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WPF and conflict of interests

In case solvers are not completely aware, it appears that Prasanna Seshadri is at the time of writing both a serving WPF board member, and has also taken up the executive function of WPF director.

Given the access to the organisers and the competition directors both of these roles potentially have, how can the WPF reassure solvers that Prasanna's participation in WPF competitions is not a massive conflict of interests?

It seems to me a fairly basic principle of any competition that administration and participation should be completely separate, but I look forward to hearing any other views.

Puzzling and being part of the executive is just a minor problem from my point of view. However being board member and executive director at the same time does not seem very transparent. I believe that this is just a temporary situation that will be resolved within few weeks/months.

If not, we should consider renaming the WPF into World Prasanna Federation :D

Hi Tom & Matus,

You have both brought up valid concerns. Let me give a few quick clarifications before I check in with the WPF Board to give a more fleshed out response.

About the fact that I am a Board Member and also taking over as Director, I realize that this is a little unusual. Matus is true in believing that it is a temporary situation that will be resolved soon (I expect weeks and not months). The WPF Director position comes with many different tasks which take time to transfer, so we (Hana + Board) had all discussed that I will take up each task until a time when we are confident I can act independently and then I will resign from the Board. So rest assured that this is definitely a conflict we will move to resolve.

About competing in puzzle contests - I had indicated to the Board at the time of applying that I desire to continue as a participant and applied along with a plan to do so and they appointed me considering this aspect of my application, but this is where I'd like to hold out on a detailed response until I communicate with the WPF Board, and will get back to you about it.

Well, board member and director is an issue, but one that isn't immediately relevant to the GP. Hopefully this will be resolved quickly.

As competition director for the sudoku GP for 2016, although I administrated the competition, the WPF director (Hana) was ultimately responsible for the competition - after all it was her idea and WPF directors are paid well in excess of the nominal sum sums competition directors are paid. I would often share early versions of instruction, competition and solutions booklets with Hana.

The directors participation in the GP is akin to a game of tennis where one of the players is also the referee. I cannot see how it can credibly be permitted, and having only just been made aware of this I will be raising the matter with board to consider again unless it can be clearly demonstrated that this continued participation is not how I've described it.

Same argument goes for world championships IMO, although this only becomes a problem in 2018.

I should add that I have same concerns about a board member who seriously competes in either the GO's or the world championships, although that would not be as serious as the director. That would be like a game of tennis where one of the players was also on the Wimbledon committee - maybe not so much of a problem, but I wonder what their opponent must be thinking?

Hi Tom and Matus,

Firstly, Matus' concern that I am both a Board member and the WPF Director has officially been settled, as I have resigned from the WPF board. The news has been posted here -

Secondly, about Tom's concern that I am a participant and the WPF Director - as I said I had made it clear at the time of applying that I wish to continue as a participant, and provided the ways to do this. However, after some consideration and the experience of my first few weeks as Director I realize that it may be very difficult to implement this in a clear and concise way for the year 2017. So for this year at least, I will not be participating in the finals of the GP. The competition Directors and the GP website admin, Karel, have generally made it such that I won't have direct access to the booklets or any influence over them, so I will continue to take part in the online rounds for my own interest.

We will attempt to iron out a plan for future competitions, but that is not happening any time soon nor is it immediately necessary, so I request that we table the discussion for now. At the time when the WPF is ready to divulge a full plan, we'll be open to discussion and thoughts from everyone.

At the GA meeting where Hana was appointed, I pointed out that there seemed to be a conflict of interest (due to family relation with board member); but also that the WPF had no definition nor a policy regarding conflict. And thus I suggested to members that they had to decide on their own if there is a conflict, and then if that was a concern to them.

Only as a related example, there is a small history of board member competing in WSC/WPC; I don't know if such situations were addressed behind the scenes or not. Personally, this wouldn't bother me, since the WPF board generally has no involvement with the championship format or puzzles. (Strangely, the Guidebook says that a team captain cannot be a competitor; fortunately the very next rule says that it's ok!)

As far as I know, the WPF still does not have a policy regarding conflict of interest, for management or for competition. So I think that is the start.

The role of the director related to the WSC/WPC championships should also be more clear; with Hana it appeared to be very active. So unfortunately, Prasanna will likely have to decided one way or the other next year.

Nick B