2014 WPF General Assembly Minutes

Report on the 16th General Assembly of the World Puzzle Federation

London, UK, August 12-14, 2014 by Hana Koudelkova




The meeting was called to order on Tuesday, August 12, at 11.30 a.m. by the WPF chairman Will Shortz. The second session was held on Wednesday evening and was open to World Sudoku/Puzzle Championship participants. The last session was held on Thursday, and the voting part took place on the same day. The board members present were: Will Shortz (Chairman, USA), Jaanus Laidna (Treasurer, EST), György István (HUN), Chen Cen (CHN), Vítězslav Koudelka (CZE), Alan O´Donnell (UK) and Hana Koudelková (Director, CZE)
The countries present at one or more of the meeting sessions: Bulgaria, China, Croatia (voting on behalf of Serbia), Czech Republic (voting on behalf of Uruguay), Estonia, Finland, Germany (voting on behalf of Switzerland), Hungary (voting on behalf of France, Romania, Greece),India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Switzerland, Turkey (voting on behalf of Poland, Bulgaria), United Kingdom (voting on behalf of Canada) and USA (voting on behalf of Argentina). (Note: During some of the sessions the proxy voting was used; at others the country representatives were present).




After determining which points of the agenda would be postponed for the afternoon or the open session, members approved the agenda unanimously. The minutes of the 2013 General Assembly were approved as printed in the WPF Newsletter 19. The financial reports, previously approved by the WPF Treasurer, were presented by Hana. György asked about the possibility to have some amount of money in a long-term account with higher interest. This has already been discussed within the board with no final decision made so far. Hana will resend the bank offer, and the board will make a decision.




This year there were three candidates for two vacancies on the board. The candidates were Hans Eendebak (NED), Stefano Forcolin (ITA) and Vítězslav Koudelka (CZE). All the candidates gave short presentations that included their experience, current jobs and future plans for the WPF. After the speeches there was a discussion about the number of board members. Ulla Elsilä (FIN) asked — why not increase the number of positions again as had been done the previous year? Hans Eendebak (NED) proposed reducing the number of board members back to five as was the case prior to 2013. It was agreed to maintain the number of six for this year and, if needed, reduce it back to five in two years.




For 2015 there was only one candidate – Bulgaria. Deyan Razsadov and his team gave a presentation. Two offers for the venue were mentioned — Albena (an all-inclusive resort by the Black Sea) or Plovdiv (the second-largest city in Bulgaria). The proposed participation fee was 500 EUR for players and 550 EUR for guests. The biggest issue discussed was transportation to Albena. As this is a summer resort, the transport during the off-season is difficult. The GA voted to give advice to Deyan which site to choose with 8 votes in favour of Albena, 9 in favour of Plovdiv and two abstentions. The next vote was on whether to select Bulgaria as a hosting country for 2015. The vote was unanimous and Bulgaria will be hosting the WSC/WPC 2015.

There were five potential candidates for the 2016 championships — Italy, India, Slovakia, USA and Australia. The Slovak team (represented by Štefan Gašpar, Matuš Demiger and Zuzana Hromcová) showed two possible locations in their presentation: Senec (a city near Bratislava) or a resort in the High Tatras. The proposed fee was 550 EUR per person. For Italy, Stefano Forcolin did not have any details yet, but confirmed that the site would be in northeast Italy. The Indian team (Deb Mohanty) informed the assembly that the hosting city would be Bangalore (in the south of India) sometime in October. The Indian team has found a sponsor interested in hosting the WSC/WPC either in 2016 or 2017. USA (Will Shortz) offered to host the championships on the West Coast with at least part of the championships conducted on iPads, on a platform provided by the company Puzzlium. In this case, the championships would be held for free as the company Puzzlium would use some of their investors to sponsor the event. This offer was valid only for 2016. [The next day, after an informal evening presentation by Puzzlium, Will said that the USA was not an option anymore, as Puzzlium's plans did not mesh well with the WSC/WPC.] Australia did not provide more details, so they, as well as the USA, were removed from the list of potential candidates.
After the presentations it was decided not to wait with the election for the next General Assembly and to decide via emails earlier. The teams were asked to prepare a presentation by January 31, 2015. The candidates will be told all the points needed to be included in the offers, with the decision to be made in March. This proposal was approved unanimously.




The presentation was given by Chen Cen during the open GA session. The event will take place in Beijing on July 23-27. The proposal was to have three age categories (10-15, 16-20and 21-25), with each team consisting of three players, so in total nine players from each country could take part. There would be no fee for the competitors and 350 EUR for the guests.
During the meeting the proposed age categories were discussed. It was pointed out that many of the top WSC contestants already fit into the 21-25 category, so there was no point in these ages being included in the event. Also, György mentioned that a decision about the age limit had already been made the previous year (originally, 18), and if there was to be any change made by the host, the WPF should have been informed in advance.
The next day Chen Cen confirmed the WJSC hosts would follow the preferences of WPF. Alan O´Donnell proposed to set the age limit for under 21, as it is a limit also in other sports. "Under 21" means that if a person is 21 at any time during the year of the championship, he or she is ineligible to compete. This proposal was approved. The decision about the specific new age categories was left to China. The board will assess their decision and approve it or not. The Chinese team agreed to propose the new age categories by the end of August.





This point was discussed at the open GA session so that also the players could add their comments. Hana informed the audience about the results of the survey that had been sent after the GP tournaments and asked everybody to add any comments to the GP in general. The points raised for discussion were:
- feedback from players
- registration fees
- GP directors – nominations, paid/free position?
- the finals – face-to-face finals or only online tournaments?
- number of tournaments/host countries?
- timing?
The overall feedback was very positive. Some players asked to get regular notifications prior to each round via email. The majority confirmed that the fee would not bring in that much money but a lot of extra work, as well as limitations for some players that would not be able to afford the fee (or find it inconvenient to pay it). It was decided that the GP would remain free of charge. There was a proposal to implement an optional voluntary financial contribution. This can be done starting next year. Vita proposed to award the GP directors 500 EUR for their work, effective from 2014. The vote was 16 in favour, with 7 abstentions; hence, the proposal passed.

A long discussion was held about the timing of the GP finals, as the WSC/WPC schedule is always very tight and the finals cause some troubles for the hosts. The proposal was to hold the GP finals on the first day of the championships (first day of the WSC and first day of the WPC), before the Q&A session. It was approved unanimously. The players also suggested using cameras for the GP finals to make them more attractive for the audience. This proposal was discussed with Deyan, and he promised to try to manage it for 2015.

The next point discussed was the level of difficulty of the puzzles. Wei-Hwa Huang (USA), the 2014 Puzzle GP director, explained why the difficulty level of the puzzles was set as it was. He said he would discuss the matter further with participants before the next year's tournaments.




Hana pointed out that the WPF does not own the copyrights to the GP puzzles and called for a discussion. The copyrights to the WSC/WPC puzzles and national championships were discussed, too.

GP Puzzles
Vita proposed acquiring the rights for the GP puzzles from the authors, and paying the authors 100 EUR/set, in order to make the puzzles available to the WPF members. Hans said that he, as an author, would prefer to get credit rather than money. At the open GA session, some puzzle authors said they would be willing to give the WPF only nonexclusive rights. These situations would be discussed on a case-by-case basis. The vote on Vita's proposal was 17 in favour, 3 opposed and 3 abstentions. The proposal passed.

National Championship Puzzles
György said he was not in favour of giving the right for puzzles from national championships to the WPF. He proposed to remove this condition from the WPF Rules and Regulations. Will added that the reason for this was to give another benefit for the WPF members. Alan proposed to remove the automatic right from the membership rules. If anyone wants to publish the puzzles, he needs to ask first. Hans proposed that there should be an agreement between the publishing house and the author confirming that the credit is given to the author. The proposal to remove the right to reprint puzzles from national championships from the WPF Rules was accepted by 18 votes, 3 were opposed and 1 in abstention.

WSC/WPC Puzzles

The proposal was that if any member reprints the puzzles from the championships, he will be required to credit the championships and the author, if known. This was approved unanimously.




The same topic was discussed last year, but no decision was made then. Jaanus again proposed that in the future the WPF support only newcomers, should they ask for help. The maximum amount would be half of the participation fee. After several proposals, the final one was that every year the WPF board will decide on the amount of money that can be given to WPF members for them to attend the championship. Every country is entitled to ask for help. The criteria to be used are financial need and past assistance to the WPF. After all the requests are received, the board will consider them based on the given criteria. This proposal was approved unanimously.





Vita suggested keeping the same amount as in the past, that is, 400 EUR/year. The vote was 21 votes in favour and 1 opposed.
György proposed increasing the personal membership fee from 50 to 80 EUR/year in order to equal the cost of a complete four-member team + captain. The vote was 15 in favour of keeping the current rate (50 EUR) and 1 in favour of increasing it.
Another proposal was that if the board receives a request during the year to make an exception and reduce the membership fee, this request will be included in the financial aid package and considered together with all other requests. This was approved unanimously.




All the members agreed that a Guide Book for future WSC/WPC hosts needs to be prepared. The Competitors committee established last year, with the goal to create a complete set of Rules and Regulations for the championships, was not successful. Vita proposed to complete this material with the help of English-speaking members. György and Alan confirmed they had exchanged a lot of emails with questions and answers before the championships in London. György was asked to share these points with Vita.




Nikola Živanovič (SRB) offered a suggestion for players who find the regular WSC/WPC participation fee too expensive, due to the high cost of accommodations during the event. Nikola suggested allowing players to find cheaper alternative accommodations on their own, as was done in 2006 in Italy, and thus pay a lower participation fee. It was agreed to recommend that future hosts do this.





Andrey Bogdanov (RUS) noted that the WSC/WPC is not using any computerized puzzles, even though computers offer a more interactive, often simpler way of solving. It was generally agreed that future hosts should be encouraged to use some electronic puzzles. Andrey was asked to cooperate with Deyan and discuss with him some possibilities for the 2015 championships.



Alan proposed that the WPF become actively involved in assisting WPF hosts.

The WPF would provide:
1) A dedicated WPF tournament director to liaise with the hosts and be the WPF's primary point of contact with them
2) An operations manual
3) Money, as required, for deposits and assistance in cash flow.
This proposal was approved unanimously.

Also, Alan provided unofficial financial results of the WSC/WPC in London, which were profitable. He explained that earlier in the year the WPF board had approved a loan of 2x £7,020 to the UKPA to cover the required hotel deposit and to support the UKPA in case it ended up with a loss. Since the WPF assumed a risk, this loan came with the condition that if the championship in the end was profitable, the UKPA would share that profit 50/50 with the WPF.
Afterward, as it happened that the UKPA did not need the entire amount of the loan, Alan asked the WPF to change the agreed-upon 50/50 split with the WPF to 75/25. The board had previously denied this request, but given the sense of the GA meeting, the majority changed its mind and approved the change.



The voting process for the three candidates was as follows: The first board member will be elected in the first ballot if there is an absolute majority of votes. If no candidate receives a majority, a second ballot will be held between the two candidates who had previously acquired the most votes. In this second ballot a simple majority vote decides. The second board member will be elected from the next ballot where a simple majority vote decides.
First ballot: Hans Eendebak — 11 votes, Vítězslav Koudelka — 9,Stefano Forcolin — 5. As no candidate got a majority, a second ballot was held between Hans and Vita. Hans won 16-9. In the ballot for the second board position, Vita defeated Stefano 13-12. Thus, Hans and Vita were elected to the board.


György proposed having an open board session in the same way as the WPF holds open GA sessions. He also proposed having all the board communications in a password-protected part of the WPF web page. This would give a chance to someone who wants to be active to follow the WPF board´s communications. Yuhei Kusui (JPN) mentioned that this could work only for very important issues. Hans said it could be very confusing and hard to differentiate between the important and the less important topics. No decision was made.


Will expressed appreciation to Alan O'Donnell,  Mike Colloby and everyone on the UKPA team for putting on a splendid championship. Will also thanked Jaanus Laidna for his job on the WPF board.

There being no further business, the meeting was closed on Thursday August 14.