 1st SCF HPE league. ELO rated players are encouraged to stake their ELO points by pitting their skills against our talented National Junior Squad players for $50-$120 per game. Personally, I feel it is a great idea as I've indicated before in a previous blog post. Many of the juniors rose to the occasion and earned juicy ELO points. As for the ELO rated players, they go home with nice 3 digit dollars Christmas presents. One foreign International Master lamented to me that if he had been based somewhere nearer to Singapore, he would make the to and fro trip here just to play in the league every weekend!
2. Hou Yifan Blitz and Simultaneous Exhibition.
Getting the former Women's world champion to take part in a blitz event at a posh hotel is certainly a great idea. 10 lucky players got to pit their skills one to one with a world class player in a tournament and some of them acquitted themselves pretty well though ultimately, her superior play prevailed as expected. You can check out the videos of almost all the blitz games she played here.
She also had the very tough task of taking on 46 top juniors after that and they nicked her for 8 draws and one loss, thanks to FM Tin Jingyao.
2. The new Grand Prix system.
SCF will flag off a new Grand Prix concept tomorrow with points given for placings (the higher the placing in the GP events, the more the points amassed), culminating with the top 20 in the Standard/ Rapid section and Blitz section winning attractive prizes (Standard/Rapid - from $50-$3000 and Blitz - from $50 to $1000). I think it's a brilliant concept as it gives many players something to play for other than rating points, trophies and cash prizes as the top 20 in each standard/rapid event and the top 10 in each blitz event get GP points. One top local player has already indicated to me excitedly that he will arrange his personal schedule to fit the Grand Prix events.
3. Removal of SCF rating list
This radical move is probably made to increase the number of FIDE rated Singaporeans. With the introduction of FIDE rapid and blitz ratings for events, this makes good sense. However, it also means that many non-FIDE rated players have to start from scratch (or no rating) after working their SCF ratings up to their present level.
4. The charging of administrative fees for publishing FIDE ratings for local players.
This is probably the most radical and controversial idea of all.
SCF is levying a charge of $60 per adult player (for the current year) to keep his/her FIDE rating on the published list unless he or she plays 10 FIDE rated games in SCF events (IMs and GMs are exempted and FMs/WFMs, CMs/WCMS need to play 5 FIDE rated games in SCF events to keep their names on the list).
Juniors (under 20) have to pay $60 and ALSO play 10 FIDE rated games to get their names on the list. Even if they join the National Junior Squad (and pay $265-$382 per term (3 months' training)), they will still have to play 10 FIDE Standard rating games. Within the Junior Squad training, they might (or might not) get to play at least 10 FIDE rated games until their ratings reaches above 1600, after which, they have to play 90 minutes per side FIDE rated games. (Update: I was informed in the Comments section by a poster who noted that Junior Squad players play 1 hour per side training matches. Another poster noted that this sufficed for FIDE rated games and a check of the FIDE handbook showed that for players below 1600 - 1 hour per side games can be FIDE rated, 1601-2199 - 90 minutes per side suffices and for >2199, 2 hours per side game is mandatory).
I personally find this $60 admininstrative fee too high for my liking. FIDE charges each chess federation one Euro (about $1.64) per rated player up to a total of 1500 Euros (meaning if a federation has more than 1500 FIDE rated players, there won't be any extra charges per extra player). Every FIDE rated event (with average rating up of 2300) will cost the federation 50 Euros (about $82). Assuming an SCF Event has 100 players participating, this will amount to less than $1 per player. You can find information on these charges in the FIDE handbook.
So in total, it will cost SCF less than $3 per player to keep his rating on the list, assuming the player takes part in 1 SCF FIDE rated event. Surely, the entry fee that players have to foot for each event can cover this cost sufficiently. Perhaps there are hidden charges I'm not aware of.
Hence, I am perplexed by the logic that SCF gave - that "in view of the increasing amount of resources required to maintain the
FIDE rating lists in the upcoming years, the SCF will be levying a
yearly administrative fee to remain on the FIDE rating list for Standard
A player who is inactive will also not have his ratings changed unless he/she participates again. How much effort or cost will it take to keep his/her name on the inactive list when the subject's FIDE rating does not even move at all? Probably nothing needs to be done at all!
Also, I always have this impression that it is FIDE which publishes and maintains the rating list instead of the individual chess federation? I might be mistaken though.
I presume SCF's intention in doing this is aimed at encouraging local players to set aside time to participate in SCF events. However, I don't suppose any other chess federation will try to force their players to 'play or pay' so the measures meted out seem unnecessarily harsh, in my opinion.
Oh, and for that matter, the admininstrative charge is poised to rise in subsequent years, as the $60 is noted as a 'concessionary rate'.