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

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The South Carolina Senior Chess Championships

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:
Apr 23
Hi, Michael

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.
Best regards,
Bob Mahan
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…
http://baconlog.blogspot.com/2009/06/tennessee-senior-open.html
All the best to you,
Michael Bacon
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.

Georgia Chess News

The original purpose of this blog was to write mainly about chess in Georgia. I have received inquiries as to why I have not written more about local chess activities. Scholastic chess predominates and I wanted to focus on what was formerly called “chess,” but is now called “adult chess.” The only tournaments exclusively for adults are Senior events. Children proliferate at “adult” tournaments here and in the US. Yet tournaments consisting of mainly children are called “adult” tournaments. Go figure…I recently noticed an announcement in the local Decatur Dispatch for a chess club at the Tucker library on the second and fourth Tuesday evenings in which it is stated, “No children. Please.” Make of it what you will. I find it rather sad that chess has been so completely overwhelmed by children that anyone would print something like this, but such is the reality of the situation.
Dr. Cano left a comment to my post, “Booming Interest in Amateur Chess.” He also asked me the same question via email some time ago. His question is, “Where are the chess tournaments that we used to have here in Georgia?” This is a good question. Unfortunately I cannot answer it. I will, though, ask any member of the GCA board, or anyone else who can answer the question to leave a comment on this post, or send me an email I can publish. Dr. Cano, and many others who ask the same question, deserve an answer. These are the kinds of things discussed on the forum of other states, such as North Carolina. Those in control of the GCA have chosen to not have a forum. One can only wonder why the pooh-bahs refuse to allow their members to express their views.
I would like to direct anyone interested to the GCA website, http://www.georgiachess.org/open, where it has been announced that the 2014 Georgia Chess Championship will be held May 2-4 at the Atlanta Marriott Northwest, 200 Interstate North Parkway SE • Atlanta, Georgia 30339. Since it is a Marriott, I do not have to tell you this is a tremendous upgrade from an empty space at a Mall in decline. Backgammon tournaments have previously been held at this hotel. The recent unrated tournament for children was held at this very hotel. I will leave the efficacy of the GCA holding an unrated tournament for rated players to others interested in the chess of children.
I have had several chess coaches tell me recently that the real battle these days is in the middle school because by the time children reach high school they have lost interest in chess. This was confirmed by the turnout for the above mentioned tournament, where there were only fourteen players in the top section consisting of grades 6-12, but thirty-five in the K-5 section and sixty in the K-3 group. There were an additional twenty-five in the K-1 section. This tournament is a vivid illustration of what USCF President Ruth Haring has said about the mass exodus of children from organized chess around age eleven. It would appear puberty is killing chess. For those interested, the results can be found on the GCA website at: http://www.georgiachess.org/news?mode=PostView&bmi=1407698
I have chosen to eschew writing about local events in order to be kind. A tournament I mentioned in an earlier post, “10th Annual Georgia Senior Open” (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/10th-annual-georgia-senior-open/), something called the “GCA Combined,” included the Senior tournament. It has been jokingly said this event was the Georgia response to the recent Carolinas Chess Festival. If I were writing for one of the so-called “fair and balanced” extremist networks I would write, “There was a huge percentage increase in the turn-out for the 2013 Georgia Senior Chess Championship.” I prefer to tell it like it is and say that only fourteen players participated this year, five more than last year. There were only five players in the Open section, barely enough for a four round tournament. Last year’s Senior champion, Alan Piper, decided to play in the one day G/45 in lieu of defending his championship. This is a scathing indictment of the tournament and of those in control of the GCA. Former Senior Champion Chris Ferrante and Van Vandivier tied for first, scoring 3 out of 4. Captain Jeff Kidd finished clear third half a point behind. Richard Jones finished clear first in the second section with 3 ½ points, followed by Stephen Yancey with 3. I have written previously the tournament should be a true Open, with only one section. Once again, the small turnout proved my point. The results could be found on the GCA website, but it appears they have been removed. If one is interested in the results of the other events held at an empty space in a Mall that has seen better days, go to the USCF website: http://www.uschess.org/component/option,com_wrapper/Itemid,181/
The Georgia Open took place this weekend at Emory University. A total of sixty-four players, appropriately enough, entered the event that had been limited to no more than two hundred fifty. The song by Arrowsmith, “Dream On,” just entered my brain, for some reason. GM Alonso Zapate (2575) and LM Chris Mabe (2326), from the Great State of North Carolina, drew their last round game to tie for first place along with class “A” player Jinseok Kim (1963). Mr. Kim drew his first game then ripped off four in a row, including an upset of Expert Donny Gray in the last round. Five players tied for 4-8 with four points. They were, NM Michael Corallo; Expert Reese Thompson; class “A” Nicholas Williams; class “B” Shanmukha Meruga; and class “D” Ingrid Guo. Only five of the sixty-four players participating in this tournament were from other states. That is only 8%! When Dr. Cano asks why we do not have tournaments like we used to have here in Atlanta, I believe a large part of what he means is that at one time out of state players comprised a large percentage of players at our tournaments. There is a reason they refuse to come to the capital of the South to play chess. To have tournaments like we had “back in the day,” it is imperative the GCA has tournaments in which players from other states want to participate.
The crosstable can be found at the GCA website: http://www.georgiachess.org/Resources/Documents/results/2013%20Georgia%20Open%20Cross%20Tables.pdf
The 2013 Georgia Class Championships, dedicated to Ruben Shocron, will be held at Emory beginning Friday night, November 22, a day that will live in infamy. Maybe consideration should have been given to naming it the “JFK Memorial,” for obvious reasons. Details can be found, once again, on the GCA website.
It would seem the GCA website is beginning to shed its “moribund” state. While researching IM Carlos Perdomo for an interview that never materialized I found a group of interviews on YouTube, including one with Carlos, as well as other players like LM Chris Mabe, GM John Fedorowicz, GM Julio Becerra, IM Jonathan Schroer, and others, by the President of the GCA, Fun Fong. This is the kind of thing that should be accessible on the GCA website. Check them out at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Tk1_EEJuEQ
Finally, it has been reported that Keith Sewell has left the GCA board. There have been rumors of dissension and rancor among board members for some time, with the possibility of other disillusioned members possibly leaving in the near future. I can only hope the GCA gets its act together, listens to wizened members of the community such as the esteemed former President Scott Parker, the eminence grise of Georgia chess, and otherrespected members, like Michael Mulford, and decides to give players the kind of tournaments they want, and deserve, in lieu of ramming down their throats tournaments they refuse to attend.