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  Ando Meritee's Blog  
How should correspondence WC continue?2008-03-05 23:33:51
With this article, I express my personal opinion about the Correspondence World Championship and invite you to discuss further about it through the comments of this article.

Introduction of the Correspondence World Championship

The Correspondence World Championship of Renju is an turn-based e-mail tournament that lasts nearly one year and has been organized since 1995. It was the early time of an Internet Era, and only a few people had an access to Internet. So, the first tournaments were basically the renju battle between people who had an Internet access and e-mail address. It was a new and exciting way of playing renju and it was much faster than the snail-mail games.

My personal experience

I started my first correspondence games 20 years ago, by joining the Estonian Championship by Correspondence. At that time the snail-mail (and sometimes telephone) was used to deliver moves. it was an exciting experience, and was happy for the opportunity to play with players over a long distance and analyse every move carefully before submitting.

I also joined the Correspondence World Championship High League in 1997, having the chance to compete with strong players. But I lost interest in correspondence WC a year later when strange things started to happen there.

The appearance of fake players

Since 1998, there correspondence World Championship showed a new phenomenon - the appearance of players names in tournament list who either did not exist in real life or who had no idea that their name was used in tournament by someone else, or, perhaps they gave their permission to someone (friend?) to use their names for the correspondence games. So it led to the situation where players did not know who they actually played with and did not know how to estimate opponent's strength. Also, this method allowed one player use more than one name in same tournament, giving more space for maneuvering.
Despite critisizm, no actions were taken to improve the situation. Many strong players quit playing in those correspondence tournaments because they felt the situation was not fair. Of course, it was a great pity for those who really love correspondence games and wish to play fairly under their true identity.

Fake world champion

The time passed and I did not pay much attention on the players list of correspondence World Championship for many years. But, when I heard the announcement - The World Champion of Correspondence Renju in 2006 is Coco Yang - then I realized something was really wrong. I know Coco very well. She is a wonderful and kind person, and was once very active student of Renjuclass, also she has been a good helper for Estonian Renju. However, she quit playing renju already in 2004 because of her busy work. Somehow, someone (a hacker or a good friend who can guess a password?) took control of her pbmserv account, and joined the correspondence World Championship under her name, while she had no idea about this.
She heard about the "news" of becoming a world champion from friends perhaps a month after the tournament was over, and of course she was very shocked. Some mysterious player had become a world's best correspondence player and we even don't know who he/she is! Of course, it is a big cheating, to steal someone's id and play games with it, confuse opponents and get a surprise win. Such situation should result with immediate disqualification of such player, and re-arranging the tournament results, and announce proper new winner. But nothing has been done about it even until now. The official results still declare Coco Yang as the World Champion and the games of that name still exist in Renjunet games list although she never played them.

Handling the situation

I hope this situation will be handled very strictly. First of all, its necessary to clear Coco Yang's good name who is an innocent victim of the whole situation, even if the name-thief will never be found. Furthermore, she should not be put into an embarassing situation by sending her the World Champion award (as I know, the organizers asked some RIF funding for awards) for the tournament she never participated. Secondly, to re-announce the new World Champion, based on the results after the fake player has been eliminated from tournament table. It is a delicate matter and may cause lots of disputes, but something has to be done. Leaving it without changes, is giving a bad name to the whole correspondence renju project, as it has already been suffering from similar problems for many years. It is not important to trace the person who was stealing someone's identity, perhaps the truth will come out someday. But the important thing is to think about the future of correspondence renju.

How should correspondence World Championship continue?

Hereby I invite you to discuss about the ways of solving the situation for future World Championships. It is clear to me that under current regulation the tournament cannot be taken seriously, and such incidents are giving bad name to RIF if the tournament is called World Championship (where we even do not know who the winner is!). In order to make the tournament fair, and also regain the trust and interest of many players who have quit due to above mentioned reasons, it is necessary to find the proper ways of identifying the players to avoid further cheating. What are your ideas? Please share with us!
If the tournaments become fair again, perhaps me and many others will join them again. I believe such tournaments are important, and give many players an opportunity to make research and play with others, having no time for online games and no time to join real life tournaments.

At the end, I also want to say, that I admire all the fair players who have participated in those tournaments and they really deserve credit for their efforts. Also, we should be thankful to all the organizers who have made these events possible.

I welcome constructive and helpful discussion about how to improve the situation. No need to look for the "bad guys" or blame anyone for the things that happened. Thank you very much!

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