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 Ironman Gambit

The many regular readers from all over the world will know this is a continuation of my previous post. Newcomers may want to read it before reading this…
The Legendary Georgia Ironman finally made it to the board for the fourth round of the Atlanta Chess Championship. He amazed by winning the game versus the ‘Rock Star’ William Remick, who is a drummer in a heavy metal band. The amazing thing about the ‘Rock Star’ is that the arm he used was mangled in a wreck and he had to learn to use the other arm. The man with high energy has had some good results recently, but this was not one of them. Fortunately for the Ironman the game was short. Such was not the case for his last round game against one of the up and coming juniors, Shanmuka Meruga. The game lasted late into the night. By the time the Ironman returned I was two plus hours into the movie, “Django Unchained.” I ignored his knock upon my door. Sometime later he knocked again and I had to say, “I’m into something. Go away!” I could have stopped the movie, but did not because by that time there was absolutely no way I could stop watching and go back to it. As David Spinks would say, I HAD to watch it until the end, MAN! I was riveted for all three hours. It deserves all four stars. What can I say, it blew me away. I have now seen two movies staring Jamie Foxx, with “Colleratal” being the other, and both were fantastic. The latter ranks up there with Robert De Niro’s “Taxi Driver” as far as movies about cab drivers. Besides, from the way Tim looked, I figured he must have lost and it would be extremely difficult to go from what I had been watching for two plus hours to having to commiserate with Tim. Imagine my surprise to learn the man of iron had won the game, and with it $200! This after coming to play only the last day. What can I say, Tim continues to add to the Ironman legend.
I must admit, though, that the Ironman was showing some rust when I visited with him Sunday night, before he “fell-out.” He crashed out hard and looked like warmed over death Monday morning as we drove to the chess camp. Pragmatically speaking, the Ironman should have stayed home and rested Sunday, but that is no way to add to a legend.
I give the games for posterity:
[Event “2014 Atlanta Championship”]
[Date “2014.06.01”]
[Round 4]
[White “Remick, William”]
[Black “Brookshear, Tim”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “D00”]
[WhiteElo “1953”]
[BlackElo “2038”]

1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. Bf4 e6 4. Nc3 c5 5. dxc5 Bxc5 6.e3 a6 7. Bd3 Nc6 8. a3 O-O 9. g4 Re8 10. Ne5 d4 11. Nxc6 bxc6 12. Ne4 Nxe4 13. Bxe4 Bb7 14. Qf3 e5 15. Qh3 exf4 16. Qxh7+ Kf8 17. Qh8+ Ke7 18. Qxg7 Qd6 19. Qg5+ Kf8 20. Bh7 fxe3 21. O-O-O Re5 22. Bf5 e2 23. Rde1 d3 24. cxd3 Bxf2 25. Qh5 c5 26. Rxe2 Rxe2 27. Rd1 Be3+ 28. Kb1 Qd4 0-1
[Event “2014 Atlanta Championship”]
[Date “2014.06.01”]
[Round 5]
[White “Brookshear, Tim”]
[Black “Meruga, S.”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “D35”]
[WhiteElo “2038”]
[BlackElo “1902”]

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 c6 4. Nc3 e6 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bh4 Be7 8. e3 Bf5 9. Bd3 Ne4 10. Bxe7 Qxe7 11. O-O Nd7 12. Qc2 O-O 13. Nd2 Ndf6 14. Rae1 Rae8 15. f3 Nxd2 16. Qxd2 Bxd3 17. Qxd3 Qb4 18. Re2 Re719. a3 Qb6 20. b4 Rfe8 21. Rfe1 a6 22. Na4 Qc7 23. Nc5 Nd7 24. Nxd7 Qxd7 25. a4 g6 26. Kf2 f5 27. b5 cxb5 28. axb5 Qxb5 29. Qxb5 axb5 30. f4 g5 31. g3 gxf4 32. gxf4 Rc8 33. Rb1 Rg7 34. Rxb5 Rd7 35. Reb2 Rcc7 36. Kf3 Kg7 37. Rb6 Re7 38. Rg2+ Kh7 39. Rgg6 Rc3 40. Rxh6+ Kg7 41. Rhe6 Rxe6 42. Rxe6 b5 43. Rb6 Rb3 44. Rd6 b4 45. Rxd5 Kg6 46. h4 Rb1 47. h5+ Kf6 48. h6 b3 49. Rd6+ Kf7 50. h7 Kg7 51. Rd7+ Kh8 52. Rb7 b2 53. Kg2 Re1 54. Rxb2 Rxe3 55. Rd2 Re6 56. d5 Rd6 57. Kf3 Kxh7 58. Ke3 Kg7 59. Kd4 Kf6 60. Kc5 Ke7 61. Rh2 Rf6 62. Rh7+ Kd8 63. Kd4 Ra6 64. Ke5 Ra5 65. Ke6 Kc8 66. Rh8+ Kc7 67. d6+ 1-0
I would like to give more details about the ACC, but the tournament has yet to be rated. By way of explanation I can only tell you the tournament was a Thad Rogers production. I would have covered it, but decided against it after hearing the message left by Mr. Rogers on the Ironman’s cellphone in which he threatened to “Punch Mike in the face!” It seems Thad was none too pleased with the post I wrote about the new Atlanta Kings (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2014/05/31/reprise-of-the-atlanta-kings/). After giving me permission to print it he now claims that parts (Parts? What parts!) were “off the record.” Unfortunately I did not tape our conversation, but others did hear Thad give me permission to print. How was I too know under the table payments were being made in the USCL? From what Thad told me I understood it to be common knowledge the players were being paid by the poker money people. I will admit I have little knowledge of the league, and those who read this blog, and have read the BaconLOG, know why I have little interest in the USCL. There is, though, a recording of the threat made by Thad. I can only hope that in this case the threat is stronger than it’s execution!