The GCA Check Is In the Mail

I received this email from Richard Jones last month:
Sep 14
Michael, I was wondering if you or anyone you know has tried to register for the Georgia Senior Open. The online site only lets non-residents enter and there is no info about mailing in an entry. I guess I’ll just register on site. As usual, there doesn’t appear to be much effort to publicize or promote the tournament.


This was my reply:

Hey buddy! I, along with everyone I know, will not be playing. It is basically the same format as last year, when only 9 players came. I will have a post concerning the Ga, and the upcoming NC Senior later in the week. I must say that I find it uproariously funny that the only people who can enter are the players from out of state who will not be coming! Why should they? They are not eligible for the top prize and who in their right mind would pay $45 to play for, what, a little over a hundred bucks? Keep in mind GM Zapata is a Senior and he should win the stipend. I see the F.I.P.s have delayed the start of the first round in order for all those out of state players who will not come to drive in! It’s He-larry-us!!!

Richard replied: Thanks for the response. I missed it last year for some reason. I didn’t realize there were only 9 players! Maybe I’ll go up there and play, maybe not.
And I responded: Read my next two posts on the AW before you decide.

Upon checking the results I learned Richard had not only played, but won the U1800 section of the Georgia Senior! Any win, in any section, at any age, is a BIG win, but especially so when one becomes a Senior, for obvious reasons. I heard from Richard again yesterday, October 17, when he sent this disconcerting email:

Yes, there are problems with the GCA. I should have taken your advice and not played in the Senior. I thought it was strange that they wouldn’t pay prize money on site but were going to mail it instead. I wonder if they are really going to mail out prizes. It’s been almost three weeks. If $1800 is “chicken feed” to them, I would think they could afford the small prize money!


Richard should not have to wait three days, much less three weeks, or longer, to receive his prize check. It is well known that Bill Goichberg, as an example, has been known to sit long into the night making out prize checks for the winners of CCA tournaments. I have absolutely no idea who is responsible for this delay or if this is only a single, isolated case or if none of the checks have been mailed.
I urge someone, anyone, from the GCA board to leave a comment on this blog, or to send me an email which I will publish. Richard deserves to know why he has yet to be paid, as do all other members of the Georgia chess community.

10th Annual Georgia Senior Open

The Georgia Senior is scheduled to be played the weekend of Sept. 28-29. The tournament announcement on the GCA website states registration is limited to 50 players, a pipe dream if ever there was one. Checking today the website shows 46 places left. I am not surprised. I refused to play last year and will not participate again this year. What’s more, I do not know anyone else planning on playing. The poor choice of venue was discussed in my last post, so the format of the tournament will be discussed in this post.
The President of the GCA, Fun Fong, insisted on a format for the 2012 Georgia Senior against the wishes of many, if not most, of those eligible to participate. He decided to have only one prize, a $500 stipend to the winner to be used only toward playing in the US Senior. Only NINE players participated, the lowest number of all other Georgia Senior tournaments to date. It was, obviously, a miserable failure. The winner of the tournament decided not to make the trip to upstate New York, at the strong urging of his wife. The winner, NM Alan Piper, has received nothing for winning the tournament. Alan has no idea what happened to the $500, which should have gone to him. I have been unable to learn what happened to the money. This is an open plea for any member of the GCA board to leave a comment on this blog informing the chess community of the disposition of the $500.
During an interview with the Legendary Georgia Ironman, NM Tim Brookshear, it was stated the President of the GCA reached out, asking Tim for his input on how the 2013 Ga Senior should be changed. Tim said a relative newcomer to chess, Parnell Watkins, was also consulted by the President. Tim suggested a committee of stewards be brought on board as consultants, with such Senior luminaries as former Georgia Champion and Georgia Senior Champion David Vest; former Ga Senior Champion and former President of the GCA board, Scott ‘The Sheriff’ Parker; Dr. Orlando Cano; and Kelly Hollins, along with others, being mentioned. Tim wanted to plan a good tournament that would attract Senior players from other states, such as Wayne Christiansen and Klaus Pohl from the Great State of South Carolina, Tim ‘The Dude’ Bond, along with Rex Blalock and his wife, from the Great State of Alabama. That was the last Tim heard from Fun Fong concerning the Georgia Senior. The suggestions of the Legendary Georgia Ironman, who has been involved with chess in Georgia continually for four decades, fell on deaf ears. Tim was as shocked as everyone else to learn the tournament had been planned for this fall. Word is Fun Fong wanted to hold the tournament in conjunction with the other tournaments scheduled that weekend. Could this have been his response to the recent Carolinas Chess Festival?
Fun Fong obviously liked his idea of awarding a $500 stipend because it is back again this year. The entry fee has been raised to accommodate other prizes, which were not there last year. I do not recall specifically, but it seems the entry fee is almost double this year compared to last. Fun Fong obviously thinks a large increase in the entry fee will bring in more players. The $500 stipend idea proved a disaster last year, yet Fun Fong, and make no mistake, this is Fun Fong’s tournament, insists on keeping it for this tournament. Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is, “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
The Ga Senior has been divided into three sections, the Open, Under 1800, and unrated. This makes absolutely no sense because there will barely be enough players for one section. The time control is G/100 with a 30 second increment. I have yet to find a Senior player who likes this time control. We Seniors played for decades with a time control of 40/2, or even 40/90, with additional time added. FIDE has announced the first time control should end at move 40. Over the years organizers have tried various first time controls, such as 30, or 35, but best by test is move 40. Most games are decided at, or after, move 40. Seniors realize the chess world has moved forward with increasingly faster time controls at a time when we are slowing down. Our pleas to hold the line have fallen on deaf ears, with the younger people forcing Seniors to follow their dictates, or else not play. Most have chosen to opt out. LM David Vest said, “My game used to be predicated on putting the pressure on around move 32.” Seniors played for DECADES with the crisis coming around or near move 40. Our motto is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Everything changes, but change just for the sake of change is not good. Sometimes “progress ain’t,” and this is one of those times. Seniors resent the changes being forced upon them. Some still play for the love of the game, but do not like it. Most have given up the game.
The fact is that the body of a Senior player is not the same as a young person. In the movie, “The Bucket List”, the character played by legendary actor Jack Nicholson enumerates three rules for an older man. One of them is to “Never pass up a men’s room.” The reason for that Seniors know only too well. Every male Senior will have to deal with the fact his prostate gland will enlarge and press on his bladder. This means Seniors must go to the men’s room far more often than when younger. With any open ended time control it may not be possible to go to the men’s room. Forcing such a situation on a Senior is uncivilized. A Senior playing on any increment may be forced to lose on time if he goes to answer the call, or piss his pants. This happened to me once because I chose to sit there in pain in lieu of going to the men’s room. Playing with a delay, although a pawn up, I lost the game and upon getting out of my chair, could not make it to the men’s room in time. I vowed then and there to never again put myself in such a situation! What Seniors desire is a time limit whereby additional time will be added, as it was “back in the day,” in order for us to be able to answer the call when nature knocks. Why is it organizers cannot understand this simply fact? It is not only their sanity I question when it comes to the matter of bodily functions. These open ended time controls seem like something the man from the “dark side,” Darth Cheney, would have dreamed up. Waterboarding sounds like fun compared to these ridiculous time controls! IM Boris Kogan told me it was important to get up after making time control in order to “clear one’s head.” That is not possible with these open ended time controls. Some have mentioned the possibility of “shooting out several really quick moves in order to build up time,” so as to be able to “run to the men’s room.” First, shooting off even one quick move in chess can lead to an immediate loss. Second, Seniors no longer have the capacity to run without possibly inducing a heart attack, or a stroke.
The first round is at noon, Saturday the 28th. I assume this is to accommodate all the players from out of town who will not be coming. This means the second round will begin at 5:30. In an email several years ago from the CCA promoter, Bill Goichberg, I was told he would not play a round beginning after four (or was it five?) PM. Not to mention the fact that the second round could be delayed by a long Queen & Pawn, or other such, ending, and possibly begin even later. From what I learned about the venue of the tournament, I would not want to be heading to the parking lot after dark. The fact is, I would not want to go to that place during broad daylight! A woman was murdered in the area during the day. See the previous post for details.
There is a picture of Fun Fong on the website of the NCCA in an article on the North Carolina Gambit titled, “Random Thoughts and Observations on the Carolinas Chess Festival,” posted September 17, 2013, by the webmaster, Gary Newsome.( Gary writes, “On Friday afternoon, Fun Fong (President of the Georgia Chess Association) and his entourage came in to start working on the NC Open.” I mentioned this during my interview with the Legendary Georgia Ironman and his comment was, “Fun travels to tournaments such as the US Open and World Open, so he knows what a good tournament is, yet he brings us nothing but crap tournaments, and you can quote me on that.” I will leave you with a quote by former Vice President of the US, Dan Qualye: “People that are really very weird can get into sensitive positions and have a tremendous impact on history.”

The State of Georgia Chess

The state of chess in Georgia is not good, unless, that is, one considers scholastic chess. The reality is that there is a complete division between scholastic chess and what for over a century was simply called chess. It is human nature to think of the way things are now as the way they were previously. New people to chess are surprised to learn that at one time scholastic chess was actually only a part of chess and not the driving force it has become today. With the hiring of Jean Hoffman as the new Executive Director, USCF has gone “all-in” as a scholastic chess organization. If the reader disputes the statement, I suggest he read the article on her hiring on the USCF website here: Whether or not this was a good move will only be answered by future events. Because the membership of USCF is predominately children it was probably the only move USCF could make. In Informant talk, it was a “box” move. I have decided to not write about scholastic chess here in my native state, choosing to focus on what is now called “adult” chess, and something near and dear to my old heart, Senior chess. There are far more people in the scholastic arena who can do a better job of writing about it than I can do, so I leave it to them.
I receive many emails from readers and one of the questions I am frequently asked is like the one from Dr. Orlando Cano. He asked, “… where are the chess tournaments that we used to have here in Ga.” I replied, asking the good Doctor to elaborate and he responded, “Through your website find out why we do not have good tournaments anymore.” I believe Dr. Cano, and others, should address this question to the members of the board of the GCA. Any one, or all, of them are free to leave a comment here if they would like to answer Dr. Cano, and others who are asking the same question. The fact is that the good tournaments here in the Atlanta area are now for the children. Scholastic chess has the numbers, and money. The only tournaments with a nice hotel as a venue are scholastic tournaments. The only organizer, other than the GCA is Thad Rogers. I have previously written about the location of his tournaments, which have had myriad problems. I have received emails asking me to bring out the fact that Mr. Rogers holds tournaments in other states, but not his home state. For example, Thad writes in a forum post on the website of the NCCA, titled, 40Th Annual Lipkin Pfefferkorn Open, “It will be held at the
Holiday Inn, 5790 University Parkway, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27105. That is
a stone throw from where Highway 52 intersects with University. After the first of the
year, it becomes a Doubletree Hotel. It is a very nice hotel!” (
When I ask players to recall the last time an “adult” (I REALLY hate using that term, especially since children vastly out number adults at an “adult” tournament) chess tournament was held in a “very nice hotel,” they scratch their heads while considering the question for some time. There does not seem to be the will to bring a decent tournament in a nice venue to Atlanta, the capital of the South. When questioned on why he refuses to hold his tournaments in a hotel, Mr. Rogers has previously responded, “They’re too expensive!” He has chosen to locate his tournaments in an old, run down Mall with little or no air conditioning. People are so hungry to play they have endured appalling conditions to play the game they love.
If you go to the website of the Georgia Chess Association,, you will learn the GCA is holding four tournaments in conjunction, the Georgia Women’s Open 2013; 10th Annual Georgia Senior Open; 2013 Georgia State Series III; and Georgia Collegiate Open 2013, at the Gwinnett Place Mall later this month. The first advertisement on the website showed this: Georgia Collegiate Open 2013
September 28, 2013 10:00 AM • Gwinnett Place Mall, Empty Store Space in Block “H,” 2100 Pleasant Hill Road Duluth, GA 30096
The “Empty Store Space in Block “H” has now been changed to, “Upper level next to Macy’s.”

I am familiar with the area because of the sports memorabilia shows in which I participated two decades ago, which were held at one of the ancillary buildings on Satellite Blvd. At that time it was considered to be a “good” area. I was, therefore, surprised when the Mall was mentioned during dinner conversation with the Legendary Georgia Ironman and his lady friend when she asked, “Isn’t that a bad area?” After asking several others about the area I have learned the common perception is the Gwinnett Place Mall is, indeed, considered to be a “bad area.” Perception is reality. Unlike other cities, Atlanta has always been in a constant state of flux during the course of my life. Many areas are, to be kind, not what they used to be. For that reason I decided to research the area in order to learn more about the venue chosen by the members of the board of the GCA. This is what I learned from the internet:

Gwinnett cops seek public’s help in Hertz worker’s killing
By David Ibata
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Gwinnett County police on Monday appealed to the public for help solving the slaying of a Hertz Rent-a-Car employee who was found fatally wounded behind the rental car office next to the Gwinnett Transit Center.
Monique Marlowe, 24, of Duluth was cleaning a car between 5 and 5:30 p.m. Friday when a young man wearing a light blue shirt approached her, police said. For unknown reasons, the man shot the victim once and fled the area.
Marlowe was founded wounded by her co-workers and taken to Gwinnett County Medical Center, where she died as a result of her wounds Friday evening.
Maria Marlowe, the victim’s mother, told Channel 2 Action News that her daughter loved swimming and had graduated in 2009 from the University of Georgia at Athens with a degree in international business.
“I don’t know of any enemy that she had, nobody that didn’t like her,” the mother said.
The Hertz office is near the intersection of Satellite Boulevard and Merchants Way, next to the Transit Center’s pick-up and drop-off hub for bus passengers. The location is across from the Gwinnett Place Mall shopping center.
Gwinnett Place: The Long, Slow Death of a Suburban Mall
Wednesday, March 20, 2013, by Josh Green
Although the headlines tell it all, I decided to read a few reviews placed online by people who were at the Mall.
• Yoomee H.
Lawrenceville, GA
This place gives me the creeps. I don’t know why but it just does! It has that ‘eerie’ feeling as if someone’s going to run up to you and snatch your purse kind of feeling. I’ve been here with my mom and siblings and while we were walking into the mall, I felt as though the mall itself was a ‘scary place’.. aren’t malls suppose to make you feel safe? Nope not this mall. There are those people who look like they could hurt you, I’m usually a smiley type of person who likes to smile a lot (even to strangers) but here.. when I smiled at this woman, she gave me a mean look and said, “whatchu lookin’ at?!” Usually when I walk around the Mall of Georgia, people smile back at me.
• Angela H.
Atlanta, GA
To be honest, there are so many vacant store spaces in this mall that I have had no desire to ever browse the entire mall. Sure, I’ve strolled through most of the mall, but it *felt* like there were more vacancies than occupied stores.
• Brian A.
Orlando, FL
I remember when this mall was the mall to go to in the 90’s. When I was a kid, it was always a treat to go to Gwinnett Place. It was clean, had great stores, and this was before the Mall of Ga opened.

But now, it’s the exact opposite. Now a days, everyone avoids this mall, they really let it go down the shitter. It’s dirty, the stores suck and they never have good options, half of the stores that were there closed down and re-opened stores that no one’s ever heard of before, basically the clothing equivalent to the dollar general. There used to be great restaurants on the outskirts of the mall but most of them closed down and the whole area has turned into ghetto Mexico town. Avoid this shithole at all costs.
• Amanda H.
Dawsonville, GA

I will never go back to this mall.
• Sarah E.
Lawrenceville, GA
Yuck. This mall used to be okay, but has gone WAY downhill.
There is no reason that you need to go here. Don’t bother.
• Grace K.
Washington, DC
This mall used to be THE place when I was younger, but now it’s like a bad Law & Order SVU episode. Definitely creepy and almost phantomlike if you’re there near night time. Last time I went, a short creep followed me from the pet store to the end of the mall. I would definitely carry around Lysol if I had to come here (it’s more potent than pepper spray).
• Wendy T.
Snellville, GA
Three words: What A Dump!!!
These reviews were taken, and can still be found, here:
Before doing this research I had considered going to the GPM myself to check it out. I reflected on something William Coe told me during our interview at the Castle Chess tournament at Emory University. He had taken time to go by the North Dekalb Mall, saying, ”I had no desire to spend my weekend in that room.” His comments can be found on my post of June 24, 2013, “Panchanathan Storms the Castle!” ( After reading the above, and much more, including the crime statistics in the area, I decided there was no need to make the trip.
After reading the above, the question I pose is why would anyone in their right mind choose such a place to hold a tournament for anyone, much less women and Seniors? If I can learn this by investing a little time, why can the members of the GCA board not do the same thing? Or did they? Do they know these things, yet chose this place in any event? The question you should ask yourself is would you want your daughter, wife, mother, or grandmother to spend many hours over a period of two days in this place? Maybe you would even want to ask yourself if the people who signed off on this place should even be in a position to make such a decision.