Saturday, 12 January 2013

The new SCF initiatives - by Junior Tay

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 chess".

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'.


  1. I agree with your comments. All the initiatives for 2013 have been excellent, except for the $60 fee, which is controversial.

    Looking back at 2012, how many standard FIDE events for non-juniors were there? Instead of say a minimum of 10 games, why not factor this into tournament fees?

    I also understand that ratings are maintained by FIDE and not SCF ... so if I join one tournament in Singapore but 10 tournaments overseas, it doesn't make sense to pay SCF the $60.

  2. Great article on the recent updates. I just wish correct the author that the majority of the juniors in the national junior squad last year have played zero FIDE classical game as part of their junior squad training. Only a small group from the FIDE training squad and subsequently the hpe training league plays FIDE classical game as part of their squad training.

  3. Hi. What I meant was that future NJS players most likely will play FIDE-rated matches in their training games instead of SCF-rated ones (since the latter would be abolished by then). So they most likely will make their 10 rated games requirements easily.

    1. Hi, the requirement is to play 10 games in standard fide time control. Majority of the squad play 1hr/side, so it does not count towards the 10 games.

  4. Hi! Thanks for clarifying. Will update accordingly.

  5. For a game to be FIDE-rated each player must have the minimum periods in which to complete all the moves. The minimum period of the different types of periods can also be: 1 hour per side.

  6. In view of the above clarified standards for standard chess games to be FIDE-rated, Junior's original post comment was correct, and the later comment and text change made is not correct. 1hr/side = standard FIDE time control. 58min/side = rapid FIDE time control.

  7. Dug this out from the FIDE Handbook:

    "1.0 Rate of Play

    For a game to be rated each player must have the following minimum periods in which to complete all the moves, assuming the game lasts 60 moves.
    Where at least one of the players in the tournament has a rating 2200 or higher, each player must have a minimum of 120 minutes.
    Where at least one of the players in the tournament has a rating 1600 or higher, each player must have a minimum of 90 minutes.
    Where all the players in the tournament are rated below 1600, each player must have a minimum of 60 minutes.
    1.2 Games played with all the moves at a rate faster than the above are excluded from the list.
    1.3 Where a certain number of moves is specified in the first time control, it shall be 40 moves. Players benefit from uniformity here."

    Hence, both posters are correct since the NJS players can play FIDE rated games at 1 hour per side - only until their ratings go beyond 1600 when they have to play 90 minute per side games. But firstly, they must have FIDE rated players to play against in the Jr Squad training for it to work...

  8. Indeed it is true that 1hr game can be rated under FIDE standard time control provided the players are not rated over 1600. So it seems that majority of the njs games can be FIDE rated (standard). However what I am trying to say is that scf have not done so last year , did not do it for term 1 this year and have not indicated that they will start doing soon. Therefore it is not so accurate to assume that junior in njs will automatically be entitled to the wavier of the fee just by joining the njs.

  9. I get your point! Thanks!

  10. It says in your post that 1.3 players benefit from uniformity there. Does that mean that in 1.1.-1.2. the players do not benefit from uniformity there? It's confusing a little.

  11. I didn't say's what's written on the FIDE handbook.

  12. Sure, what I meant is what do you think they meant by writing so.

  13. Probably to standardize first time control (if any) with respect to number of moves. 1.1 also refers to games which are play-to-finish type, eg 2 hrs for whole game.

  14. Tks! Btw, one of my favorite international chess players, GM Torre Eugene is without Standard Rating and Rapid Rating even now! He has only Blitz Rating!

  15. This means I can finally lose my both my scf and fide rating and easily win some tournament prizes in the unrated category! Brilliant move SCF!!

  16. Why are GMs exempted from all!? There is no mention of WGMs anyplace, but there is of WFM!? Is it because we have no WGM [or WIM] yet?

  17. Since SCF is launching a Grand Prix events, I thought I would share another Grand Prix held in Singapore recently

    Singapore recently held a Grand Prix Tournament for a collectible card game Magic: The Gathering. It attracted 894 players (490 Singaporean, 115 Malaysian, the rest from elsewhere) who were comfortably selected in a spacious carpeted room and cushioned chairs at Singapore Expo. The entry fee was $45 but this included 6 packs of magic which was all you needed to play in the tournament [you were not allowed to purchase extra cards to get advantage in case you're wondering] ($24 value), a limited edition playmat ($35), a promotional card ($10) value. Basically players could sell the playmat and promo card immediately, so the entry to the GP was free. The average age of players seemed to be in late 20s to early 30s.

    One could say it was a much better playing environment than your usual SCF tournament.

    And they have a rating system called Planeswalkers Points, and you don't have to pay for it.

  18. GP chess was already played in Singapore and sponsored by Singapore Pools. Julio Catalino C. Sadorra, now a sophomore at UT Dallas in USA, was the winner. Julio was also the overall winner of the 1st Asean Chess Grand Prix. This year's GP chess will be another success for chess in Singapore.

  19. Are you sure there is an HPE League in 2013? There are no results to be followed.