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2005 US Championship

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That's right, 2005. In order to accomodate the wacky and impromptu 2004 US women's championship, this year's regularly scheduled event (Nov. 24 - Dec 5, San Diego) has been dubbed the 2005. I think this should be their cue to do what the Soviets did to avoid this sort of confusion with their haphazardly scheduled championships: number them instead of using years. Plus, Roman numerals always look cool.

Anyway, the field is now complete and posted to the AF4C website (further changes may occur). Of interest: Yasser Seirawan and Susan Polgar declined their invitations. Kamsky got a wild card. IM Ron Burnett qualified by winning a tournament of state champions online blitz event. This was hastily arranged and little publicized this year, but is a great concept to lend nationwide PR to the main event. It could also add a lot to the state championships, many of which barely exist anymore. It will be the strongest of these new Swiss-system championships thanks to Kamsky and Onischuk. Nakamura must be tipped as a favorite after his remarkable FIDE KO run.


Yet another sad sign that the USCF (like FIDE) is worthless. Some day the chess world will wake up and realize that non-profit is non-success.

Chess for profit = Stock Exchange Chess.
FYI, the USCF pre-2000 and FIDE pre-1993 always ran their championships on schedule. It's your beloved greed-is-good free market fundamentalism that destroys chess. Run a couple of lucrative events for a few and leave a wasteland behind is what it does.


Haphazardly scheduled USSR Championships? This statement falls right smack into your party line, but it's still a lie.
The USSR Championship was a multi-staged affair with regional qualifiers in the spring, semifinals in the summer, First League in the fall, and yes, sometimes the Premier League would go over the New Year. So what?
Rather than disturbing the past, let's look into our current situation.
Since "saving" the National Championship in the beginning of 2000, AF4C has run three events, and they're having the fourth one in December. Not bad, but wait till AF4C drops the ball in 2005 - the whole thing with years designation indicates that. What would you say then? Four championships in 6 years and now back to the drawing board. Some rescue.
All that talk about making the US Championship a big money event has finally manifested itself in a $139 room rate at the San Diego hotel where it's going to be held. Big money out of chesplayers' pocket, that's what it is.

Bravo Yermo

Get back to decaf, Yermo. "Lie" denotes intention to deceive. What is my party (or Party) line, by the way? I was only pointing out that they didn't always fall into the calendar year, which is how just about every national championship is designated other than the Soviet. There were two championships in 1961, for example. I'm aware of the Otborochny system. So what? Now we have a 2005 championship in 2004, That's it. No conspiracy.

As for the AF4C, the event was about to be cancelled the year they stepped in. (I participated in negotiations for KasparovChess Online to sponsor the event.) Some rescue indeed. There is also the matter of prize fund. These four events have all paid out many times the pre-AF4C events, I believe. The first prize has doubled and it may double again. As for next year, why complain about it now? If the AF4C disappeared off the face of the Earth tomorrow they'd have done a huge amount for US chess and US chessplayers.

When GMs play in the World Open do they get a free hotel room or a guaranteed prize? Last place in the US Ch more than covers expenses and few GMs risk last place. I suppose they could give free rooms and deduct that money from the prize fund, but everyone is addicted to big dollars signs on the prize fund. But I doubt anyone leaves San Diego with a net loss.

AF4C has done a huge amount for US Women's chess, as the number of female finalists constitute a pretty high percentage of the total number of female chessplayers in the US, that are seriously studying the game. As for the men....For the grandmasters, the US Championship should be one of the more lucrative events on the schedule. As far as mere masters are concerned, it's a choice of going to the tournaments where already the expenses are close to a $1,000 (entry fee, airfare,hotel) and pay an additional $75 per tournament for a very long shot to qualify (having to pass players rated 300 points above you and tougher pairings to boot) or get back to decaf, relax, and miss the whole thing alltogether.

Actually, given the REALLY high room rate, coupled with long event, plus you're going to probably have to rent a car (or you'll just have to eat very expensive hotel food for two weeks), plus airfare, it's probably likely that some of the bottom guys and girls are going to come out behind.


Putting me on decaf would amount to torture. What's next, tofu?


I'll probably live in my car on the parking lot in San Diego.

I want to say that I think noyb is correct about non-profit chess being part of the problem. With Fischer, we had the prospect of chess becoming a major sport and elevating the whole game to a new level of professionalism here in America. When Fischer was playing Spassky, average Americans were more interested in chess than they were in football or baseball. Some people think that money corrupts professional sports, but I ask you: Should basketball or hockey be non-profit? If not, then why chess? More boys and girls look up to basketball players as heros than chess players, so if you want to inspire youth to play chess, I say: Try creating a whole new class of professional chess players by doing what noyb suggests, and making chess profitable here in America, for more than just three or four chess players at the very tippy top.

#1 - While something of a side-note to this discussion, the point must be made that it is always important, and particularly so in this case, to make a clear distinction between "non-profit" - a charity - and "not for profit" - as are the USCF and the AF4C.

When someone calls the USCF a non-profit, many people will automatically assume it has the financial structure, motivations, and governance that a charity might have; nothing could be (should be?) further from the truth.

#2 - More to the point of this discussion, failing to meet the "mission" of the organization (whether speaking of the USCF or the AF4C, and whether that is even true in either case) is clearly NOT a function of the organization's financial structure under the US tax code!

It's directly derived from a) how clearly the mission is defined and understood by management and the directors, and b) the level of their ability and capacity to accomplish that mission.

#3 - Please give me even ONE example, from anywhere and any time, where the popular opinion of chess players was on a par with that of athletes, compensation-wise (if professional) or otherwise (as amateurs.)

Even in parts of the world where chess is a "major sport" (and of course this all begs the "is chess a sport or not" question!) you can probably pay ALL of the top chess players' annual income with the pocket change from the top football (soccer) player!

If we stop thinking about the business of chess from the perspective of professional sports, perhaps the mission of those who want higher pay for chess professionals will be more clearly defined and understood (refer to #2, above.)

Jeremy Good:
First of all, chess can hardly be compared with hockey or basketball, because it doesn't have hipchecks or slam dunks.

And money does corrupt professional sports and basketball and hockey should be non-profit. Professional hockey should hardly be an example for chess given that NHL will probably have a major lockout this year, so it is possible that no games will be played for quite some time. And professional basketball is a disgrace - just look at how the Dream Team of USA millionaires did against half-amateur teams of the rest of the world in Olympics in Athens.


Don't let Russianbear's atavistic notions discourage you. With forward-thinking like his, the wheel would never have been invented.

As Lasker demonstrated 100 years ago, professional chess is indeed about money. Money does increase the chances for corruption, but the pros far outweigh the cons. The idea that you can increase the scope of a sport without money is naive.

The 2004 US Olympic basketball team?? Russianbear, I thought we weren't supposed to compare chess to basketball. Which is it?

jimromerules: atavistic notions?

If you had an atavism that is called a brain, you would actually understand what I was saying, which was that chess doesn't compare to basketball or hockey as a spectator sport. On the other hand, my basketball and hockey points were there to question the assumption that any sport is better off with professional athletes, not to compare them to chess.

"As Lasker demonstrated 100 years ago, professional chess is indeed about money. " - What a profound idea! But I was actually talking not about whether professional chess is about money (noone argues that a professional sport isn't about money, since the word "professional" implies that it IS about money) The question is whether chess is better off being a professional sport or an amateur one.


Professional bridge players don't get appearance fees and don't win prize money (or the money they win isn't material enough to matter). Is this a system that works for you?

Atavism called a brain? Not sure what that was supposed to mean. Atavism is the notion that what used to be is better than what is. Your atavism is demonstrated in your thinking that an amateur sport is inherently better than a professional sport. Nevermind. Continue with your ideas. Catch up and surpass.


Of course the US team failed because they sent NBA players. Argentina and others were better b/c their players weren't paid as much or at all. This is the only example you need to prove professional basketball is a "disgrace". If the US had sent their unpaid college players, they would certainly have done better.

You have to understand Rome, money is bad. It ruins every sport.

jimromerules: I won't comment on your misunderstanding about what the word "atavism" means. Let me just say that dictionary.com is a useful resource.

"Professional bridge players don't get appearance fees and don't win prize money (or the money they win isn't material enough to matter). " - It sounds like they are really amateurs, because I think the word "professional" implies that the earn their living playing bridge.

Perhaps my opinion that amateur sport is better than a professional sport is a minority one on this forum. But I don't see how the opposite point of view- that professional sport is inherently better than an amateur sport makes any sense.

Just look at where the efforts to professionalize chess have taken us. The prize funds for Kasparov-Karpov 1990 match as well as the Fischer's pay day in Belgrade match of his were probably more the the USSR budget for chess for a decade. There have been rich tourneys here and there, but has something good happened to the game? The only results are chaos and loss of interest in the game among general public.

Like yermo wrote above- "It's your beloved greed-is-good free market fundamentalism that destroys chess. Run a couple of lucrative events for a few and leave a wasteland behind is what it does."
I wish yermo would comment more on this issue because he obviously has a lot to say on the topic.


The 2nd and 3rd defs of atavism per dictionary.com:

2. An individual or a part that exhibits atavism. Also called throwback.

3. The return of a trait or recurrence of previous behavior after a period of absence.

This is where your brain and ideas are - in the past.

What is so difficult about that and what does that have to do with having a brain? If you are somehow trying to argue that the 1st def has to do with having a brain, then all that can be is a weak form of insult.

Pro bridge players make their living teaching bridge (i.e. tutoring rich people) and writing books. A person like Bill Gates will pay a pro bridge player's expenses to go to a tournanment with him, but the players aren't paid for their performance by a sanctioning body in the manner that chess and other sports pay. It's all "off the record". Also, the money bridge players make is just enough to pay for their life expenses, nothing like what top-level chess players get paid for appearance fees, simuls, and tournament wins. So while pro bridge players technically are paid, the scenario isn't comparable to what Kasparov and others have going for them. Therefore, the question is would this system work for you? Would that be good enough in the sense of taking money out of the equation?

But in the end Russianbear, no one is going to turn down the money if it is offered. Once it starts it's here to stay so the idea of trying to remove money from the sport is both atavistic and futile.

I'm not a basketball fan, but one of my good friends is (he used to coach in high school). What he says is that the U.S. Team sub-par performance in Athens is a direct result of blatant commercialization of the game in the NBA. When high school kids skip college to get their millions from the league they skip learning the necessary fundamentals. They runs fast and jump high to make ESPN highlights, and that's about it. Our basketball is no longer best in the world, it's just the most showy.
The same applies to soccer. Ever since the inception of League Championship play, most European powerhoses (Italy, Germany, Holland etc.) have lost their soccer identity. Come the World Cup those tired players (now defending the national colors) just plod along often losing to second-rate teams.
Small wonder that chess proves to be no exception.
The so-called World Championship match we're witnessing now is a total disgrace because of the players' lack of trying. Just compare it to say, the return match Tal-Botvinnik (a new book by Everyman is just out) - what a fight that was!
About my anti-Kasparov bias.
Unlike many others I have known Garry for many years (although it went on and off). I happen to disagree with his political views, but I have never said he wasn't a great player. The problem is, no player, no matter how great he is, should be put above the rules of honest competition and be giving a free pass. Why didn't Garry ever play in the KO World Championship? Short time controls? Baloney! In 1997-2000 we played with 100/40+50/20+10/SD with a 30 sec. increment. Add it up, a game may go 7 hours, is it too fast? Garry had no problem dealing with this time controls at the 2000 Olympiad.
Kirsan's dirty money? Double standard.
Truth is, Garry didn't want to take chances with KO. Maybe Tal shouldn't have with the return match in 1961.
Just sad.


Thanks for the response. The system you are seeking where everyone is treated fairly and equitably doesn't give practical options to the current situation in chess, but it is an ideal to strive for at some point in the future. Anyway, it's not everyday I can get a GM to talk to me.

As a final thought, you no doubt remember the stakes match method that defined the WCC prior to 1948. That method was able to be discontinued b/c Alekhine died and FIDE could step in without the resistance of the champion. What should we hope for now :)

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on October 8, 2004 8:04 PM.

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