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American Woman

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From the front lines of the Elo wars comes the news that 2003 US Women's champion Anna Hahn is unlikely to make the Olympiad team because of her rating isn't high enough. Even 2002 champion Jennifer Shahade, whose rating is 100 points higher, wouldn't make the current cut. Several recent emigres have raised the bar and apparently former women's world champion Susan Polgar is ready to get back into action and represent the US for the first time. The eldest Polgar has lived in Queens, NY for many years and hasn't played a professional game since 1997. Somewhat surprisingly her 2565 rating from back then still makes her the third-highest rated woman in the world, a few points behind the woman she easily beat for the women's title in 97, China's Xie Jun (also inactive). Of course both are far behind Susan's little sister Judit's 2700.

Anna Hahn, Irina Krush, Jennifer Shahade, Susan Polgar

"Title versus Elo" goes back long way, Hahn and Shahade would just be the latest victims of rating-obsession. 2002 US champ Larry Christiansen would have been left off the men's team had a few players not declined their invitations. [Not true, see update below.] Nice reward for winning what is supposed to be a prestigious title! Back in the 60s in the USSR there was a mini-scandal when some players and some politicians wanted to leave Botvinnik off the Olympiad team, something akin to leaving God off of the Heaven team.

UPDATE: GM Joel Benjamin, himself a many-time US champion and Olympiad player, tells me that a recent rule change DID make it so the champion automatically made the Olympiad team, and that Larry Christiansen made the 2002 team because of this rule and not because of declined invitations. (This change came too late for Benjamin, who was twice left off of Olympiad teams despite being the reigning champion.) This is good news, but why is it only for the men's team? If the US champ deserves that respect, and he does, why doesn't the women's champion?

If you are good enough to win the Championship you are good enough to be on the Olympiad team. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Elo should not always be its own reward. I hereby table a motion to make the most recent champions automatic Olympiad players, even if Elo is used to sort board order. There is precedent otherwise, such as in 2000 when FIDE champion Khalifman played first board for Russia ahead of several higher-rated players.

The two players Hahn beat in the playoff for this year's title, Shahade and Irina Krush, are playing a two-game rapid chess match one the 20th in a Manhattan art gallery. From the press release: "The Viewing Gallery at 114 17th St. between 6th and 7th avenues, just a few blocks from the Marshall Chess Club! The match will begin at 7:00 pm and will last until 9:30 pm." More importantly, further down it says, "wine will be served." The tough life of a chess writer. It's open to all, so if you are in the area, stop by.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on March 19, 2003 9:44 AM.

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