Ficgs is a money trap BEWARE


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Nick Burrows    (2014-08-25)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

Here is a heads up, so you can avoid the same mistake I made.
I saw there was an available "gold" chess match against a player I thought I could beat, so I bought the required e-points and began the match. My opponent then played no moves and lost on time. I asked to cash-out my winnings. Thibault pointed out a rule in the small print that allows himself to claim the money that I had won.

I then asked for a refund of my money. Thibault refuses, because he is greedy and wants to earn 200 Euros for doing F*ck all. Now my money is trapped inside Ficgs.

*Buyer beware*

Garvin Gray    (2014-08-26 14:13:03)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

Nick: I have been reading the rules. Can you please point out the rule, as I have been reading the rules and I do not see where either version is mentioned?

Nick Burrows    (2014-08-26 20:06:27)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

Garvin: This is the paragraph Thibault referred me to -

b) "When a player wins a tournament with an entry fee (not null) and prize, he can choose after the game(s) to keep E-Points (by default) instantly added in his FICGS account or, if he has E-Points enough in his account, a money prize. Entry fees and prizes in E-Points are published on the tournament page in "Waiting lists". If games in such a tournament have not been really played for a win, for example if a participant obviously lost quickly one or several games only to allow his opponent to get the money prize (and particularly if it happens several times), these tournaments will not be considered as win and the player showing this behaviour may lose his E-points involved in the tournament at the referee's discretion."

looking at it now, this doesn't even seem to cover my specific circumstance, as is this an instance of a player "not playing for a win"?

I always thought Thib was a nice guy, but his greed in this instance has really surprised me, and left a bad taste in my mouth.

Thibault de Vassal    (2014-08-26 20:26:15)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

Hi all,

I'll wait a few days before saying my word on this point (if necessary) to see how people read it by themselves. Thanks for your patience.

Garvin Gray    (2014-08-28 12:39:55)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

So Nick, just to clarify what happened if this two game match:

Player A (opponent) enters Gold Waiting List

Player B (Yourself) joins Gold Waiting List sometime later.

The two games start.

Both games time out with no moves being made in either game and you never heard anything from Player A.

Is that correct?

I do have an opinion, or a couple of opinion on what I think should occur here, but it is dependant on the timeline of events. So I want to get them in the right order before stating my opinion.

Nick Burrows    (2014-08-28 17:39:26)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

Correct Garvin

Alvin Alcala    (2014-08-29 11:34:16)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

The game mentioned was against David Evans.

Garvin Gray    (2014-08-30 07:46:33)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

Had some more time to think about this. Read the rules, read them again. Especially about where if a person asks for a financial payout from e points to Euro (and then converted to their currency.

They receive 75% of the stated e point amount.

So by my calculations-

David Evans paid 100 euro to enter the waiting list.
Nick Burrows paid 100 euro to enter the waiting list.

The advertised prize for winning the match is 196 e points.

So lets say that this match was played on merit and Nick won 2-0. He would receive 196 e points in his account. That is already 4 e points that FICGS is keeping for itself.

Then if Nick decided to 'cash out' those 196 e points, he would receive 75% of that- so 147 EURO.

This means that FICGS has received 200 EURO originally from these two entries, and paid out 147 EURO to Nick for his win.

Now, in the circumstance that has occurred here, the rule mentioned is more designed for multiple player tournaments to stop rating manipulation (sandbagging and the like), not for this circumstance.

Also, this rule states- For example if a participant obviously lost quickly one or several games only to allow his opponent to get the money prize (and particularly if it happens several times). This would then be saying that David Evans deliberately lost both games on purpose to attempt to give Nick the prize (even though David paid the money out of his own pocket). Why wouldn't David just give the money straight to Nick?

If FICGS really does believe that part rule I have quoted has been violated and that David has engaged in game fixing, will FICGS be taking strong against David Evans, including suspensions or banning him from this site. It would be the logical conclusion for game fixing. Since this is the rule being quote to deny a payout.

Now the only other circumstance that I can think of why FICGS has attempted to deny a payout if that FICGS believes that Nick only entered the GOLD match, believing that David would not play the two games. That is a risky strategy for Nick to take, considering David is an active player, especially for 100 euro and 2 games.

Considering that even if FICGS pays out the money on this two game match, the site still makes 53 euro from a 2 game match, and I do not see a rule that justifies not paying it out, this money should be paid out.

A further question now is- Are these fees fair? A 53 euro profit from a 2 game match?

Alexis Alban    (2014-08-30 17:18:00)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

Nick should get the prize money, it was David's responsibility to be present when he entered the advanced chess match.

Thibault de Vassal    (2014-08-30 22:44:50)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

I have to specify here that the rule mentioned is absolutely not about rating manipulation (by the way, there is already another rule for this), it is about money prize in 2 players matches only, maybe with 3+ players in unlikely cases! It was added when a player got a money prize after getting a few free Epoints and without playing any move... Of course, that was not acceptable (the prize was paid though, following the rules) as games recorded -especially silver/gold tournaments- should be worth to watch. So these are the reasons for this rule: To avoid empty games, to punish the player who didn't play (by taking Epoints, which is a obviously strong act in this particular case) and to redistribute Epoints to players who deserve it. Just like the rating rule, why a player should get a money prize by winning games without fighting?

I don't think that suspension or banning is necessary here (it would be really hard according to me, anyone can have good reasons for a long absence, but I'll consider this option if many players complains on this point).

To answer the last point, I don't and I cannot know if Nick entered this match believing that David would not play and I don't think that should be the point. As always, we need undisputable rules, as fair as possible, and I do think this one is a good one.

One important thing: The site does not make 53 Euro from this match, at most the site makes Epoints (on the other hand, most are offered by the site, by far). That makes a big difference!

Finally, if I understand Nick's point well, the way to understand "if a participant obviously lost quickly one or several games only to allow his opponent to get the money prize" may be ambiguous so it could be not possible to make the decision (who can know if David really wanted to play these games, wanted that Nick or anyone else get the prize?). So I probably should make it more clear to avoid such situation - even if I doubt that players realize about this rule before entering a silver tournament.

Garvin Gray    (2014-08-31 10:53:40)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

From what I have read here from your response Thibault- I see no grounds AT ALL to not pay the prize.

The rating rule is there for the best interest of the site, because ratings are meant to be the way we all judge what standard of play we are and what divisions we can enter.

So comparing a rating argument with this argument is drawing a rather long bow indeed.

Just like the rating rule, why a player should get a money prize by winning games without fighting?

Already answered about ratings. About winning games without fighting (or playing), Nick entered under the conditions believing the match would take place.

If he entered the match believing it to not take place and David did play, then Nick has taken a risk that has backfired.

The point is that it is not Nick's fault the match did not take place. From my reading of the rules, there is nothing clear that says you can not pay out the prize.

Remember, you are making an absolute ruling here that applies FOREVER. This means that in effect you have taken 100 epoints at least out of Nick's account, his original stake, for just entering a match.

I would ask as site admin. Why would ANY player on this site want to support paid matches after this event and circumstances?

When the site admin can in effect, I was not happy with your match conditions that it was played under, I don't really have anything to point towards, but I did keep your cash anyways.

I for one will not be supporting any matches or tournaments from now on whilst this practice remains in place. I do not want to enter a match, have it not take place and then the site admin say, tough luck, not your fault the match did not take place, but I am keeping your cash.

The more I look at this and type, I am finding it hard to not say that Nick Burrows has been robbed of his cash. These events are real.

Thibault de Vassal    (2014-08-31 13:13:23)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

Garvin, If I follow your thinking, there is no reason why Nick shouldn't get the rating points as well, for the exact same reasons.

Please note that I did not take Nick's original stake from his account, he keeps all his Epoints involved in the match, just like if the match did not happen. Maybe there was confusion there. Only David's Epoints are in question (as specified in the rule). I hope this answers the 2nd question and rest of the message.

Nick Burrows    (2014-08-31 14:40:39)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

If the conditions that FICGS operates under were explicit, why would any player ever buy e-points?
Pay 100 euros for a match that you may get to play after a long wait of many months. If you get an opponent, but he doesn't play moves; Ficgs keeps his 100 Euros. At no time can the e-points you bought be converted to cash unless you enter the above process, and win, when Ficgs will take 25% of your winnings.

Like a bad joke isn't it!

Perhaps a better business model would be one that gave attractive and fair conditions to the players; so that rather than stripping bare every victim you trick into the system, you have take less money from each player but with many, many more participants?

Nick Burrows    (2014-08-31 16:11:44)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

And let's not try and fool anyone Thibault - the one and only reason that the rule was introduced is because it means you get to keep 100 euros.

Thibault de Vassal    (2014-08-31 16:36:03)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

Once again Nick, you didn't buy a particular match, you bought Epoints without any certitude to play this match (that could have started without you, then you'd have asked a refund, I guess)...

And saying FICGS keeps Euros on this case is not exact, FICGS keeps Epoints just like those that are distributed in free tournaments prizes.

You seem not to realize that FICGS is not a casino and cannot be one. When you participate at a tournament over the board and cannot play the opponent you wanted to play, there is most probably no refund. If there is no other participant showing, there could be a refund (because no other match would be possible) but I doubt that you get the whole prize, nevertheless the tournament would probably keep some fees. That's quite the same spirit with this rule.

Finally, I think that players may want to buy Epoints to really play games and casually win and get a money prize. As explained in the rules, the 25% rake should be balanced with the results after a certain number of games. Things can go very fast with bullet or lightning games. If you really want to get a money prize, it can take a few hours after you find an opponent... Didn't you think about it?

About business models, believe me: FICGS is not a good one in France. I did not make it and I don't run it for money. By the way, as far as I know, even poker sites have difficulties under french laws.

Nick Burrows    (2014-08-31 18:11:33)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

I bought E-points believing they would be instantly purchased, and I could instantly start the match. There was no warning it would take several hours - so I did buy them for the specific match.

It may not be "exact" or "technically correct" to say that Ficgs (you) keeps Euros; but it is "essentially" true, although you "technically" cannot admit that you are actually running a casino under a different name due to French law.
These games are NOT modeled on any o.t.b chess tournament in existence, but they ARE modeled EXACTLY on a heads-up poker match. Which are run by CASINO companies and who ALWAYS pay the winner (me) and pay your money back, when you request it.

No I did not consider playing bullet for money, as that is a pure hardware contest.

Thibault de Vassal    (2014-08-31 20:50:58)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

That's wrong, it is specified in the My account page (within days):

"Please send us a message through the form below after any payment on FICGS account, mentioning your name, address, country, account (email) at Moneybookers, the number of tickets you bought and the amount transfered. Your account in E-Points at FICGS will be updated within days."

Anyway, definitely I do not have to know that you bought it for this specific match or to act according to this view.

On the casino-like point, I invite you to contact the french government like I did, they will explain you why it is either the same or different in so many ways that it is impossible to know for sure at the end. At least I'm sure that the part of random is not the same in poker than in chess and that I have no right to act like a casino: all prizes must be related to tournaments, there's no possible "cash out" there.

Nick Burrows    (2014-08-31 21:45:24)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

Whether I read every single aspect of your terms and conditions is not really the point is it?
Whether you believe me or not - I DID purchase the points for that one specific match. If I buy some virtual currency for a particular tournament, then that tournament (after a 2 month wait) becomes unavailable, why can the money not be returned?

Thibault de Vassal    (2014-08-31 22:21:31)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

Because the product sold is Epoints, not tournaments.

By the way I just remembered that this is also specified in the rules (membership.html) :

"Tickets in E-Points can't be sold to other members or paid back."

Nick Burrows    (2014-08-31 22:43:48)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

Just because you've covered your ass in the rules, doesn't mean that they are good or fair.

Thibault de Vassal    (2014-08-31 23:23:24)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

That's true, it doesn't mean it but please allow me to think it's fair enough though. At least, it seems to me that's very subjective.

Finally, I'm sorry for your disapointment but whatever the rules (that are now updated and I do think that the past & current version are fair), this is the only way to build something.

Nick Burrows    (2014-09-03 19:56:41)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

Not disapointedis an understatement. I feel cheated and let down by you.

Dominique Geffroy    (2014-09-03 22:09:00)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

I will jump in, even though I have no affiliation with either party, and do not even know FICGS that well, having played only a handful of games here. But my background is finance, and I have decent training on fight against financial crime. What Thibault is trying to say, if I understand correctly, is that his business is running under some legal constraints, and in particular, I guess he has to prove to the regulator that in no way may his operation be used as a money laundering scheme by organized crime.

This is why the business would never be allowed to turn epoints into cash, except when there has been a real *unpredictable event*, i.e. a real game, a real tournament, which triggered such cash payment.

The reason behind this is that as soon as you have a failproof, 100% safe way of turning money into goods and back into money, there is room for money laundering activities on the back of such practice. The money becomes clean, because it acquires an identified source: FICGS in this instance. Even with a 25% cut, that is something very interesting for organised crime: cleaning the money has a price. By imposing that un *unpredictable event* happens, this opportunity taken away from would be abusers.

I understand your frustration, but once again, as an outsider with no stake whatsoever in this, I am pretty sure that if Thibault were allowed to do differently in this instance, he would.

Nick Burrows    (2014-09-04 16:33:51)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

1. Why didn't he say as much.

2. The taking of the prize money from my won game, was a choice and not an obligation. This choice was based 100% in greed.

Dominique Geffroy    (2014-09-04 21:58:31)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

1. I guess he obeys laws imposed on him without delving into the whys and hows of why they exist...

2. Well, the message I was trying to convey is that in the eye of the authorities and the regulator, a conversion of epoints to money triggered by a game which looks fixed is an open door to money laundering, and therefore ruled out. Regulator says: no risk, no money. If there was no move on the opponent's side, the regulator says there was no risk.

I nevertheless have to agree with you, as anyone with common sense would, that it is very convoluted and unfair, because you are obviously not a money launderer and you would deserve your reward. Such server rule therefore probably needs to be put forward much more clearly by the organisers, who have in my opinion absolutely no leeway in this respect (This forum post will probably useful for that).

So maybe there is greed, maybe you are right. I do not know this person and will neither launch an attack on his personal character, nor try a defense. But all I can say is that even if he was a benevolent benefactor of humanity, he would risk prison if he converted epoints to money following a not contested game.

Dura lex, sed lex.

Thibault de Vassal    (2014-09-05 01:25:46)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

I must say that Dominique explained some things much better than I could... Thank you! On the second point, I guess that I'll have to deal repeatedly with this "doubt" for ever or for a moment as I tried to update the code for the prizes according to this rule but was not able to do it without making it too heavy, so I'll continue to take Epoints from winner's account each time in such situation before I rewrite the whole thing.

Finally I have to say that reasons for such rule remain at the same time fuzzy (I'm not able to justify it by specific points in the law - that is fuzzy itself) & personal because I want to avoid any risk and because I do think it's fair, which is subjective of course! As I already said, Epoints are taken there, others are offered there... So yes, I could have made another choice, I could even delete this rule (whatever it implies), you can think this is greed on this specific act, but at the end it fits the rules [in despite of the human factor at that time, which is now fixed] and that's the most important thing IMHO.

Nick Burrows    (2014-09-07 16:52:48)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

Treating people the same as you would in a chess game; laying a trap and hoping they fall into it.

Thibault de Vassal    (2014-09-08 01:17:12)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

That's said. Well, in my opinion that is not the case and it is quite insulting... but that's said.

Nick Burrows    (2014-09-08 16:11:10)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

Well I find that to win a Gold chess game and end up with 100 Euros less than I started with extremely insulting.

Alexis Alban    (2014-09-08 22:22:39)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

But you still have 100 e-points right? Why not challenge someone, maybe you'll end up with more euros than you started with. Of course there's the possibility that you might lose all of it, but that's the risk involved in gambling.

Nick Burrows    (2014-09-08 23:17:04)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

Accepting a challenge just took 60 days with no moves. I will probably have to wait 3 months; just to wait for a player I can't beat accept the challenge.

Thibault de Vassal    (2014-09-10 16:38:26)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

You could also look for a player by using the chat bar and start the match if you estimate that he's not too strong (or sleepy) for you...

Nick Burrows    (2016-02-26 21:49:10)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

Any update on what you spent my money on?

Scott Nichols    (2016-02-26 23:26:02)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

If the match wasn't played and he wants a refund, he should get a refund. Sometimes the tournaments take a long time to start so there should be a "withdraw" button to all events. Sometimes a person's situation changes and he can't play, so he should be able to withdraw instead of being paired and not be able to play any moves. This is bad for both players.

Thibault de Vassal    (2016-03-06 23:29:33)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

I usually (when possible) delete entries in waiting lists on demand, if there are epoints involved then it is back on the account. It is well specified though that no refund in money is possible. I don't know what to add here.

Sergey Zemlyanov    (2017-10-09 00:29:29)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

Dear admin! I just played the second pair of games with GM Riccio, Eros.
All the 4 games ended with a draw result. So, my entry fee was 100 euros for this match. That’s a great money for me!
When I bought e-points for euro I didn’t know about how can I refund my money in future.
I have read the forum thread by Nick Burrows, so I have a question to you:
Could you refund my money to my credit card (by Paypal, for example)?
Or are there any troubles with this?

Thibault de Vassal    (2017-10-09 02:21:20)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

Hello Sergey,

First of all, my congratulations for this score in such a tough match. I understand your concern, but FICGS cannot be a bank and/or a casino, there's no refund or "epoint conversion/cashout"... FICGS organizes chess games with entry fee & money prizes, but players have to win a tournament/match to justify and get a money prize.

My suggestion is to find an advanced chess opponent so that the games do not last days/weeks/months. Surely a few ones would play you!

Sergey Zemlyanov    (2017-10-09 08:11:36)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

Hello, Thibault,

Well. I hear you. This is a real scam ("lohotron")! However, from a legal point of view, you are right. Because the text of the rules was written in a small font somewhere on the site. And still, such important moments should be in a visible place, so that beginners can immediately familiarize themselves with the site rules. From the point of view of morality it is a fraud. Similarly, I will give an example: often, when a person, which is a pensioner or disabled (by health), comes to the Bank, then the Bank offer to him to make a loan at high interest rates. Then the bank's employers give him a document in which you can see (only having good eyesight!) a rule written in a very small font and in future that document will eventually bankrupt this poor person! Very unpleasant incident, Thibault! 100 euros is a big money for me! I am disabled for health reasons and my pension is about 250 euros, most of this money goes to expensive medications. When I agreed to the match with Eros, I didn’t know all the tricks and traps on you site.

Okay, I'm ready to agree with you if you spend my money on charity. There are so many unfortunate people in the world now!

Thibault de Vassal    (2017-10-09 21:29:57)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

Well, I understand and I'm very sorry about that... if it can avoid such problems, be sure that I'll copy this part of the terms in the page "My account" where it is specified:

"Before to buy any ticket for tournaments with entry fee and money prizes, please read the terms and conditions, and more particularly entry fees, money prizes and money transfer sections."

And as you may guess, FICGS is much much more a pleasure to run for me than a money thing... Actually, the money prize part represent about nothing here and has always been a problem more than a solution at the end.

Your proposal is very generous anyway, otherwise many Epoints are free prizes so it may help to add ones, but you may also play other nice games and why not get this money prize at the end.

Sergey Zemlyanov    (2017-10-09 21:55:57)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

Hi, Thibault
A few words about the match with Riccio Eros. It seemed to me that Eros played too reliably, with a reserve of durability! However, now top-ranking OTB chess grandmasters, like Karjakin or Caruana, often play reliably too. The drawish tendencies are now visible in correspondence chess, unfortunately. To win Eros was very difficult, because of his debut choice and a power of the game, of course. Top grandmasters ICCF usually lose when they risk playing, for example, the Old Indian defense for Black.
Okay, then I donate e-points to the site and the question will be closed.
Sorry for my bad English. I do not have enough communication with foreigners.

Thibault de Vassal    (2017-10-09 22:08:13)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

I have added the following text on the "My account" page, let's hope it will avoid such problems in the future:

"First of all, please note that FICGS does not work like a bank or a casino, you have to win tournaments to get a money prize, otherwise it is not possible to "cashout" or convert Epoints into money. If you didn't do it yet, have a look at the rules (textlink) on this specific point."

Thibault de Vassal    (2017-10-09 22:14:10)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

Well, if Eros did not take so many risks, he probably found good reasons to do this :) After all, your real playing level was and is obviously still over 2400.

Sergey Zemlyanov    (2017-10-09 22:16:24)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

Dear Thib,
Thank you very much!
I donated e-points to the site. Also, I will focus on my games on ICCF. I do not have only 5 points of the rating to get into the tournament with a grandmaster's norm. I need to put pressure on it!)

Thibault de Vassal    (2017-10-09 22:33:01)
Ficgs is a money trap * BEWARE *

Dear Sergey, thank you and also for your understanding... And I must say I'll regret not seeing more nice "gold" games like these ones. Best of luck in your GM title seeking!