The Future of Chess

“The phrase, “All politics is local” is a common phrase in U.S. politics. The former Speaker of the U.S. House Tip O’Neill is most closely associated with this phrase, which encapsulates the principle that a politician’s success is directly tied to the person’s ability to understand and influence the issues of their constituents.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_politics_is_local)

The world of chess is beset with myriad problems. For example, consider something recently written by GM Kevin Spraggett on his blog, Spraggett on Chess:

RIP: Canadian Open Championship (1956-2014)

“For my readers (Canadian and international) who were wondering about the 2015 edition of Canada’s most PRESTIGIOUS tournament, I have sad news. Not only has the 2015 Canadian Open been cancelled, but it is unlikely to be resurrected in coming years. The present mind-set of the CFC executive is to concentrate on junior chess and slowly (quickly!) phase out adult chess.

The writing was on the wall for some time now, but few wanted to believe it. Despite a well documented decline in adult membership in the CFC since 2007, and calls to organize a membership drive to remedy the situation, the CFC refused to act. Adult membership levels are now 50% of normal levels. All funding of adult-programs have been eliminated.”

Grant Oen is a junior at Emory University, Grant is a 2-time GA Collegiate Chess Champion, 2-time NJ Grade Level Chess Champion, manager of the 2014 Atlanta Kings Team, and current Emory Chess Club President. He is one of the people who are the future of chess, and the future is NOW! I have come to admire and respect Grant because he is GREAT for chess in my home state.

I received an email from Mr. Oen a short time ago, and after reading it, sent an email asking for permission to post it on the blog, which was granted. Although it may be true that “all politics is local,” what happens in my home state of Georgia, just as what happens in our wonderful neighbor to the north, Canada, affects the Royal game in the WORLD. It is not just the worldwide governing body of chess, FIDE, that impacts chess, fortunately. Chess stays viable because of the efforts of those in, for example, New Zealand, even though you may not here of what is going on with chess there, unless you make an effort do so. When the chess lights go out, for whatever reason, in any town, city, state, or nation, it has a negative impact on the game of chess. I urge you to read what Grant has to say, and to forward it to anyone and everyone, and ask them to do the same. “In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.”
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfly_effect)
I believe there is a “butterfly effect.” I also believe that “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” What has happened to chess in my home state of Georgia is tragic. I can only hope that you who read this learn from the recent mistakes made here and do not let it happen in your part of the chess world.

“Good evening,

First, I’d like to thank many of you for supporting Southeast Chess in its first year of tournaments. Since our first event in March 2014, we have run over 25 events, attracting 250+ unique players from 15 states. Despite being a small operation, we have offered large open tournaments, scholastics, invitationals, Grand Prix, blitz, and action tournaments which have become a staple in the chess landscape in Georgia, and will continue to do so going forward.

Southeast Chess recognizes the following players for participating in 6 or more of our events in our first year:

Shanmukha Meruga – 22 tournaments
Grant Oen – 21
Frank Johnson – 16
Kapish Potula – 10
Amaan Pirani – 8
Sijing Wu – 8
Saithanusri Avirneni – 7
William Remick – 6
Phillip Taylor – 6
Rochelle Wu – 6

I would also like to express my personal opinions on the upcoming GCA election. The following positions are up for election at this year’s State Championship:

President: Fun Fong (incumbent), Frank Johnson
Secretary: Herky del Mundo, Greg Maness
2nd Member at Large: Steve Schneider, Ashley Thomas

The remaining board positions, not up for election this year, are filled by Vice Presidents Ben Johnson and Katie Hartley, Treasurer Amrita Kumar, and 1st Member at Large Laura Doman.

I will be voting the following ticket – President: Frank Johnson, Secretary: Herky del Mundo, 2nd Member at Large: Ashley Thomas. To have a positive say in the future of the GCA landscape, I strongly encourage you to do the same.

The GCA is in a long period of deterioration under the current administration. While scholastics have shown relative success in recent years, the GCA’s organization of open tournaments has proven to be a terrible insult to our royal game. The lethargic, unorganized, and indecisive “organization” under President Fong has devastated the hundreds of chess players in Georgia. Developing youngsters and seasoned masters alike have not been shown any respect as players by the GCA.

Fun Fong, additionally, has not fulfilled his designated role as GCA President. Supposedly, the responsibilities undertaken by his office are to support chess in Georgia through and through. However, Fun has shown a clear conflict of interest in only supporting the GCA’s events, and not providing any measure of support to the rest of the community.

For example, when former Emory Chess Club President Jeff Domozick and I were developing the idea for Southeast Chess to fill a meaningful gap in Georgia, we approached Fun to hear his thoughts and potential improvements on our business plans. His response could not have been more negative – he was critical of our idea, and warned us of the dangers and difficulties of running tournaments, strongly suggesting us to abandon the venture.

Of course, we were persistent, and although Jeff graduated Emory in Spring 2014, I have continued the Southeast Chess enterprise and hope that many of you would agree that it is a professionally-run and successful tournament business. Similar stories regarding Fun have been echoed by American Chess Promotions owner Thad Rogers and North Georgia Chess owner Kevin Schmuggerow, both of whom I greatly respect for their pursuits as chess organizers.

Throughout his tenure as GCA President, Fun has shown a clear preference for having all chess activities remain under the flailing umbrella of the GCA, and shuns all other ventures. Throughout Southeast Chess’ infancy, Fun was loathe to extend us help of any kind, threatening us not to use any TDs under the GCA’s umbrella. The President of the GCA should simply support all chess events in Georgia. Fun’s unprofessional behavior overall has led to many resignations on the GCA board and its subcommittees. Support for Fong among the rank and file in Georgia chess has been all but diminished.

Of course, there are many other reasons for which I could criticize the incumbent candidate (print magazine extinct, abuse of power, no support for players, school programs, or organizers), but I am of course also obligated to mention why I am voting for Frank Johnson.

Frank has significant chess experience in all capacities. He is an avid player, organizer, director, project manager, coach, parent, former GCA secretary, and overall chess supporter. He supports tournaments all across the state and country, and organizes and directs his own events under the popular Chess-coach.net label. He has years of experience and knowledge in working with developing chess communities, and has sponsored hundreds of local formal and informal chess meetups in the greater Atlanta area, including Atlanta Chess Mess.

As a personal aside, Frank proved essential in helping Southeast Chess get off the ground by providing critical organizational advice, helping to market the events, and playing in them himself. He served in an important management position in the Atlanta Kings chess team, a co-venture between my friend Thad Rogers and I.

Frank has shown significant expertise in all arenas of Georgia chess. Most importantly, he in unbiased in his vision to move the chess community forward. Right now there is a disconnect between players, organizers, and the GCA. Frank has essential plans in place for removing this disconnect for the benefit of all parties. He is a true chess professional who, as President, will develop the GCA into the association it should be. If you have questions or comments for Frank, he is always available at frankjohnson@chess-coach.net.

For the office of secretary, I support Herky del Mundo, organizer of the Atlanta Chess Club, active tournament player, director, and supporter. Herky has been influential in the outreach to GM Mark Paragua for the annual state championship. For the 2nd Member at Large position, I support Ashley Thomas, a long-time chess parent and player.

The election is open to current GCA members 18 years or older who have paid the $15 annual dues in the last year. A current membership is also required for Georgia players in play in the State Championship. The election will be held on Sunday, April 26 at 2:30pm, between rounds 4 and 5 of the Georgia State Championship in the Hotel Wyndham Hotel Galleria. If you are interested in voting but will not attend the state championship, email secretary@georgiachess.org to request an absentee ballot by 4/12, and have it returned to the secretary by the beginning of the tournament on 4/24.

Please remember to vote, as each eligible member can have a meaningful say towards change in the future of Georgia Chess.

Thank you.”

Grant

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The DeCredico Incident

For me to comment on this would only detract from what you are about to read, which is self-explanatory.

From: Fun Fong [mailto:fun.fong.jr@gmail.com]
> Sent: Monday, November 24, 2014 6:49 AM
> To: Laura Doman (Trinity)
> Cc: Greg Maness; J Parnell Watkins, Jr.; Elena Gratskaya
> Subject: Incident with Chattanooga friends
>
> Laura,
>
> This is a draft of what I propose to send to the USCF and to the DeCredicos:
>
> Dear …..
>
> This is our account of what occurred during out 2014 Georgia Class Championships. I have known the DeCredico family from several events and from my experience with the DeCredico family from Castle Chess Camp. The family is wonderful. Mr. DeCredico can be an emotional person, and the emotionality is usually expressed in terms of gratitude.
>
> We suspect that there have been some frustrations which have caused Mr. DeCredico to have had some conflict that have been building up over several tournaments. We later heard that Mr. DeCredico had had some words with Ben Johnson, a Chief TD during a Southeast Chess tournament.
>
> At our tournament, we inadvertently used the October published ratings to vet our tournament file. The correct information had been entered by Mr. DeCredico, evidenced by our import records, but somehow the October supplement was used to further vet the tournament file. This was certainly our mistake and we freely admit it. This had happened in another incident with a family from Alabama, and we were able to discover this issue and repair the round before the round began, making this family satisfied.
>
> The lower published rating caused Mr DeCredico’s daughter Zsofia, to have the lowest rating within the section and she ended up being the odd player with a unforced full-point bye. We found an extra rated game for Mr. DeCredico’s daughter with an opponent who was rated slightly higher that her current rating. She seemed to appreciate the pairing and was playing without issue. Mr. DeCredico discovered that an old October published rating was used for her during the round in progress and became agitated, demanding to speak to the person responsible. He quickly became more agitated, and by the time that he came to our Informatics area, he began verbally lashing out at our Informatics Officer, Elena Gratskaya, even before she could begin to address the issue. Our Floor TD, Parnell Watkins attempted to shield Elena physically, fearing that the situation would escalate.
>
> Mr. DeCredico became loud and abusive, accusing all of the staff of incompetence and intent on causing a scene in the Tournament Hall. He accused our Deputy Chief TD Greg Maness of incompetance. Mr. Maness was unaware of the previous events and responded back to him. Mr. DeCredico told his son Winston that he had to resign, that they were going to leave. He had also brought another Chattanooga player, Expert Zachery Perry, who was compelled to leave his game as well. I arrived on the scene and asked what we could do to help Mr DeCredico. Mr. DeCredico stated that he was intent on leaving, and said that he was too upset to explain to me what was troubling him. I assured him that we would refund his registration feed and wanted to know if we could help him in any other way.
>
> It took a small bit of time for Mr. DeCredico’s children to leave the hall. Mr. DeCredico became intent on retrieving them. He was extremely agitated and was intent on causing a scene in the Tournament hall where play had started in earnest, about 20-30 minutes into a G/120 round. Floor TD Parnell Watkins barred the door and asked our staffer, Laura Doman to please retrieve his children. Mr DeCredico accused us of keeping him from access to his children. I told Mr. Watkins that we could not keep him from access to his children, but by that time the children had left the hall and were in the corridor.
>
> The DeCredicos left. We later heard that players and spectators were in fear of their safety. At least one person feared that this man may have been armed. I knew Mr. DeCredico was not a physical threat, but our other staffers did not. Certainly our Informatics officer was put in fear for her safety such that our TD had to interpose physically. The rest of the day was marred with the pall of this incident.
>
> The DeCredicos abruptly left after the games were well in progress. Someone following one of the games on the internet wondered why one of the games ended abruptly after 21 moves. From a technical standpoint, these games must be scored as rated forfeits; however, we would do whatever the USCF recommended in this particular incident.
>
> The DeCredicos are a wonderful family. The kids, Zsofia and Winston, are wonderful. Mr. Zachary Perry is a amicable player and one whom we would like to continue to encourage to play. I do not know what other events may have preceded Mr. DeCredico’s agitation that day, but it was not the usual Richard DeCredico demeanor that I have experienced in the past. We will be happy to refund registration fees for these Chattanooga players. We would not necessarily want to ban Richard DeCredico from our tournaments (although some might), but we would want some reassurance from him that he will take definite steps not to threaten our personnel, or cause an explosive outburst with the intent to disrupt one of our tournaments again. Medication might well be necessary. This was a very distasteful incident for all involved that occurred this weekend, and in the interest of our other players who came from AL, NC, SC,TN, and FL to play, we hope not to experience ever again.
>
> Respectfully submitted,
>
>
> Fun Fong, MD
> Chief TD
> 2014 Georgia Class Championships
> 770 / 316-8483 (c)

> On Monday, November 24, 2014 2:27 PM, Laura wrote:
>
>
>
> Very nice, Fun. By the way, I’d like to write an article for the Jan. 1 publication of GeorgiaChessNews.com about the DGT boards. Charles Troutman, Jr. sent me a terrific story about how he was able to watch his son Charles Troutman III’s games live while he was on business in India. (His son went on to become the 6th grade state champion.) I’d like to get more info from you and ChaCha and anyone else who can talk more about the technology and make it a truly informative article.
>
> Have a Happy Thanksgiving, all!
>
> Laura

On Mon, Nov 24, 2014 at 4:10 PM, Greg Maness wrote:
>
> To All … …
>
> [note … I added Frank Johnson to my reply here as he was involved in the incident due to his intervention and I added Ben Johnson as his name was mentioned in reference to a prior incident involving this same person]
>
> I had dinner with a lawyer friend (a criminal defense attorney) last night after the tournament and had lunch with same lawyer friend today (he’s also a former tournament chess player from Pennsylvania). Yes, we did discuss the incidents of Saturday … and, no, I did not mention anyone by name. He was also very surprised and distressed that an organization as the Georgia Chess Association does not retain legal counsel nor does not have an attorney who serves as a “friend of the organization” who is either an elected board member or serves as a staff member for the board. He especially stressed this with the fact the G.C.A. sanctions so many activities that involve minor children.
>
> Based on the conversations with the lawyer, I do want to comment on a couple of issues. First and most importantly … Parnell Watkins and I physically barring Mr. DeCredico from the tournament hall … not only were we “well within our rights,” we were also “well within our OBLIGATION” to not allow him entrance to the tournament hall (and especially in the absence of law enforcement personal) as our concern was the ASSURANCE OF THE SAFETY of the 50-odd people who were in the tournament hall. The fact his own children (or so he thought) were in the tournament hall is irrelevant as the safety of all parties concerned supersedes that … and especially since the perceived danger to anyone in the tournament hall came from Mr. DeCredico himself. I was given the example of a Principle-imposed school lockdown where no parent would ever be given access to the building and thus their children. I was also advised that had we PERMITTED his entrance to the tournament hall (due to the obvious circumstances) … and had there been an incident that compromised the safety of anyone therein … that WE (the G.C.A., the tournament personal, the hotel, etc.) could be held responsible and liable.
>
> I do wish to add THREE participants in the tournament came to me (separately and hours apart) and each told me they were “afraid he was going to get a gun out of that big bag he was carrying and start shooting!” I also overheard a fourth player telling another player the same thing.
>
> Dr. Fong’s statements here are very well-written and very accurate! But … also many of Dr. Fong’s statements are irrelevant as they pertain directly to Mr. DeCredico’s actions. Mr. DeCredico’s actions were completely unjustifiable. Using wrong rating supplements … making erroneous pairings … etc … none of that gives justification or warrant to the actions (verbal and near-physical) taken by Mr. DeCredico. I do, however (with one exception to which I am coming), stand with what Dr. Fong has written.
>
> My exception: Dr. Fong’s statement “We would not necessarily want to ban Richard DeCredico from our tournaments.” SERIOUSLY?? In any other sport (and we all want chess … especially organized chess … to be given the respect it deserves on par with other sports) this type of outburst and action would not be tolerated and severe justice involving a suspension would be handed out. Imagine had this been a golf tournament or bowling tournament (both where I have experience) or a tennis tournament where this outburst had occurred … he would immediately be expelled from the tournament (do note: during his outburst I forfeited his game [the USCF Rulebook supports my action]; he didn’t need to resign) and he would be given a suspension (and probably a fine, too, if it was a professional organization such as the PGA) … and, also, we would not be implying justification of his actions or implying the sanctioning organization somehow shares the blame!. The same with any team sport … … …
>
> I would also strike the “Medication might well be necessary” statement from any correspondence with the USCF. That could give grounds for libel suit by Mr. DeCredico!
>
> Since Mr. DeCredico repeatedly, loudly, and in front of many witnesses (including the few hundred who were in the hallway for the other of the hotel’s scheduled event) was calling me a “pedophile” and saying I “should be arrested,” my lawyer friend also said I had a case to sue him for civil slander (I believe Mr. DeCredico made similar references towards Mr. Watkins). I just laughed and said we were very far from even considering, much less undertaking such action! Read that as I would just rather it be forgotten.
>
> That is all I have to state at this time.
>
> — Greg Maness

> On Monday, November 24, 2014 5:16 PM, Fun Fong wrote:
>
>
> Greg,
>
> Why don’t you write up your version of events? I think I have not heard your experience.
>
> Fun

On Mon, Nov 24, 2014 at 7:11 PM, Greg Maness wrote:
>
> Fun … … my version of the events is not that different from what you have already written … actually, not any different. You just had more details (spec. the incident in the Informatics room). All I could add is the number of participants expressing concerns over their personal safety. I don’t know if the USCF needs to be made aware of the legal aspects concerning our securing the tournament hall or not. If you would like to edit your draft to include notes from my comment e-mail (i.e. # players voicing safety concerns), that is fine with me.
>
> — Greg

From: Fun Fong
> Date: Mon, Nov 24, 2014 at 7:30 PM
> Subject: Re: Incident with Chattanooga friends
> To: Greg Maness , gcaboard Board
> Cc: Laura , Frank Johnson , Ben Johnson , “J Parnell Watkins, Jr.” , Elena Gratskaya
>
>
> Greg,
>
> The way I see it, while some may feel justified in saying they were protecting the players, Mr. DeCredico has a credible assault and battery threat because he was touched. If this goes to court, then we all lose, no matter what. The best thing to do in legal matters is usually “not to play.” In this case, we need to learn how to de-escalate people as people begin to get agitated. One should always try de-escalation first. That way, something so small an item never comes to this. I am not sure this incident could have been avoided, but I would sure try my darndest to make sure that it didn’t get so far out of control.
>
> Mr. DeCredico has emailed me, demanding that our personnel be more people friendly and customer-oriented. I have told him that I will take steps to do so. He has apologized to me and has sent two emails, which I will first send to the Board for comments and then to the people involved. I think his perceptions in his second email may have some degree of validity.
>
> I think this incident has uncovered some significant vulnerabilities of the organization. For one, we currently have no liability insurance. A lawsuit would likely be the death of GCA. As much as I would like to put this event to bed, I think a “lessons learned” after-action report would be appropriate with all involved contributing.
>
> I don’t think we will have any further action from Mr. DeCredico. Let’s learn from this and see if we can prevent another incident like this again.
>
> Fun

On Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 11:33 AM, Greg Maness wrote:
>>
>> To All … …
>>
>> I was not a witness to anything that occurred in the Informatics Room, so I can not address that. Apparently, Mr. DeCredico claims someone touched him. If that happened in Informatics, I was not there to witness … and perhaps it is better I do NOT know! If that happened outside the tournament hall, I did not witness it. Also, when Mr. Watkins and I were denying his entrance into the tournament hall I made special effort to NOT touch him … as did Mr. Watkins. Now, as far as the action of denying his re-entrance to the tournament hall … I stand by what I previously stated — which is what I was advised by a criminal defense attorney … “we were ‘well within our rights,’ we were also ‘well within our OBLIGATION’ to not allow him entrance to the tournament hall as our concern was the ASSURANCE OF THE SAFETY of the 50-odd people who were in the tournament hall … (and) had we PERMITTED his entrance to the tournament hall … and had there been an incident that compromised the safety of anyone therein … that WE (the G.C.A., the tournament personal, the hotel, etc.) could be held responsible and liable.” Note he (the lawyer) included the HOTEL as being liable as well!
>>
>> I agree with Dr. Fong on several points. Yes, if this were to ever to go to court, “we would all lose.” Even if we (the G.C.A.) were to “win” … and I am sure we WOULD win in court in this situation … we still “lose.” No argument from me. As far as trying to de-escalate a situation … I was under the impression that was attempted; it just did no good in this case — also as Dr. Fong has alluded.
>>
>> Mr. DeCredico has apparently “demanded our personnel be more friendly and customer-oriented.” Being “more friendly” is a perception, but I will give him that one. I am not sure what he means by “being more customer-oriented.” Apparently pairing errors were made … okay, those were just honest mistakes. Remedying that is an “in-house” issue. As far as “customer-orientation,” what is perceived as a problem(s), I would need more information before I gave my opinion there. Also, any past issues involving Mr. DeCredico and Southeast Chess, et al, is not relevant here (unless deemed so by the USCF in establishing a pattern of behaviour).
>>
>> Dr. Fong is dead on with this has uncovered some significant vulnerabilities! Remember, I stated my lawyer friend was “very surprised and distressed that an organization as the Georgia Chess Association does not retain legal counsel nor does not have an attorney who serves as a “friend of the organization” who is either an elected board member or serves as a staff member for the board. He especially stressed this with the fact the G.C.A. sanctions so many activities that involve minor children.” Add to that, as Dr. Fong has mentioned, the lack of liability insurance never entered my mind! [Perhaps another phone call to Kelly Hillyer is in order.]
>>
>> Should further action be taken by the G.C.A. (and the USCF) against Mr. DeCredico? That is not for me to say for the record. But … three tournament (adult) participants (and a fourth who did not address me directly) clearly stated to me they were in fear for their own personal safety! I can only imagine what was going through the minds of the many children who were witnesses to this situation. If the G.C.A. does not take action, I am afraid the perception of the G.C.A. in the eyes of many members and players will not be very favourable.
>>
>> — Greg Maness

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

Beautiful Flowers on the Chess Battlefield

Being pawed in the eye by Copper the dog left me with much time to cogitate, what with my eye being swollen shut. The day before I had read an article in the August issue of Chess Life, “Excutive Director’s Report,” which is by the new woman chosen to lead the USCF, Jean Hoffman, the first woman to hold the position (http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Executive+Directors+of+the+United+States+Chess+Federation). I learned the USCF mission has become, “Empowering people through chess one move at a time.” I wondered what that meant, exactly.

According to the Free Dictionary (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/empower), the definition of “empower” is:
1. To invest with power, especially legal power or official authority.
2. To equip or supply with an ability; enable: “Computers … empower students to become intellectual explorers” (Edward B. Fiske).

Jean writes, “As a result of this process, we crafted a new mission, complemented it with our first-ever vision statement and also developed long-term organizational goals that align with our status as a 501(c) charitable organization.”

The USCF mission statement sounds like one of those Orwellian “newspeak” things along the lines of the “Clear Skys Initiative,” promulgated by the Bushwhackers, which brought massive pollution raining down upon We The People by the Bushwhacker admistration. What happened to “Chess is a lifetime sport?”
The first-ever USCF “vision statement” is, “Our vision is to enrich the lives of all persons and communities through increasing the play, study, and appreciation of the game of chess.” How is it possible USCF made it through eighteen male Executive Director’s without a “vision statement?

Chess is not for all people. USCF statistics show the vast majority of children who learn chess reject it at, or before, puberty. Why is that? A generation after moving toward scholastic chess USCF is still “studying the question.” If the USCF has a clue, it has yet to be divulged to the membership.

The new female Executive Director comes from what is now referred to as “the scholastic part of chess.” With Ruth Haring the President of the USCF board the top two leadership positions are held by women. Here in the Great State of Georgia three of the five remaining board members are women, who do not play chess. Women like change. I cannot count the times I have heard someone say after a break-up between a man and a woman, “She thought she could change him.” The proliferation of women in the game of chess has changed things drastically. This is not your father’s chess, Bunky.

A good illustration would be an article published today on the Georgia Chess News website, “Women’s Open 2014 Results” By Laura Doman. (http://georgiachessnews.com/2014/09/29/womens-open-2014-results/)
“Pink carnations were laid beside each board position. Beautiful flowers in vases graced the tournament directors’ informatics table. Yes, this was the site for the annual Georgia Women’s Open tournament, which hosted sixteen women and girls on Saturday, September 20 at the Wyndham Atlanta Galleria Hotel.”

“Pink carnations” and “Beautiful flowers”? Laura Doman is a lovely woman, and I am sure she means well, but this is the kind of thing women have done, and are doing, that is off-putting to male chess players. What could be worse than to spend time getting psyched-up for the coming battle, getting prepared, as it were, to pull your sword, and arrive at the field of battle with “Pink carnations” and “Beautiful flowers” gracing the battlefield? This reminds me of an episode of the TV show, “Northern Exposure.” Holling Vincoeur, played by John Cullum, married a much younger woman, Shelly Marie Tambo, played by Cynthia Geary. Shelly began to “make changes.” Next thing you know Holling is forced to visit the Dr. Joel Fleischman, played by Rob Morrow. For the first time in his life Holling has become constipated. Dr. Fleischman cannot understand it and fails to find a reason, until it comes out that Holling had given Shelly permission to make changes in the bedroom. She had turned his rustic, log cabin in Alaska into a “pink” room with “flowers.” It was obviously more than Holling’s system could take, and he became all stressed out and “jammed-up.” I had the same kind of feeling after reading Laura Doman’s report.

This kind of thing proliferates. For example, see “Yamie Chess simul with Jennifer Shahade” on the Chessbase website (http://en.chessbase.com/post/yamie-chess-simul-with-jennifer-shahade). What is Yamie Chess? “Manufactured in the Michigan, USA, and designed for 5 to 12 year olds, the Yamie Chess® learning aid series focuses on nurturing children’s cognitive thinking and intellectual potential for mathematics, and is aligned to support the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ Curriculum Focal Points in algebra, geometry, data analysis, measurement and number logic.” If you are still uncertain about what, exactly, Yamie Chess is, it will help you to know that “Under the pieces the cartoon characters can be seen.”

Scott MacKenzie San Francisco 1967(original)

Scott McKenzie – San Francisco.flv

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

GCA Hegemonic Designs

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):
GCA Committees
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.”
CC
Mr. Parker sent an polished, insightful and obviously well-thought-out reply:
Michael,
“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:
“Hello Everybody
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.”
Greetings,
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
with Katie.
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.
Sincerely,
Thad Rogers
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
Thad,
“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.”
Fun

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.”

Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus

I just finished reading the new article on Chessbase,
“Explaining male predominance in chess” by Robert Howard
(http://en.chessbase.com/post/explaining-male-predominance-in-chess). Judging from the few comments posted Mr. Howard has started a firestorm. He writes, “If the male predominance in chess was due just to social factors it should have greatly lessened or disappeared by now.” He concludes with, “This conclusion is unpalatable to many but it is best to acknowledge how the world actually is.”
Ruth Haring is the President of the USCF. She sent me this email Sat, May 24, 2014:
Michael,
Hi again. I do have strong opinions, but the reason I do not blog is that I am too busy to keep up.

What do you suggest ? I could write something.

I view it as a statistical problem. When we get 50% women tournament players we can expect parity. I am working to encourage more women to play so as to increase the numbers, and thereby representation at the highest levels. If you take a random 4% of a population, you might find women tournament players outperform that random group.
Regards,
Ruth
Robert Howard simply refutes Ruth Haring. Actually, what he does is blow her thinking out of the water!
I lived with two sisters and a mother and from that experience I learned there is a difference between the sexes. All I have written is that there is a difference between males and females. I have always thought it a wonderful thing. I cannot imagine what kind of place this would be if we were all the same.
The world of chess has changed because of the influx of girls. Because of the vast number of children there are more women involved with chess because of what is now called the “Chess Mom.” When I write something like this there are those who mistakenly think I am negative when it comes to female participation in chess, when all I am doing is pointing out a fact. Women bring something different to the table. I am not making any value judgement, just stating a fact. I have no idea whether or not it is a good, or bad, thing. I urge you to read the article on Georgia Chess News, “From the New GCA Director of Communications” by Laura Doman, the new board member (http://georgiachessnews.com/2014/06/01/from-the-new-gca-director-of-communications/). This more than anything I can write illustrates what a woman brings to the chess world. Make no mistake, I mean this in a positive way. Women bring a social aspect to chess that men lack. I saw this when I played backgammon, where the percentage of women was exponentially larger than in chess. Yet the fact is that the women were not as strong as men. For example, the two strongest female players in Atlanta were Kathy and Debbie. They both won a fair number of Monday night tournaments. The matches were only seven points and the duration of the tournament was only three or four hours. But when it came to the two or three day weekend events, and longer matches, neither of them ever did well. I played in the World Amateur Backgammon Championship in Las Vegas twice, and female players never fared well. Granted, this is anecdotal evidence, but it is all I have to give.
When men are in a room with other men and a woman enters the dynamic is changed. When I first began playing chess the Atlanta chess club met at the downtown YMCA on Lucky street. One night two women entered. They were the first women I had ever seen at the club. They were treated rudely and left. I left my game and went outside to apologize even though I had not been involved. One was terribly upset, but the other smiled and thanked me. We played later, but not chess! That was the last time I saw a woman at the ACC. Years later a girl, Alison Bert, began playing chess. I gave her a few lessons, not for money, as is the case today, but because I liked her and wanted to help her. I must have done a good job because Alison beat me in a USCF rated game.
When it comes to women being involved in anything, I always think of something I read about the advantage Western civilization has over those of the Muslim faith because the latter suppress women. They do not allow women to bring anything to the table, and are therefore missing half of their being. Even if it is true that women are not, and may never be, as good at playing a game, it does not mean that what they bring to the board is not just as valuable as what a man brings. Not to mention the fact that they look so much better bringing it to the table!

Georgia Chess News

The big news with chess in the Great State of Georgia (do not think for a moment this means Georgia is perfect; how can it be with a Governor named “Nathan” but called “Raw” Deal by We The People?! The few times I have thought of the man has brought memories of The ambassadors of Western Swing, Asleep at the Wheel http://asleepatthewheel.com/) ) has been the unveiling of the new website, “Georgia Chess News” (http://georgiachessnews.com/). It is to replace the “award winning” Georgia Chess magazine, formerly a print magazine, if one can call a pamphlet, as were the last few issues according to several sources who scorned the thing. I missed the issues circling the drain, fortunately. “You have not missed a thing,” I heard from some who perused them. It has just appeared and new articles have been slow in coming , as acknowledged by one of the GCA board members, Frank Johnson. Frank said he is hopeful more content will be forthcoming, and in a more timely fashion. Good luck with that! The State Championship was held three weeks ago and I was recently asked about when the wrap-up may appear, though I know not why I would be asked such a question.
There was an election during the business meeting at the recent State Championship, held in a tent type structure at a hotel. Long time board member Steve Schneider, on and off the board for decades, did not even make an appearance and was defeated by the lovely chess mom, Laura Doman. Both her son, Josh, and daughter, Rachel play tournament chess. A picture of Rachel graces the home page of the Georgia Chess Association (http://www.georgiachess.org/). Laura is the 1st Member-at-large and the third woman now on the board of the GCA, none of whom are shown rated on the USCF website. In addition, Tricia Hill is shown on the website as the Online Editor. Georgia chess has never looked so good! If you wish to condemn me for being sexist, go ahead and do so because I stand guilty as charged! For years I have written about the changes taking place in chess. Chess is not changing; it has changed. After dealing with an all male board, none of whom could have been mistaken for Robert Redford, or any other “hunk” you can name, even the most die-hard cynic would have to agree the board is looking better. For an example of what I mean, click on this link and take a look at a picture I call, “Beauties and the Beast” (http://georgiachessnews.com/2014/05/01/tournament-director-td-training-sessions/). The beauties are obvious. The beast is the Vice President of the GCA, Ben Johnson, who was unopposed in the election. I hung the moniker “beast” on him when his rating reached “666.” Unfortunately, his chess strength has yet to match his rating. The first time I met the man, at a chess gathering at a Barnes & Noble in Smyrna some years back, he, not knowing me from Adam, tried to argue over what constituted stalemate. How ironic this man is now pictured in an article entitled, “Tournament Director Training Sessions.” Ben also told me that evening, “I am in chess only for the money.”
These are some of the things that have so changed chess. When I first began playing rated chess back in 1970 there were few, if any, women involved with the game. Scholastic chess has changed that fact in a dramatic way. As for the men, it would have been unheard of for any man with a triple digit rating to even consider running for an elective chess office. Back then, as now among we grizzled veterans, a triple digit player had absolutely no credibility whatsoever. The men who administered chess were wily ol’ veterans who had been involved with the game of chess most, if not all, of their lives. Now members with a lowly triple-digit rating sit on the USCF board.
Most of the people involved with chess know little, if anything, about Twentieth-century chess. It is the job of we 20th century people to remind those coming behind us of those daze. After all, we “boomers” were going to change the world, or so sang Alvin Lee and Ten Years After (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJE5tvWiIQk). Then old snuck up on us and we came to the realization that The Who had it right when they sang, “Meet the new boss/Same as the old boss,” in the song, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYMD_W_r3Fg).
My first road trip was with the strong Master Branko Vujakovic, an exchange student from Yugoslavia. We traveled to some city in eastern Georgia (memory fails) directed by an old codger named Robert Brand. In the first round he paired the highest rated player, Branko, with the second highest rated; number three with number four, etc. When some of the players objected, Mr. Brand said, “This is MY TOURNAMENT and I will pair it the way I want!” That was the end of the discussion and everyone took their seat. With that kind of memory, it is difficult for me to criticize the “next generation” too harshly. Maybe things were not better “back in the day.” It is possible that, like Carly Simon sang in her song, “Anticipation,” these are the good old days (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67oN0YQVgdo&list=RD67oN0YQVgdo#t=1).
Gotta take a nap to get ready for the Thursday Night Throwdown at the North Dekalb Mall. The Legendary Georgia Ironman just came in informing me the room is cool with white paint on the walls, which bodes well for not only the TNT, but for the Atlanta Chess Championship starting tomorrow, Friday, night in the same room! Has it really been 38 years since I won the ACC? It seems like yesterday…
Here is a game played by Branko prior to coming to America. This is the last game of the four played and, granted, Karpov had won the first three. Still, how many players can say they drew with a future World Champion? Another thing to note about this game is that neither of the two countries who face off in this match now exist.
Branko Vujakovic v Anotoly Karpov
USSR v Yugoslavia Match 1968 game 4
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.0–0 Be7 7.e5 Ne4 8.Nxd4 0–0 9.Nf5 d5 10.Bxc6 bxc6 11.Nxe7+ Qxe7 12.Re1 Bf5 13.f3 Nc5 14.b3 Ne6 15.Ba3 c5 16.Nc3 c6 17.Qd2 Rfd8 18.Na4 Qa7 19.Qf2 c4 20.Nc5 Bxc2 21.Rac1 cxb3 22.axb3 Bg6 23.h3 Rab8 24.Rc3 1/2-1/2