Nielsen's ECU protest in detail

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Nielsen's ECU protest in detailLast week we already reported that Peter Heine Nielsen was planning to file an official protest against the European Chess Union (ECU). He was one of the players who missed qualification for the upcoming World Cup, as a result of the way the performance ratings were calculated at the European Championship in Aix les Bains. Today the Danish grandmaster sent us a copy of his protest documents.

Last Wednesday here at ChessVibes you could read a lengthy and critical article by Dr Vladica Andrejic about the tie-break system used in Aix les Bains. We also noted that GM Peter Heine Nielsen was going to file an official protest. Today Nielsen sent us a copy of the documents directed to the ECU. He claims the following:

Primary: The Performance Rating for players with the same number of points in the 2011 European Individual Championship must be recalculated in such a way, that the highest and lowest opponent’s Elo-rating is excluded when calculating the opponents’ average rating, but points achieved against these two players are included when calculating the percentage score. The final standing must be corrected in accordance to the recalculated tie-break.

Secondary: Proper compensation given to me and other participants of this ECU tournament, who have been harmed by the implementation of the Performance Rating.

As was also explained in length by Dr Vladica Andrejic, the tie-breaking was not calculated from the actual score in the tournament but from only a selected number of games. Nielsen argues that this leads to wrong Performance Ratings, or at least in results that the participants could not have normally expected from what the regulations said about the tie-breaks:

(a) Performance Rating (b) Median-Buchholz 1, the highest number wins; (c) Buchholz, the highest number wins; (d) Number of wins, the highest number wins. In case of (a) the highest and the lowest rated opponent will be deleted and the maximum rating difference of two players shall be 400 points. In the case of unplayed games for the calculation of (a), (b) and (c) the current FIDE Tournament Rules shall be applied

In his protest, Nielsen argues that “In case of (a) the highest and the lowest rated opponent will be deleted” should be interpreted such as the rating of these opponents shall not be included when calculating the average rating of the opponents, but such as the points scored against them shall be included when calculating the procentual score.

Nielsen then points out that the section “... and the maximum rating difference of two players shall be 400 points” is also open for two interpretations.

Either such as a game against an opponent, where the difference exceeds 400 points is to be deleted before calculating both the average rating and the procentual score, or such as the opponent shall be corrected to the fictitious rating diference 400 points before calculating the average rating, while the result in the game counts when calculating the procentual score. It is worth noticing, that the interpretation of the first and the second part of the section goes into opposite directions in the implementation used for the 2011 European Individual Championship.

Implementation of tie-break rule 6.2 (a), by deleting the highest and the lowest rated player before calculating the average rating used for Performance Rating, would still make it a Performance Rating for the full tournament. And this is what I, and probably the ECU General Assembly, the ACP and most of my chess-playing colleagues expected from the text.

However by deleting not only the rating of the opponent but also the obtained score against them, the calculated Performance Rating counts only the performance in nine selected games and can not - mathematically, legally or in any reasonable interpretation – be accepted as the tie-breaking relevant Performance Rating in the full tournament.

Nielsen continues with a number of examples that demonstrate that the ECU Performance Rating in the way the regulation 6.2 (a) is interpreted by the tournament administrators is "nothing else but FIDE Performance Rating for selected nine games, while counting two of the eleven valid games as not played". He then concludes:

The examples showing absurd results as a consequence of using the EC 2011 “Performance” Rating are numerous. One of the most extreme cases is that of Paligras. The reason he did not qualify for the World Cup, was not because he lost the final round, but because he lost it to a high rated opponent! He was paired against Jakovenko rated 2719. In his situation the solution was to default the game or violate the zero tolerance rule. Then the game would have been counted as his lowest rated, and Parligras would have improved his EC 2011 “Performance” Rating more than enough to qualify for the World Cup!

The above given examples 1) and 2) are more than sufficient to prove, that the EC 2011 implementation does not match the standard of Performance Rating which is expected from the tournament regulations and does not calculate on the relevant number of games but leads to wrong, unfair and misleading tie-breaking results.

I therefore claim that: primarily the final standings of the 2011 European Championship to be based on a fair tie-break according to the regulations interpreted in accordance with what I wrote at the bottom of page 1, secondarily call for proper compensation given to me and other participants of this ECU tournament who have been harmed by the EC 2011 implementation of the Performance Rating.

The examples given by Nielsen, as well as further comments on intentions, correspondence, interpretation and timing, can be found in the protest and enclosure documents given below.


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