Open Letter to L. Thad Rogers

Thad, Thad, Thad…
I will try to answer your email in order. First, I did not “attack” Tim and I did not “attack” you, sir. What I did was “report.” I received this from a man for whom we both have immense respect. After reading my post about your tournament, he wrote, “Great Michael: Being journalist for you is not a dream, It is a reality. Keep it on…Ocanomd”
Tim is only one of a TEAM at Championship Chess, while you ARE whatever you call your company now. I take it from the banner hanging at the tournament, for which you told me you paid $500, your company is now called American Chess Liquidators. Tim went by the Mall Wednesday to “touch base” with the management, thereby learning of the potential problem. Knowing your tournament was to be held the day after the Thursday Night Throwdown, he called, giving you a “heads-up’” on the situation. This in spite of the fact that last year you moved in after Championship Chess at the North Dekalb Mall and signed a contract, or contracts, in order to, as you told me “Take all the good dates, which should really make Steve (Schneider, one of the owners of CC) mad at me!” You sat there grinning before, during, and after you said it. When people in the chess community learned of what you had done, one of the words used was, “undercut.” One well respected chess person from a neighboring state said you, “Stabbed Tim in the back.” Yet the good-hearted Brookshear refused to look at it that way, saying he would still play in your events and support you. The Legendary Georgia Ironman even talked of working with you in purchasing a mobile AC unit, even though it has been terribly difficult to work with you in the past. The fact is that from my decades in chess your track record is to regard any other company as a threat while refusing to cooperate, hoping to drive them out of business. Tim is one of the hardest working people I know. He loves chess, and he loves to teach the game. He spent most of the day Wednesday and Thursday doing just that, before heading to the Throwdown. He did not have time to check with the management of the Mall, leaving that to others at Championship Chess. By the time Tim arrived at the Mall and learned there would be no AC it was far too late to do anything other than hold the tournament. Fortunately there were only thirty or so players, so it was not a hot as it would have been if there had been three times that many. Still, the Ironman is embarrassed by the unfortunate turn of events and he and CC are making arrangements to move the upcoming tournaments, if possible. (I have just learned that the next two Thursday Night Throwdown tournament will be moved to the Decatur Heights Baptist Church at 735 Sycamore Dr. which is used for the Ironman Chess Club and previously used for the Throwdown.) You’ve gotten what you wanted, Thad, the Mall will be all yours.
Speaking of “bad memories” of the chess center, you should be right at home in a room with little or no AC, since that is what you had constantly at the Dump. Ask anyone who ever played at the House of Shame during a summer month. When one player told me before leaving that he would not be coming back, I asked why. “Because it’s hotter’ern HELL!” he replied. I recall one time when the window unit died in the main playing room upstairs you brought a much smaller unit with much less cooling capacity, telling David you got a great deal on it and it would save you money on the electric bill. The fact that it had much less capacity to cool than the former, dead AC, that was not strong enough to do the job, did not seem to matter to you or enter into your thinking. Then there was the main unit. One time when Longshot Larry was not around David called a real professional after the AC unit stopped working. He took one look at the unit and told David that if he touched it he would be obligated to report it to the state authorities because “Whoever has been working on this thing has jury-rigged it to the point where is not safe to operate.” He highly recommended it not be used again. I believe that was back in ’08, or was it earlier? Rather than putting any money into a new unit, you continued having Longshot “do his thing,” all the while hoping the antiquated monstrosity did not explode.
You write that you lost “…about $100,000 on the center.” What that proves is that you are a terrible businessman. You go on to write, “$40,000 of that was the last two years.” Toby told me while I was living in Louisville that you said you had not made any money at the ACC since I left. You told Tim that after I came back to the ACC, “Sales increased tremendously and memberships increased to a point second only to when the ACC opened.” Yet you chose, when push came to shove, to keep Longshot Larry and let me go. I understood the situation, though, he could keep “the thing” pumping out cool air, at least for a while. I do not want or need to hear you whine about how much money you lost at the Dump. How much money did you put into the place as it crumbled? As far as trying to “…keep it open for David…” it would have been better if you had paid him to leave because he was obviously completely burned out on chess, the chess center, and you! I am thinking of the time the poor man stood on the railroad tracks out back all night waiting for you to leave rather than coming back and having to deal with you. As far as keeping it open for the chess community goes, the fact is that keeping it open has done you far more harm than good. I was not, fortunately, here for the decline and fall of the Dump, but from what I have learned since my return, your reputation has been so tarnished that you will not live long enough for it to recover. The aftertaste will linger long after your death. When people talk about the Dump now it is all about the “bad memories,” and horror stories abound! You are right, Thad, when you ask, “Who else would have done that.”

You write, “The back door leading into Ashley’s was opened all weekend.” David Vest, who played in the room, is a smoker and had to use the door to make his exit all weekend. He told me it was “rarely open.” It was not open when I visited Sunday and that is what I reported, sir.

It defies credulity when you write, “The Home Depot didn’t have anymore Air-conditioners I could buy.” I just did a quick check and found thirty, that’s 30, Home Depot stores in the metro area. Home Depot is not the only store selling air conditioners in the Atlanta area. You mention nothing about the possibility of renting a unit. Once again, a quick check on http://www.startpage.com shows a large number of places in the metro area where you could have rented a unit, if you had so desired, to wit:
http://www.thomasnet.com/georgia/air-conditioner-rental-691469-1.html
http://www.portableairandpower.com
http://www.americanfamilyday.com/polarcool/
http://www.sunbeltrentals.com/locations/locationdetail.aspx?id=068
http://www.1stcooling.com
Atlas Sales and Rentals – http://www.atlassales.com

You did not even check, Thad, because just like at the Dump, you did not want to spend the money. You go on writing, “If I did it would take $1,000 for two units for one weekend. I don’t think you would have paid that. So, I did the next best thing and bought 3 fans for $210.” Hey big spender! What, you want a pat on the back?
Then you state, “I don’t think you would have paid that.” I will admit you are right about that, Thad. I have reached a point in my life where I do not have $1,000. I will say, though, if I had your money (and I am thinking back to the time you left your checkbook at the Dump, and Jan calling David later and telling him, “We do not have as money as it looks.”), you better believe that if I were a business owner, like you, when it came to the comfort of my customers, I would have spent whatever it took to cool the place!

You write, “The mall promised in an email today that they would have the air and heat
fixed for me by August 2nd.” As you know, I took notes for our interview. I have it right here that you told me the problem was with the main Mall AC unit. When I asked you how much something like that would cost, you said, “About six million dollars.” Good luck with that!
How many players do you think will come to your event in the hot, sweltering August heat with your track record? I have heard some say “I will NEVER play in another Thad event!” When I ask if I can quote them on that, they hem and haw, saying, “I dunno…” It is not pretty going to an event when no one shows. I know, because it happened once while I lived in Louisville. I may have an appropriate nickname for you, Thad. You will be known henceforth as the Maytag repairman!
Thad, you have previously mentioned to me that you have received a lot of sympathy since being diagnosed with cancer a decade ago. It is written in my notes that you told me your long-suffering wife, Janet, was given an award as “Chess mate of the year,” only because they thought you were going to die. I was there and know that you have beaten the odds, since you were told had a fifty percent chance of living five years. It used to be that when someone contracted the Big C it was though they were “dying with cancer.” But now it is frequently heard that one is “living with cancer.” Everyone is afraid to be honest with you because of your condition. You may not like what I have had to say, and it may upset you, but I hope you come to realize that only a friend would be honest with you and tell you what you need to hear, just as I did before being forced out by Longshot. It is well known that Ted Turner’s favorite saying is, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” When it comes to chess in the Great State of Georgia, the question you need to ask yourself is, “Which one is applicable to me.”

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