Chess Segregation

After reading Kevin Spragett’s post dated March 30, 2019, Friday Coffee
by kevinspraggettonchess · Published March 29, 2019 · Updated March 30, 2019, (http://www.spraggettonchess.com/friday-coffee-24/) which includes the question, “Is Chess Sexist?”, I sent Kevin an email:

Kevin,

You write, “We acknowledge that there is no fundamental difference when it comes to the brain of a women or that of a man.” You, sir, are WRONG! I have written much on my blog concerning the science and studies which confirm just how wrong are you as there is a “fundamental difference” between the male and female brain, which you would have known if you had read my blog.

After reading the new book, Gender and Our Brains, by Gina Rippon,

I must apologize to Kevin and admit being wrong. Although there appear to be some differences between the male brain when compared with the female brain that does not mean there is any difference between the two brains when it comes to cognitive ability. For example:

Study finds some significant differences in brains of men and women

By Michael Price Apr. 11, 2017

The largest study to look at sex differences in brain anatomy found that women tend to have thicker cortices, whereas men had higher brain volume. (https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/04/study-finds-some-significant-differences-brains-men-and-women)

Are Male and Female Brains Biologically Different?

The scientific debate around this question keeps raging, but one neuroscientist says we’re more alike than we think.

By Taylor Lorenz Jun 25, 2018

(https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/06/male-female-brains-biologically-different/563702/)

Ms.Rippon writes, “We have tracked the “blame the brain” campaign down the ages, and seen how diligent was the scientists’ pursuit of those brain differences that would keep women in their place. If a unit of measurement didn’t exist to characterize those inferior female brains, then one must be invented!”

She also writes, “Hence men’s more efficient callosal filtering mechanism explained their mathematical and scientific genius (with chess brilliance thrown in for good measure), their right to be captains of industry, win Nobel Prizes and so on and on. In this instance, in the “size matters” wars, with respect to the corpus callosum, small is beautiful.”

This is the only place in which one finds the word “chess” in the four hundred pages of the book.

If you believe Gina Rippon’s thesis then the question of why women are segregated in Chess must be asked. As a matter of fact the question was asked by E.E. Deedon in a letter (via email) to Chess Life magazine in the July 2019 issue. Mr. Deedon wrote:

“I just received my May 2019 edition of Chess Life, “The Women’s Issue.” What I cannot understand is the fact that men and women are still segregated after it has become quite obvious that men have no “advantage” when playing against women as they would obviously have in “physical” sports like football, basketball, and track and field. Would you be so kind to enlighten me as to why this situation still exists?”

For my international readers I must mention that when E.E. uses the word “football” he is talking about the American version, what I call “maimball”, not what is known in the rest of the world, which is called “soccer” here in the United States of America.

There follows in Chess Life:

Women’s Program Director for US Chess, WGM Jennifer Shahade

(that’s for WOMAN Grandmaster, as opposed to a real Grandmaster, whether male of female. For the international readers, Jennifer Shahade is rated 2301 US and 2322 FIDE. She has earned the title of “Original Life Master” from the United States Chess Federation. Although I am uncertain how one becomes an OLM I do know that if Jennifer were a male she would be considered just another National Master) responds:

“Women have historically been outnumbered in chess competition (She could stop there as it answers the question, but adds more, much more, as if she is a long-winded politician running for office) and most women and girls play and study in mixed competitions for the majority of the time.”

This begs the question of how she knows “most women and girls study in mixed competitions.”

Jennifer continues:

“Women’s spaces, tournaments, and camps are great ways to allow them to work on their game, make friendships, and get attention for their success and talent, which creates a positive, self-perpetuating cycle that brings more girls and women into the game.”

You are not alone in your curiosity. Your question is by far the most frequent I get when hosting, supporting, or streaming an event that includes a women’s or girl’s component. Unfortunately, when this question is asked, it is often negatively charged, and changes a positive event (women and girls enjoying and playing chess) into a forum for amateur analysis of gender, biology, and sociology. This line of questioning is so common that streamers like Alexander Botez (as featured in the first edition of my Ladies Knight podcast) create automated moderator responses for her streams – if the questioning become negative, moderators advise re-focusing on the chess.

Which brings me to an important point when we talk about women and girls in chess. As Woman’s Program Director, I focus on the positive as we grow the game: from Jennifer Yu’s stirring victory to the inspiring story of Phiona Mutesi, from Rachael Li’s standing as the top nine year old in the U.S. to the rich history of women’s chess from Menchik to Graf to Rudenko.

Thanks for you interest in US Chess Women!”

What, women cannot “work on their game, make friendships, and get attention for their success and talent” by attending a “space” -whatever that means- tournament or camp that includes males?

Who judges when a question is “negatively charged?” If anyone suggests females play in tournaments open to everyone regardless of sex does Jennifer consider that to be “negatively charged?”

I played Backgammon professionally for a time and women were welcomed in tournaments. There were no tournaments for only women.

Jennifer’s ridiculous answer to an important question can be distilled to, “Because we’re special.” Women want to eat their cake and have it too. It is as simple as that…

The fact is that men resent preferential treatment for women in Chess because females are diverting money from the small pool of Chessbucks which should go to the best player(s) regardless of sex. Period.

As I write this a Chess tournament, the FIDE chess.com Grand Swiss, is unfolding in the Isle of Man. In the second round the female player GM Antoaneta Stefanova defeated male player Gawain Jones. IM Batkhuyag Munguntuul bested GM Sergei Movsesian.

There are many female players challenging males. I do not know exactly how many, or what percentage, are female because Chess Results (http://chess-results.com/tnr478041.aspx) makes no distinction between the sexes.

There are more women and girls involved with Chess than ever before and it started with the so-called “youth movement,” which began when money earmarked for Master Chess was, shall we say to be kind, diverted to children’s Chess. With this brought an influx of “Chess moms,” a term first heard in relation to soccer, as in “Soccer mom.” It has gotten to the point that many women have been placed in positions of power in the Chess world, taking positions formerly held by men. For example, in the Spring 2018issue of the American Chess Magazine

there is an interview with the new executive director of the USCF, Carol Meyer.

Pete Tamburro posed this question to the new E.D.:

Have you learned to play chess? (Upon reading this my first thought was, “What The Fork?”) Anybody offer you lessons? Do you have a chess strategic plan?

Answer:

“I know how to move the pieces and have played with my family.” (I’m thinking, “You’re kidding me, right?”) “What I’ve learned is that playing chess for a tournament player is a very different concept from playing chess as a casual player. (How would the woman know that if she has NEVER PLAYED A TOURNAMENT GAME?) I have considered taking lessons after I settle in a bit more. I was thinking about blogging the personal experience of someone over the age of 50 learning the game.”

Good luck with that! The fact is that Chess is so difficult it is almost impossible for anyone over the age of 50 to learn how to play a decent game of Chess. I have attempted to teach Chess to men in their 30s to no avail. One gentleman was an attorney with a prominent law firm who informed me he had accomplished whatever it was he attempted until trying to play Chess.

From the earliest days of my involvement in Chess everyone involved came from some kind of Chess background. It may not have been required, but that was the way it was…I have battled over the Chess board with many USCF pooh bahs, such as Don Schultz, President of several different state organizations. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Schultz) Don was POTUSCF at one time. The fact is I cannot recall all of the many positions Don held in Chess. I do know he was once President of the Georgia Chess Association. This woman, Carol Meyer, in that position makes the USCF President, Allen Priest, rated 701 after having played 45 games in his life (10 wins; 3 draws) look like a battle scarred veteran. What can this woman possibly know about the Royal game? Is having someone who knows almost nothing about Chess good for the USCF? Having a litigious imbecile as POTUS has not exactly turned out well for the USA or the world, and it will get worse before he is impeached and forced to resign. I do not know about you but I would not want the pilot of my plane to say, “I know how to push the buttons and have flown in a simulator.”

Then there is the Publications Editor, Melinda Matthews. I searched the USCF and found her listed along with other rated players but the USCF MSA page shows she has yet to play a rated game. I kid you not. Maybe she is the reason the once venerable Chess Life magazine now includes articles such as More Chess Parenting: Nurturing the Talented Child, by Alexey Root, WIM.

Alexey is rated 2000 USCF, meaning she would be a floored National Master if male. I recently reached out to a number of Chess players, asking if they read the article. No one replied in the affirmative. One wag responded, “No one reads that shit, Bacon.” Who knows, maybe a few parents of children involved with Chess actually read the article. Maybe… Another said, “The USCF could care less about people who actually play Chess, Mike. They are attempting to reach PARENTS!”

“It’s a Total Numbers Game”

The above has become the mantra for women involved with Chess. It is also a load of crap. Statistics prove that young girls exposed to Chess stop playing the game around puberty. There is a reason. I do not profess to know the reason, but there must be a reason, because there is always a reason. Unfortunately, the same could be said for preteen boys. Something happens to children of both sexes around puberty and they leave Chess in droves. Why is that? There is a reason, and it would seem those in charge would spend as much of Rex Sinquefield’s money as they could grasp to learn why young people leave the game. Instead, large sums of money go to attracting even more young children to replace the money of those who leave the game, never to return.

Sports Illustrated Features US Chess Women: “It’s a Total Numbers Game.”
By Jennifer Shahade|December 21, 2018|Kids, News, Women

It’s a total and complete numbers game. What the women’s committee is trying to do is to grow the base- Maureen Grimaud

Comments
Edward | December 27, 2018 at 4:29 pm
No matter all the explanation in the world, having separate girls/women chess tournaments sends the message that females can not compete with males in chess.
https://www.si.com/more-sports/2018/12/17/lisa-lane-hou-yifan-womens-chess-gender-inequality-world-championships

Ladies Knight with Maureen Grimaud [PODCAST]
By Jennifer Shahade|August 21, 2019|Ladies Knight, News, Podcast, Women

The August episode of Ladies Knight features Maureen Grimaud,

chair of the US Chess Women’s committee. Maureen is a vocal proponent and supporter of bringing more women and girls into chess, from her work with the girls club’ rooms and Regional women’s events. In a Sports Illustrated article about women in chess, Maureen said, “It’s a numbers game, It’s a total and complete numbers game. What the women’s committee is trying to do is to grow the base.”

Ladies Knight with Maureen Grimaud [PODCAST]

How about Maureen’s numbers? The woman has played a total of 44 rated games since 2006. She won four of the games and drew three. She last played in a USCF rated tournament in 2012. Her rating is 440. How about Rex Sinquefield putting up money for a match between Maureen and the President of the USCF, Allen Priest? Although the Prez outweighs her by about the same number of pounds as he out rates her I would hafta say it’s a toss-up.

I do not have answers to the questions posed in this post; maybe there are no answers, or no one really wants to learn the answers while the money is still flowing into Chess. But how long will it last?

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Allen Priest Started A Thread

The President of the USCF board, Allen Priest, started a new thread on the USCF forum under All Things Chess, titled: World senior team 50+ (http://www.uschess.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=24693&st=0&sk=t&sd=a).

I posed this question on the thread: “Why was there no 65+ team from the USA?” (by nocab on Wed Apr 24, 2019 8:14 pm #335352)

It was no surprise that the POTUSCF was the first to reply as he weighs in on almost everything on the forum.

“Well you can organize one – it is an open tournament. As many teams from any country can enter as wish.”

Allen Priest
National Tournament Director
Delegate from Kentucky

Maybe another person on the forum would have been surprised by the flippant remark but I was not because of having previously interacted “up close and personal” with Allen at a Kentucky State Championship. He allowed the tournament to begin without lighting because of no electricity after turning a deaf ear to the players.

My friend Michael Mulford replied with the following post:

Postby Mulfish on Wed Apr 24, 2019 9:30 pm #335356

Did US Chess fund the winning team? If they did, a more accurate answer might be US Chess did not budget to fund one and no self-funded team emerged”.

Allen answered:

Postby Allen on Wed Apr 24, 2019 9:41 pm #335357

We has a stipend for one team for 2018 and 2019 based on our invitional list rules. Again these are open events. Any team that wants to enter certainty can.

Last edited by Allen on Wed Apr 24, 2019 10:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Allen Priest
National Tournament Director
Delegate from Kentucky

by Mulfish on Wed Apr 24, 2019 10:01 pm #335358

Allen wrote:
We has a stipend for one team for 3018 and 2029 based on our invitional list rules. Again these are open events. Any team that wants to enter certainty can.

Ignoring the obvious typos on the years, would it be fair to say that we have budgeted for stipends for one team. That team could have been either an over 50 or an over 65 team, based on the invitational list rules?

And, as usual, Allen got the last word:

by Allen on Wed Apr 24, 2019 10:25 pm #335361

Sorry. The phone keyboard is hard to use. We budgeted for one set of stipends for two tournaments that occurred during a single budget year. The original motion didn’t address anything about divisions of the event. So, if the invitational list yielded a 65+ team that’s who would have received the stipend.

Allen Priest
National Tournament Director
Delegate from Kentucky

At this time there are twenty four posts on this particular thread and sixteen, or two thirds, of the posts were made by the POTUSCF. Does this make you think of the POTUS and his propensity for firing salvos via Twitter?

In the March issue of Chess Life magazine Allen writes about US Chess Affairs/ News for our Members in something named, ACROSS THE BOARD. He begins, “Not many people get Chess Life to read a missive from the president of the organization. I understand.”

I’m thinking, “Well, at least the man understands something.”

Allen also writes, “But we all share one thing-an interest in a grand game.”

And I’m thinking, “Interest?” Then I realize the difference between Allen and me is a chasm because I LOVE the Royal Game! I have played Chess seriously since 1970, and if you go back to when my father taught me the game, 1966. I have read extensively about the game and have followed it even when spending most of my time playing Backgammon professionally. I have played Chess in USCF rated tournaments in twenty five different states, more than any other native born Georgian. I have played Chess in seedy dives, such as the legendary Stein Club on Peachtree street in Atlanta, Georgia,

and opulent places such as the Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina. (https://www.biltmore.com/)

Allen has played all of forty five USCF rated games IN HIS LIFE!

Allen is rated 701. Allen has NEVER BEATEN A PLAYER WITH A RATING CONTAINING FOUR DIGITS!

Why is Allen the president of the USCF? How did Allen become president of the USCF? What could Allen possibly know about Chess?

I asked myself the above questions after reading 25 Questions for Steve Doyle: A major figure in American chess relates his lifetime experiences in characteristically upbeat fashion, by Peter Tamburro, in issue #3 of the American Chess Magazine recently.

This question was posed, “How has the USCF fared over the years and what do you think its prospects are for the future? Now that there is a search for a new executive director, what qualities should they look for?”

The former President of the USCF, Steve Doyle

gave this answer: “The huge savings built up in my term were then the saving life blood for a series of incompetent boards – and that followed with very weak leaders in charge. They ran the book business into the ground., squandered resources and lived off the savings account. Finally the building in New Windsor was sold, the book business outsourced, savings used to pay off massive debt and the operation moved to Tennessee. Now new people are coming forward, the entire membership votes on officers and we have a 501c3 status. All positive moves. Of couse, millions wasted along the way.”

The current president of the USCF, Allen Priest, is, fortunately, on his way out. In his aforementioned column he wrote, “Many of our members are not particularly interested in the governance of US Chess. Few, if any, join to be involved in governance. I know. I was the same way.”

If only it had stayed the same way…

I am now one of the members who is “…not particularly interested in the governance of US Chess.” Frankly, at this point in my life I could care less as it is time for me to leave the future to those whom it will affect.

The fact is that Allen Priest, like all other Chess politicians, will be judged by history. Will he be considered a “very weak leader in charge?” Will history be kinder to him than those posting on the USCF forum have been to this point in his tenure? Only time will tell…

USCF Board Member Wants Kirsan “Taken Out”

Allen Priest

won election to his final three year term on the Executive Board of the USCF last year and is, fortunately, term limited.

At the USCF website there is a forum thread, FIDE Bank Account Closed–Time for a New Federation?

The poster known as ChessSpawn wrote:
“Back when the Panama Papers came out linking certain high profile Russians chess persons to Putin and when Mueller first took over the investigation, I speculated about Kirsan and FIDE becoming part of the investigation. The sanctions allegations against Kirsan indicate that he has likely been doing Putin’s bidding for a long time and not simply traveling to give away chess sets.” (Postby ChessSpawn on Mon Feb 19, 2018 11:45 am #324653 )

In a reply dated Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:14 pm (#324667) Allen Priest, obviously referring to the President of FIDE, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov,

wrote: “…those that put him in have to take the action to take him out.” (http://www.uschess.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=23866)

Take him out

To eliminate someone. To kill him. To remove someone from a situation.
“Osama bin Laden is a menace. We will take him out.” President George W Bush.
by Colby Gutierrez-Kraybill August 24, 2005

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Take+him+out

Fun with Fong and Magar the Morrible

Thomas Magar, known as “tmagchesspgh” on the USCF forum, was the first to comment on the aforementioned post by Mike Murray. He begins his comment(s) with, “Somehow, I am less inclined to believe a blog which has a personal axe to grind for authoritative analysis of a topic.” Mr. Magar is a prolific poster on the USCF forum as can be seen by this being his 2802 post. This pales in comparison to Mr. Allen Priest, writing as “Allen” on the forum, who has made an astounding 4918 posts. He joins Mr Magar by writing, “Having met and interacted with the blogger at issue multiple times, a comment that the blogger might have a personal axe to grind is certainly believable.” This is known as “kill the messenger.” This is a common practice when some cannot refute the message. I will address the axe grinding momentarily, but first I must take exception to something Mr.Magar wrote, “The “Armchair Warrior” has mischaracterized some of their work.” I have done no such thing. What I have done is to simply copy what these eminently educated people have written, and I have copied it verbatim. If Mr. Magar were writing about the JFK assassination he would be known as an “apologist” for the Warren Commission. He would probably write something along the lines of, “What do you mean you do not believe in the magic bullet theory? When I took out my vintage WWII low-powered Italian made carbine, called “junk” by expert military riflemen, and shot into a watermelon from the rear, it went back, and to the left! Not only that, when I lined up two watermelons at an angle from each other, and shot from an angle high above the melons, the bullet entered the first melon, changed direction heading from down to up, zigged to the left, then zagged back to the right and entered the melon, again zigging to the left, where it exited the watermelon, after zagging, then striking Lyndon’s Boy John, who happened to be walking by just as I was demonstrating the power of a magic bullet, in the thigh.”

As far as having an axe to grind, nothing could be further from the truth. But to be as honest as possible, and in the interest of full disclosure, I would like to relate the following. The fact is that some years ago the President of the GCA insisted on holding a Senior tournament that was thought so highly of by Seniors that only EIGHT players entered. He did this against the wishes of many members of the chess community, including the Legendary Georgia Ironman, who had advocated getting a committee of Seniors, such as the esteemed Scott Parker and the highly regarded Michael Mulford, known as “Mulfish” on the USCF forum, together to discuss what kind of tournament should be held. Fun Fong, the POTGCA, nixed that idea, “nippin’ it in the bud,” as Deputy Barney Fife would say. Fun Fong is an emergency room doctor, and as such is the man in complete control. He gives the orders in the same way a General or dictator gives orders, and expects them to be obeyed. Dr. Fong was not happy to read my criticism. When I decided to write another blog, this one, I called former POTGCA Scott Parker, a member of the Emory Castle Chess Camp board, as is Dr. Fong, and asked if it would be OK for me to post some signs for my blog at the Castle tournament which concludes the camp. Scott said he saw no problem with my doing that, as long as I checked with the Chief TD, Colonel David Hater, whom I knew from the House of Pain. I did just that and David was very gracious, shaking my hand and asking how I had been, then walking me around while discussing chess and the best places for me to post my notices. He was called away and I noticed Dr. Fong heading my way so I extended my hand, which was rebuffed rather hatefully. I will admit this was rather embarrassing with all the people around to see what had transpired. I placed a few notices before Jennifer Christianson, a lovely woman familiar to me because her sons played chess at the HOP, walked up and told me Fun Fong had asked her to tell me I would have to take the notices down. After informing Jennifer that I had discussed it with Mr. Parker, and then asked Colonel Hater, she told me to forget about what Fun had said; she would tell him I had permission.

I am a Southern man. I was born and raised in the South, as they say, “by the grace of God.” In the South if a man, any man, has a woman do his bidding for him, he is considered to be not much of a man. I have not written about the incident until now, and have not gone out of my way to spread it around, but when asked, I have discussed it with a few players, who, to a man, feel exactly as I do. There is absolutely nothing Fun Fong can do to change the fact that he is, and always will be, considered “NOT MUCH OF A MAN.”

That said, I do not have a bone to pick, or an axe to grind, with Fun Fong on a personal level. As GM Hikaru Nakamura is so fond of saying, “It is what it is.” Fun Fong is what he is. I do, though, have a problem with what Fun Fong, whom I will admit I think of as “Fun E. Fong,” has done as POTGCA. Rather than instituting changes to the format so that many more Senior players would consider playing, Fun Fong held the same tournament and only thirteen players entered the next year. In order to improve a chess player must acknowledge, and correct, his mistakes. Fun Fong let the chess community know in no uncertain terms that things were going to be his way, or the highway. Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” This is, unfortunately, not the only example of Fun Fong making a mistake again and again. What lit Richard De Credico’s fuse is the GCA made the exact same mistake made at the previous tournament. (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/the-decredico-incident/). As Mike Mulford has written, the buck has got to stop somewhere, and Fun Fong is the POTGCA, and as such, must be held accountable. I have been around chess in Georgia since 1970 and have never seen any GCA board member engender the enmity of so many.

In the most recent scholastic chess tournament the GCA, under the leadership of Fun Fong, lost a round. How is that possible you ask?

From: Georgia Chess Association
Date: Mon, Feb 23, 2015 at 2:35 PM
Subject: Teams Invited to the K-8 Team State Championship

“Dear Parents, Coaches & Players,

Thank you so much for attending the 2015 State Qualifier tournament. Teams invited to the State Championship can be found on our website using this link: http://www.georgiachess.org/event-1773262. Details and registration will be up this week.

We’d like to apologize for the delay we had following round 3. Much time and energy was put into preparing for this event in hopes of running a smooth, on-time tournament. Few are more distressed than we are as volunteers for the technical issues we had with the K-3 section. (See below for details.)

One issue we are trying to address for the future is communication. Our pre-tournament communication with you allowed for a very smooth start. This year chess control was split into 4 sections staffed with more volunteers to help answer questions. It went very well. After the technical issues at round 3 began we had difficulty communicating with the parents. Without carpet in the exhibit halls (which is currently not an option due to the expense) the PA system is ineffective. We are working on finding alternate ways of communicating with you on tournament day in the future if we use this venue.

We would like to thank all the parents and coaches who volunteered for this event and who were supportive through out the day. We can not hold chess tournaments without you.

Sincerely,
GCA Scholastic Team

Details of the technical issue: Files for rounds 1 & 2 & 3 were lost on the K-3 laptop with the pairing software. All results for round 1 had to be re-entered. With so many unrated players, when we paired for round 2 to enter those results, the pairings didn’t match the actual round that was played. We had to pair those boards by hand in order to input those results. The same had to be done for round 3. Once we realized how long this would take we decided to go with a 4 round tournament for K-3 and have the other sections play ASAP. Not being able to communicate this to parents was a huge problem.”

There is no explanation for how the files were lost. I have heard they were deleted. This may, or may not, be true, but it sounds like something par for the course for the GCA gang who have trouble shooting straight. I will admit to having a difficult time fathoming how this is possible because when I hit the “delete” key, a small window always appears asking me, “Are you sure you want to do this, dude?”

Upon moving back to my home state the father of a young boy told me an incredible story of how his son had been “shafted” during a scholastic tournament that was so outlandish it was difficult to believe even though I knew this man to be a fine, honest father and strong family man. Since I was newly returned and did not know the people now in charge of chess in Georgia I told the father the BaconLOG was discontinued, and was not certain I wanted to write another blog, and certainly did not wish to write about scholastic chess. There was no one else for him to turn and I do not believe he has ever forgiven me. If I had known then what I now know, I would have started another blog right then and there and published what I had been told.

I have come to think of those in charge of chess in my home state as the Roseanne Roseannadanna’s of the chess world. “Roseanne Roseannadanna” was one of several recurring characters created by Gilda Radner, who appeared on “Weekend Update” in the early seasons of Saturday Night Live airing on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC).”

“Eventually, Weekend Update co-anchor Jane Curtin would interrupt, stating, “Roseanne, you’re making me sick.” Curtin would then ask her what her comments had to do with the question. Roseannadanna’s response was, “Well, Jane, it just goes to show you, it’s always something—if it ain’t one thing, it’s another.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roseanne_Roseannadanna)

Mr. Magar writes, “I also know Bob Ferguson and have talked with him about his studies.”

I met Bob Dylan once, but was unable to talk with him about his song writing because, after being introduced as the Atlanta Chess Champion, our conversation consisted of him asking me about chess. What did Mr.Magar learn about the Ferguson study? Why did he mention this?

Mr. Magar drops another name, writing, “Ferdinand Gobet was at CMU in Pittsburgh for a time doing some research. I met and discussed some issues with him way back when.”

What “issues” were discussed and did it have anything at all to do with anything about which I wrote?

Mr. Magar writes, “The research by Gobet and Campitelli is not compelling. The examination and experimental framework they use is over a very short time frame. Other studies that are over the application of chess study over an extensive time are much more positive with regards to the effects of chess and scholastic achievement. I am well aware of potential structural flaws of some of the studies. However, the general trend is positive, not negative, toward the effects of chess study.”

What “other studies?” Please explain what you mean by your vague statement, “…the general trend is positive, not negative, toward the effects of chess study.” SHOW US THE EVIDENCE! “The research by Gobet and Campitelli is not compelling.” Maybe not to Thomas Magar, but it is to Dr. Zach Hambrick, and that is good enough for me.

Mr. Magar writes, “I could point to anecdotal evidence in my own practice in dealing with special education students in a school and what some of my students have achieved.”

So could I, and many other chess teachers and coaches, but still it would only be “anecdotal evidence.” The reason studies such as this are done is to obtain the big picture.

In Educational benefits of chess instruction: A critical review, by Fernand Gobet & Guillermo Campitelli, one finds, “…compulsory instruction is not to be recommended, as it seems to lead to motivational problems.” I could give you an anecdotal tale of a boy to whom I tried to teach chess, not because the boy was interested in the Royal game, but because his mother, who was originally from the home town of Garry Kasparov, Baku, Armenia, wanted him to learn. He was being home schooled after having had “problems” in public school. The time I spent trying to teach the boy, in the home city of Alan Priest, I might add, was like pulling eye teeth, and as far as I am concerned, proof positive that Gobet and Campitelli hit the nail on the head with this one. But, just for the sake of argument, let us suppose Magar and Priest decided to so a study and questioned four hundred ninety nine other chess teachers, and they all reported that “Compulsory instruction was to be recommended because it did not seem to lead to motivational problems.” My “anecdotal evidence would be an outlier, and worthless. Mr. Magar seems to acknowledge this when he goes on to write, “But since I am too busy working to teach chess and do not intend to publish an academic article, you can dismiss what I am about to say.”

And that is exactly what I did, Mr. Magar.

https://screen.yahoo.com/roseanne-rosannadanna-smoking-000000279.html

Questioning USCF

During a conversation with the Legendary Georgia Ironman he mentioned the importance of a player leaving the “provisional” rating behind and obtaining a “regular” rating. The transference gives the player a little creditability; it is a first step on the path. Triple digit players have no creditability. None. Zip. Nada. I know because I was one who began trying to get to the path with a rating of eight hundred plus after losing all six games at my first USCF tournament. It does not matter who or what you are in the other world, if you only have three digits following your name, you are less than nothing in the world of chess. But add that extra digit onto your rating and the chess world notices you have, somehow, gotten a clue. It would be interesting to know what percentage of “newbies” make it out of triple digit purgatory. It would also be worthwhile to know what percentage of them make the transference from “P” to “R”.
“Mike Nolan would know,” I said to Tim. “You mean the USCF guy?” he questioned. Tim is not a forum reading kind of guy unless something is pointed out to him, so I told him I would post and pose the question.
Decades ago I worked at the Oxford bookstore when the first computers were brought into the store. We had to transfer everything on 3×5 cards to the computer. Once the information was inside the machine we found wonderful things we could do with it. Any question could be answered. For example, if one wanted to know the percentage, and or average number of chess books sold in the last day; week; month; year; or all-time, the question could be answered.
I love statistics. There were baseball stats coming out of my ears when a boy. I love sabermetrics, the study of baseball stats, and have read numerous books on the subject. A USCF board member should have statistics for everything. I would ask questions like, “How many games per year does (add any age) play? What is the average number of games for each age? What percentage of new members advance to quadruple digits? What percentage of new members who advance to quadruple digits do so as “provisional” as opposed to “regular.” How long does the average member belong to USCF? When it comes to questions, I am like Jimmy Durante, who was famous for saying, “I’ve gotta million of ’em.” The wonderful thing is that they can all be answered, if asked. The more information one has the better prepared he is to answer any question. Change begins with thought. We have Special relativity because Alburt Einstein asked himself a question.
Mike Nolan was the first to respond:
by nolan on Tue Jul 22, 2014 12:30 pm #282373
“What would you do with this information if you had it?”
Next to step into the ring was heavyweight, and newly reelected board member:
by Allen on Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:10 pm #282374
“I don’t see how that is a major priority of staff time. we know that most members only play in 1 event per year. We know that scholastic turnover in membership is very high as kids try it once or twice and never play again. I don’t see that as a particularly bad thing as you see the exact same pattern in other youth sports – baseball, soccer, basketball, etc.
My estimate would be far more than 50% – probably more like 75%.
But then again, many new adult members also do not reach a regular rating either. And then many adult members do not play in any events in a year – a large % have not played in any tournament in years.”
Allen Priest
National Tournament Director
Delegate from Kentucky
If on the USCF board I would be able to deliver a Powerpoint program containing charts and graphs, in color mind you, not give an estimate. As far as “…not seeing how that is a major priority of staff time…,” I seem to recall Mike Nolan regularly posted statistics on the forum a few years ago. I will admit to not having been a regular reader since Bill Hall was replaced and cannot help but wonder if the woman who took his place is cracking the whip?
Next up is Gary L. Walters, another board member, writing as “Grayson.”
by Grayson on Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:16 pm #282375
“Please direct this request to the office along with a reason for the request.”
This post is an attempt to provide you “…with a reason for the request.” I posted this after the next post by “Crume.”
by nocab on Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:24 pm #282416
There were, and are no plans to do anything with the information. Inquiring minds just want to know…
The next man to step up to the plate was Bob Crume, or as I now think of him, “Rocky Mountain Bob,” my man!
by Crume on Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:40 pm #282379
Derived from the Golden Database and a peculiar skill in Excel formulas and pivot tables. Lots of assumptions in this data set (sub500 and sub1000 rating levels are arbitrary), so I would not assume any definitive judgments. Expiration and years are based on today, 7/22/14. Provisional rating based on Regular rating only; no consideration given to Quick or Blitz.

835,861 Member IDs in the August 2014 Golden Database (100%).
277,321 Member IDs who expired while Provisional (33% of total).
230,253 Member IDs who expired while Provisional and below 1000 rating (28% of total).
113,607 Member IDs who expired while Provisional and below 500 rating (14%).
74,432 Member IDs who expired while Provisional within the last 10 years and below 500 rating (9% of total).
33,605 Member IDs who expired while Provisional within the last 5 years and below 500 rating (4% of total).
I do not know who Rocky Mountain Bob is, or how he came to “interface” with the “Golden Database” but I thank you, sir. I was unaware of a “Golden Database.” Sounds like it should at least be locked up for safekeeping. It also sounds expensive; wonder if Rex had anything to do with it…Is there a “Platinum Database”? How about a “Silver” or “Bronze”? Does the “GD” hold the keys to the kingdom?! OK, I will stop, but you get my drift…There are always questions.