2011 WPF General Assembly Minutes

Report on the 13th General Assembly of the World Puzzle Federation

Eger, Hungary, November 10 2011 by Peter Ritmeester



The meeting was called to order by WPF General Secretary Peter Ritmeester (The Netherlands), who explained that he replaced Will Shortz (WPF chairman, USA) as chairman of the assembly because Will had to direct a tournament in the USA. Other board members present were Víteszlav Koudelka (Czech Republic) and Gyory István (Hungary). Board member and WPF treasurer Kamer Alyanakyan had to cancel his trip because of urgent matters at home.

Peter commemorated colleagues Jacek Szczap (Poland) and Jaime Poniachik (Argentina) who passed away the past year. Both were renowned puzzle creators and represented their countries as WPF member for many years. All members stood up and were silent for one minute.

The WPF members present were China, Croatia (also voting for Serbia), Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands (also voting for France and Belgium), Romania, Slovakia, Turkey, United Kingdom and the USA. South-Korea was not present but asked Peter to vote on its behalf.

All members presented themselves in a few words to the other members.

Peter noted that all these members present had paid the membership fee and were allowed to vote. He also stated that several countries listed on the website as member had not paid the fee in the past year(s). They were still listed there as the WPF did not need their money and they still provided valuable contacts. These members did not have the right to publish WSC/WPC puzzles.

Nick Baxter (USA) questioned this practice. It was decided that the board would look into this and remove organizations listed as members in case they would continue not to pay the membership fee.


The minutes of the 2010 general assembly, as printed in the World Puzzle Newsletter, were approved. Peter reported that one could read in the minutes of several plans and other intentions that unfortunately did not become a reality. He said that this has been the case ever since the first WPC in 1992: that everyone was enthusiastic and active during the week of the WPC only, that one year later nothing had happened. That is supposed to change now by establishing the function of paid director, who will make sure that the plans are realized one year later.
Peter also reported on several issues the board had to deal with during the past year:

- Acting after complaints of Canadian puzzlers that the WPF representative for Canada was not functioning at all, this membership was terminated.

- Maria, widow of Jacek Szczap, wrote to the board that after Jacek had organized the WPC 2010, but passed away shortly after, she was confronted with several unpaid bills from the hotel. In combination with the termination of Jacek's income and costs for his funeral, she had financial problems and asked the WPF for support. Although it is the policy of the WPF that the organizer is responsible for all WPC finances, both for the good and for the bad, the board decided to show compassion in this particular case, and paid 3000 Euros to the hotel. The assembly approved this decision.

- the Beijing Media Network (BMN), who at that moment was not yet WPF member but applied for membership, organized in may 2011 an important sudoku championship in Beijing (BIST 2011) and both Will and Peter went there to support the tournament representing the WPF. The tournament was also publicized on the WPF website and promoted to all WPF members. Board members Vítezslav and Gyorgy did not approve this policy. Riccardo Albini (Italy) and Nick Baxter said that because Will's and Peter's expenses were paid, there was a conflict of interest. Peter said there were very good reasons to go anyway. Because this tournament will be organized again next year it will be discussed during this assembly whether the WPF should support the tournament next year again, and what the WPF policy in general will be with tournaments like this, both by WPF members and non-members.

- After the tournament and while still in Beijing, Will and Peter visited both the office of the BMN and that of the current WPF member Beijing News Group (BNG). There was also a meeting with the BNG during the tournament. Vítezslav, who was in Beijing not as WPF board member but as captain of the Czech team, was also present. Based on these talks, they reported to the other board members that although BNG had been great in the past, they had no funds anymore, and could not mean much in the future. Because it was the other way around with the BMN, the board decided that the BMN would be the better member for the future. The BMN started to represent the WPF in China starting July 1st 2011.

Peter presented the financial reports of the WPF account and the office account covering the preceding membership year. As of June 30, 2011, the WPF account had a balance of 31,123.79 Euros and the office account a balance of 268.17 Euros. The reports were accepted.


This year the 3-year board terms of Vítezslav and Peter end, so two positions in the board will be voted for. The candidates are Vítezslav and Jaanus Laidna (Estonia). Peter did not want to be re-elected. Both candidates presented themselves to the assembly.
After the presentations, Peter mentioned that one issue should be discussed here, because Vítezslav's daughter Hana Koudelkova will be one of the candidates for the new function of director. As the board will be hiring and/or firing the director, and for instance deciding on the salary, there is a conflict of interest in his opinion. He stressed this had nothing to do with the integrity of anyone involved, it was a matter of principle.

Nick Baxter (USA) stated that in his opinion there is a clear conflict of interest and that in the USA corporations even do not want the appearance that there might be a conflict. In case someone thinks he may have a conflict of interest, he should initiate the discussion himself. Gyorgy said that it should not be a problem as the board consists of 5 people and each decision needs a majority. Riccardo Albini (Italy) said that he would be sorry to lose Vítezslav as board member, and that it could be solved by Vítezslav not participating in any vote within the board in relation to the director should that be his daughter.

Nick Baxter mentioned that as we follow the Olympic model in other cases, we could investigate how the IOC handles in this matter. Using such a rule would also prevent discussions about persons in the future.

It was decided that there would be a vote now not on whether there is a conflict of interest, but whether there would be a problem should both Hana and Vítezslav be elected. Regardless of the result, the director or the committee working on the new statutes would investigate the IOC rule on conflict of interest. Next year the assembly could then vote on incorporating this rule or not. The vote was 14 members in favor of not having a problem and proceeding with the votes and candidacies as planned, and 4 abstentions.

The two candidates for the new function of director -- Hana Koudelkova (Czech Republic) and Wei-Hwa Huang (USA) then made their presentations.

After this, the only candidate for the WSC/WPC 2013 -- Deyan Razsadov (Bulgaria) -- made his presentation.


Peter explained that the board thought best would be for the executive to have a clear title. Also, it should be a prestigious title, as this will make it easier to find candidates. The board therefore proposed the title of director, having the additional advantage of being about the same in many languages worldwide. The assembly approved of this.
Next was handed out a job description written by Will, see below. Although several tasks might be added later, the assembly approved the job description.


Gyorgy gave a vivid account of all the obstacles and problems he encountered organizing this combined event, where both events have the same format as when they were not combined. Like the work flow of more than 400 puzzles, finding a hotel and hall for more than a week, a staff of volunteers for so many days, competitors coming and going on each day of the week, and much more. He strongly advised against doing it in the same format next year.
The assembly discussed then that instead of solving the issue by alternating the events, it may be possible to still combine the events, but reducing the combined competition to three days. The format could then be day 1 arrival, day 2 excursions, days 3-5 completion, and day 6 departure.

Several formats were suggested. Ferhat (Turkey) said that we were still using the same format for 20 years, and an alternative could be to have more separate events (classic sudoku championship, variations championship, visual puzzles championship, et cetera) each with a spectacular play-off and medals. Many more competitors would be able to win something, and the event would become much more attractive to the media.

Jan Lam (The Netherlands) suggested a format more similar to the present WPC, but also with clearly separated categories, each with separate winners.

Valter Kvalic (Croatia), the organizer of next year's WSC/WPC said that he left the format undecided until now in order to be able to learn from this year's experience. He is open to any suggestion. It was decided that after this first day of the assembly, Valter, Ferhat, Jan, Riccardo and Nick would discuss an alternate format to be presented the next day. The discussion would then be continued.

Next was discussed a specific issue of this year: double nationality. It was decided that a competitor was not allowed to use one nationality for the first event, and the other one for the next event. It will be allowed though to use the other nationality the next year.


Jan Lam reported on the discussions the committee had had the previous night. He described both a 5-day and 6-day alternative for the combined event. The 6-day alternative would consist of three consecutive days of competition. There would be separate classic sudoku and sudoku variants parts. These parts would start on the 2nd day of competition, to limit the event for puzzlers who come only for the sudoku event. Because the event will be much shorter, with more common days, and a common departure day, it will much easier to organize than the format in Eger.

Next year's organizer Valter stated that he preferred a less drastic change, and preferred to shorten the event by one day only. The assembly decided to leave next year's format to the discretion of Valter, who will of course consult many before deciding on the final format.


Peter described how he received an e-mail from Alan O'Donnell (UK) who listed what new members could/should get more than they are currently entitled to. The same day he received an e-mail from Gyorgy who wrote to find it incorrect that members would receive publishing rights of the more than 400 puzzles of this year's championship.
Riccardo Albini (Italy) said that no member will publish all 400 publish and that most members not even publish a single puzzle. Jan Lam (representing The Netherlands, Belgium and France on behalf of publisher Keesing) said that they hardly publish any WPC puzzles. Nick Baxter said that they really need the little money publishing these puzzles make.

Peter said that 10 years ago members paid a higher fee than now. The fee had been reduced in the past because no more money was needed. But that would change now as the director will need a salary and a budget to work with.

One option could be to make a distinction between commercial and non-commercial members. This was rejected by the assembly: 8 were in favor, with 11 votes against.

After a quick ask, about half of the members were in favor of raising the fee to 500 Euros, with the other half in favor of a raise to 300 or a little more. There was a vote on raising the fee to 400 Euros, which was accepted: 10 in favor, 8 against. Christos Apostolidis (Greece) and Ján Farkas (Slovakia) stated that they now may not be able to pay the fee anymore. As the WPF still has the rule that the board can make exceptions, they can apply to the board in case they indeed have these problems.


Víteszlav stated that the WPF should not have supported the Beijing International Sudoku Tournament (BIST) 2011 because the organizer BMN was not yet a member. Also, there should have been more discussions about it beforehand. Gyorgy said that because of BIST 2011 fewer competitors from Asian countries competed in this year's WSC.
Ferhat Calapkulu (Turkey) stated that in the case of an inactive member, it still may be wise and to support a tournament by some other organization in that country. George Wang (China) stated that last year such was the case in China where BNG was inactive, and in fact wanted to give up membership but could not do so without saving face.

Nick said that as the use of the WPF logo is a membership right, it should not be included in the discussion of event support, since members are free to use the logo without any such support.

It was decided to formulate a rule that would solve this issue in the future. Rule: if an organization planning to organize an international offline tournament -- "international" meaning that at least one competitor from outside the organizer's country will compete -- contacts the WPF asking for support, the board will grant this support only when it is explicitly formulated what this support exactly comprises and there is a clear majority with more than one vote within the board in favor of it. This rule was voted on and unanimously accepted.

Peter stated that it is important for the organizers of next year's BIST that the assembly would grant its support now. The vote was whether the WPF would support next year's BIST. This was accepted: 15 voted in favor, with 3 abstentions.

Christos said that if a member organizes a tournament supported by the WPF it should pay a fee to the WPF. This was voted on and accepted: 11 in favor, 5 against, 3 abstentions.

Gyorgy stated that any member should be obliged to ask permission to the WPF for organizing an international tournament even without asking for support, as there may be a conflict with or a disadvantage to some other tournament. If not applying to this rule, the membership would have to be terminated. The vote was on this rule without mentioning this sanction. The rule was not accepted: 9 in favor, 9 against, and 1 abstention.


Director: Hana Koudelkova: 16, Wei-Hwa Huang: 2, Abstentions: 1. So Hana was elected for the office of director.
Board members: as there were only 2 candidates for 2 positions, there was no voting. Both Jaanus and Vítezslav were acclaimed as new board member.

WSC/WPC 2013: although Bulgaria was the only candidate, the vote on this was postponed until the next general assembly in Croatia for two reasons. Firstly, postponement will give the WPF another year of obtaining experience with the new format. Next year will it again be discussed what the best format will be for 2013. Secondly, with so many tournaments already in Eastern/Central Europe it is not good to have another one in that region. Maybe another candidate will appear after all in an entire different part of the world, after which going to Bulgaria will be less of a problem.


Jan Lam (The Netherlands) stated that Keesing France, Belgium and Denmark will terminate their membership the next year. Keesing The Netherlands will continue its membership. He also said that this will be the last tournament he will be present. Peter stated that his absence will be a big loss.
Riccardo Albini (Italy) asked whether he will be permitted to sell online tournament puzzles in a PDF in the Italian language. Although the WPF has as rule that only 10% of the puzzles of a tournament can be published on a website, this is something different. Although there was no voting on it, the consensus was that he should go ahead and report back to the WPF on sales and his experience in general.

Nick Baxter (USA) said that he liked how in this tournament more competitors per country could be present and that it should be promoted for future tournaments. Peter said that in the past the rule of one team per country was established because it would not be fair if one country had more teams than another country. Be he did not see any problems if the extra teams would compete unofficially and could not win, as is the case this year.

Ferhat Calapkulu (Turkey) said that the presence of young competitors should be stimulated more by having separate age categories. George Wang (China) said that in China there is a special school project where more than a million children on primary schools are being educated on sudoku. There will be separate youth team competing in BIST 2012.

Valter said to find it strange that a candidate organizer like Bulgaria was not represented in Eger with a full team. He also asked the members for comments on the Newsletter he created. Peter thanked Valter for his work on the Newsletters the past years, but that creating it would be one of the tasks of the new director. The director could of course hire Valter to do (part of) the work. Valter also suggested making a special edition of the newsletter of about 100 pages to celebrate 20 years of WPC's. He will write down a format and offer to be sent to the director.

Vítezslav thanked Peter, who will retire after this WPC after being general secretary for 12 years, for all his work during these years. Peter was applauded for this.

There being no further business, Peter thanked all present to allow him being chairman of this meeting, and closed the 13th General Assembly of the World Puzzle Federation on November 11 2011, at around 17.00.

Supplementary Information: Director job description

The WPF governing structure will be revised to eliminate the position of general secretary and to create a new position of director.
The director will be selected by the members of the board, who will also determine the director's salary. The director's salary may not exceed two-thirds of the WPF's income from the previous year, without authorization of a general assembly.

A director may be fired at any time by the board of directors, and a new director selected, if in the board's judgment the existing director is not adequately performing his or her duties.

A director may not be a member of the board.

The director's duties are ...

To oversee WPF committees, checking to see that their work is being completed on time, and to assist committees as needed;
To ensure that the WPF has candidates for officers and sites for WPF events;
To ensure that WPF event organizers complete their puzzle creation on time, so the work can be checked for accuracy and fairness;
To ensure that WPF event sites are suitable;
To oversee the WPF website and the person or people who manage it;
To ensure that the WPF has an annual newsletter;
To seek sponsorship for the WPF and WPF events;
To seek publicity for the WPF and WPF events;
To do such other duties as the board directs.