GCA President Renounces Chess

The former President of the Georgia Chess Association, Fun Fong, announced his resignation in December. Although having knowledge of the resignation for some time I have not posted it because of the difficulty obtaining information other than what has been available on the internet. I have reached out to the current POTGCA, Thad Rogers, and the VPOTGCA, David Hater, neither of whom responded. I do not know the other members of the GCA board, so did not ask for comment. Some in the community whom I contacted responded by informing me they were no longer involved with Chess because their children had lost interest in the game. The people who did respond did not want their names used. For example, one person responded, “I have deliberately been staying away from GCA politics and events because of the toxic turn that they have taken in the last year or so.” There was no further elaboration so your guess is as good as mine as to what kind of “toxic turn” has been taken “in the last year or so.”

I was aware the man I came to think of as the Fun E. one

had posted something on Facebook. I do not, and have never, belonged to the book of faces. People who complain about lack of privacy and government intrusion join Facebook in droves, while divulging their innermost secrets, which makes it easy for the government, does it not? An anonymous source sent me a copy of what is written on Mr. Fong’s Facebook page, which I quote:

“I have resigned as GCA President and will be leaving chess. I am appreciative of all the good times and great working relationships that I experienced. I will be unfriending the great majority of my chess friends so as to not be lured back to chess again. If I have unfriended you and you would like to speak to me about non-chess topics, I’d be glad to keep in touch with you. I wish my chess friends well.”

I must admit to not being aware one could “unfriend” anyone until reading this, so it is news to me. It sounds pretty serious to “unfriend” anyone. It is one thing to resign an office where one is one of only fifty in the US, but to also “…be leaving chess”? He talks of not being lured back into chess again as someone addicted to heroin might talk about staying away from other addicts. There were rumors that losing for a seat on the USCF policy took the fun out of Chess.

There is a story here but I am in no position to obtain the story. According to the GCA website there is a “GCA Board Meeting, February 01, 2018 7:00 PM • Red Lobster Meeting Room, 3927 LaVista Rd., Tucker.” (http://www.georgiachess.org/)
As I am punchin’ & pokin’ this the afternoon of February 1, that means the meeting is tonight. Maybe if still living in, or near, Atlanta, I would put my journalist hat on and attend the meeting. Then again, having attended a few of the things, maybe not…

There is an article at the GCA magazine website concerning the departure of Fun Fong:

The GCA Bids Farewell to Dr. Fun Fong

By Michael Muzquiz

After 6 years of untiring service as president of the Georgia Chess Association, Dr. Fun Fong has announced his resignation. As 1st vice president, Thad Rogers will fulfill the duties of the president until a successor is named.(http://georgiachessnews.com/2017/12/22/the-gca-bids-farewell-to-dr-fun-fong/)

In addition, Mr. Muzquiz writes, “Dr. Fong will certainly be missed by all.”

This is not true. I, for one, will not miss the Fun E. one AT ALL! When the second Georgia Senior under his “leadership” was announced I vowed to never again play in any GCA tournament, so I was ECSTATIC to hear of his implosion! The second was just as bad as the first, so it was obvious the man had obtained power and refused to listen to reason, preferring to have yet another failed Senior rather than admitting a mistake and making changes to the failed format.

Then there was what came to be known as “The DeCredico Incident.” Fun Fong wrote the following email:

From: Fun Fong
>> Date: November 25, 2014 at 12:11:01 PM EST
>> To: Greg Maness
>> Cc: gcaboard Board , Laura , Frank Johnson , Ben Johnson , “J Parnell Watkins, Jr.” , Elena Gratskaya
>> Subject: Re: Incident with Chattanooga friends
>>
>> I am also seeking legal advice.
>>
>> GCA cannot sustain legal action (costs). As I said, if this were to progress to a lawsuit, we might win on the merits, but we would lose, likely losing the organization.
>>
>> This is a conundrum. My thought is that we must avoid a legal action at all costs. I now think that Mr. DeCredico will complain to USCF and we need to have possible responses lined up. I will be using the legal advice to consider these factors.
>>
>> Mr. DeCredico states that both he and his children were touched. This is becoming a “he said, he said” story. I think we should look for witnesses.
>>
>> I think that we should discuss this issue at the Board in closed session, after the official Board meeting is over on 2 December. Discussion is available to non-board members now.
>>
>> Fun

This can be found here: https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/the-decredico-incident/

I have always wondered why Elena Gratskaya,

the very pretty young woman from Russia, was copied on this email since she was never on the board or involved with GCA politics. With all the women coming out with accusations against powerful men these days, I cannot help but wonder if this played some part in the resignation? This was during the time a television show, The Americans, about Russian agents posing as an American couple, was quite popular. A source reported years ago that when this was mentioned to Mr. Fong at a tournament in another state, where Fun and Elena had been seen together, the POTGCA became quite upset. I had the pleasure of interviewing Elena at the Castle Chess tournament at Emory University some years ago and will admit that if I had been several decades younger I probably would have asked her to be the Queen of my Chess board! What can I say? She was extremely easy on the eyes…

I had to wait some time to publish this because of only having one source. After publication of the emails I was asked by someone with interest in the activities of the GCA to provide the name of “the” person who had passed on the series of emails published on this blog. The GCA board must have been SHOCKED to learn that, like Woodward and Bernstein, I waited until there were TWO SOURCES before publication. That meant that, as far as they were concerned, there was another RAT! You will not read in any of the emails anything about keeping it confidential. The board then turned on each other, and there was suspicion, which led to rancor. There followed resignations, with the first to go taking the blame, in some minds, as the OTHER RAT. I am reminded of lyrics to For What It’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield:

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away

Further information on this blog about the Fun E. man can be found by typing in “Fun Fong” in the question box.

From what little I have been able to piece together Fun E Fong was burned out on Chess. It appears he played the Fried Liver attack once too often… It must have been challenging for an emergency room doctor who is accustomed to giving orders without being questioned to “suffer the fools” who questioned each and every decision he made. Multiple sources reported he had said he was, “sick of being questioned,” and “…tired of being “ragged on all the time,” or something along those lines. I am reminded of the current POTUS, Donald popinJay Trump,

who cannot wrap what’s left of his mind around our form of government; a man who would obviously be more comfortable as a dictator.

Like Georgia RepublicaNazi Governor Nathan “Asleep at the Wheel” Deal (or, if you prefer, Nathan “Raw” Deal),

the Fun E. one won reelection. Sources informed “the new people” loved Fun, so I was not that surprised at the turn of events. The phrase that has stuck with me is when the Fun E one said he wanted to, “Change the demographics” of Chess in Georgia. Donald popinJay Trump wants to change the demographics of US. We can only hope the Trumpster becomes tired of being “ragged on” constantly and follows the lead of Dr. Fun E. Fong.

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The Future of Chess

“The phrase, “All politics is local” is a common phrase in U.S. politics. The former Speaker of the U.S. House Tip O’Neill is most closely associated with this phrase, which encapsulates the principle that a politician’s success is directly tied to the person’s ability to understand and influence the issues of their constituents.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_politics_is_local)

The world of chess is beset with myriad problems. For example, consider something recently written by GM Kevin Spraggett on his blog, Spraggett on Chess:

RIP: Canadian Open Championship (1956-2014)

“For my readers (Canadian and international) who were wondering about the 2015 edition of Canada’s most PRESTIGIOUS tournament, I have sad news. Not only has the 2015 Canadian Open been cancelled, but it is unlikely to be resurrected in coming years. The present mind-set of the CFC executive is to concentrate on junior chess and slowly (quickly!) phase out adult chess.

The writing was on the wall for some time now, but few wanted to believe it. Despite a well documented decline in adult membership in the CFC since 2007, and calls to organize a membership drive to remedy the situation, the CFC refused to act. Adult membership levels are now 50% of normal levels. All funding of adult-programs have been eliminated.”

Grant Oen is a junior at Emory University, Grant is a 2-time GA Collegiate Chess Champion, 2-time NJ Grade Level Chess Champion, manager of the 2014 Atlanta Kings Team, and current Emory Chess Club President. He is one of the people who are the future of chess, and the future is NOW! I have come to admire and respect Grant because he is GREAT for chess in my home state.

I received an email from Mr. Oen a short time ago, and after reading it, sent an email asking for permission to post it on the blog, which was granted. Although it may be true that “all politics is local,” what happens in my home state of Georgia, just as what happens in our wonderful neighbor to the north, Canada, affects the Royal game in the WORLD. It is not just the worldwide governing body of chess, FIDE, that impacts chess, fortunately. Chess stays viable because of the efforts of those in, for example, New Zealand, even though you may not here of what is going on with chess there, unless you make an effort do so. When the chess lights go out, for whatever reason, in any town, city, state, or nation, it has a negative impact on the game of chess. I urge you to read what Grant has to say, and to forward it to anyone and everyone, and ask them to do the same. “In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.”
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfly_effect)
I believe there is a “butterfly effect.” I also believe that “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” What has happened to chess in my home state of Georgia is tragic. I can only hope that you who read this learn from the recent mistakes made here and do not let it happen in your part of the chess world.

“Good evening,

First, I’d like to thank many of you for supporting Southeast Chess in its first year of tournaments. Since our first event in March 2014, we have run over 25 events, attracting 250+ unique players from 15 states. Despite being a small operation, we have offered large open tournaments, scholastics, invitationals, Grand Prix, blitz, and action tournaments which have become a staple in the chess landscape in Georgia, and will continue to do so going forward.

Southeast Chess recognizes the following players for participating in 6 or more of our events in our first year:

Shanmukha Meruga – 22 tournaments
Grant Oen – 21
Frank Johnson – 16
Kapish Potula – 10
Amaan Pirani – 8
Sijing Wu – 8
Saithanusri Avirneni – 7
William Remick – 6
Phillip Taylor – 6
Rochelle Wu – 6

I would also like to express my personal opinions on the upcoming GCA election. The following positions are up for election at this year’s State Championship:

President: Fun Fong (incumbent), Frank Johnson
Secretary: Herky del Mundo, Greg Maness
2nd Member at Large: Steve Schneider, Ashley Thomas

The remaining board positions, not up for election this year, are filled by Vice Presidents Ben Johnson and Katie Hartley, Treasurer Amrita Kumar, and 1st Member at Large Laura Doman.

I will be voting the following ticket – President: Frank Johnson, Secretary: Herky del Mundo, 2nd Member at Large: Ashley Thomas. To have a positive say in the future of the GCA landscape, I strongly encourage you to do the same.

The GCA is in a long period of deterioration under the current administration. While scholastics have shown relative success in recent years, the GCA’s organization of open tournaments has proven to be a terrible insult to our royal game. The lethargic, unorganized, and indecisive “organization” under President Fong has devastated the hundreds of chess players in Georgia. Developing youngsters and seasoned masters alike have not been shown any respect as players by the GCA.

Fun Fong, additionally, has not fulfilled his designated role as GCA President. Supposedly, the responsibilities undertaken by his office are to support chess in Georgia through and through. However, Fun has shown a clear conflict of interest in only supporting the GCA’s events, and not providing any measure of support to the rest of the community.

For example, when former Emory Chess Club President Jeff Domozick and I were developing the idea for Southeast Chess to fill a meaningful gap in Georgia, we approached Fun to hear his thoughts and potential improvements on our business plans. His response could not have been more negative – he was critical of our idea, and warned us of the dangers and difficulties of running tournaments, strongly suggesting us to abandon the venture.

Of course, we were persistent, and although Jeff graduated Emory in Spring 2014, I have continued the Southeast Chess enterprise and hope that many of you would agree that it is a professionally-run and successful tournament business. Similar stories regarding Fun have been echoed by American Chess Promotions owner Thad Rogers and North Georgia Chess owner Kevin Schmuggerow, both of whom I greatly respect for their pursuits as chess organizers.

Throughout his tenure as GCA President, Fun has shown a clear preference for having all chess activities remain under the flailing umbrella of the GCA, and shuns all other ventures. Throughout Southeast Chess’ infancy, Fun was loathe to extend us help of any kind, threatening us not to use any TDs under the GCA’s umbrella. The President of the GCA should simply support all chess events in Georgia. Fun’s unprofessional behavior overall has led to many resignations on the GCA board and its subcommittees. Support for Fong among the rank and file in Georgia chess has been all but diminished.

Of course, there are many other reasons for which I could criticize the incumbent candidate (print magazine extinct, abuse of power, no support for players, school programs, or organizers), but I am of course also obligated to mention why I am voting for Frank Johnson.

Frank has significant chess experience in all capacities. He is an avid player, organizer, director, project manager, coach, parent, former GCA secretary, and overall chess supporter. He supports tournaments all across the state and country, and organizes and directs his own events under the popular Chess-coach.net label. He has years of experience and knowledge in working with developing chess communities, and has sponsored hundreds of local formal and informal chess meetups in the greater Atlanta area, including Atlanta Chess Mess.

As a personal aside, Frank proved essential in helping Southeast Chess get off the ground by providing critical organizational advice, helping to market the events, and playing in them himself. He served in an important management position in the Atlanta Kings chess team, a co-venture between my friend Thad Rogers and I.

Frank has shown significant expertise in all arenas of Georgia chess. Most importantly, he in unbiased in his vision to move the chess community forward. Right now there is a disconnect between players, organizers, and the GCA. Frank has essential plans in place for removing this disconnect for the benefit of all parties. He is a true chess professional who, as President, will develop the GCA into the association it should be. If you have questions or comments for Frank, he is always available at frankjohnson@chess-coach.net.

For the office of secretary, I support Herky del Mundo, organizer of the Atlanta Chess Club, active tournament player, director, and supporter. Herky has been influential in the outreach to GM Mark Paragua for the annual state championship. For the 2nd Member at Large position, I support Ashley Thomas, a long-time chess parent and player.

The election is open to current GCA members 18 years or older who have paid the $15 annual dues in the last year. A current membership is also required for Georgia players in play in the State Championship. The election will be held on Sunday, April 26 at 2:30pm, between rounds 4 and 5 of the Georgia State Championship in the Hotel Wyndham Hotel Galleria. If you are interested in voting but will not attend the state championship, email secretary@georgiachess.org to request an absentee ballot by 4/12, and have it returned to the secretary by the beginning of the tournament on 4/24.

Please remember to vote, as each eligible member can have a meaningful say towards change in the future of Georgia Chess.

Thank you.”

Grant

The DeCredico Incident

For me to comment on this would only detract from what you are about to read, which is self-explanatory.

From: Fun Fong [mailto:fun.fong.jr@gmail.com]
> Sent: Monday, November 24, 2014 6:49 AM
> To: Laura Doman (Trinity)
> Cc: Greg Maness; J Parnell Watkins, Jr.; Elena Gratskaya
> Subject: Incident with Chattanooga friends
>
> Laura,
>
> This is a draft of what I propose to send to the USCF and to the DeCredicos:
>
> Dear …..
>
> This is our account of what occurred during out 2014 Georgia Class Championships. I have known the DeCredico family from several events and from my experience with the DeCredico family from Castle Chess Camp. The family is wonderful. Mr. DeCredico can be an emotional person, and the emotionality is usually expressed in terms of gratitude.
>
> We suspect that there have been some frustrations which have caused Mr. DeCredico to have had some conflict that have been building up over several tournaments. We later heard that Mr. DeCredico had had some words with Ben Johnson, a Chief TD during a Southeast Chess tournament.
>
> At our tournament, we inadvertently used the October published ratings to vet our tournament file. The correct information had been entered by Mr. DeCredico, evidenced by our import records, but somehow the October supplement was used to further vet the tournament file. This was certainly our mistake and we freely admit it. This had happened in another incident with a family from Alabama, and we were able to discover this issue and repair the round before the round began, making this family satisfied.
>
> The lower published rating caused Mr DeCredico’s daughter Zsofia, to have the lowest rating within the section and she ended up being the odd player with a unforced full-point bye. We found an extra rated game for Mr. DeCredico’s daughter with an opponent who was rated slightly higher that her current rating. She seemed to appreciate the pairing and was playing without issue. Mr. DeCredico discovered that an old October published rating was used for her during the round in progress and became agitated, demanding to speak to the person responsible. He quickly became more agitated, and by the time that he came to our Informatics area, he began verbally lashing out at our Informatics Officer, Elena Gratskaya, even before she could begin to address the issue. Our Floor TD, Parnell Watkins attempted to shield Elena physically, fearing that the situation would escalate.
>
> Mr. DeCredico became loud and abusive, accusing all of the staff of incompetence and intent on causing a scene in the Tournament Hall. He accused our Deputy Chief TD Greg Maness of incompetance. Mr. Maness was unaware of the previous events and responded back to him. Mr. DeCredico told his son Winston that he had to resign, that they were going to leave. He had also brought another Chattanooga player, Expert Zachery Perry, who was compelled to leave his game as well. I arrived on the scene and asked what we could do to help Mr DeCredico. Mr. DeCredico stated that he was intent on leaving, and said that he was too upset to explain to me what was troubling him. I assured him that we would refund his registration feed and wanted to know if we could help him in any other way.
>
> It took a small bit of time for Mr. DeCredico’s children to leave the hall. Mr. DeCredico became intent on retrieving them. He was extremely agitated and was intent on causing a scene in the Tournament hall where play had started in earnest, about 20-30 minutes into a G/120 round. Floor TD Parnell Watkins barred the door and asked our staffer, Laura Doman to please retrieve his children. Mr DeCredico accused us of keeping him from access to his children. I told Mr. Watkins that we could not keep him from access to his children, but by that time the children had left the hall and were in the corridor.
>
> The DeCredicos left. We later heard that players and spectators were in fear of their safety. At least one person feared that this man may have been armed. I knew Mr. DeCredico was not a physical threat, but our other staffers did not. Certainly our Informatics officer was put in fear for her safety such that our TD had to interpose physically. The rest of the day was marred with the pall of this incident.
>
> The DeCredicos abruptly left after the games were well in progress. Someone following one of the games on the internet wondered why one of the games ended abruptly after 21 moves. From a technical standpoint, these games must be scored as rated forfeits; however, we would do whatever the USCF recommended in this particular incident.
>
> The DeCredicos are a wonderful family. The kids, Zsofia and Winston, are wonderful. Mr. Zachary Perry is a amicable player and one whom we would like to continue to encourage to play. I do not know what other events may have preceded Mr. DeCredico’s agitation that day, but it was not the usual Richard DeCredico demeanor that I have experienced in the past. We will be happy to refund registration fees for these Chattanooga players. We would not necessarily want to ban Richard DeCredico from our tournaments (although some might), but we would want some reassurance from him that he will take definite steps not to threaten our personnel, or cause an explosive outburst with the intent to disrupt one of our tournaments again. Medication might well be necessary. This was a very distasteful incident for all involved that occurred this weekend, and in the interest of our other players who came from AL, NC, SC,TN, and FL to play, we hope not to experience ever again.
>
> Respectfully submitted,
>
>
> Fun Fong, MD
> Chief TD
> 2014 Georgia Class Championships
> 770 / 316-8483 (c)

> On Monday, November 24, 2014 2:27 PM, Laura wrote:
>
>
>
> Very nice, Fun. By the way, I’d like to write an article for the Jan. 1 publication of GeorgiaChessNews.com about the DGT boards. Charles Troutman, Jr. sent me a terrific story about how he was able to watch his son Charles Troutman III’s games live while he was on business in India. (His son went on to become the 6th grade state champion.) I’d like to get more info from you and ChaCha and anyone else who can talk more about the technology and make it a truly informative article.
>
> Have a Happy Thanksgiving, all!
>
> Laura

On Mon, Nov 24, 2014 at 4:10 PM, Greg Maness wrote:
>
> To All … …
>
> [note … I added Frank Johnson to my reply here as he was involved in the incident due to his intervention and I added Ben Johnson as his name was mentioned in reference to a prior incident involving this same person]
>
> I had dinner with a lawyer friend (a criminal defense attorney) last night after the tournament and had lunch with same lawyer friend today (he’s also a former tournament chess player from Pennsylvania). Yes, we did discuss the incidents of Saturday … and, no, I did not mention anyone by name. He was also very surprised and distressed that an organization as the Georgia Chess Association does not retain legal counsel nor does not have an attorney who serves as a “friend of the organization” who is either an elected board member or serves as a staff member for the board. He especially stressed this with the fact the G.C.A. sanctions so many activities that involve minor children.
>
> Based on the conversations with the lawyer, I do want to comment on a couple of issues. First and most importantly … Parnell Watkins and I physically barring Mr. DeCredico from the tournament hall … not only were we “well within our rights,” we were also “well within our OBLIGATION” to not allow him entrance to the tournament hall (and especially in the absence of law enforcement personal) as our concern was the ASSURANCE OF THE SAFETY of the 50-odd people who were in the tournament hall. The fact his own children (or so he thought) were in the tournament hall is irrelevant as the safety of all parties concerned supersedes that … and especially since the perceived danger to anyone in the tournament hall came from Mr. DeCredico himself. I was given the example of a Principle-imposed school lockdown where no parent would ever be given access to the building and thus their children. I was also advised that had we PERMITTED his entrance to the tournament hall (due to the obvious circumstances) … and had there been an incident that compromised the safety of anyone therein … that WE (the G.C.A., the tournament personal, the hotel, etc.) could be held responsible and liable.
>
> I do wish to add THREE participants in the tournament came to me (separately and hours apart) and each told me they were “afraid he was going to get a gun out of that big bag he was carrying and start shooting!” I also overheard a fourth player telling another player the same thing.
>
> Dr. Fong’s statements here are very well-written and very accurate! But … also many of Dr. Fong’s statements are irrelevant as they pertain directly to Mr. DeCredico’s actions. Mr. DeCredico’s actions were completely unjustifiable. Using wrong rating supplements … making erroneous pairings … etc … none of that gives justification or warrant to the actions (verbal and near-physical) taken by Mr. DeCredico. I do, however (with one exception to which I am coming), stand with what Dr. Fong has written.
>
> My exception: Dr. Fong’s statement “We would not necessarily want to ban Richard DeCredico from our tournaments.” SERIOUSLY?? In any other sport (and we all want chess … especially organized chess … to be given the respect it deserves on par with other sports) this type of outburst and action would not be tolerated and severe justice involving a suspension would be handed out. Imagine had this been a golf tournament or bowling tournament (both where I have experience) or a tennis tournament where this outburst had occurred … he would immediately be expelled from the tournament (do note: during his outburst I forfeited his game [the USCF Rulebook supports my action]; he didn’t need to resign) and he would be given a suspension (and probably a fine, too, if it was a professional organization such as the PGA) … and, also, we would not be implying justification of his actions or implying the sanctioning organization somehow shares the blame!. The same with any team sport … … …
>
> I would also strike the “Medication might well be necessary” statement from any correspondence with the USCF. That could give grounds for libel suit by Mr. DeCredico!
>
> Since Mr. DeCredico repeatedly, loudly, and in front of many witnesses (including the few hundred who were in the hallway for the other of the hotel’s scheduled event) was calling me a “pedophile” and saying I “should be arrested,” my lawyer friend also said I had a case to sue him for civil slander (I believe Mr. DeCredico made similar references towards Mr. Watkins). I just laughed and said we were very far from even considering, much less undertaking such action! Read that as I would just rather it be forgotten.
>
> That is all I have to state at this time.
>
> — Greg Maness

> On Monday, November 24, 2014 5:16 PM, Fun Fong wrote:
>
>
> Greg,
>
> Why don’t you write up your version of events? I think I have not heard your experience.
>
> Fun

On Mon, Nov 24, 2014 at 7:11 PM, Greg Maness wrote:
>
> Fun … … my version of the events is not that different from what you have already written … actually, not any different. You just had more details (spec. the incident in the Informatics room). All I could add is the number of participants expressing concerns over their personal safety. I don’t know if the USCF needs to be made aware of the legal aspects concerning our securing the tournament hall or not. If you would like to edit your draft to include notes from my comment e-mail (i.e. # players voicing safety concerns), that is fine with me.
>
> — Greg

From: Fun Fong
> Date: Mon, Nov 24, 2014 at 7:30 PM
> Subject: Re: Incident with Chattanooga friends
> To: Greg Maness , gcaboard Board
> Cc: Laura , Frank Johnson , Ben Johnson , “J Parnell Watkins, Jr.” , Elena Gratskaya
>
>
> Greg,
>
> The way I see it, while some may feel justified in saying they were protecting the players, Mr. DeCredico has a credible assault and battery threat because he was touched. If this goes to court, then we all lose, no matter what. The best thing to do in legal matters is usually “not to play.” In this case, we need to learn how to de-escalate people as people begin to get agitated. One should always try de-escalation first. That way, something so small an item never comes to this. I am not sure this incident could have been avoided, but I would sure try my darndest to make sure that it didn’t get so far out of control.
>
> Mr. DeCredico has emailed me, demanding that our personnel be more people friendly and customer-oriented. I have told him that I will take steps to do so. He has apologized to me and has sent two emails, which I will first send to the Board for comments and then to the people involved. I think his perceptions in his second email may have some degree of validity.
>
> I think this incident has uncovered some significant vulnerabilities of the organization. For one, we currently have no liability insurance. A lawsuit would likely be the death of GCA. As much as I would like to put this event to bed, I think a “lessons learned” after-action report would be appropriate with all involved contributing.
>
> I don’t think we will have any further action from Mr. DeCredico. Let’s learn from this and see if we can prevent another incident like this again.
>
> Fun

On Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 11:33 AM, Greg Maness wrote:
>>
>> To All … …
>>
>> I was not a witness to anything that occurred in the Informatics Room, so I can not address that. Apparently, Mr. DeCredico claims someone touched him. If that happened in Informatics, I was not there to witness … and perhaps it is better I do NOT know! If that happened outside the tournament hall, I did not witness it. Also, when Mr. Watkins and I were denying his entrance into the tournament hall I made special effort to NOT touch him … as did Mr. Watkins. Now, as far as the action of denying his re-entrance to the tournament hall … I stand by what I previously stated — which is what I was advised by a criminal defense attorney … “we were ‘well within our rights,’ we were also ‘well within our OBLIGATION’ to not allow him entrance to the tournament hall as our concern was the ASSURANCE OF THE SAFETY of the 50-odd people who were in the tournament hall … (and) had we PERMITTED his entrance to the tournament hall … and had there been an incident that compromised the safety of anyone therein … that WE (the G.C.A., the tournament personal, the hotel, etc.) could be held responsible and liable.” Note he (the lawyer) included the HOTEL as being liable as well!
>>
>> I agree with Dr. Fong on several points. Yes, if this were to ever to go to court, “we would all lose.” Even if we (the G.C.A.) were to “win” … and I am sure we WOULD win in court in this situation … we still “lose.” No argument from me. As far as trying to de-escalate a situation … I was under the impression that was attempted; it just did no good in this case — also as Dr. Fong has alluded.
>>
>> Mr. DeCredico has apparently “demanded our personnel be more friendly and customer-oriented.” Being “more friendly” is a perception, but I will give him that one. I am not sure what he means by “being more customer-oriented.” Apparently pairing errors were made … okay, those were just honest mistakes. Remedying that is an “in-house” issue. As far as “customer-orientation,” what is perceived as a problem(s), I would need more information before I gave my opinion there. Also, any past issues involving Mr. DeCredico and Southeast Chess, et al, is not relevant here (unless deemed so by the USCF in establishing a pattern of behaviour).
>>
>> Dr. Fong is dead on with this has uncovered some significant vulnerabilities! Remember, I stated my lawyer friend was “very surprised and distressed that an organization as the Georgia Chess Association does not retain legal counsel nor does not have an attorney who serves as a “friend of the organization” who is either an elected board member or serves as a staff member for the board. He especially stressed this with the fact the G.C.A. sanctions so many activities that involve minor children.” Add to that, as Dr. Fong has mentioned, the lack of liability insurance never entered my mind! [Perhaps another phone call to Kelly Hillyer is in order.]
>>
>> Should further action be taken by the G.C.A. (and the USCF) against Mr. DeCredico? That is not for me to say for the record. But … three tournament (adult) participants (and a fourth who did not address me directly) clearly stated to me they were in fear for their own personal safety! I can only imagine what was going through the minds of the many children who were witnesses to this situation. If the G.C.A. does not take action, I am afraid the perception of the G.C.A. in the eyes of many members and players will not be very favourable.
>>
>> — Greg Maness

From: Fun Fong
>> Date: November 25, 2014 at 12:11:01 PM EST
>> To: Greg Maness
>> Cc: gcaboard Board , Laura , Frank Johnson , Ben Johnson , “J Parnell Watkins, Jr.” , Elena Gratskaya
>> Subject: Re: Incident with Chattanooga friends
>>
>> I am also seeking legal advice.
>>
>> GCA cannot sustain legal action (costs). As I said, if this were to progress to a lawsuit, we might win on the merits, but we would lose, likely losing the organization.
>>
>> This is a conundrum. My thought is that we must avoid a legal action at all costs. I now think that Mr. DeCredico will complain to USCF and we need to have possible responses lined up. I will be using the legal advice to consider these factors.
>>
>> Mr. DeCredico states that both he and his children were touched. This is becoming a “he said, he said” story. I think we should look for witnesses.
>>
>> I think that we should discuss this issue at the Board in closed session, after the official Board meeting is over on 2 December. Discussion is available to non-board members now.
>>
>> Fun

You Must Be Present to Win

Having awakened with a headache Saturday morning the last thing I wanted to do was look at a computer screen. Because light and sound caused pain I stayed in a quiet, dark room most of the day. After taking a handful of 81 mg aspirin, and several naps, the pain diminished to a point nearing evening where it was possible to crank-up Toby and watch a replay of the sixth game of the WC match. As I watched, and listened to the commentary of GM Peter Svidler, and the incessant giggling and tittering of Sopiko, which grates on the nerves like someone scratching a blackboard with fingernails, a decision was made to take a break. Upon resumption of the coverage it was blatantly obvious by the demeanor of Peter that something dramatic had happened, but what? Rather than informing we viewers of exactly what had transpired, Svid “drug it out,” as we say in the South, until I was screaming at the screen, “Get on with it!” Finally, the blunder by the World Champion was shown. It was what Yasser Seirawan would call a “howler.” It was the kind of blunder one would expect from someone rated in the triple digits. When that was followed by a blunder by the former World Champion I yelled, “Oh Nooooooooooooo!!!” This was like watching a game between GCA VP Ben Johnson and USCF board member Alan Priest, both of whom sport triple-digit ratings.

As if it were not bad enough to break away from the action at what turned out to be the most critical part of the game, and possibly the match, the people in charge of the “live” coverage did NOT continue filming, but also took a break. This is absurd! Upon resumption of the coverage all we were left with is the description of GM Sivdler. This is reminiscent of the now infamous “Heidi game,” as it is called. “The Heidi Game or Heidi Bowl was an American football game played on November 17, 1968. The home team, the Oakland Raiders, defeated the New York Jets, 43–32. The game is remembered for its exciting finish, as Oakland scored two touchdowns in the final minute to overcome a 32–29 New York lead. It came to be known as the Heidi Game because the NBC Television Network controversially broke away from the game, with the Jets still winning, to air the 1968 television film Heidi at 7 p.m. in the Eastern Time Zone.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heidi_Game) The blunders on the board were nothing compared to the decision made by someone producing coverage of the game.

When teaching children to play chess one of the things I have said is, “You must be present to win.” I tell the children that in Las Vegas if one enters a drawing the rules state “you must be present to win.” If your name is called and you are not there, another name will be drawn. “You snooze, you lose,” I say in hopes this will stay with the children. I add that it is imperative they stay focused at whatever is is they are doing and “be present.”

The blunder Viswanathan Anand made is the same kind of move all players have made; he moved too quickly. Peter Svidler said, “If Vishy had taken thirty seconds to look at the position he would not have played that move,” adding, “It is always the quick move that kills you,” or some such. I know that is true from first-hand experience. Vishy was so focused on his plan he neglected to ask himself how the position had changed after the blunder made by Magnus.

I have taught the children what I call the “cardinal” rules of chess. 1) Why did my opponent make that move? 2) What move do I want, or need, to make? 3) Am I leaving anything en prise? Anand obviously did not ask himself any questions, much to his regret. Vishy was so “not there” that he did not watch Magnus play one of the worse moves ever made in a match for the championship of the world. Vishy was not present and did not win.

But what about Magnus Carlsen? He violated cardinal rule number three. I am having trouble getting my mind around the fact that Magnus did not even ask himself the question, “If I play my King to d2, how will my opponent respond?” These are the best players in the world and both drifted away at the same moment. This is INCREDIBLE! This type of double-blunder has happened previously in the games of Magnus. The Legendary Georgia Ironman mentioned the back to back “red moves” (Chessbomb displays the move in red if it is what GM Yassser Seiriwan would call a “howler”) played by Magnus and Levon Aronian recently, adding, “Somehow it is always the opponent of Magnus who makes the second “howler.” Maybe they just do not expect Magnus to make a mistake.” Maybe so, but a wise man always expects the unexpected.

It was so bad during the press conference the moderator, Anastasiya Karlovich, said, “Are there any questions not about the move Kd2?” Everyone wanted to know how Magnus could have played such a horrible move. He had no explanation. It is more than a little obvious things are not right with team Carlsen. This is the main reason I thought Vishy would win the match. Magnus has not played well since winning the title, and his poor play has continued. Vishy had not played particularly well in the year(s) leading up to the first match. Some thought he may “get it together,” but I was not inclined to believe it possible to reverse such poor play, which proved to be the case.

How much did the fact that Magnus would play White two games in a row during the middle of the match factor into the game? I recall reading about a group of mathematicians who “proved” it is much more fair during a shootout in football that the team who goes second will also have the third attempt, and then revert to alternating. This would seem to be inherently better than to have one player play the White pieces twice in the middle of a World Championship match. Who thought of, and implemented this ridiculous format? Could it have been the FIDE ETs”? Back in the day games were played every other day, but now it is two games and then a break. Things were better “back in the day.”

Most have wondered how Vishy will respond to such an oversight, forgetting that Magnus is the one who made one of the worst blunders ever made in a WC match. Magnus has to know that he missed his chance to put the hammer down in the first game by playing 42…Re3. If he had won that game, and also won the second, as he did, the match would have been all over but the shouting. He knows he has only himself to blame for being in a contest. He also knows that even with a win in the first game the match could now be tied, if Vishy had won the most recent game. He also knows it is possible that Vishy could very well be leading the match at the halfway point. Vishy is not the only one seeing ghosts at this point in the match.

I have no idea what to expect tomorrow; probably more of the same. I do, though, expect the players to take a page out of the book of former Governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura (http://www.ora.tv/offthegrid) and “stay vigilant.” Although down, I still have faith in Viswanathan Anand, and expect him to win the match.

Black Atlanta Kings Member Denied Ga Open Entry

Thinking the match between the Kings and Ospreys began at seven I was early in arriving at Emory University, where the Kings play. The first player to arrive was Expert Lawrence White, who was to play his first game as a King. Mr. White is a tall, large man with a huge smile, which was on display when he noticed me. He is an intelligent, educated, likable person whose comportment while at the House of Pain was always that of a gentleman.After purchasing a snack, which would substitute for dinner, as he had come directly from work, Lawrence walked over to say hello.
I have known Lawrence since he first appeared at the Atlanta Chess Center in 1997. He is a friendly gentleman and a talented chess player, who is obviously serious about his game. During our conversation I was taken aback when he said he was refused entry to the recent Georgia Open. “What?” I exclaimed, and asked Lawrence to elaborate. He explained, “The registration was from eight AM until eight-thirty and I arrived just before the closing time. I saw Fun Fong standing on something giving a speech, so I found his assistant and told him I would like to enter. He looked at his watch and said it was eight-thirty two. My watch showed eight-thirty.”
It took me a few moments to wrap my head around what I had just heard. Gathering myself, I asked the name of the person he had encountered. Lawrence did not know his name, but after describing the man I said, “That was not an assistant, but the Chief TD, Ben Johnson.” Rather than making waves, Lawrence decided he would not play in the event.
Realizing something like this would never have occurred when the GCA held their events at the House of Pain, I apologized. “Why are you apologizing?” he asked, “I know you would not have done it.” He was correct because just a few years ago every accommodation was made to allow a player, any player, to participate in a GCA event held at the House of Pain. What I did not tell Lawrence, who happens to be an American of African descent, was that I immediately thought of something my friend Mr. William A. Scott, an Expert player back when there were only a few players rated over 2000, publisher of the Atlanta Daily World, a well-respected Black newspaper, and a member of the first incarnation of the Atlanta Kings, told me many decades ago when he said, “Mike, the difference between us is that to Negroes, everything is considered racial, while to White people nothing is race related.” I have heard this many times during my life and have always tried to keep it in mind in my relations with my fellow humans who happen to have been born with a darker skin pigmentation, for I know that when that skin is removed there is no difference in the human body.
I have no idea what was in the mind of Ben Johnson when he denied entry to Mr. Lawrence White. As far as I know it could have been GM Michael Rohde, who has played in Atlanta previously, asking to enter the tournament and Ben, a member of what has become known as the “Know Nothing” party who has taken control of chess in Georgia, would not have known him from Adam. I have no idea how much race played in the Chief TD’s decision. What I do know is that Ben Johnson saw a rather large Black man standing there and the pairings had already been made, so he refused to go to the trouble of making new pairings, something made quick and simple with the advent of the computer pairing programs.
Appalled at the whole situation, I asked Lawrence if I could quote him on the blog and he said, “Sure.”
There were only a few higher rated adults entered and Mr. White would have added stature to the Georgia Open, something completely lost on Ben Johnson. Who is Ben Johnson? I have come to think of him as the “Weird Hockey Guy” of chess. The Legendary Georgia Ironman shuddered at the mention of this, and this is why. Tim and I were doing sports memorabilia shows in the 90’s before the collapse of the card market. During one show a goofy fellow appeared at our table, asking if we would like to purchase a large box of unopened Hockey cards. I had no interest, but the Ironman engaged the rather strange fellow in conversation. Weird Hockey Guy told Tim he had absolutely no interest in the pieces of cardboard of any type. “I am in it only for the money.” In the best capitalist tradition the Weird Hockey Guy would “buy low and sell high.” With the possibility of the MLB strike looming and the encounter with the WHG in mind, I decided to sell everything and get out of the business because it was obvious the card market bubble had burst.
When first meeting Ben Johnson he said, “I don’t know anything about real chess; I come from the scholastic side.” Not only did he try to argue with me about what constituted stalemate, but he also said, “I’m in chess only for the money.” It was obvious I had met the Weird Chess Guy.
Ben Johnson is the Vice President of the Georgia Chess Association. The Ironman mentioned recently that Ben Johnson had organized a one day camp for children in which he would collect $90 for each child from the parents of 30 children. Ben is rated 647. Please note that as Chief TD of the Ga Open Ben Johnson played a rated game during the final round, which he won. Once this game is rated Ben will reach the stratospheric heights of, for Ben, 697.
In his forward to the wonderful book, “The Stress of Chess…and its Infinite Finesse,” by GM Walter Browne, IM Danny Kopec writes, “There is simply no reasonable living to be made in chess in this country…”
“Instead we encourage mediocrity and top players are often left in the cold. By mediocrity, I mean situations like players who have barely reached expert level (or below) making a reasonable regular salary teaching in schools, while the great players, analysts and writers must struggle to make ends meet.”

Bob Dylan Only a Pawn in Their Game March on Washington 1963

http://www.eyeneer.com/video/rock/bob-dylan/only-a-pawn-in-their-game

Mission Accomplished

One year ago the President of the Georgia Chess Association, Fun Fong, sent an email, which made the rounds, in which he wrote, “My sense is that adult chess players in our current demographic are some of the biggest cheapskates in the world! I hope to change that demographic over time. Getting any money from them, is problematic. Scholastics is better…” (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/gca-president-rejects-scholarship-offer/). Mr. Fong never elaborated or explained the remark, leaving the Georgia chess community wondering exactly what he meant. For example, Larry Bolton, a gentle bear of a man who happens to be an American of African descent, upon learning of the statement, responded, “He means ME!” I tried to explain to Larry that the email also included this comment concerning adult players, “Getting any money from them, is problematic.” I, and others, thought Fun Fong meant he wanted to change the demographic to people with more wealth. Larry bellowed, “He wants to get rid of ME!” How could I argue with Larry? The fact is that many members of the chess community who are Americans of African descent felt exactly the same as Larry Bolton. Fun Fong’s comment spread like wildfire among the Georgia chess community, and further, going national, thanks to this blog. (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/gca-president-rejects-scholarship-offer/) Mr. Fong’s “demographic change” comment has been received by the chess community in the same way as the infamous comment made about “The 47%” by Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney during the last election. Many members of the chess community were left shaking their heads after the emails hit the fan. Some have expressed the thought that we can only wait until the next POTGCA in hopes he, or she, the way things are going, will be better than the current President. Some have even expressed the possibility of Fun Fong leaving the post before his term ended because his daughter, like almost all girls, gave up the game two years ago. That idea ended when Ben Johnson became VP, because no one in his right mind wants to see the Beast POTGCA.

Judging by the overwhelming number of children who participated in the Georgia Open, Fun Fong, unlike Bushwhacker II, has accomplished his mission. The demographics have drastically changed. With only a few adults participating in the G.O. there is now little distinction between the many scholastic tournaments which proliferate and what used to be considered an “adult” tournament. As Hikaru Nakamura is fond of saying, “It is what it is.”

Although it was nice to see the games broadcast via the internet, I cannot understand why the fact was not publicized on either of the two GCA websites. What is the point of broadcasting the games if no one knows they are available? Most of the games shown were by lower rated players. This makes some sort of weird sense because the vast majority of players were players with lower ratings, but I, and others, would have preferred to have seen the top seven boards displayed.

The crosstable of the Ga Open provided by the USCF shows this: Chief TD BENJAMIN F JOHNSON (14368088). It also shows this in the “Extra Games” section:
2 | BENJAMIN F JOHNSON GA | 14368088 / R: 647 -> 694 |1.0 |W 6|

The Chief TD of a tournament with almost one hundred players spent the last round playing a rated chess game, which surprisingly he won, gaining 47 rating points. Only 306 more and Ben’s will no longer be beastly. Unfortunately TD’s are not rated, which is good for Ben.

This is not the first time Ben Johnson has played a rated game in the last round while Chief TD of a large tournament. In my almost 45 years of chess I simply cannot recall any other Chief TD playing a rated game during any round of such a large event. USCF needs to prevent this odious practice, for obvious reasons. The fact that the man would do such a thing, and then do it again after the negative feedback received from the first mistake, speaks for itself as to how qualified the man is to hold office.

Bush: “Mission Accomplished” — REAL Speech

Mission Accomplished

The 2014 Georgia Senior & Women’s Open

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