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.


The Wesley So Forfeit

The St. Louis Chess Club AND Scholastic Center was in its infancy when I played in the St. Louis Open there in the spring of 2009. In the second round I faced a young boy, Kevin Cao, who was an expert at the start of the tourney. Playing my favorite Bishop’s opening the boy did not take advantage of the opportunities my play afforded, putting him in a difficult position. My opponent had been keeping score on a gizmo called “Monroi.” When the going got tough my opponent pulled the hood of his jacket over his head and placed his gizmo on the table, eschewing the actual chessboard in order to focus only on the chessboard on his gizmo. Since this violated the rules of chess, I lodged a protest with the TD’s. The rule is simple and clear: 11.3 a) During play the players are forbidden to use any notes, sources of information or advice, or analyse any game on another chessboard. (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/us-champs-r9-so-forfeited-amid-family-turmoil)

The tournament director’s did not see it that way. Since the Monroi was a USCF “approved” gizmo they had trouble ruling the only way they should under rule 11.3. They decided to “compromise” by asking my opponents father have his son not use the gizmo as a chessboard the rest of the game. I agreed to this, and so did the father, albeit reluctantly. This was done because I was playing a child. If my opponent had been an adult I would not have agreed, but insisted he be forfeited because the rule is clear. Things change dramatically when a child is involved.

After a few more moves my opponent’s position deteriorated, and he was in also in time pressure which happens with a G/2 time control. His father, seeing this while constantly hovering over the board, told his son to do go back to using his gizmo. The boy then pulled his hood over his head and placed his gizmo on the table and again eschewed the actual chessboard. I protested, the clocks were stopped and into the TD room we went. This time things became, shall we say, heated. Actually, the father went ballistic. Some time later the USCF issued a ruling castigating the father for “reprehensible behaviour.” The father took his son home and when his time ran out, I was declared the “winner.” The young boy dropped back into the “A” class because of the loss. He is now rated 2300+.

This was written about and discussed on the forum of the St. Louis Chess Club AND Scholastic Center, which no longer exists, and some have said it is no longer in existence was because of what was written on it, none of it positive toward me. Simply put, I was vilified. Much was written on the USCF forum at the time, where I was also excoriated unmercifully.

I closely followed the recent US Championship tournament, the one now called the “Open” tournament, as opposed to the one called the “Women’s” tournament. GM Wesley So is obviously a supremely talented chess player. I found the interviews with him intriguing, to say the least. After the interview early in the tournament,maybe the very first round, the one in which he mentions playing weakly in the middle game after not seeing his foster mother for some time, (She had been with Jeanne Sinquefield he said) I told the Legendary Georgia Ironman something was obviously “not right” about Mr. So. I could not put my finger on it, but knew something was wrong.

Much has been written about Wesley being forfeited, and I have read everything found on the interweb. I would like to share some of it with you, then share a few comments of my own.

“Akobian complained that this distracted him”!? What is the motive behind this statement? To me it looks like a “sucker punch” from Akopian to get an easy win. Chess referees should according to the rules always apply common sense. And the nature of this incident considering the actual writing of So does not by any means amount to such a serious offence that So should forfeit his game against Akopian.” – thomas.dyhr (Thomas Dyhr, Denmark)

“This decision is absolutely ridiculous I take it So has been writing on his scoresheet sometimes which would show on his copy handed in and is against Fide rules ok and Rich told him this.
He gets a blank piece of paper instead to write some thought positives and Akobian complains to Rich who forfeits So.
Akobian if he was distracted by So’s actions should have asked him to stop first.
Rich should have seen that this was not writing on a scoresheet which he warned him about and if he was not allowing So to write on blank paper as well told him to stop immediately and if So complied let the game continue.
Akobian and Rich do not come out of this with any credit and Akobian should be ashamed of himself as a man of integrity.” – Gilshie (Thomas Gilmore, United Kingdom)

“I guess they wanted to guarantee that an American wins the US Championship…” – Shtick (Nick Daniels, Canada)
(All of the about quotes from: https://chess24.com/en/read/news/us-champs-r9-so-forfeited-amid-family-turmoil)

“PS: editorial comment to myself

Many chess writers and commentators seem to have little better to do this weekend than to talk about a silly forfeit incident in the US championship, so I will throw in a few of my own observations.
The first is that even though some tournament rule might give the tournament arbiter, Tony Rich, the POWER or the AUTHORITY to forfeit Wesley So , no rule –just because it is written–gave Tony Rich the RIGHT to forfeit Wesley So for doing what he did. So offended no one nor did he disrespect his opponent; he caused no disturbence, nor did he cheat. Wesley So’s actions were not designed to give him anything other than peace of mind and a calm spirit.
Please understand that I am not saying that Akobian–who is a perfect gentleman– acted wrongly when he drew to the arbiter’s attention So’s actions. Nor am I saying that Tony Rich acted incorrectly when he decided to act according to the written rules. And especially I am not saying that So was right when he lashed out when interviewed afterwards…there were CLEARLY better ways to have handled the situation.
What I am trying to say is that once more the game of chess DESERVES to be belittled because of this incident. ONCE MORE, mainstream media will target and make fun of us. Chess LOST some prestige on that day. When Jon Stewart recently did a humorous skit on the USCF trying to recruit F.Caruana for the national team, many–including ChessBase–thought it was also a bit insulting to the game of chess. Perhaps it was a bit insulting, even though it might not have been intended to be insulting…
But until the day we (the chess community) STOP allowing silly and poorly written rules to hurt and denigrate the noble game of chess in the eyes of normal and intelligent onlookers (and let us not forget about potential sponsors and patrons), then we deserve to be insulted a little bit more each time…” – Grandmaster Kevin Spraggett

“Guess my point is – even if he warned So, forfeiting is a staggering over-reaction. Threaten with forfeit = fine. Actually doing it = insane” – GM Jon Ludvig Hammer (Also from the aforementioned chess24 article, and if you click on this, you will find more comments, including this one by IM Mark Ginsburg, “Correct. Time penalty first. This action was wildly disproportionate as GM Hammer points out. Bad call.”)

GM Emil Sutovsky, President at Association of Chess Professionals, wrote this on his Facebook page (taken from the aforementioned chess24 article) “The arbiter’s decision to forfeit Wesley So for writing down irrelevant notes on his scoresheet during the game seems weird to me. Indeed, that can be seen as a violation of rules: ” 8.1 b. The scoresheet shall be used only for recording the moves, the times of the clocks, offers of a draw, matters relating to a claim and other relevant data.” And arbiter has repeatedly urged Wesley to stop it. But awarding a loss is way too harsh a punishment for such a minor sin. Yes, it can be disturbing for the opponent, and the arbiter could and should have deducted the time on Wesley’s clock for disturbing the opponent. And to keep deducting it (2 minutes each time), if needed after each move (warning Wesley, that a forfeit will come after 2nd or 3rd deduction). That was the most painless and logical decision. Unfortunately, the arbiter has preferred the most brutal solution. These things should not happen.”

It should be obvious from the above that the TD, Tony Rich, and the St. Louis Chess Club AND Scholastic Center have not come out of this sordid incident in a favorable light. As GM Spraggett says, once again chess has suffered a black eye. I agree with Kevin when he writes, “…no rule –just because it is written–gave Tony Rich the RIGHT to forfeit Wesley So for doing what he did.” The reputation of the St. Louis Chess Club AND Scholastic Center has been sullied.

The punishment should fit the crime. As GM Kevin Spraggett writes, “So offended no one nor did he disrespect his opponent; he caused no disturbence, nor did he cheat. Wesley So’s actions were not designed to give him anything other than peace of mind and a calm spirit.”

Contrast this with how I was treated at the St. Louis Chess Club AND Scholastic Center. My opponent violated the rule in order to gain an ADVANTAGE! GM Wesley So did no such thing. He is one of the elite chess players in the world and has no need to gain an advantage against any other player in the world.

If one closely examines the rule, “11.3 a) During play the players are forbidden to use any notes, sources of information or advice, or analyse any game on another chessboard,” it is clear the meaning is that a player cannot use any “NOTES, sources of information or advice,” to help, or assist him in regard to making his MOVES. A player cannot utilize a book, or gizmo containing chess information, or any “advice” from another person. There is no ambiguity here.

I was not there and do not know EXACTLY what Tony Rich said to Wesley, but from what I heard on the broadcast, and have now read, GM So was under the impression he could not write on his scoresheet, so he wrote on another piece of paper. How culpable is Tony Rich in this matter? Did he make himself COMPLETELY understood? Besides, as “Najdork” (Miguel Najdork, from Nepal) commented, “Also I would like to point out how from rule 8.1 you are allowed to write on the scoresheet any “relevant data”, and that is so vague that I guess you could write almost anything.” Who defines what is “relevant?” Your relevant may differ from what I consider “relevant.” For example, what if your opponent in a Senior event wrote on his scoresheet, “Take heart medication at 3 PM.” Who, other than GM Varuzhan Akobian, would complain? And who, other than Tony Rich would forfeit the man? I know Tony Rich. As Tony reminded me in 2009, I won our game at the Missouri State Championship in 2002 in Rollo. He was nice to me then, and has been every time I have encountered him, such as at the US Open in Indiana a few years ago. I liked Tony until he lost his mind. What could possibly have motivated the man to issue this stupid ruling, which will have lasting repercussions? If you were Wesley So would you join the American team at the Olympiad?

“In love with this rule: “12.2 The arbiter shall: b. act in the best interest of the competition.” Common sense.” – GM Jon Ludvig Hammer.

The forfeit defies common sense. “Judges are like umpires. Umpires don’t make the rule; they apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules. But it is limited role. Nobody ever went to a ball game to see the umpire.” – John Roberts, Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court to the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2005. (http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/10/when-the-umpire-is-playing-for-the-other-team/262429/)
No one watches a chess tournament to see the TD. In lieu of watching Wesley So play GM Akobian, the world was instead subjected to a TD try and explain his “logic.” As many a TD has proven over the years, the less involved they are, the better the outcome.

None of this made any sense to me until reading this, “In the final reckoning Wesley So’s forfeit had no effect on the top three standings. Even a win against Akobian would only have tied So with Ray Robson on 7.5/11, and since he lost against Robson he would still have finished third. The person who has a real cause for complaint seems to be Gata Kamsky, who was edged out of 5th place – his goal in order to qualify for the World Cup later this year – by Akobian.” (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/nakamura-and-krush-are-2015-us-champions)

There it is, the reason for this whole debacle. It always comes down to “Who profits?”

The whole affair is disgusting, and sickening. It proves only that a TD has only one rule by witch to abide: Do What Thy Wilt! There should be some kind of punishment for a TD who oversteps his bounds. I have seen far too many tournament director’s puff out their chest while strutting around singing, “I’ve got the power,” such as Richard Crespo, the former TD spending his days in prison after abducting a woman and shooting it out with police in San Antonio, Texas a decade ago.
I am embarrassed, and ashamed, to be an American involved with chess. This putrid affair rivals anything I have written about FIDE and the nefarious Russians. United States chess has reached a new low. Tony Rich has now made everyone forget about L. Walter Stephens, the TD who awarded Sammy Reshevsky a win against Arnold Denker in the 1942 US Championship even though it was Sammy who lost on time. The game will die before the shock waves emanating from this debacle subside. The St. Louis Chess Club AND Scholastic Center touts itself as the US Capital of Chess. Knowledgable players and fans know that three of the players in the Championship, Sam Shankland, Sam Sevian, and Daniel Naroditsky, cut their chess teeth in the San Francisco Bay area, home of the oldest chess club in America, the venerable Mechanic’s Insitute Chess Room. If any area should be acknowledged as the “Capital of US Chess,” it is San Francisco, in lieu of the neuveau rich, faux chess club AND scholastic center in St. Louis, which has now been tarnished. No longer can it be considered a “leading light,” or “shining example.”

I can only hope this affair does not dessiccate Wesley So’s desire. If one watches the interviews with Mr. So during the US Chess Championship he will see a dramatic change in Wesley as the tournament progressed. Hopefully, this will fire him up and prod Wesley to play the kind of chess of which he is capable culminating in a match for the World Chess Championship.

Where’s Putin?

An article has appeared on the New York Times website, Putin, Said to Be ‘Perfectly Healthy,’ Is Also Nowhere to Be Seen, By NEIL MacFARQUHAR, MARCH 13, 2015, which asks the question, “Where’s Putin?” It begins, “It was the question preoccupying Moscow and much of Russia on Friday, as speculation mounted about why President Vladimir V. Putin had not been seen in public since last week.”

“He canceled a trip to Kazakhstan; postponed a treaty signing with representatives from South Ossetia who were reportedly told not to bother to come to Moscow; and, unusually, was absent from a meeting of top officials from the F.S.B., Russia’s domestic intelligence service.

The last confirmed public sighting was at a meeting with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy on March 5 — although the Kremlin would have citizens think otherwise.

Given that the Kremlin borrows all manner of items from the Soviet playbook these days, there appeared to be an attempt to doctor the president’s timetable to show that all was well.”

Putin is not the only Russian who “…borrows all manner of items from the Soviet playbook these days.” Just as in the days of Soviet Communism, Mikhail Botvinnik and Paul Keres, every game between Russian chess players is suspect.

The NY Times reporter continues, “Early in his presidency, Mr. Putin dropped out of sight when the submarine Kursk sank in 2000 and again two years later when terrorists seized a Moscow theater and took hundreds of hostages.”

Putin obviously has a tendency to “nut-up” when the going gets tough. Or is it something else? The article also contains this, “Andrei Illarionov, a former presidential adviser, wrote a blog post suggesting that Mr. Putin had been overthrown by hard-liners in a palace coup and that Russians could anticipate an announcement soon saying that he was taking a well-deserved rest. Conspiracy theorists bombarded Facebook, Twitter and the rest of social media along similar veins.”

The GCA Check is in the Mail

This message can be found on the GCA Facebook page:

“Cash Payouts have been vetted and sent to the Treasurer. Apparently WinTD 4.2 has a bug in generating a prize distribution list. 4.11c still works perfectly. It is likely that the extra function of using data for email/text pairings is affecting the database function for prize distribution. I’ll be reporting this to the author of the software. We’ll be publishing the prize distribution list at my next opportunity.

My apologies for not being able to get these out earlier, as I had to get the distribution list vetted and try to track down the actual source of the error, go through my Ebola response training and email the payout list after tonight’s Board meeting.” (https://www.facebook.com/georgiachess?fref=photo)

I am loath to make assumptions, but since Fun Fong is the President of the GCA Board, and is an ER MD at Emory, where the CDC is located, Mr. Spock would tell the Captain, “There is a 99.44% chance this was written by the POTGCA.” These days some people blame the computer program for every mistake. It is not the computer but the person who puts the information in the computer who is usually to blame. “Garbage in, garbage out.”

I was under the impression the GCA disbursed the prize checks at the end of the tournament and thought the delay was due to the resignation of the Treasurer, but such is not the case. Pam Little has not yet resigned and could have been there signing checks for the prize-winners, as Michael Mulford did when Treasurer.
The Legendary Georgia Ironman comments, “The GCA Board wants to change everything, including the time-honored tradition of paying the winners at the tournament. What about the out of town players, some of whom may need that money to get home?” Evidently the GCA is attempting to “fix” what is not “broke.”

Best wishes to “Chairman of the Board,” Fun Fong in relation to Ebola because, as Alex Jones (http://www.infowars.com/) reported on Coast to Coast AM (http://www.coasttocoastam.com/), “44% of doctors who have come in contact with Ebola have contracted the disease.”

Frank Sinatra My Way 1974