Ian Davis / ATCFT

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EGF Membership Debacle

Every member of the European Go Federation pays a membership fee, but not all organisations are paying the same fee. At some point in its history, it came to pass that the membership fee was calculated on the basis of the number of members which each federation had. This sort of structure is relatively common of course, and on the face of it, most people must have been in favour of it. Eventually though angry voices came to be heard. What was it that they were angry about?

Well the largest federation, Germany, was tired of paying so much, particularly when others were not paying as much as they should. Who was not paying as much as they should? Here there was a kind of "We all know the answer, but we are not going to say" situation. A finger was pointed in a certain direction, but nobody was allowed to look at the finger. The obvious solution was mooted, each federation pays on the basis of its number of rated members. Back came the answer - No! This cannot be allowed because of privacy laws. So hurrah for privacy legislation for safeguarding us from sanity!

So what was to be done? Somehow the solution came to be that we should massively hike up the fee the smallest federations paid. Federations who had a number of members only in double figures. No longer 50 euro, the minimum went up to 200 euro, because on the spur of the moment, it was decided that everyone ought to be able to afford 200 euro. As it turned out, most federations felt they could not, but this was not to detract from the merits of the decision which was taken. Nor was the fact that the projected income gain from this, if all the small members did pay up their full dues, was vastly smaller than the missing income. Of course, this detail was not important, since it was a financial one and had nothing to do with Go.

Within another few years, it was decided that the more you paid, or rather the more members you admitted to having, the more votes you should have. 4 tiers were thus created. This was partly due to smaller federations not paying their full fee, and also the inability to look at the pointing finger.

So what is the upshot of all this activity? Germany is still paying the most, those who remain nameless are still said to be incorrectly reporting their membership numbers, and the small nations were shafted both financially and electorally. There you have democracy in action in the EGF! This is unquestionably a reason to support the EGF in all it does.

European Women's Championship 2016 Failness

It was a nice event, that's something which as a man I can say with more authority than most. Don't let that opening sentence derail you though, for I am about to tell you of something strange that happened in its aftermath. Unhappily, the organiser read and failed to understand the EGF's tournament system rules (2007). If you've ever looked at this page, you'll forgive him for his mistake. What he did was take a choice of tiebreakers that was unusual, his pairing was relatively fine, it was just the choice of tiebreak priority that was a but cuckoo. What he chose was DC, SOS-2, SOS-1, SOS. That's almost okay according to the EGF's page - he could have gotten away with DC, SOS-2 for example. Anyway, there was a complaint about it, a valid one. So far, so normal. What happens next is the mind boggler.

The complaint was never reported to the Appeals Commission, nor to the Rules Commission, just the EGF board. The EGF board consulted neither the Appeals Commission nor the Rules Commission. That was the choice, if not the fault, of the EGF board. The EGF board decided to change the results. When exactly the change was made is not sure, it was not publically announced until (circa) Novemeber 26 2016. A change notice was slapped on the EGF website explaining that the board decided on October 5 2016 to change the results. The date of Oct 5 seems questionable, but at least the change was made public, previously we could have imagined that there was a desire to keep the change secret. A short explanation of the new choice of tiebreakers is given - SOS then SOSOS because they are criteria which are generally accepted for EWGC and easily understandable. This leaves three strands of thought to express.

  1. Why does it take over a month to update the results page for a European Championship? (We leave aside the incomplete(?) business of official notifications.)
  2. Why is the normal appeals process ignored? If we read [ext] Section 7 part 5 of the EGF tournament rules we can learn that it has been ignored, since the EGF board decided this and not the Rules Commission.
  3. Is this clearly the correct choice of tiebreaker?

The third point can be considered fussy, but to my mind it is important to know that the [ext] official rules are referenced before claiming that the correct result is arrived at. Perhaps we can resort to reformulation and ask ourselves if the result can be officially correct if it doesn't follow the official rules. To my mind the rules have not been followed, but this requires some lengthy explanation after two additional pieces of hidden information are revealed.
W1 Firstly the results are not used for international selection.
W2 Secondly the official rules are described as old.
This information shows us that the point is somewhat academic, it doesn't matter anymore what the final ordering is. It also strongly suggests that nobody gives a damn about the rules. If they did, why would the official rules be described as such, and why wouldn't they be in the process of being changed if they were out of date? Anyway, let's look at what the official rules suggest.

  • The first applicable suggestion of the official rules is not to break ties. Since there is no obviously important reason to break ties, that seems like a good suggestion to go with.
  • The second applicable suggestion is to use Direct Comparison as the EGF defines it, the problem being that nobody wants to use it because it is shite.
  • The third applicable suggestion is to actually use SOS-2, the exact argument that is used against it here is unclear but it is probably just a case of preferring tradition. In order of popularity, the event used in the past: SOS then SODOS , SOS then SOSOS , just SOS.
  • While we're talking tiebreakers, except in the year the championship was held in the Isle of Man, an approved EGF tiebreaker has never been used - or at least a currently approved tiebreaker. Before they have always used Wins, SOS, then SODOS or SOSOS

For me the levels of fail are clear:

  • Failure to oversee the organisation of the event - this duty is alluded to in Chapter 7 of the [ext] EGF General Regulations , I think the duty needs to be made clearer.
  • Failure to have clearly documented rules (i.e. the instructions on the rules that organisers should use are terrible)
  • Failure to follow procedures (or) Failure to apply official rules
  • Failure to communicate at a decent level

Some of these you can understand on their own, but taken together it becomes a bit too much. In particular on the last point, really now, how difficult can it be to write an email to explain the situation. Hello. There was an appeal. We agreed. We changed the results. Here are the new results. We will explain the decision fully next week. Have a nice day. To take over 2 months to do a communication can only be described as pants.

All in all, I suppose most would consider this whole incident as a storm in a teacup. Perhaps in some ways it is, but it does raise 2 important points.

  1. The EGF board has decided that it has the power to change the results according to its own preferences for tiebreakers.
  2. The official rules of the EGF are not fit for purpose.

Ian Davis / ATCFT last edited by OscarBear on February 10, 2017 - 09:08
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