[Article written and contributed by Brad Dill. Posted by NCCA webmaster.]
I believe many of you know my eight year old son James Christopher Dill, a rising young 4th grader at the New School Montessori Center in Holly Springs, North Carolina. James plays scholastic chess in North Carolina and attends many adult tournaments as well (N.C. Open, Big Enchilada, Land of the Sky, TACO, etc.)
This year, my wife and I decided to visit some of her relatives who live near Frankfurt, Germany, so, I decided to include a German Chess Tournament for James to play in while on vacation.
I thought some at the NC Chess site might enjoy reading a blog entry describing the differences between a German chess tournament and a U.S. chess tournament.
The tournament James entered was the XV Karl-Mala-Gedenkturnier (Karl-Mala Memorial Tournament) on July 5-8, 2012. It was a relatively big tournament in Frankfurt, Germany; this year there were 230 participants. It was held at the Community Center in Griesheim.
Five grandmasters, four IMs and four FIDE masters formed the group of favorites in the battle for the 1,200 € grand prize (around $1500). The best was grandmaster Aleksandr Karpatchev who scored 6.5 out of 7 possible points.
First place was 1,200 € (about $1500), second place was 1000 € (about $1,250), third place was 800 € (about $1000), fourth place was 600 € (about $750), fifth place was 400 € (about $500), sixth place was 300 € (about $375), seventh place was 200 € (about $250), eighth place was 150 € (about $187.50), ninth place was 100 € (about $125), and tenth place was 50 € (about $62.50)
Most entries were of course German, two of the GMs were from Russia, one GM was from Latvia, one participant was from Belgium and one was from Switzerland. James Dill was the only USA representative.
The tournament cost was 45 € in advance, for adults (about $56.25) or 55 € on site (about $68.75). In the US you can often pay on-line with PayPal or a credit card, but here all early entries are paid by bank transfer. The Treasurer of the tournament, Michael Schimmer, was kind and enough to allowed us to pay the early entry rate as long as we paid before 4:00pm the first day of the tournament.
I was told ahead of time that there was no need for James to bring a board, a clock, or a chess set. Unlike most America tournaments, the European tournaments supply wooden boards, wooden chess sets, and digital clocks, for all participants.
Unlike the USA, which allows MonRoi and eNotate electrical notation recording devices, no digital devices were allowed. In fact the score sheets are used to record the game results. So in essence you are required to turn in a copy of your game notation.
Another interesting difference is in how game results are handled. We were told that the results needed to be correct when turned in. Even if the two game participants agreed that they made a mistake, the results would not be changed. So let’s say white won, black lost, but the results were accidentally recorded as 0-1, those results would stand, even if both players agreed they were in error. I was told this problem occurs two to three times during a tourney.
As I said no electronic devices are allowed, including iPods or cell phones. In the U.S. you will usually get a time penalty if your cell phone rings, but we were told if the alarm of your mobile phone rings, it is immediate game over! (you lose).
Also different from many U.S. tournaments, there is no sectioning of the tournament. No under 2000 section. No under 1800 section. No Booster section. Everybody plays in one section. James is rated around 1300 in the USCF (his highest rating peak is 1409), but in the FIDE he was unrated. In his first round James (unrated) was pared with Marco Rolf who was rated 1888.
Unlike most American tournaments, the tournament started on Thursday night with one game played, starting at 5:00pm. The next two games were played on Friday at 9:30 and 3:30, another two games on Saturday, and the final two games on Sunday. Each round is 40 moves in 90 minutes + 30 second increment, then 30 minutes (sudden death) + 30 second increment. With the 30 seconds increment, recording to the very last move is required. Any player who is more than 60 minutes late for the start of a scheduled round will lose.
I also noticed another difference between American tournaments and that was noise control. Perhaps it was just this tournament and not all tournaments in Germany/Europe, but the playing room doors were never closed due to noise, and there was quite a bit of noise from children playing and players cheering in the outside lobby.
Of course chess is chess and the similarities outnumbered the differences. Even though James can’t speak a lick of German and some of James’ competitors were not strong with the English language (one could not speak much English at all), James was able to have fun and play chess with his German counterparts. In fact this portion of our trip was very refreshing as it was very much like going to a tournament in the U.S.
The tournament was 7 games, but we were leaving for Amsterdam on July 8th, so James only played the first 5 rounds. It was a hard tournament, as James was paired with the following rated players: 1888, 1595, 1377, 1650 and 1555. He finished with a 1.5 out of 5 possible points, winning against the 1377 player and drawing against the 1555 player. James now has a FIDE rating of 1352.
I hope you enjoyed this blog entry. The following is a link to the web page translated into English.