Mig 
Greengard's ChessNinja.com

The Anna Hahn Memorial Tournament

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Don't worry, she's still alive, but it's hard to imagine more being done to bury a player than what the US chess scene has seen this year regarding Hahn.

In January, 2003 she committed the terrible crime of winning the US Women's Championship. She didn't break any rules or legs and won fair and square. She finished the regular tournament tied with past winners Irina Krush and Jennifer Shahade and then beat them both in a rapid-chess playoff to take the title and the $12,500 first prize put up by Erik Anderson and his fabulous America's Foundation for Chess (AF4C).

As I documented in my report from Seattle, the three finalists played very different tournaments. That's the nature of the event, a Swiss in which the women are mixed in with the men. The top women finish in the middle of the pack and the middle of a Swiss system is incredibly random. But Hahn shouldn't be blamed for winning just because she is rated lower than Krush and Shahade.

The problems started when a US women's Olympiad training squad was formed a few months later and Hahn wasn't on it. As the 2003 US Champion she was automatically seeded onto the team for the 2004 Olympiad in Spain, but the organizers of the team believed, and still believe, Hahn is too weak to play on the team. (Susan Polgar and her business partner Paul Truong are behind the training squad and have done a huge amount of work on it.)

Hahn has played on the national team before, but this time around several high-rated women have parachuted into the picture. Anna Zatonskih (2444) has moved to the US and USCF rules were changed and new FIDE rule exceptions are being requested so she can play for her new country despite playing for Ukraine in 2002. The biggest news was that former women's world champion Susan Polgar (2565, inactive) was considering coming out of retirement to lead the team.

Combined with Krush (2465) the US would have a serious medal contender to face the Chinese, Georgians, Poles, and Russians. That's a 2491 average compared to the 2513 of the Chinese. The difference the organizers were worried about was board four, where the other top teams have another strong 2400+ reserve (only three players play each round).

Actually, that's not true. Poland won a silver in 2002 with a 2350 average and a 2238 on board four. But the training squad folks didn't want to leave anything to chance and wanted the strongest possible team in Calvia. The main sponsor, the Kasparov Chess Foundation, is also of this view. If The Garry is going to be involved this had better be a medal winner! These are all reasonable arguments.

So how to get Hahn off the team, despite the fact that this meant changing the rules of the 2003 US Championship after it had been played? A secret agreement was signed between then USCF Exec Director Frank Niro and Susan Polgar and the KCF. (So secret that only me and a few thousand others know about it.) In addition to sponsorship agreements, letters were exchanged to specify that the 2003 women's champion, Hahn, would not be put on the 2004 Olympiad team. Hahn was not notified.

Niro resigned when the USCF financial catastrophe became public and this and a few other shady and/or moronic and/or debatably illegal deals came to light. Rumors were swirling and Hahn asked about her status. It was confirmed to her by the USCF as late as a few months ago that her spot on the 2004 team was safe. After all, why wouldn't it be?

Ahem. Last month this all exploded when the Niro-Polgar agreement became public. Polgar insisted that it be honored or she'd sue the USCF. That is, Hahn couldn't be on the team, it had to be left up to the rating list. The USCF has a prior commitment to their champion and the title itself and a secret back-stab that had brought in sponsorship for the training squad. It can't honor both.

The perpetrators are Niro and the USCF. Polgar was doing what she thought was best for US chess and the women's team. Hahn is an innocent victim, having done nothing more than win a tournament and expect what was promised her.

When everyone legitimately thinks they are doing the Right Thing you can only criticize how they go about doing it. Why was the agreement to cut Hahn done in secret and kept secret for so long? If you sincerely believe you're doing right you shouldn't fear public scrutiny. And the slander aimed at Hahn from supposedly anonymous sources has been nothing less than pathetic. As if she should feel guilty for winning the US championship! She didn't write the rules.

Fast tap dancing was now required. Trying to find a loophole, the USCF declared that it was the reigning champion who was seeded onto the team, so they would run a hasty "championship" in New York in order to eliminate Hahn asap. Of course if you have an Olympiad training squad you would want the previous year's champion to be the one on the team so as to benefit from the training, but this isn't about logic, this is about replacing Hahn with someone already on the training squad.

But there is already a 2004 championship scheduled for the end of November (after the Olympiad) in San Diego and there are already many players qualified for that. No problem! At a suggestion by AF4C member GM Yasser Seirawan [As I was informed. Now I am told it originated with USCF Board member Don Schultz.] they have announced that San Diego will be the 2005 (!) women's championship and a 2004 event has been tossed together.

In case it's not painfully clear yet, the only point of this event is to replace Anna Hahn with someone higher rated and avoid being sued for it. That money is being put into this event is tragic considering the bankrupt state of the USCF. Perhaps Hahn would accept cash in the amount of half the value of organizing this sham championship in order to step aside. At least that wouldn't cheapen the title the AF4C has done so much to add much-needed luster to in the past few years. All to determine the fourth player, a reserve! And if Hahn isn't good enough to be on the team by virtue of winning the 2003 championship, why would she be good enough by virtue of winning the 2004 championship?!? Why invite her at all?

Hahn is now left is an unfortunate position. She is being asked to play for something she already has, a spot on the 2004 women's Olympiad team. The USCF wants to be able to cut her with a clean conscience, but that won't happen whether she plays in New York or not. She qualified in 2003 pure and simple. (From the documents I've seen there was nothing about 'reigning champion' in the rules and nothing about San Diego being a qualifier. What sense does it make to have the champion from the most recent championship on the team when that could be mere weeks before the Olympiad?) If she doesn't sue it will be a rare act of mercy in a litigious world.

You would think Susan Polgar would sympathize, having been on the nasty end of political machinations herself when she was illegally stripped of her FIDE women's world championship years ago. The winner of this "2004 women's championship" will have the title for a few months and an asterisk for all time.

"But what would you have us do?" they whimper, as if the situation is beyond their control. You do the Right Thing. You honor your commitment to the rules, the champion, and the title. You don't play "screw the person least likely to be vindictive and sue us." It's blood from a stone anyway.

The AF4C is primarily concerned with disseminating chess and garnering positive PR for the players, the game, and its benefits for kids. Now they are forced to waste time and money to cover the tracks of yet another USCF blunder. But the method they have chosen tars them and the title with the same brush. Won't it be fun in San Diego explaining why the men are playing 2004 championship games against women playing 2005 championship games? The databases will have a blast with that one. One game, two events!!

There's more, believe it or not. New rules about inactivity are being pressed into service to exclude a few other unfavored players, even though this new "championship" is being put together on very short notice under otherwise completely different rules. Sigh.

Many will try distraction about how great the training squad is, and it is. Or how it's unfair for others not to have a chance, even though they played in 2003 and finished behind Hahn. There are only four spots; someone deserving will always be unhappy.

And for those who want to deny that Hahn has any claim at all, why then are they holding this tournament?! The new rules say the team is selected by rating. That sounds simple enough even for chessplayers.

This episode is particularly sad because most of those involved are people I genuinely like and who have the best intentions for US chess. Many friendships are being strained and people will have to live with harsh words for a long time in this small community. I apologize if I've offended any of my friends, but some of you are wrong on this one.

Of course I hope they do well in Calvia regardless of configuration, but if you believe in karma it's hard to bet on the success of the women's team this year. Team spirit was more important than Elo when the US men's team silvered back in 1998.

39 Comments

I'd like to see Hahn crush the field, but that is highly unlikely with the target on her back. But I would dearly love for her to win and put everyone in their place. Go Anna!
Incidentally, the link above to the 2004 event in NY mentions that the championships in San Diego this November will be the 2005 Championships. No mention of this being solely the women's games that will be consider "2005" although Mig intimates that that is the case.

this is the problem with chess. the idiots run everything because the smart people want to play chess, not politics. look at FIDE and the USCF. both disgusting. Everyone knows who the top US women are- Krush, Shahade, Hahn. If they play and don't win, so be it. But to let someone step off a plane and displace the US Women's Champion from her earned place on the team? And if Polgar and co. did win, who would really care? disgusting...

My name is Brian Wall, 3 time Colo Chess Champion-

I write Chess emails- if you want to read about two nice Anna Hahn games vs Walter Browne and IM Jay Bonin go to www.walverine.com and enter Hahn in the search field

Zinger, the 2004-2005 part is a little joke to highlight the absurdity of having two women's championships a few months apart just to remove someone. Meanwhile there will only be one men's championship. I'm sure they won't call them separate events when they're playing one another in San Diego. Not that they haven't done sillier things.

I am so embarrassed with the USCF. It is like they are trying to compete with FIDE for most inept federation. I regret having invested so much money in a LIFE membership! All parties involved with the exception of Hahn should be ashamed of themselves.

How sad. I'm really disappointed at the involvment of people I used to respect. I agree with Mig's point that those folks probably do think that they are doing what is best, unfortunately they are mistaken.

I would much rather cheer on a losing team that was formed based on some ethical process than a winning team of questionable origins.

USChess and others involved in this need to start thinking long-term instead of short-term. A winning team under these questionable circumstances will generate more controversy than interest. This does not increase the long-term interest in chess. Quite the opposite--ethical controversy will drive away new players.

If they must change the rules for Olympiad AFTER 2004 so be it. But please no last minute changing of the rules.

Besides, if Hahn won the championship what's to say she won't do well at the Olympiad? Could be that her rating just hasn't caught up with her strength yet. And if she is brutally defeated it will create a demand for new rules for team selection. Either way USChess wins.

Let Hahn play!

The USCF is at fault for not announcing their intentions sooner. Having a make-shift, hastily put-together 2004 US Women's Championships looks bad. If they came right out and announced their intentions immediately following the knowledge that the 2004 AF4C US Champioships were going to be cancelled, (or at least publicize their position on the issue), the USCF would be on better moral ground.

Or, acknowledge that Hahn is not the highest rated Olympiad team member, but that due to unfortunate events and things called rules, she is our woman. Better yet, the USCF could have urged its members and fellow Americans to rally around the team, urging Hahn to join the training squad, and perhaps even give her extra training because of her low rating.

Was Hahn originally invited to join the training squad?

The USCF could have even politely asked her to step down (as Mig suggested). Even this would be more acceptable.

Who runs the USCF P.R. department anyway?

The USCF should turn this on its ear; instead trying to be sly about this, be brazen. First get the principles to agree behind closed doors to the plan. Declare very publicly that there is a scandal in the chess world, get some free publicity. Then declare a grudge match between Hahn and the person chosen to replace her, yet more free publicity. Pony up some bucks to split between the players, its bound to cost less than another championship. Get a sponsor, sponsors love this kind of publicity (as opposed to rape cases which they donít like) The winner gets to play the forth board.

Every one walks away a winner.

Boycott. The only way to get the Chess Federations to stop playing these games is to stand up and say, we, the chess playing public, won't participate in this crap anymore.

I think USCF and AF4C would change their tune if there was an active campaign against them and the new championship.

How can we expect FIDE to play by the rules when we see stuff like this at a national level?

JGH

This is truly a disgrace by the USCF. Thank you, Mig, for bringing it out in the open.

Anna Hahn won the 2003 Women's Championship. In winning, according to the rules under which she played, she was assured of a spot on the Olympiad Team. If the US takes a team without Hahn, then any medal it might win is a sham, and the only honorable thing to do would be to refuse it, and let it pass to the next team on the list.

What is being done now is, among other things, cheating in order to have a higher ranked team in the Olympiad. Cheating is always wrong. Any honor derived from cheating is really a disgrace.

With a team that includes those members who rightfully qualified, any finish will be an honor to the USCF and all United States chess players.

The trick they are playing is to say "it's not cheating if you change the rules." And since the team in Calvia will be led and staffed by the same people changing the rules - and who do not consider what they are doing to be at all wrong - there will be no refusing of a medal.

Heck, I didn't even get into the Shahade-Goletiani rating mess or the list of bizarre alternatives floated by the USCF and others before settling on this new championship freak show, the details of which are horrific regarding who can and can't play. They basically sat down and decided who they didn't want to play and then wrote up rules to exclude them. I'll ask her before I post them, but the letters from Belakovskaia on the matter are sensationally scathing. Best spring read since Richard Clarke!

One of the roots of this crisis is the deplorable practice of deciding championships via blitz playoffs. FIDE leads in it, and AF4C follows it, in the lamentable desire to make chess comparable to basketball for the ADHD-afflicted spectators. In 2002 the Christiansen-deFirmian blitz playoff resulted in the latter player's getting half the former's prize of $25G - an absurdity. And deFirmian didn't even get the consolation title of vice-champion. Blitz sharply heightens the normally small influence of chance in chess results.
In 2003 it would have preferable to use tie-breaks, if a serious playoff could not be organized. And it would be preferable to have co-champs. Blitz is another arena, for fun. Anna Hahn, with all due respect, played well but also benefited from luck. And why criticize an extra championship this year? Our women do not have a surfeit of opportunities to play serious tournaments; all should be grateful for it. Let them and us onlookers have a fine time; may the best woman win. If it is Ms. Hahn, I congratulate her in advance.
-Anthony Saidy I.M.
Captain, 1978 US Women's Team
P.S. If you think we have our problems, they are nothing compared to FIDE's award of the women's world ch'p to an insecure renegade province of Georgia, and the mess with the men's ch'p.

Vote with your purse. I won't spend another dime through USCF Sales (and I spend quite a bit of money there) if Anna Hahn is not given her rightful spot on the 2004 U.S. Olympiad Team. This is utterly disgraceful.

As far as I am concerned, if you want to play for the U.S. squad then earn it for 2006.

I'm not a member of the USCF myself but I really find this kind of thing shocking. Unfortunately not surprising as FIDE itself doesn't show a very good example.
In Chess we learn above all that you can't change the rules in the middle of a game.
If a selection rule doesn't work out for a National Federation then you change it afterwards but not retroactively!

Regarding Anthony Saidy's comments... Yeah, I think it's fair to say the original source of the problem was a broken championship system that let a lower-rated (and probably not as skilled) player get an automatic qualification for the team.

But them's the rules, and going back and fixing it retroactively is pretty disgusting.


Now, I do think it could have been okay if Niro & Co. had been totally upfront about it and worked out some deal with Anna for her to voluntarily step down.... and yet again, we see what is missing in just about every single chess organization:

T R A N S P A R E N C Y

Mig's said it a lot. It's the truth. Everything's done behind closed doors and then "announced". That's just broken.

The ACP seems to be doing well so far in that category -- they do a lot of open letters, and they always publish FIDE's and others' responses as well -- maybe they can do some good for the world of chess...


"She qualified in 2003 pure and simple. (From the documents I've seen there was nothing about 'reigning champion' in the rules and nothing about San Diego being a qualifier. What sense does it make to have the champion from the most recent championship on the team when that could be mere weeks before the Olympiad?) "

Im very confused about this paragraph? I'm quite sure that the 2003 US Championship was expected to NOT be an Olympiad qualifier, and only became one because of the sudden collapse/postponal of the 2004 US Championship.
Also doesn't it make a lot more sense to have someone qualify from a few months before the Olympiad as opposed to a few years? This way the players who are actually playing well now, as opposed to two years ago can play?

What a mess in the US is this tragedy? I really don't get it how a qualified player has to cancel his spot for the Olympiad because four players want them outta their team! This is a form of discrimination caused by rating points! Sad,sad...

A person like Anna deserves a better treatment.

Perhaps moving to Europe is an option?

The statement published by Mig has stirred up quite a furor. Mig's article has brought to light, if abruptly and antagonistically to some, an unfortunate situation which has been going on quietly for over a year, and at last it must be resolved. No doubt, I am saddened and angered to have been at the center of this preposterous controversy.

Although I cannot ethically endorse the final decision of the 2004 tournament, both AF4C and UCSF have been supportive in trying to resolve the crisis, and I would like to thank them for that. Perhaps there was no better solution, given the regrettable deals that only came to life in the middle of the discussion.

United States chess has greatly suffered. Let us look at the lessons engendered by our actions and build a better, united, and open system which can help to build rather than destroy, our efforts as a community. Like Mig said, the AF4C has "done so much to add much-needed luster" to US Chess. I sincerely hope that they will not be discouraged from continuing to offer their much needed support.

Personally, I will continue to play chess for the pure joy of it.

Anna

One thing about America, if you earn something you can keep it (or at least part of it) or so you thought! Anna Hahn earned her spot on the US Chess Women's Olympiad Team.

Beatrice Marinello was supposed to be our 'cat woman' who would clean out some of the rats in the USCF. Unfortunately, she has chosen to honor a low-down rat agreement which violates USCF rules. The fact is the USCF continues to operate under the dogma of lying, cheating, and stealing.

Any US Chess Women's Olympiad Team that does not include Anna Hahn does not represent the United States of America. The team without Anna will be nothing more than a bunch of hired mercenaries. If Susan Polgar wants to sue the USCF if she can't hand pick the team members - let her! You can make decisions based on threats. You had better understand what you give up with those decisions.

Mig, I too am unhappy about the way Anna Hahn was treated. However, you should really retract your statement, "As the 2003 US Champion she was automatically seeded onto the team for the 2004 Olympiad in Spain..." as it is incorrect, and you have caused many people to believe it.

When the 2003 Championship was held, the rules specified that the "reigning champion" would play on the Olympiad team. At the time, it was expected that this would probably be the 2004 champion.

Then AF4C found a new sponsor, causing the 2004 Championship to be changed from its previous January dates to the fall. At first a date shortly before the Olympiad was expected, but finally the current dates after the Olympiad were selected, making it impossible for the San Diego event to qualify a player for the Olympiad. Only at this point did Anna have reason to believe that she had made the team. The subsequent scheduling of a 2004 Championship before the Olympiad brought back a qualification situation similar to what was originally expected.

You also posted,

"There's more, believe it or not. New rules about inactivity are being pressed into service to exclude a few other unfavored players, even though this new "championship" is being put together on very short notice under otherwise completely different rules. Sigh."

This is incorrect, as the activity rules have not changed. The claim was made that two players should be disqualified due to inactivity, but USCF properly upheld its rules and refused to do so.

Also, you said,

"Won't it be fun in San Diego explaining why the men are playing 2004 championship games against women playing 2005 championship games? The databases will have a blast with that one. One game, two events!!"

However, AF4C has titled the entire event the 2005 US Championships. And the women are not in an event called "Women's Championship," they are in the "US Championship" and can win the entire event, not just the women's prizes.

Bill Goichberg
Executive Director, USCF

Thanks for taking the time to post and for the corrections and information, Bill. I tried in vain to get dated versions to track the evolution of the Olympiad qualifying requirements over the past year. I have yet to see a printed or dated document of the rules that were in place in January, 2003.

More to the point, it was affirmed and reaffirmed to Hahn in 2003 and 2004 that she was to be on the team as the champion.

I'll add that it makes no sense to have the "reigning champion" on the team when the dates of the Olympiad and the US Ch can always vary. Having someone potentially dropped into the team on short notice would seem to be a poor design, especially with things like the training squad.

I'm glad to hear the activity rules are going to be correctly observed. At the time of writing I had been told by one of the players that this was not the case. From what I can piece together invitations were not sent to several players until another player pointed out that the activity rules were not being correctly observed.

As I mentioned in a comment above, the "one game, two events" comment was a joke to highlight the absurdity of the situation. I don't think I was aware then that the entire event is now the 2005 Ch (indeed I believe holding an additional men's event was floated).

Maybe it's time to follow the method the Soviets used, numbering the championships instead of dating them!

"Maybe it's time to follow the method the Soviets used, numbering the championships instead of dating them!"

No joke! Particularly since this is the second time that a "year" has been skipped in the U.S. Championships since AF4C has taken over running the event (I think I'll just name myself 2004 U.S. Champion!). In the big scheme of things, this is a minor matter though. I'm still just delighted that AF4C rescued the event and they've done an exceptional job of running it.

Despite Goichberg's attention to the legal minutiae of the situation, it's still pretty obvious that the REASON for the "solution" (a separate event being held before the Olympiad) is to try and eliminate Anna Hahn's claims to a spot on the Olympiad team.

From Anna's response to this uproar on her behalf it's clear which side is taking the high road. She's classier than she is beautiful and I can easily see her becoming the people's champion, which incidentally is a title that neither the USCF nor her fellow female players can usurp.

Beautifully put, Zinger. To give some credit, technically this impromptu championship is to give her a chance to be on the team, at least if you follow the letter of the law. Any true solution would have to have come a year ago, it seems.

The best move on the part of the USCF was selecting Bill Goichberg as Executive Director. What a shame that this couldn't have happened a year ago.

I do have one question, Bill. Why are you not holding a 2004 US Men's Champion. Why is Alex Shabalov automatically seeded onto the Olympiad team? Is he not the 2003 US Champion? This doesn't make any sense to me at all.

The worst blunder of the USCF, and its most unforgivable act, was to leave Anna Hahn off the training squad. At the time the squad was formed she was US Women's Champion. No one had expected her to win the 2003 championship. Maybe no one expected her to be the best person to play on the team. But, out of respect for the position, she should have been given the opportunity for training. There was no reason for the training team to not be larger than the actual number of people who would qualify to go the Olympiad. And, we will never know if she wouldn't have turned out to have profited from the training and been qualified for the team purely by rating.

I agree with Anthony Saidy that a blitz play-off is not the correct way to choose a champion. Yes, Greg Shahade, it would be preferable for players who are actually playing well now to represent the US. Bill, you pointed out that "When the 2003 Championship was held, the rules specified that the "reigning champion" would play on the Olympiad team. At the time, it was expected that this would probably be the 2004 champion".

Not one of the above statements mitigates the injustice that was done to Anna Hahn. I, for one, don't believe that the USCF has taken the high road in correcting this wrong. They are trying to justify it with this hastily arranged 2004 Women's Championship.

The correct thing to do would be to seed Anna onto the team, and then choose the balance of the team according to whatever USCF rules are now in force - assuming those rules do not contradict the FIDE rules of eligibility.

Mig, seemingly Anna had already earned her spot on the Olympiad team and only extraordinary measures by the USCF are preventing that. This stinks of a "rematch clause" where a player has to win twice in a row to earn all of their rights as champion.

Mig, I'm quoting the first part of your post and inserting my reply in caps.

Thanks for taking the time to post and for the corrections and information, Bill. I tried in vain to get dated versions to track the evolution of the Olympiad qualifying requirements over the past year. I have yet to see a printed or dated document of the rules that were in place in January, 2003.

SEE THE JUNE 2002 CHESS LIFE, PAGE 50, 15E: "FIDE WOMEN'S OLYMPIAD: THE REIGNING U.S. WOMEN'S CHAMPION SHALL BE A MEMBER OF THE U.S. WOMEN'S OLYMPIAD TEAM."

More to the point, it was affirmed and reaffirmed to Hahn in 2003 and 2004 that she was to be on the team as the champion.

I DOUBT THAT IT WAS AFFIRMED IN 2003, AS IT WAS ONLY A FEW MONTHS AGO THAT THE SAN DIEGO DATES WERE CHANGED TO AFTER THE OLYMPIAD. I BELIEVE THAT WHAT ANNA WAS TOLD IN 2003 WAS THAT IF ANOTHER CHAMPIONSHIP WAS NOT HELD BEFORE THE OLYMPIAD, THEN SHE WOULD BE ON THE TEAM.

I'll add that it makes no sense to have the "reigning champion" on the team when the dates of the Olympiad and the US Ch can always vary. Having someone potentially dropped into the team on short notice would seem to be a poor design, especially with things like the training squad.

I'm glad to hear the activity rules are going to be correctly observed. At the time of writing I had been told by one of the players that this was not the case. From what I can piece together invitations were not sent to several players until another player pointed out that the activity rules were not being correctly observed.

NO, I SENT THE CHAMPIONSHIP INVITATIONS OUT ON APRIL 9 TO THE TOP RATED PLAYERS, WITH NO ONE ELIMINATED DUE TO INACTIVITY. BEFORE THAT THE CLAIM WAS MADE THAT TWO PLAYERS WERE INELIGIBLE DUE TO INACTIVITY, BUT I POINTED OUT TO THE BOARD THAT ACCORDING TO THE RULES THEY WERE ELIGIBLE DUE TO PLAYING IN THE SAME EVENT LAST TIME.

Bill Goichberg

REPLY TO SUSAN GRUMER:

The best move on the part of the USCF was selecting Bill Goichberg as Executive Director. What a shame that this couldn't have happened a year ago.

THANKS, SUSAN!

I do have one question, Bill. Why are you not holding a 2004 US Men's Champion. Why is Alex Shabalov automatically seeded onto the Olympiad team? Is he not the 2003 US Champion? This doesn't make any sense to me at all.

SHABALOV IS ALSO QUALIFIED BY RATING. ALSO, USCF CAN'T AFFORD TO FINANCE SUCH EVENTS, AND SPONSORSHIP IS AVAILABLE FOR THE WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP.

THE SITUATION IS MORE COMPLEX THAN MOST POSTERS ON THIS FORUM APPEAR TO BELIEVE.

ON THE ONE HAND, I FIND IT OUTRAGEOUS THAT A USCF OFFICIAL WOULD AGREE TO WAIVE THE SEEDING OF THE REIGNING CHAMPION CALLED FOR BY OUR RULES.

ON THE OTHER HAND, IF SAN DIEGO HAD BEEN HELD BEFORE THE OLYMPIAD, ANNA WOULD HAVE HAD TO WIN THE TOURNAMENT TO QUALIFY FOR THE OLYMPIAD. SHE WOULD HAVE NEEDED TO BEAT OUT THE TOP TWO WHO HAVE ACCEPTED INVITATIONS TO THE ROUND ROBIN, KRUSH AND ZATONSKIH. IF SHE PLACED SECOND BEHIND ONE OF THESE TWO, THE FINAL OLYMPIAD SPOT WOULD HAVE BEEN DECIDED ON RATING, LEAVING HER OUT.

IF ANNA PLAYS IN THE COMING ROUND ROBIN, SHE NEEDS ONLY TO BEAT OUT THE OTHERS NOT ON THE TEAM TO QUALIFY, SHE DOESN'T NEED TO FINISH AHEAD OF KRUSH AND ZATONSKIH WHO HAVE ALREADY MADE THE TEAM. THUS, HER CHANCES TO QUALIFY ARE MUCH BETTER THAN THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN IF SAN DIEGO WAS HELD BEFORE THE OLYMPIAD, AS ORIGINALLY PLANNED.

The worst blunder of the USCF, and its most unforgivable act, was to leave Anna Hahn off the training squad. At the time the squad was formed she was US Women's Champion. No one had expected her to win the 2003 championship. Maybe no one expected her to be the best person to play on the team. But, out of respect for the position, she should have been given the opportunity for training. There was no reason for the training team to not be larger than the actual number of people who would qualify to go the Olympiad. And, we will never know if she wouldn't have turned out to have profited from the training and been qualified for the team purely by rating.

THE TRAINING SQUAD WAS NOT CONTROLLED BY USCF, THOUGH IT WAS ENCOURAGED BY ED FRANK NIRO. I AGREE THAT NIRO SHOULD HAVE PUSHED FOR ANNA TO BE INVITED. NOTE THAT ANNA'S RATING USED TO BE MUCH HIGHER THAN NOW (2352), AND SHE IS SURELY NOT TOO OLD TO RETURN TO THAT LEVEL.

I agree with Anthony Saidy that a blitz play-off is not the correct way to choose a champion. Yes, Greg Shahade, it would be preferable for players who are actually playing well now to represent the US. Bill, you pointed out that "When the 2003 Championship was held, the rules specified that the "reigning champion" would play on the Olympiad team. At the time, it was expected that this would probably be the 2004 champion".

Not one of the above statements mitigates the injustice that was done to Anna Hahn. I, for one, don't believe that the USCF has taken the high road in correcting this wrong. They are trying to justify it with this hastily arranged 2004 Women's Championship.

THIS EVENT CAME ABOUT BECAUSE USCF FOUND ITSELF IN A DIFFICULT SITUATION. IT SHOULD BE POINTED OUT, THOUGH, THAT THE COMING CHAMPIONSHIP IS MORE THAN JUST AN OLYMPIAD QUALIFIER. IT WILL HAVE MOST OF OUR TOP RATED WOMEN PLAYING FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A YEAR AND A HALF, WITH $8000 IN PRIZES. EVEN IF ANNA DECLINES HER INVITATION, IT SHOULD BE A VERY INTERESTING TOURNAMENT.

IF SUCH AN EVENT HAD BEEN ANNOUNCED AT THE SAME TIME AS THE CHANGE OF DATES OF SAN DIEGO TO AFTER THE OLYMPIAD, I THINK ANNA WOULD HAVE HAD NO REASON TO COMPLAIN. BUT SINCE SOME TIME WENT BY DURING WHICH SHE THOUGHT SHE WAS IN, I CAN UNDERSTAND HER BEING UPSET.

Bill Goichberg

It's just another day in chess politics. I hope Hahn sues, and then I hope she moves to another country that will treat her with respect. Then I hope she beats ever US player she ever meets.

She should be in a chess version of Kill Bill... (no not Goichberg)

Do any, ANY, of you have any idea how this sounds to my eleven year old daughter? This is why she never plays "organized" chess. Who can blame her?

It must sound scary, stupid, and discouraging to your eleven year old daughter. Because that's how it sounds to me and I'm forty nine. The truth can be pretty disturbing sometimes but not all the time.

I'd like to see Hahn move to Canada. :-)

Hmmm... you must be Canadian.

Joshua Henson and I are both Canadian (well, he's a Manitoban if that counts lol). Hahn would be only too welcome here... well except for by one chess parent that we have grown to love on a Canadian chess message board [Name Withheld].

To David Cutler: If you want to meet some other corrupted chess kids, come to Canada... we've got lots to go around!

Bill Goichberg is the only one making sense - all the rest seems to be hype.

Why not persuade all the chess players rated above 2450 from the former soviet block to emmigrate to USA? This way susan polgar will have her dream team, US will secure atleast a medal and everyone would be happy except of course home grown talents like anna hahn!

What a sham what a sham
The starting line up sounds like a team from russia, not USA.

As for the comment about blitz deciders, it's not the players who frame these rules, it's the organizers. I feel if given the proper training and support, anna would out perform anyone on the current US team.

I read anna's comments and realized nice guys finish last, even when they finish first.
Very sad day for US chess!

What a surprise, Anna has hardly played a game sense. We can be happy that we won, I guess.

Anna, it's clear for all to see.....

All I would say is: "whose conscience is it anyway"


Anna, it's clear for all to see.....

All I would say is: "whose conscience is it anyway"


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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on April 21, 2004 4:59 PM.

    Georgia on My Mind II was the previous entry in this blog.

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