But now it seems that after nearly 8 years of quietude, the Melburnian is set for yet another confrontation. And this time he's taking on an even bigger opposition. None other than FIDE! Roland isn't happy about the so-called "zero default time" rule.
In this email to Oceania Zone president, IA Gary Bekker, Roland writes:
I must confess to you [Gary] that I am on the Bandwagon again. You will recall my many years of campaigning for use of the increment instead of guillotine finishes. That battle seems to be all but won. Now however I have a new bee in my bonnet, namely the 'zero tolerance rule' which means that you have to be at the board the instant play starts or you will be forfeited. I.e. even if you are there minutes before the start but get out of your seat to grab a pen you can be defaulted. This rule made a complete farce of the recent Chinese championship, much of which has been written, eg: on chessbase.com.
Now [FIDE general secretary] Ignatious Leong informs me that this ludicrous rule will apply in the upcoming Commonwealth Championship in Singapore. I politely pointed out to him that this would be unlikely to be popular and cited the example of Bobby Fischer who was a few minutes late for his first game with Spassky in 1972; he was caught in traffic.
So here we go again, albeit I think that popular opinion among chessplayers will be much louder and more forceful than in the increment/guillotine debate. At any rate I'll forget any thoughts about going to Singapore this year. The Aus Major in North Sydney is looking good once again.
I think most people would agree with Roland here. The whole concept of a zero default time is totally ridiculous. In any case, the relevant rule isn't supposed to take effect until 1 July this year, so how these organisers can get away with this farce is, quite frankly, beyond me! Obviously, of course, it will already be enforced in time for the said Commonwealth event.
Worth noting, however, is that the Australian Chess Federation has opted for sanity. According to ACF big wig Denis Jessop, the national body will enforce, not the strict "zero default time" but, 30 minutes. Well done to them. All federations should follow their lead.