An email making the rounds in the local chess community has reached the AW. The sources are impeccable. It appears the GCA board has decided to hold a chess tournament about every other weekend in the coming year. To set the stage one should know the players in this drama.
The GCA board consists of three women, Laura Doman, Katie Hartley, and Pam Little, who do not play chess; Ben Johnson, who thinks he plays chess; Fun Fong, who plays mediocre chess; and Tim Payne and Frank Johnson, who are, or have been, rated expert. These are the committees found on the GCA website (http://www.georgiachess.org/contact):
By-Law Task Force: Fun Fong, Katie Hartley, Mike Mulford, Scott Parker, Jeanne Ward
Communications: Laura Doman (Director)
Membership: Parnell Watkins
Open Events: WIM Carolina Blanco (Chair), Frank Johnson, Carolyn Lantelme, Greg Maness, Tim Payne, Bryan Rodeghiero, Thad Rogers, Parnell Watkins
Scholastic: Laura Doman, Katie Hartley (Co-Chair), Tricia Hill, Ben Johnson (Co-Chair), Susan Justice, Tim Payne, Steve Schneider, Ted Wieber
Volunteer Coordinator: Frank Johnson
Web Team: Laura Doman, Katie Hartley, Vijay Jayaram, Jagadeesh Rathnasabapathy, Keith Sewell
Committee members are volunteers who can commit to a year of working on the team.
In addition there the GCA has a “Task Force”:
GCA By-Law Task Force: Fun Fong (President), Katie Hartley (2nd VP), Mike Mulford (USCF delegate, Past Treasurer), Scott Parker (Past President), Jeanne Ward (Non-profit consultant)
Suggested By-Law Revisions to be voted on June 21st by GCA Members (http://www.georgiachess.org/bylaws)
These are the current “movers and shakers” of the Georgia Chess Association.
The GCA has myriad committees. The President of the GCA, Fun Fong, posted his, “From the President: GCA May 2014 Update” (http://georgiachessnews.com/2014/05/03/from-the-president-gca-may-2014-update/) on the new online magazine, “Georgia Chess News” on May 3, 2014, in which he writes about today’s committees and those to come. I asked two respected chess luminaries, NM Chris Chambers, and former GCA President and Georgia Senior Champion Scott Parker, for their thoughts on the President’s message. This was recieved from the Discman:
Happy Monday Bacon.
“Yes I’m fine with you using my stuff on blogs.
Regarding the GCA message, he sure seems to be planning to put together lots of committees.
Are there even enough dues-paying adult GCA members to man all the spots in those committees?
At this point they’re talking about forming committees to decide how to arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. Virtually all of the passengers (actual tournament players) have boarded the life boats and are long gone, leaving only the wanna-be TD’s to train each other how to run tournaments that nobody will attend.”
Mr. Parker sent an polished, insightful and obviously well-thought-out reply:
“Fun is very high on the concept of working through committees. I am not, nor was my predecessor, Ted Wieber. That doesn’t mean it is wrong. There is more than one way to accomplish a task. My preference, and Ted’s too, I believe, was to find a committed volunteer and put a heavy workload on him/her. Committees tend to be slow and cumbersome things, and they lack direction. Each member wants to pull it in a different direction. You’ve heard the old joke, “A platypus is an animal designed by a committee.” It’s funny because there is an underlying truth to it. Committees do tend to come out with proposals that look like they ordered from a take-out menu – something from column A, something from column B, something from colunmn C, etc.
I’m also not sure that it makes sense to operate through committees in an orgainzation that has about 200 voting members. For USCF, which has over 10,000, that’s one thing, It’s another thing for GCA. We don’t have that many committed volunteers. I prefer to work with a small number of committed people rather than a large number of casually interested people.
All this being said, I will freely admit that I didn’t do a great job of identifying those committed volunteers, and ended up doing way too much of the grunt work myself. I was so busy doing the mundane stuff that I had little time to be President. It’s hard to concentrate on your plan to drain the swamp when you’re up to your a** in aligators. My impression is that as long as I was President that probably wasn’t going to change. As long as I was President and things were getting done a crisis didn’t exist. Without a crisis, not many people jumped up to volunteer. Perhaps in the long run it would have been better if I had refused to do the grunt work and let some tournaments and projects die so that a crisis situation would exist. Maybe that would have stimulated a few volunteers to step forward. For better or worse, I was not willing to do that.
Anyway, Fun’s idea of working through committees seems to be working pretty well for him. There has been some short term dislocation, and not everything is flowing smoothly, but in general the GCA is healthy. His way may not be my way, but if it works for him, that’s all that counts. “It doesn’t matter if the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.” – Deng Xiao Ping.
Best Wishes, Scottt
P.S. You have my permission to use any or all of this in any way you see fit, or to copy it to anyone you choose.”
Both of these replies from my friends were received May 12, 2014. Although I tend to agree with the Discman, listening to a person who has the respect of all the chess community, as does Scott Parker, gives one a different perspective. There are always two sides of an issue and one must try, as difficult as it may be, to understand the other side.
Emails are being fired at such a rate the NSA is having trouble keeping up with the heavy volume…The first email is from WIM Carolina Blanco, Georgia Chess Open Event ( Chair).
On Monday, July 7, 2014 6:24 PM, Carolina Blanco wrote:
Please find attached the update information for all the Open event tournaments to be organized by Georgia Chess Association from September 2014-July 2015.
Dates and location were verified according last Board meeting at Emory University on June 21st, 2014. Please note that the flyer still need to pass for one more review correction by the committee however with all these information we can see more organized our goal in maintain the tournaments organized in the past calendar year and adding two more new tournaments and new locations for the convenient and benefits of the chess community.
* Only event missing in this email ( but going to be added) is the Collegiate tournament. I am waiting for Ted Wieber to give us all the information for next year since he is the coordinator for this event.
* Location for Senior’s Open and Women’s Open is TBA since the Rivers Academy and Mrs. Justice proposal are in discussion, however the date that we saw more convenient at the board meeting in June for this event is September 20th, 2014.
* There are 4 tournaments to be held at the Wyndham Galleria Hotel and the dates in the flyer are the one that we are committed in the contract with the except of the Georgia State Championship that instead to be held on May 1st 2015. It was moved to April 18th 2015
* there are 2 new Class championship tournament added on February 27th and July 24th 2015. Beside the Class Championship on November 2014.
We are in the process to contact to Continental chess to try to extend our Open event activity from 6 tournaments a year to 12 tournaments a year for the next calendar period.
Questions?. Please feel free to email me.”
WIM Carolina Blanco
Georgia Chess Open Event ( Chair)
Ms. Blanco’s email evoked this response from former GCA President, International Arbiter, and chess business owner L. Thad Rogers:
On Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 6:45 PM, thad rogers wrote:
“Why is the Georgia Chess Association trying to put
American Chess Promotions and Championship Chess
out of business.”
I have 6 weekend tournaments scheduled with the dates
The Georgia Chess Association is to support chess in Georgia and not put other chess companies out of business.
This is the only way I try to make a meager income. I guess you all wouldn’t mind it if a nonprofit company came along and put all of your jobs and living out the window in order to satisfy them-selves.
No board in 40 years ever tried to do such a thing. I am very proud of such a caring Georgia Chess Association. I have tried tto do nothing but help the Georgia Chess Association for 40 years.
I have five or six people tell me that Fun said he is trying to put Georgia vendors out of business. If this goes through, then I guess he will get his wish.
All my tournaments are getting to have a signed contract. If Southeast holds tournaments. Then how in the heck can anybody make any money with about 26 weekend tournaments.
Like I said, the GCA Board and Volunteers don’t have to worry because you all aren’t risking any of your personal money. You are using State Association Funds. That is something to be proud of.
American Chess Promotions
I am suppose to be on the Open Events committee. I never hear a word about meetings or issues until after the fact.”
The next email is from the POTGCA:
From: Fun Fong
Date: 07/09/2014 2:49 PM (GMT-05:00)
To: thad rogers
“It seems that there’s an unfortunate – and false – rumor circulating that the GCA is looking to put you or any other Georgia chess organization out of business. I can understand why you would be upset. You have a long personal relationship with the GCA, which we all appreciate, and many of our members have enjoyed playing in American Chess tournaments for many years. As president, my mission is to serve the greater chess community by providing a full calendar of quality events for both adult and scholastic members. It is not, nor has it ever been, to destroy another’s livelihood through the power of the GCA. There is absolutely no way that the GCA could put anyone out of business, even if it wanted to, which is certainly no one’s intentions. You will not find any legitimate conversation anywhere that has even hinted of this. Somehow, facts are becoming distorted by the time they get to you, and I am greatly troubled by the prospect of a malicious rumor mill.
It is my belief that more chess is better chess, and that the chess community will eventually expand as opportunities expand, much as have road races greatly expanded in the Metro Atlanta area. GCA does endeavor to raise the bar for quality, so that other organizers will continue to innovate in their offerings, giving the Georgia player more choices and a better selection of events to participate. This initiative should provide a better experience overall for Georgia players. I know that you have been constantly thinking of new events and ways to execute them, and I think this endeavor is working for the benefit of the Georgia player.
Still, it is my responsibility as president to promote chess and to offer our players with as many opportunities to play good competitive chess as the market will support. Besides American Chess and Championship Chess, there is the North Georgia Chess Center, Vibha, and other organizations that host all sorts of tournaments, ranging from afternoon tournaments for young beginners to multi-day events for top-rated competitive players. I believe that there is room for all because we have a large, diverse community of chess players, and tournaments by virtue of their competitive level, time requirements, or location cannot all appeal to all types of players at all times. The chess community today is not the same as it was in the past. As GCA president, I must listen to our members and respond to their demands: to expand, support, and promote opportunities for competitive, quality play.
I understand and respect your concern that an outside group may be stronger or better financed, and potentially threaten your business. We will not tolerate any organization trying to drive another out of business. On the other hand, the GCA will not act as the personal agent for a business seeking to keep others out of their “turf.” I will tell you that the GCA will be advising Continental Chess (or any other organization that we may approach or that approaches us) that we must have a balanced calendar. Similar events need to be coordinated in advance, so that they don’t overlap too often.
The GCA cannot carry out its mission if we are beholden to vendor interests – any vendor. We must maintain the balance of support to our valued vendor organizations with our responsibilities to the chess playing public. If a vendor is involved in a GCA endeavor that could be perceived as a conflict of interest, then the vendor should recuse itself from voting or debate on such an issue. As an example, and I say this with due respect, it seems that whenever the GCA proposes dates in a modest expansion of our programs, we have heard you state that the GCA has no right to do so, presumably because the proposal conflicts with your own business’ plans or calendar. We cannot function as an organization if we cannot maintain impartiality. And under my leadership, this will cease to be a problem.
Thad, I continue to honor and value your long commitment and dedication to the GCA. We are all glad to have you involved and hope that you will want to do so for a long time to come. Regarding the Open Events committee meetings, there has actually not been a full meeting of the Open Events committee yet. Some committee members are changing their commitments to some degree, and while we’re managing this, I would anticipate a full meeting this month. You’ll certainly be advised when the meeting is scheduled.
As always, I welcome your feedback and look forward to talking with you about this or any other area of concern.”
The POTGCA writes about having a “balanced calendar.” Since the GCA has plans for a tournament every other weekend, that can only mean half for the GCA and half for everyone else.
As far as “…advising Continental Chess…”, I question why the GCA would want any other tournaments here along with their two dozen. Is the chess community large enough to support just the GCA tournaments? It is well known that Bill Goichberg, from New York, has intentionally stayed out of the South. Yes, he has held tournaments in Orlando, but how many tournaments has he held in other Southern states? The Ironman mentioned one in Nashville. One. The most famous was the Continental Open, a CCA tournament in Atlanta back in May of 1973 in which Mr. Six Time, GM Walter Browne flew in from the west coast. GM Browne was on the cover of the May, 1973 “Chess Life & Review.” Walter was treated to some “Southern hospitality,” drawing with Rueben Shocron and losing to Milan Momic, and Robert Burns, before leaving to catch a much earlier flight than anticipated. As GM Browne was leaving someone asked him why he was leaving. The Legendary Georgia Ironman was present to hear what came next, now Tim’s ALL-TIME FAVORITE chess quote. Walter turned on the man like a cobra, yelling, “I DID NOT COME HERE FOR YOUR BENEFIT!”
I realize the World Open was held in the Great State of Virginia this year, but how many tournaments has the CCA brought to the Deep South in the last forty plus years? Of all the tournaments the CCA has held since the 1970’s I will be kind and say that if one includes Louisville, although having lived there I cannot imagine anyone would, the CCA has held maybe five percent in the South, probably less. The “pooh-bahs” should consider leaving the CCA alone and concentrate on holding the conjectured GCA tournaments to the best of their ability. I would like to warn the GCA of over saturation. The Ironman and I were in the sports card business in the late 1980’s, early 90’s, before over saturation and the MLB strike of 1994. When we began there were only a few monthly shows in the metro area. Then a few were added, and then there were card shows every other weekend. More were added until it became a card show every weekend in many locations. In those halcyon days the action was fast and furious. I recall being involved in major deals that were so involved that when another customer would pick a card and pay the advertised price without haggling. I would stuff the bill in my pocket and carry on with the deal. Then the customers stopped coming because they knew there would be another show the next weekend, and the next. Near the end it was so bad at one show I told the Ironman I would not eat lunch until I made a sale. My stomach was growling all afternoon until after the show when Tim took pity on me and bought me a beer and a sammy at Spondivits, saying, “A man who don’t make even one sale shouldn’t have to pay the tab.”