The Georgia Senior Chess Championship and something called the “Women’s Open” were held last weekend at the Wyndham Atlanta Galleria Hotel. According to the statistics provided by the USCF there were a total of only thirty-one players in both events combined. There were fifteen in the Senior and sixteen in the tournament held exclusively for females.
This is not true. There were only SIX players in the Georgia Open, along with EIGHT players in an ancillary tournament, the “U1800/UN,” held in conjunction with the Georgia Senior. One of the assistant TD’s, J PARNELL WATKINS JR., played an extra rated game, bringing the total of the two separate tournaments to sixteen. (http://www.uschess.org/msa/XtblMain.php?201409215302)
There were only four players in the Women’s Open, with an additional six females in the “U1400” tournament, and another six in the “U800” tournament.
The most striking thing about the stats given on the USCF website (http://www.uschess.org/datapage/events-rated.php) is the percentage of local participation in the Senior was only 60%. It was only a little higher, 62.5%, in the combined tournament for women only.
Considering the expense involved, and the paltry turnout, this weekend must be considered a unmitigated disaster. Once again, the GCA pooh-bahs have egg all over their collective faces.
I have intentionally waited all week in hopes something, anything, would be published about the “festival” on the moribund GCA website (http://www.georgiachess.org/), or the new Georgia Chess News website (http://georgiachessnews.com/). We can only speculate why no mention has been made of the “festival.”
How bad was it? In the last round of the Georgia Senior there was only one game contested. Mark Hoshor defeated Van Vandivier, thereby winning all four games to finish first. Mark really earned this championship because he was the only player to actually contest four games. GCA board member, Adrian T Payne, lost to Hoshor in the first round. He then took a half-point bye in the 5:30 round Saturday evening. The next morning he did not show for his game with the aforementioned Vandivier. The player who finished second, Chris Ferrante, only contested two games, winning one, but finishing with a score of 3-1.
I quoted LM Klaus Pohl over a decade ago when he said, “A Senior tournament should be an Open tournament because at our age anyone can beat anyone.” I have also written that if enough players enter a case can be made for a cut-off at 1600 for the Open because class “B” players are capable of beating the top players. If such had been the case in this tournament it would have allowed four additional players to play in the Open. With only fifteen players it is more than a little obvious the 2014 Senior Open should have been just that, an Open tournament.
I found a top 100 list on the GCA website. These are the players on the list of the Senior players I know to be eligible on that list who did not play:
1 GM ALONSO ZAPATA 2533
13 MARK T HOSHOR 2227
15 DAVID M VEST 2203
16 BRIAN MCCARTHY 2200
22 CM JEFFREY A KIDD 2107
23 JOSEPH COUVILLION 2102
27 DONNY GRAY 2073
29 TIMOTHY BROOKSHEAR 2055
34 ALAN G PIPER 2018
38 KEVIN LEE SCHMUGGEROW 2007
46 DAVID LORENTZSON 1975
47 GEORGE LEITE 1971
50 JUSTIN B MORRISON 1960
66 JEFFREY RYMUZA 1900
74 JOHN RICHARD SIMMONS 1879
MARK E COUVILLION 1879
85 JARED P RADIN 1841
86 MURPHY G CLAY 1836
88 COLIN POTTS 1831
92 JOHN D AUSTIN 1810
93 MICHAEL A MULFORD 1809
94 ORLANDO L CANO 1808
96 W MICHAEL BACON 1800
When first looking for the crosstable I went to the USCF website and typed in the name of one of the most prolific Senior players, Alan Piper, the man who won the 2012 Georgia Senior. Although he chose not to defend his title last year, playing at the same site in a different tournament, a terrible indictment of the GCA, I thought he may have played this year since the GCA decided to discontinue the “stipend” prize, which hardly any Georgia Senior thought a good idea. Since I was unable to find the crosstable I assumed the tournament had yet to be rated. The Legendary Georgia Ironman disabused me of such thinking when he told me how to retrieve the crosstable. It was then I learned former Senior Champion Piper had failed to play. If it were not so serious it would be Fun E.
Speaking of the President of the GCA, Fun Fong, he has the power and continued pounding that square peg into a round hole this year by having the “stipend” prize in the Women’s Open. It was a bad idea several years ago which did not work and it is STILL a bad idea that has not worked. Nevertheless, the POTGCA found another round hole and continues to pound that square peg, whacking away with a “whap”, “whap,” “whap.” Fun is obviously in love with his ridiculous idea and refuses to give it up, regardless of the evidence against his ill-fated idea.
The tournament had fallen so far off of my radar that I was unaware of it when Tim mentioned it to me last Saturday, the first day of the tournament. I am obviously not alone. As it turned out I would not have been able to play because of my eye. If I had been aware of the tournament and my eye had not been punctured by Copper, the dog, I would still have had grave reservations about playing because of the disasters the last two years. A decision to play would have meant having to take a half-point bye in the second round because of the late start time, something difficult to do in a four round tournament. The Sunday round times were ten and three-thirty. Why could the round times on Saturday have not been the same?
Former Senior champion David Vest would have played, but he was committed to the Championship Chess 7th Annual Fall Kickoff, as was the Ironman, and Scott Gandy. The GCA knew this when choosing the date for the Georgia Senior. The aforementioned gentlemen wonder if that is the very reason the GCA chose last weekend to hold the tournament.
As for the Women’s Open, the top female players in the state, WIM Carolina Blanco, Bella Belegradek, and Elena Gratskaya, did not play. One of the women on the women’s chess committee, Caroline Lantelme, did not play. None of the three women on the GCA board, 2nd Vice President Katie Hartley; Treasurer Pam Little; or 1st Member-at-large Laura Doman, participated in the Women’s Open. The editor of the Georgia Chess News website, Tricia Hill, did not play. 1st Vice President of the GCA Ben Johnson did not play in the Senior Open. I do not know the age of Fun E Fong, but if eligible, he too, did not play. It is obvious the GCA pooh-bahs did not support their own tournament.
Things will not change in Georgia until those who have the power relinquish it to others who have a clue.
Snap – I ve Got The power
When the GCA Open events committee decides to get things lined up far enough in advance to advertise in Chess Life I will believe they seriously care about senior chess. Some people actually have to plan their priorities; I could have planned around these dates if they had been announced in advance but as usual it wasn’t. I have of course communicated my concerns with Fun Fong, who expressed agreement and essentially blamed the committee. The simple fact is that while the committee approach does a good job of sharing the workload, someone must be accountable, and that someone is the President. Whether the buck stops there or not, it clearly stopped.
The Senior Open will also draw better, in my opinion, if there are only seniors present. We need our own event. GCA used to consider the expense for the tournament to be worth it. Now, even without the expenses of the magazine, it apparently doesn’t.