The President of the Georgia Chess Association Replies

A different post was about ready to go when the decision was made to check the email, where this reply was found in the inbox:

J Parnell Watkins, Jr.

4:03 PM

Well written as always. I will ask you, just how many people walk away from a tournament with prizes? How many are motivated by the prize fund to play? Am I in a minority?


J. Parnell Watkins, Jr.
President, Georgia Chess Association

I would like to thank the POTGCA for his kind words.

His questions will be answered in order:

I have no idea “…just how many people walk away from a tournament with prizes.” If anyone does have an answer please share it with the POTGCA.

“How many are motivated by the prize fund to play?” can only be answered by asking each and every player in each and every section how motivated they were by the possibility of winning money. If one does that for every tournament for a year one would probably have enough information to answer the question.

As for the last question about possibly being in a minority, once again, how large a sample size do you need? I will begin by informing you, sir, that you are, indeed, in a minority!

Then again, I will admit Chess is different in some respects, which can best be illustrated by something that happened at Gammons, in the Piedmont Peachtree Crossing shopping center, in the 1980s. One day Steve Moffitt and I were there early and began conversing about Chess. Steve was a Texas junior Chess champion, and he asked if I would like to play a game. He had a set and clock in his trunk even though he had not played in years. Once a player… We decided to do as GM David Bronstein suggested and play a fifteen minute game. Since the game was drawn we set them up again. The second game was also drawn. A backgammon player had entered and was standing there watching the conclusion of the second game. He had no idea why we were shaking hands and smiling. “Who won?” he inquired. Steve said, “It was a draw.” He looked dumbfounded before incredulously saying, “You mean you SPLIT? Nobody paid off?” After wrapping his mind around the fact that no money had changed hands he asked, “So the only way to get paid is to win?” Steve told him that was the way it was. I added, and then immediately regretted it, “We were not playing for anything other than the love of the game.”

“What?!!?” he scoffed. “You mean you weren’t playin’ for ‘nuthin at all? What’s the point of playing?”

What Constitutes a “Serious Game?”

In response to my previous post, “Screw you Rex” (, the esteemed former President of the Georgia Chess Association, Scott Parker sent this email:

My view is that while short “quick handshake” draws may not be what you want to see as a spectator, unless you are paying a significant appearance fee to a player you have no right to tell him/her how to conduct his/her game. If you are paying a significant appearance fee, then setting a ground rule like “no draws before move 30”, or “no draws in the first time control” is fair. If a player doesn’t like the ground rules, he/she has the option not to come and take the appearance fee. Absent that, you have no right to tell a professional player how to conduct his/her business, which is what a rule against a quick draw does. Apparently there was no such rule in the tournament you reference (I haven’t checked). That being the case, a player has the right to conduct his/her game as he/she sees fit.

Best Regards, Scott

The part that bothered me was, “…you have no right to tell a professional player how to conduct his/her business, which is what a rule against a quick draw does.”
I took it to mean I would have no right to, for example, tell a professional Major League Baseball player to not use steroids, which is basically what fans told MLB. Because of the outcry from the fans of MLB, steroids are now banned from the game. If the fans, collectively, had not told MLB to clean its act, some monster ragin’ on ‘roids would have blasted 100 home runs in a season by now. Fans told professional MLB players how to act because CHILDREN EMULATE MLB PLAYERS!
I also suggested that Mr. Parker, “…read the US Constitution, and pay particular attention to the First Amendment of what is called the Bill of Rights, which states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Then you should go here: ( where you will find it written : “Freedom of speech is the political right to communicate one’s opinions and ideas using one’s body and property to anyone who is willing to receive them. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used.”
You will also find: “The right to freedom of expression is recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 19 of the ICCPR states that “[e]veryone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference” and “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice”.
Being able to express oneself is what separates our country from others where the citizens cannot speak freely.
I also wrote in reply, “If you go to the USCF Official Rules of Chess (I have the 5th edition) you will find on page 42 rule 14B6. Premature or prearranged draws. There it is written, “It is unethical and unsporting to agree to a draw before a serious contest has begun. The same is true of all arrangements to prearrange game results. In case of clear violations of the moral principles of the game, penalties should be imposed at the director’s discretion.”
“For you to be right in this matter, and for me to be wrong, you MUST believe the six move draw made by GM Finegold and GM Josh Friedel was a “serious contest.” What is worse is that you must also defend the draw Ben Finegold passed out to his son after playing only ONE MOVE as also a “serious contest.”
I also included, “Just today at the chess camp two older boys who have been involved with chess for a few years, got up from their board. I asked the result only to be informed they had agreed to a draw. I was STUNNED! I told them to sit back down and finish the game. Later I asked why they had agreed a drawn game, one said, “That’s what the adults do.” Out of the mouths of babes…What kind of example is being, and has been set by we “adults?”
Indeed, what kind of example is being set at the leading light of chess in America, the St. Louis Chess Club & SCHOLASTIC CENTER! The so-called “professionals” at the StLCCSC repeatedly violate rule 14B6 and they do so with impunity.
I see this as a problem for chess, one of the many facing the Royal game. Mr. Parker sees no problem. One of us is right, and the other wrong. In the end there can be only one. If Scott is right then what is the purpose of rule 14B6? If a professional is allowed to make a draw after only six moves, or in the case of the serial drawer, GM Ben Finegold, only ONE MOVE, the only justification is that a “game” of only one move constitutes a “serious game.” And if that is, in fact, the case, then why force the “professional” to come to the board at all? Why not let them phone it in the night before so as to be able to sleep in the next day. After all, they are “professionals” and who am I to “tell them what to do?”