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I'm not going to provide daily updates on this, but I don't see any other sources talking about what could be a large issue soon enough. (DD 69, 70, 72) My main concern is becoming to keep everyone talking amicably and not let personalities become an issue. As a progressive political veteran I know how easy it is to let little battles divide people who really want the same thing. In this case that thing is the success of US chess. (See the message boards for more on this.)

I've corresponded several times with my friend FM Paul Truong on the matter. He is "Team Captain, Business Manager, Training Coordinator" of the women's training squad and a friend and co-author of Susan Polgar. The salient points he makes are 1) The initiative to change the residency requirement for playing on the Olympiad teams and the US championships did not come from Susan Polgar. 2) The women's training squad that assembled last week was based only on the rating list. From the top seven women, six invitations were sent out and five accepted.

The one that didn't accept is apparently Camila Baginskaite, who is also GM Alex Yermolinsky's wife. The one who wasn't invited is Elena Donaldson. Sources say she refused to play in several games during the Bled Olympiad and is unwelcome on the 2004 team.

The only info I have from the USCF so far is that the US champions ARE seeded onto the Olympiad teams, but only the champion from the year of the Olympiad. As I mentioned before, having only one champion make it is not unreasonable, but it runs into calendar issues. The 2004 US championship will likely be held in the Fall, right before the Olympiad. If the winner is then thrown on the team and isn't one of the members of this training squad, it's a double blunder. Training resources have gone to someone not on the team (the lesser evil since that will happen anyway because there are only four Olympiad slots) and someone on the team hasn't benefited from any of the training! With that in mind it actually makes much more sense to seed the champion from the previous year on the team, if they will only seed one. If the USCF wasn't aware of a scheduling change for the Championships it's only another reason why they should be talking regularly with the AF4C.

Of course putting both champions on the team also makes sense. True, that's half the team of four, but I'd rather have respect for the title than the tyranny of Elo. And how often will the champion not also be an Elo qualifier? You'd imagine that at least one of the two seeded champions would be among the top four women by Elo. And if they're not it would only prove that there is more to life and chess than rating points!

Regardless, this training squad is a great idea and kudos to the USCF, Paul Truong, and Susan Polgar for making it happen. The early noise from the AF4C is that they aren't happy about seeing their champion not on the team.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on March 27, 2003 9:36 AM.

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