The SC Senior was held April 19-20 at the Embassy Suites Golf Resort & Conference Center in Greenville. It was nice to see a Senior tournament in such a fine venue. It was unfortunate to see such a small number of players, with only ten playing in the SC Senior and eight in the ancillary “Section 2” tournament, called “Amateur.” I could not help thinking of something Klaus Pohl, the winner of the tournament, said many years ago about, “A Senior tournament ought to be only an open tournament because when one gets to be a Senior, any player can beat any other player.” He agreed when I mentioned another reason being that by the time one reached 50 there were hardly enough players for even one section.
I just checked the website of the South Carolina Chess Association (http://www.scchess.org/) to find the lead article is on the SC Scholastics Championship Tournament, held on Saturday, March 22, a month prior to the SC Senior. This, as much as anything, illustrates the sway held by scholastic chess not only in SC, but the US. If one skrolls down a notice for the coming SC Senior can be found.
I did not play in the tournament because of the time control, which was G/100 d5. The players with whom I talked about the tournament had not even heard of it, nor were they aware of the Chess for Seniors Website, which can be clicked on at the aforementioned SC website. Although I find this a shame, the fact is that organizers of Senior events continue to hold tournaments in which Seniors have little, if any, interest in attending. I am reminded of the quote by Albert Einstein, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
As I mentioned the forever young LM Klaus Pohl won the event with a score of 4-0, which included wins in his first three rounds and a full point forfeit win to his friend and travel partner Wayne Christensen. I have written about the duo previously and their love of the game, demonstrated when they stayed at the House of Pain after a weekend swiss ended, playing speed chess with any and everyone during a storm that caused the power to terminate. I could not understand what had caused such an event, so I sent an email to the Chess for Seniors website (http://chessforseniors.org/), and received this reply:
Please allow me to introduce myself. I am Bob Mahan, organizer/director of the 2014 South Carolina Senior Championships. I also serve as Chairperson of the USCF Committee on Senior Chess and am President of the Blacksburg (Virginia) Senior Chess Club. This year I am organizing and directing five senior chess tournaments, four of which (West Virginia, South Carolina, Kentucky, and North Carolina) are state championship events. Along with Mike Eberhardinger, President of the Chess For Seniors Association, I have also put together and operate the Chess For Seniors Challenge, a consortium of seven senior chess tournaments in the mid-Atlantic region that awards a travel stipend to a player in the consortium tournaments for travel to the U.S. Senior Open. So as you can see, I am very much committed to senior chess and am very open to suggestions from members of the community like you. Thank you very much for taking the time to contact the CFSA with your comments, questions, and suggestions.
First, concerning the 4th-round game between Klaus Pohl and Wayne Christensen at the recent SC Senior Championships. The round times were published in all pre-tournament publicity and were prominently displayed on the wall in the playing room. In retrospect, I probably could have been been more diligent in emphasizing in my announcements before Round 3 the starting time for Round 4. You can probably see where this is going. Wayne arrived ready to play at approximately 3:05 PM on Sunday, one hour and five minutes late for the posted 2:00 PM starting time for Round 4, which started on time. Wayne was the only person who did not arrive on time for the start of Round 4. By the time he arrived, he had overstepped the one-hour time limit by five minutes. To his credit, Klaus offered to play him anyway, with no time penalty. However, the rules give the TD very little discretion on this point. Also, it was the last round at the end of a two-day tournament, and starting more than one hour late would have extended an already long day for the organizer/TD. Wayne was gracious in accepting the inevitable, which will not surprise those of you who know him. When I told him he had lost on forfeit he said something like “oh!” and left the playing site without further discussion.
Concerning pre-tournament publicity. I am sorry that you did not hear about the tournament in a timely manner. I took over responsibility for the tournament at the last minute with only 8 weeks notice. As a result I was only able to get a TLA inserted in the April Chess Life. However, the tournament was advertized at the ChessForSeniors site and at the SCCA web site for the entire 8 weeks. Also, there was an ad in the March Chess life for the “Chess For Seniors Challenge” that listed the SC Senior Championships, with the dates, as one of the seven tournaments. Also, I attend a regional tournament essentially every weekend and post and distribute flyers advertising all of my coming tournaments. Finally, I sent out nearly 100 emails to my list of regional senior members of USCF. If you have visited chessforseniors.org you will have seen the postings of all senior chess tournaments that we know about, include international tournaments. We are trying hard to get the word out about this comprehensive listing, but we are a new organization (less than a year old) and it takes time to become known. We’ll do better next year.
Finally, concerning time controls. I have heard from others on this topic and agree that something like G/120 is more appropriate (Please see the Survey at chessforseniors.org) for senior chess. Unfortunately, our next two tournaments (Blacksburg Senior Open and Kentucky Senior Championships) are already advertised in Chess Life with the G/100, d5 TC, so I can’t change those two. However, I will increase the TC for the North Carolina Senior Open. In fact, I prefer the increment to the delay mode and may use that at the NC Senior.
Feel free to paraphrase and/or quote me in your blog, and thanks again for taking the time to write such a thoughtful message.
My reply to Bob:
It is I who should thank you, sir, for such a thoughtful reply. I would also like to thank you for what you are trying to do for Senior chess. I played in a few events after turning 50 and tried to boost interest with my blog(s), emails, and word of mouth while working at the Atlanta Chess Center and traveling to play in tournaments. I tried to get Rex Sinquefield interested, to no avail. All the interest,and money, has gone to chess for children. It is a shame, for me, you did not become involved a decade ago. I no longer have the desire, energy, or money to travel. I have seen first-hand the toll it takes on a player much younger than me. Two games a day now seems like torture. I simply no longer have the stamina for it at this time in my life. I therefore understand shortening the time limit for the game when more than one will be played. Honestly, I, and others, would prefer to play only one game a day now. It simply no longer sounds like fun…I will say that one thing I have heard frequently from my generation (I was a “pre-Fischer boomer,” having played in my first USCF tournament in 1970) is they would prefer to have a time control like the old days, at move 40. It does not have to be 40/2, as it was, but maybe 40/90, with a secondary time control, even if it is SD/30 with a 30 second increment, or some such. For example, I have never played in a tournament with a 30 second increment, and I resent the fact that everyone seems to be marching in lockstep to the dictates of Kirsan the ET and his G/90+ time control. Where was the discussion? Why are Seniors forced to adhere to regulations they do not want? And it is not only I who ask these questions…
It is late and I am tired…I will send you another email later with links to some of the posts I made concerning Senior chess. I will give you a link to a post that Harry Sabine sent to everyone he knows, I am told. Unfortunately, he changed the format the next year after asking my opinion. I told him I would not play if he insisted on including “drop-in.” He did and I didn’t…and have not played since. Evidently many other players agreed with me as the turnout dropped the next year, and maybe since. I cannot recall…
All the best to you,
After sending the reply I sent Bob another email, telling him I saw Chris Ferrante, the only player from Georgia at the SCS, at the recent large tournament for children held in Atlanta at the Hyatt downtown and asked him what transpired with the last round game between Klaus and Wayne. I quoted Chris, “I do not know because I had withdrawn and left, but when I looked at the crosstable, I assumed there was some kind of deal between them because I have seen them agree to early draws in other tournaments.” At this point he turned and walked out the door, obviously in a hurry. For that reason I had no time to tell him about Bob’s email. For that reason I decided to post this, for the record.