Wednesday, April 09, 2008

US Chess Championships a Demonstration of Mafia Mentality

This arrangement of the US Chess Championships in Oklahoma and low prizes are insulting enough to chess players. Then the Oklahoma chess mafia inserts their pals in the championship as qualifiers. The fact that the Oklahoma champion, not even a senior US Master, is a "wild card" while legitimately qualified player, International Master Bryan Smith, is passed over, is shameful. (I think Ron Burnett also qualified when Smith did, but I'm not certain.) Smith qualified through the US Masters Championship, which was supposed to have been a qualifier for the US Championship, at the time. Later, the single qualifier tournament (which took place in OKLAHOMA a few weeks ago) was proclaimed the only qualifier and the previous qualifier was ignored.

To think that a legitimately qualified player who actually wanted to play was passed over for the championship is very capricious by the organizers. The majority of top GMs who qualified by rating turned down the invitation, by the way. The reasons are thus: 1. the prizes are low and insulting, and may not even justify a trip to Oklahoma and over a week off work. 2. this championship will not be a qualifier for the FIDE World Championship Zonal.

To add insult to injury, Smith will have the opportunity to fight for his qualification one more way- through an online Tournament of State Champions (he's the champion of Pennsylvania)....but this tournament is determined by THREE MINUTE BLITZ GAMES. What genius came up with this format?

Last year, there was talk of bringing the tournament to Philadelphia prior to its having been sold to the chess mafia in Oklahoma. (That's what it seems like- a medieval fiefdom.) Proposed prizes were bigger in Philadelphia. Overall, the prizes, location, and format were much preferable to the championship which ended up taking place at a truck stop in a suburb of Tulsa. Pitiful. The US Chess Federation turned down the Philadelphia bid because the Berrys had cash in hand (about HALF the prize fund of the proposed Philadelphia tournament.) Sponsors had yet to be found in Philadelphia, but since the project had the Mayor's informal support, the success in finding a sponsor(s) was more or less assured. There was a time element involved...but who knows what else, or if someone's palms were greased. Goichberg was President of the USCF, and it's not clear where his allegiances lie, if he has allowed the above-mentioned travesties of chess to occur.

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