Greengard's ChessNinja.com

Phoenix Risen

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I just updated US Championship website with the results of the US Open. (Actually it was updated a few days ago, but now with spiffy photos.) Three cheers for Dirt regular IM Dave "fluffy" Vigorito for achieving a long-held dream. No, not the one about the cheerleaders, the one about qualifying for the US Championship. Now the Dirt faithful have to focus their positive vibes on Yermo.

Josh Friedel has the inside track on becoming the first player to qualify via the new Grand Prix system. He almost made it directly last week but lost out to Serper on tiebreaks. There will also be a "champion of champions" internet qualifying tournament among all the state champions.


Until finding that one, the only photo I had of Elizabeth Vicary had her hugging John Fernandez at a restaurant. Not a bad photo, but probably not the one she'd most want on the US Championship website.

thanks Mig. First round of Starbucks in San Diego is on me.

well, the US championship has only been a goal for two years or so. the cheerleaders thing is an ongoing dream that has been fulfilled as well here and there but I always welcome more, as I would multiple US ch's in the future. Do check

for an amazing missed mate too.

Please not that Josh Friedel just received his IM title. Congrats boyeeeee!!

I don't know... probably I could imagine worse?! but i like this one you have....

Fascinating! I like this GP system you have. We have a GP in Australia but its purpose is basically to earn money. We don't use it to win spots in the Championships.


Thanks for your support. It felt kind of weird not to qualify after starting with 6.5/7 in Phoenix, but I'll try my luck at the American Open in LA over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Congrats, fluffy! (On the cheerleader thing, not some chess tournament...just kidding). But did you have to go and post that link to all those wonderful chess blogs?!? I guess I can kiss my free time goodbye now! :)

Good luck, Yermo! Loved your book and your honesty there and on this board.

Aww, Yermo, don't feel bad. The membership roster of the Rabbits' Club (powerful start, fade finish) is a long and glorious one. I do hope you're keeping a Botvinnik's Diary, so you can talk yourself out of this. ;-)

And besides, the American Open is MUCH shorter than the US Open - should be exactly tright for you! Do what you did in Phoenix, and you'll not only qualify - you'll win! Going away!!

Ah, the Rabbits' Club! Reminds me of the Russian Championships - hey, isn't it about time for Mig to set up a link to Kazan?!

Peaceable kingdom,

Ah, just my luck. I can't get to the http://www.uschesschampionship.com/ site. Is it just my computer, or is the site down at the moment?

Yah, it's down right now. It's the host, since their site is unavailable right now too. Should be back up pretty quick. Just glad it's not me.


That would probably win the caption contest for that photo were I tacky enough to announce one.

Championship site's back up. Just a glitch in some pipe or other.

I was looking at the list of those who have qualified for the U.S. Championship. It states that there are 11 spots for women, yet I notice that some of the most prominent names in women's chess are not listed. Where are all of the women from that great Olympiad team? It appears that WGM Goletiani is the only one from the team to have secured a spot.
What's up with the ladies? Are we seeing a drop-off, new crop of talent or what? Do some of the ladies plan/hope to qualify for a spot not designated for a female player? How many women have done this in the past?

Some of them get in by rating Evan, don't forget that, so they don't bother paying to qualify along the way. I imagine Kamsky will play again, yet he hasn't paid a qualfying fee either. I imagine he will qualify by rating too :-).

Yep, the Olympiad team would qualify by rating. There are spots for the six top-rated women, those that are active that is. Susan Polgar is again unlikely to play but Krush and Zatonskih are next in line for the rating spots. I don't think Jen has played since the last US championship but she should only need to play in one event to meet the activity requirement to get a rating spot. (Or she could play in one of the last qualifiers and have excellent chances.)

The qualification guidelines:



Really well done website, as usual. Nice work!


Last year Chouchanik Airapetian became the first woman ever to qualify for a gender-neutral invitation to the US Champoinship. I did a profile on her for Chessbase:


I don't know whether there are any women who have intentionally chosen to play only for open spots. (As far as I know, I'm the only woman who has said publicly that she would decline a gender-restricted spot, but I'm in no danger of qualifying for anything, as I've not been well enough to play and am certainly not good enough to qualify for an open spot even if I were healthy (my rating is about 1740 USCF).)

So to answer your question: a woman previously qualified for an open spot in the last Championship. I don't believe any have for the upcoming event. And I don't know of any women who have said they would try to qualify, but would decline a gender-restricted spot.

I have heard privately from a few women who have said they have no interest in trying for a gender-restricted spot, and aren't yet good enough to qualify for an open spot, so just aren't paying qualifying fees. That has shown up in the relatively low ratings of the women who did qualify in the earlier events this year.


Regarding Jen, my understanding (Mig, correct me if I'm wrong), is that since this is the USCF Championship, the USCF rating list (not the FIDE list) is used. And any player who plays for another FIDE federation (such as Kosteniujk) is eliminated.

I'm not sure which month of the rating list they'll use, but on the August list, even if Jen were active, she wouldn't be in the top 6 US women.

Jen's USCF rating is 2318. The top 6 (eliminating Kosteniuk) are:
1 Kosteniuk, Alexandra FL 2565
2 Polgar, Zsuzsa NY 2554
3 Zatonskih, Anna OH 2464
4 Krush, Irina NY 2443
5 Goletiani, Rusudan NY 2372
6 Belakovskaia, Anjelina AZ 2364
7 Baginskaite, Camilla CA 2342
8 Abrahamyan, Tatev CA 2313

OK, if Susan doesn't accept her invitation, then based on the August list, Jen would just squeak in ahead of Tatev (2318 vs 2313).

HOWEVER (and this is a big however), Tatev had two excellent events SINCE that rating list, including winning the LA Masters, and her USCF rating is now up to 2329.


I don't know which rating list they'll use for the invitations, but Jen has two reasons not to rely on rating-based seeding: 1. She had let her USCF membership lapse for a few months, so if it was a list from early in 2005, she wasn't on it; 2. If it's a list that includes July and August tournaments, Tatev is probably rated higher than Jen.

So I think Jen probably does need to play in order to qualify, unless she knows for sure that two (not just one) of the women higher rated than she is will not accept their invitations.

Or have I missed something?


Thanks. Just keeping the site simple. Might get a little more jazzed up come December as we rev up. Depends on if I have time and if the AF4C starts paying me.

They use the USCF list, but to sum up: #1 isn't eligible, #2 likely isn't playing, #5 has an automatic spot, and #6 is also inactive so far. I don't know about Jen's non-appearance on the list. The October 2005 list will be used according to the guidelines. But it's clearly a risk.

This site:


Says that 2 women qualify from the North American Open in Las Vegas in December.

The chesstour.com website says "Top 4 US players & 1st US woman not already qualified qualify for US Championship; optional qualifier fee $75".

Am I missing something?

I also don't understand why Ms. Duif thinks there is some moral high ground in declaring she would not take a gender-specific slot, when she has no chance of qualifying for it.

If I had SATs of 1000 and said I would not take a legacy place (or an affirmative action place) at Yale, then so what they are not going to offer me anyway.

The players are taking spots as provided by the rules to play for the US Womens title, it is a legitimate point of view for an individual to think there is some merit in going for that title without getting in through a 'gender-neutral' qualification. Or letting a weaker player take the title.

Should be two. I'll let the AF4C know about the discrepancy so they can confirm it and talk to the NAO organizers.


I've said throughout my career that I wouldn't accept gender-segregated prizes or invitations, it's nothing new for me. I don't consider it "moral high ground," but I do think I have a consistent position with regards to chess promotion.

And if I were healthy enough (as you may know, I am quite ill these days with an MS-like condition), I would certainly be in the running for a gender-segregated spot at one of the qualifying tournaments--at 1743, I am higher rated than one of the women who've already qualified. (Kelly Cottrell, 1696) So it's not a completely moot point.

(I certainly wouldn't qualify for any open slot, but that's rather the point as well.)

My apologies if I was confusing and you thought I was referring only to the spots seeded by rating. I was referring to the entire set of qualifying spots, including those earned at the various qualifying tournaments.

Of course you are right and the gender-segregated spots are entirely within the rules. There is an honest difference of opinion on this subject, and my position is certainly in the minority among the women on the USCF’s top 100 women list. But I, too, am one of the women on that list (I have been ranked between #40 and #80 for most of my playing career), and I think it is simply a situation where people can sincerely agree to disagree. :)


Regarding Jen's nonappearance on the list...she told me she'd been so busy working on her book, she let a few things slip, and one was renewing her USCF membership. So she wasn't just inactive--she was a nonmenber for a couple of months, and that's why she doesn't appear on the list that covers events in those months.

However, she renewed in July (once the book went to press!), and so should reappear once the list catches up with July events.



Thanks, I had forgotten that Rusudan wouldn't count as one of the seeded-by-rating spots. (She has a separate seeding.)

I'm glad it's the October list, because that way anyone who DOESN'T make it (say one of the men who didn't qualify for the Overall seeded-by-rating spots) will know in time to decide whether to play in one of the last qualifying tournaments.


no props for my boy Friedel? He is USA's newest IM. US ch website still says FM. FIDE site still says FM, but he is listed as confirmed in FIDE Congress and the acid test- ICC- says IM.

I believe the reason IM-Elect Friedel's title hasn't been published yet is that it is still within the 60 day "comment" period.

Titles that were published in the Agenda had already completed the 60 days, and are considered official.

Titles that had not been published in the Agenda still have to complete the 60 day period, and are considered probationary.

(The 60 days is to give people time to point out discrepancies or errors in reporting.)

The list of FIDE titles considered at Dresden is available in spreadsheet Excel format here:

The 60 day rule can be found in the FIDE Handbook under "Application Procedure," 5.3b


So his title should be posted on the USCF and FIDE websites once the 60 days are up. :)


ah, so I guess no one except me should offer any conratulations then?!

Heh. So fluffy, now you want THREE parties? One when you make the third norm, one when FIDE confirms the application, and one when the title is official? :)

I suppose it can't do any harm...it's a bear of a process, and every step is worth congratulations.

party on!

p.s. Does anyone know what's going on with Khachiyan's GM application? Is that a problem with one of the missing tournaments or sometihng else?

Congratulations to IM Josh Friedel!!!! With his five IM norms, he surely deserves it. I have also talked with Khachiyan who has his GM Title still pending as one of the tournaments was submitting while the USCF was submitting nothing. Apparantly the USCF is telling him they're waiting for feedback from FIDE and the FIDE site is says it's waiting for USCF approval. This seems a little ridiculous to me. I have heard of other players having serious title problems. Zatonskih once told me she that she had 7 IM norms and 2 GM norms, but that FIDE has lost her application several times so she has not gotten her IM title and has now given up on it as she said she will "just make GM" and be done with it.

well let's see...Finegold makes his 3rd GM norm (his pending title is well deserved, I might add) and there is a whole thread about it...Friedel has his IM title confirmed by FIDE at their Congress and we get some technical reasons why we should not congratulate him yet. Hypocrisy! Ok, GM is better, but Josh is 18...


For a parallel reaction, Friedel should have gotten a thread when he made his final norm. Which would have been awhile ago. And another when the title is official (in less than two months, hopefully). And as you mention, GM is, and should be, a bigger deal than IM. So no hypocrisy.

But, hey, I'm all in favor of congratulations! So Congratulations again to IM-Elect Friedel for getting his IM application confirmed by FIDE. His title will become official once the comments period is up.


To the author of the Rabbit's Club comment.
The Am Open is 8 rounds, just one round less than the Us Open, and it'll have a much more even field - no Class players to feast on. There'll be only two spots though. We'll see.
Worst come to worst, I'll stay home babysitting and my wife (#7 on the list) can go to San Diego - I think she'll be invited by rating.

I think the Grand Prix system in place is not a very good solution. It is possible to win this Grand Prix simply by playing in every single tournament and playing just alright. If person x plays in every single tournament on the list and scores reasonably, say averaging 4.5 points,which doesn't seem that difficult for even a 2200 player. Also, consider Ippolito vs. Friedel. Ippolito has played the same, but Friedel has played 1 more tournament so he is 3 points ahead. Now think about Kleinman lets say he plays 1 more tournament than Friedel,than he could easily take the Grand Prix despite playing clearly inferior on average. In this type of system it seems nearly impossible to recover from an extra 9 round tournament even against a substantially inferior player.

DP, first of all, I agree while there is some theoretical merit to your claim, there is only 1 spot and I do not believe there are many 2200's who if they had played 1 more event than Friedel. I also imagine most of those players just happen to be playing those big tournaments and pay the qualifying fee because they have a chance of qualifying and that is how they've gotten high on the grand-prix charts, by barely missing. It is essentially a try to encourage people to play in more qualifying tournaments which will on average increase the strength of the people trying to qualify which is a good thing. I think Friedel will probably play the Continental and I've seen him at the North American Open the last 2 years so I would be surprised if he didn't win the grand prix, but in those 2 events I believe there is a strong chance he will outright qualify and the spot will go to someone else. Realize that people have been disappearing off of the top of the grand prix race by actually qualifying in a single event!! I think the only valid point is that missing the US Open is too costly since there are a lot of "class players to feast on" as Yermo put it where even fish like me having an off tournament can get 5.5, but 5.5 at the North American Open would've been good enough for clear first last year. Other than that the US Open, the qualifying events have both an U2200 section and an Open section so the open field is much tougher. This may be the one event that is too costly to miss in terms of the Grand Prix, but this is it I believe.

GM Yermolinsky,

Best of luck at the American Open, and I definitely hope to see you at the Championship!


One of the main points of most GP systems is to encourage participation. That someone can win "only" by playing in all the events is exactly it. Plus, it is competitive, as we can see. Everyone near the top has either made it before and/or come close to making it directly this time. It's not like some 2000 player is going to get in by scoring two points in each event.

Congrats to Friedel on the IM. I'll change his title on the Championship site next time I do an update.

the Grand Prix is good. it generates interest, and the players at the top are players that have for the most part been close to qualifying anyway. it didn't get enough publicity though (Lein didn't know about it when he was leading). At least a 1600 won't win the Grand Prix. don't even get me started.....

Hey fluffy, you're not supposed to be bitter anymore, you've qualified. If you think about it, those fish are indirectly guaranteeing you more money. They will certainly finish behind you and then you finish in a higher place with more money (now the 2400 women on the other hand will be taking that money away from you by finishing with the same score and taking home a bigger prize).


I'd rather Yermo be playing and I finish behind him than I gain one place by besting a 1600. It's not about money, it's about prestige. A bunch of players below 2200 hurts the prestige- it doesn't add to it because they are the "best" women. To me this is not sexist, but having a women's qualification spot is. When Aireptian qualified they gave her a "gender-neutral" spot. What is this? Now Aireptian totally deserved her well earned spot, but because she was a woman they basically created another female spot just for its own sake, bumping a guy with a better score. Imagine if the PGA Champioship decided that 25% of the players had to be female and they all just finished at the bottom of the crosstable. It would be silly. In golf they have a separate tournament because women are natually physically weaker. Are they naturally weaker in chess? Are women oppressed in chess? Worthy men do not qualify because the qualification spots are male/female and female. Now THAT'S sexist.

Well, this is an issue, people complain that Michelle Wie gets to play PGA events and is taking a spot away from a man, but as I see it she has not made a cut, but she has also not finished last, but yes, your point about women playing in the US Championship and filling the bottom of the crosstable is bad. I remember your words last year at the American Open being something like "look, it only took 2 rounds for the bottom of the crosstable to be all women" and this year the weakest women will be at least 300 points lower than the weakest woman last year.

I'm sure Casella was sitting at the bottom of the crosstable having nightmares about losing to Kosteniuk. Of course because I tell it like it is, I will end up losing all my games against the <2200 women.

I just ran a story on IM Pontus Carlsson who earned five IM norms, but his reason was that he improved dramatically and got his 3rd norm while his rating was a bit under 2400. He then got two more IM norms and then a GM norm before he got his IM title (conferred in Dresden). This happens quite a bit, but I'm not sure of Friedel's case.



Actually, Pontus Carlsson is still an IM-Elect, as he's in exactly the same situation as IM-Elect Friedel.

It wasn't his TITLE that was confirmed in Dresden--it was his APPLICATION. Which is to say, everything looks good to FIDE, but he still has to go through the 60 day "comments period" before the title can be officially awarded.

You'll find that he's not yet listed by FIDE as an IM for this reason.

Although it may seem like a technicality, it has happpened occasionally that someone's title has been held up because of something determined during the comments period.


FIDE is very particular about this. Those to whom titles have actually been awarded in Dresden, such as Bilobrk of Croatia or Larence Trent of England, now appear on the FIDE websiteewith the "m."

Those still in the comments peirod, such as Friedel and Carlsson, do NOT yet show the "m", because the title is not yet awarded.

By the way, this is one of the reason that some people lose out on norms, because people mistakenly list an IM-elect as an IM, and when the tournament is submitted, they find out the person wasn't actually an IM yet, and everything falls apart.

If Carlsson or Friedel play in an event tomorrow, they will still be counted by FIDE as FMs, not IMs.


Ooops, too many "a's," my apologies. That should be "Daaim," but my voice response unit hasn't learned to spell it yet.

My apologies again,


You mentioned that Polgar probably won't play. Is that what is going around or did she imply that to you in a conversation?

I don't see why see wouldn't play. She plays in all types of simul exhibitions and played on the women's Olympiad team, but she doesn't play in the major tournaments. Strange.

Hi Duif,

What you say sounds logical, but he told me that his TITLE was confirmed. I asked him directly to make sure. Perhaps the issues you point out are because players do not fully understand the process.

Just the word on the street, but there's no reason for her to commit either way right now, although I'm not sure she's currently meeting the activity requirements.

As for not playing in tournaments, it's the same thing you see the few other "celebrity/players" doing. The downside of a bad showing begins to greatly outweigh the benefits of a good one and an increasing number of time-consuming activities have less and less to do with playing competitive chess. Playing at a 2600 level takes a lot of work and the curse of high expectations makes it even tougher. Of course it would be great to have Susan play in the championship, not least because she would have a legit chance of winning.


The link I gave you is the official FIDE one, his title is not yet confirmed because he is still in the "less than 60 days" section. You can check easily enough on the FIDE side. Bilobrk is now listed as an "m" for International Master, as are the others listed in the Agenda. Carlsson is still listed as an "f" for Fide Master, as are the others in the "less than 60 days" section.



And, yes, you're right, many players are themselves confused by this process, which is why you do get some reporting themselves as IMs (or even GMs) when they're not yet, and that can throw off perceived norm opportunities for others.

Speaking of titles, what's the history of FIDE's "Candidate Master" (also a women's version)? I was recently informed by Natasha Christiansen that she's a "WCM" and I guess I should list this on the Championship site. I just dread the inevitable questions since nobody has heard of it. (The FIDE list even gives it as "WC" in the database. Heh.)

FIDE has plenty of info on it, with guidelines and such, but I'd never heard of it other than the old Soviet one often mentioned. It doesn't appear to have much traction and the usual exemptions for titled players (entry fees, etc.) often say "candidates master titles not included." Weird. Soon they'll have titles down to 1400. Alphabet soup for everyone. Probably worth its own item, actually.


I understood your explanation the first time. I saw the records, but the links you gave above do not make your point. The FIDE spreadsheet for applications that you referred to earlier is what you stick with. Those FIDE profiles above are sometimes not up-to-date.

WCM? what the hell is that? is there a WBP (womens B player) for 1500's? this is ridiculous and really would be insulting to women I would think. I mean, I should be a IAGM (Italian American GM).

There's also a CM title. I supporting continuing to lower the rating covered by FIDE; there's no reason not to go all the way to the ground if they can. But giving titles like this is mostly just a money-making scheme, I assume. So yes, there may well soon be BP and WBP as long as people and/or their federations are willing to pay for them.


Well, it should only be a few more weeks, at most. I'd suggest asking an International Arbiter for most current regulations, to see if he would be counted as an IM or an FM in an event this month. That's the only time it would seem to make a real difference.



In the US, as in most countries, we don't list titles below Master, even though they exist.

For example, you won't see "Expert" in the titles column on a wallchart.

In fact, we don't usually list NM (National Master) either, although one does see it occasionally.

In coverage of an event, someone may see "Lisa Smith is an Expert." but one does not write "Expert Lisa Smith" on the players' list.

So I think journalistic tradition is to list only IM and GM.

On the other hand, if you listed people as FM, then you probably do need to list the other lower titles if they request that you do so.

WCM and CM have essentially the same process as FM, but with lower ratings minimums (2000 for WCM, 2200 for CM, and 2300 for FM.)

I could be wrong, but didn’t the CM in Russia require some kind of “Norm” performance rather than just hitting a specific rating? I know the CM in Singapore does.

Anyway, I’d say if you’re listing FM, go ahead and list the others. If you’re not, stick to the usual practice of only listing the ones that have norms.

Of course, if you’re doing a bio of each player, I’d definitely list whatever earned titles that person wanted listed there. You could list IA in the bio if the person wanted (assuming they’d earned it, of course.) J

Warm regards,

I know nobody lists national titles, but listing all international titles is the usual, although even FM is a bit strange to see. There's no harm in it of course, but I'd just never seen the CM or WCM in use before. I usually leave stuff like that up to the players (some prefer not to have WIM listed, for example). I guess I'll be a trendsetter for a trend I'm not really fond of, title proliferation.

If you're only covering top players and top tournaments, then using only "IM" and "GM" make sense. Otherwise, I list all titles Master level and above since I cover the smaller federations whose accomplishments are not highlighted. It becomes important to distinguish the top players and those who may be only the players of note.

I kknow of many stories of IMs and GMs getting humbled at Olympiad because they didn't know about an untitled player from an obscure country. I remember FM Sunil Weeramantry telling me a story during the 2004 Olympiad about drawing with 12-time Trinidadian champion Christo Cave, a National Master without a FIDE title (2261 ELO). Sunil tried unsuccessfully to win in a drawn position on board #3. Sunil was upset about it. His stepson Hikaru Nakamura tells him, "Oh... you drew with Christo Cave? Don't feel so bad... he's Trinidad's strongest player."

These players are specs in the universe of chess masterdom, are national heroes have and given chess a name where we would otherwise have none. Now... WCM, or CM... that's another matter!


A challenge to my dear friend Mr. Fluffy and his fellow chick underestimators:

Helio has bet Fluffy that THREE chicks will place ahead of him at the upcoming US championships.

They are a lot meaner than they look, they have mad coaches, financial support, and they are INTIMIDATING. Dearest fluffy you will lose this magnificent bet over the discussed SUBSTANTIAL sum.

Well, there are likely to be two or three women playing who are higher rated than fluffy, so that bet doesn't seem particularly interesting, and turning it down doesn't represent a philosophical inconsistency.

There are 18 gender-restricted spots at this year's US Championship: the defending "US Women's Champion," the top 6 women by rating, and 11 spots from qualifying events.

I don't believe IM Vigorito (fluffy) has ever questioned GM Susan Polgar's statement that "A 2400 player is a 2400 player, whether male or female." So I don’t believe he questions the presence of any of the women who are in the same rating range as the men.

fluffy himself is currently rated 2423. 3 American women (GM Polgar, Zatonskih, and IM Krush) are rated higher than he is. Another 3 or 4 are in a similar range.

But of the 18, it is likely that over half will be below master strength. (That's a pretty safe bet, because there are only a dozen or so American women who are rated above 2200, and some of them are inactive.)

So although fluffy is likely to be in the lower 1/4 of the men who qualified (he himself is not on the US top 100 list at this time), it seems extremely likely that he will place ahead of at least half the women plying.

Which is why I believe gender-segregated invitations send the wrong visual message. We invite people who will inevitably fill the bottom of the wallchart. Then people feel they have to argue over whether women can play chess.

But a 2400 player is a 2400 player. If the gender restricted invitations were eliminated, it's still likely that Krush, Polgar, Zatonskih, and a few others would qualify in the same way that fluffy qualified. And then instead of the bottom scorers all being female, the women would be more competitive with the field in general. It wouldn't look like two separate events grafted awkwardly together. There would be no visual illusion that “women play worse than men” because a 2400 player would be a 2400 player.

It would look like what it is supposed to be: The US Championship (open to both men and women).

But admittedly mine is a minority opinion. :)


This is a poor example of 'getting humbled', Mr Weeramantry was rated 2231 and Mr Cave was 2276, so I am sure he did not expect to win a drawn position on superior technique (even as FM vs NM).

"IMs and GMs getting humbled at Olympiad because they didn't know about an untitled player from an obscure country. I remember FM Sunil Weeramantry telling me a story during the 2004 Olympiad about drawing with 12-time Trinidadian champion Christo Cave, a National Master without a FIDE title (2261 ELO). Sunil tried unsuccessfully to win in a drawn position on board #3. Sunil was upset about it."

Seems like Wang Hao is a very strong untitled player. He may skip a title or two.


It has been reported that Wang Hao got his 3rd GM norm by winning the Malaysia tourney.

This comment is to Duif:

I do believe WGM players can compete against the GMs on an equal level if games were played anonymously, and honestly, over a computer screen. Even the most highly trained women players, trained in the Russian school of chess, have a disadvantage when playing a tightly-knit group of misogynists who treat them with minimal respect. All you have to do is watch, Yudasin, ( a supposedly religious Jew who plays matches on Friday evening and Saturday morning) who will refuse to shake the hand of any female opponent, to understand that misogyny runs deep in the world of chess. Sure you can call this non-practice "Russian Culture," but it reeks of discrimination. This isn't the 12th century, this is the United States and there is easy access to soap and running water. Nothing would make me feel more like a dirty, nasty, Shiksa than playing against Yudasin. But he is one of the more obvious examples of how women players aren't respected, here, or anywhere else in the world.


The WGM title requires a rating level several hundred points below that of the GM, so naturally they would do worse.

If instead you meant women who hold the GM title, such as Judit Polgar, Xie Jun, Susan Polgar, Pia Cramling, and a few others, they compete just fine as far as their rating goes. Which is to say, just as Susan Polgar once said, "A 2400 player is a 2400 player."

For example, Susan Polgar won the US Blitz Championship, going 11-1, in a field that included at least 4 other grandmasters (all of whom happened to be male).

Even as a senior player, GM Gaprindashvili recently won a smallish event in the Netherlands in which almost all the players were male.

IM Irina Krush has often played in a mostly male field, and essentially played at her rating level.

Do women face prejudice and an atmosphere of harassment? Often, yes. (Having been a female tournament player, I can certainly attest to this.) But there is perhaps an even larger number of male players who are genuinely, sincerely nice to the female players.


There will always be a few sexists in any field. The one thing I would like truly to see change would be the vast majority of nice guys stepping in and helping to correct overt sexism and harassment when it occurs. This, I think, is lacking in our tournament culture. If a woman is accompanied by her father or husband, even the most sexist guys often behave themselves. A woman on her own, however, is rarely protected by the ordinary guys.

I find this to be quite different from other environments. When I worked as a computer programmer, I was frequently the only woman in the group, at least until the mid nineties. But if one of the guys started saying nasty things, the other guys would cut him off, and let him know that was not appropriate.

I had similar positive experiences in other environments, including bridge clubs.

At chess tournaments, however, if a guy is being nasty, the others guys often just seem to think the quieter they are, the sooner the whole thing will pass over.

I have been told that poker clubs are like the chess clubs in this way--just a few nasty guys, but little chivalry in the usual sense.

I do need to say that I have met several men who will speak up if a male chessplayer is being outrageously sexist. Not many, but some, and I am grateful to all of them, because they helped keep me playing chess over the years. (I won't name names because I'd be sure to leave someone out, but I will say that some were Grandmasters and some were 1100 players--rating had nothing to do with their willingness to maintain a welcoming atmosphere.)


Do I think it is easier for women to play anonymously online than in person at tournaments? Yes, I certainly agree—there is some nasty harassment that takes place.

Do I think that harassment involves the majority of male players? Absolutely not. I think it’s a very small minority.

Do I think that that level of harassment keeps women who have reached the grandmaster level from playing true to their ratings? No, and I don’t see any statistical evidence to support that.

Do I think the lack of male support for a female who is being harassed is a factor in the fact that so few women play in chess clubs and over the board tournament chess? Yes, I think that’s probably true. Certainly it’s something that, as a community, we COULD change.


p.s. I cannot say anything specifically with regard to GM Yudasin, as I have only met him on two occasions, and both times he has been very polite to me. But there is a religious prohibition that keeps some Orthodox Jewish men from shaking the hand of ANY woman, and of similarly keeping Orthodox women from shaking the hands of any man. (I worked briefly in a Congressman’s office in Washington, and this was part of the etiquette briefing.) So it may not be directed at female chessplayers in particular. By the way, the same tradition holds among some Arab communities as well.

Yes yes, I am well aware of the laws of Koresh. My point was that if he can play Friday evening or Saturday morning *FOR MONEY*, an act that directly violates the laws of Koresh, he can shake a woman's hand or not shake any hands at all. He chooses to obey some of the laws and ignores others. This whole cultural thing of not greeting women the same as one would greet a man is a whole other subject, with too many facets to discuss here. In my opinion it is right up there with being forced to wear a burka. I find it completely disgusting and not very sports(person) like. All I'm saying is that there should be a standard. Shake all hands, or shake no hands. Choose one or the other. Because basically, if women aren't treated as equals over the chess board, then there is a problem.
Okay, let's say that you had a white chess player and he refused to shake hands with the person across the board because the other guy was black? Or had AIDS? Wouldn't there be talk of unsportsman like behavior? Gender shouldn't be a consideration.

I choose to name names because these are public events and I have a right to comment on unsportsman like behavior. This act disturbs me to my core and makes me want to vomit. This refusal is a commentary on ALL women. Jewish, Arab, Russian, it doesn't matter... it is only evidence that women are still seen as lower-class beings. Untouchable. Sub-human. To treat women players in this way, in the United States, is a disgrace to all.

Again, I cannot say anything about GM Yudasin in particular.

There are three separate issues in this thread. First, the question of personal modesty. Second, the question of individual bigotry. And third, the question of harassment.


In the communities where it is a tradition for a man not to shake hands with a woman, and vice versa, it is generally an issue of intimacy/modesty, NOT an issue of thinking one group is unclean.

Sexual harassment laws say that a woman has the right to refuse even a "friendly" kiss from a man she does not know well if it makes her personally uncomfortable. I see no reason why a man should be forced to accept physical contact from a woman, either.

So, OK. I don't think a man has the right to force a woman to accept his kiss. And I don't think a woman has the right to force a man to shake her hand.

Say an individual player has a personal policy that requires refraining from direct physical contact with any women outside his family. It's not something to be offended by, it doesn't affect the play of the game, and it doesn't change the general atmosphere for women playing chess.

I have met a number of religious Jewish and Moslem gentlemen chessplayers who didn't shake my hand, including GM Sammy Reshevsky. I didn't feel insulted by it, and it certainly didn't discourage me from playing tournament chess.


Every group of people have some individuals who are prejudiced.

So, suppose there was a male player who refused to shake the hand of any female player. Or any Korean-American player. Or any left-handed player.

Would he be proclaiming himself bigoted, rude, and foolish? Certainly. Would it affect the play of the game? It should not.

All he's doing is making himself look bad by refraining from an optional courtesy. Like not saying thank you. But if he's not in a position of power over the women involved, if he's just another competitor, and if what he is doing takes place before or after the game, not during, and does not affect the game itself...well, OK. He's a silly person. It doesn't affect my play.


Declining to shake someone's hand at the start of a game may be perceived as rude, or simply as a difference in cultures. But even if it's rude, it's not in and of itself harrassment. Whether you're a schoolteacher or a bank president or a doctor or a grocery shopper, you're going to run into some rude people. If all they do is forget to say please and thank you, or the etiquette equivalents, just ignore it and go on.

The guy who stood up at the end of our game and screamed, "A Girl beat me? A GIRL beat me? I ***** don't believe it!" and then tipped over the table, on the other hand, was definitely out of line. :)


Okay, so now that we have those definitions down... I was stating my OPINION. Basically, I think it's really crappy. So there. Yes, I am offended, and will continue to be offended. I'm also against genital mutilation in both males and females, regardless of culture and religious dogma. I still think gender shouldn't matter in Chess. I still think women players are treated badly because a lot of male chess players (NOT ALL) are ego-freak misogynist womanizers with low self esteem.

And that wasn't a slam at anyone in particular. In my opinion, most of the chess players I've met (and I haven't met them all) are nuts, or *off* in one way or another. One only has to log on to any of the hundreds and hundreds of Sam Sloan links to know what I'm talking about.


Just take it easy. We all know Yudasin is an ugly two-faced piece of sh!t.


I have no problems at all with GM Yudasin. I used to train with Lenny and found him to be a pleasant person. Now, regarding how he treats others, I cannot enter into this argument, because I do not know what Lenny does outside of my company. I do think, however, that Yermo's last post is quite unbecoming of a professional, and I wonder whether Yermo would rather that Lenny appeared attractive to him, seeing as though he is so caught up in the man's appearance. Address the issue, Yermo, instead of trying to paint it as the villification of one man.




I appareciate your frustration. Sometimes it's just so painful, and just so hard to explain to someone who hasn't experienced it.

I don't think it's easy or possible always to ignore prejudice, but I do often find personal comfort in Eleanor Roosevelt's statement: "Remember, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Even Dr. King sometimes referenced that thought, and it can be helpful.


By the way, when the handshake issue was debated in the Dutch Parliament, a major distinction was made between one person's own sense of personal modesty, and what might be done to another person.

That's a sensible and reasonable distinction, I think, and there's no need to equate someone's desire not to be touched by a stranger (even, say, a woman refusing a hug at an office holiday party, or a man decling a handshake with a stranger) with any other cultural custom which involves actions to a third party.

I’m truly sorry that you’ve had some negative experiences, but as for chessplayers, I’ve found in the chess community the same range of human strength and frailty as in any group.

There are ascetics and playboys, misers and wastrels, misogynists and happy family men. There are extroverts and introverts, honest folk and scoundrels, and even a wider range of IQ than one might at first suppose.

Sam Sloan is not particularly representative of chessplayers, but then neither is Anand or Timman or Kasparov or the defense attorney rated 1140 or the marine corporal rated 1650. Or the lady in the wheelchair (me).

I could easily name a dozen well-known players and come up with, as they say, 6 types of chalk and a half dozen sorts of cheese. (From the UK idiom: “As different as chalk and cheese.”)

Are we all then, a “little off”? Perhaps, but then by that standard, who isn’t?



Woe be to us all if Sam Sloan is upheld as the standard example of a prototypical chessplayer. Duif, you speak wise words, and I commend you for your calming influence in this emotionally-charged environment.



I wasn't talking to anyone else but my friend Amber.
So, don't butt in like you own this message board.
He may be Lenny to you after a couple of nights together, but I've known Yudasin for almost 40 years - so I know better. I just don't care to tell numerous stories about his cheating and lying ways.
This board is infested with mental midgets who cannot stop talking about themselves (hello Duif and Shabbaz) and an appearance by a real chess person stirs the pot too much.
Amber, fot God's sake stay out of this place.


It seems to me, Yermo, that you are the one with the problem, an ego-driven GM who thinks too highly of himself. I respect you as a player and admire your work as an author, but you do not carry yourself with dignity here at all. Instead, you chime in to call down this GM or that, and then you have the audacity to call a PhD a mental midget. Make sense of that statement, Yermo.

On the note about Lenny, as I said, I have no problem with the man, but I cannot speak to his dealings with others. This I have acknowledged. I did chime in to speak about your talk of him being ugly or what have you at a point at which an entire chess culture was being discussed, not one man. Now, if you were just talking to your friend Amber and want nobody else to step in, then do the logical thing and e-mail her or call her directly instead of posting to an entire message board. You see, Yermo, you do not own the message board, either, and being a GM does not make you any more or less a "real" chess person than anyone else. Take that ego and put it in your back pocket, because you are in no position to speak down to anybody on this board, regardless of what you have accomplished. Mr. Mental Giant GM, use that brilliance and quit while you are ahead.



i mentioned the so-called "yermo"'s attack on yudasin to leonid himself today and he was simply puzzled by the whole thing... he said that he had always had normal, friendly dealings with yermolinsky and he was at a loss to explain the rancour, except to suggest what i suspect: this "yermo" is a fraud...

i wonder if this here ninja-yermo is not just another pseudonym under which that atrabilious propagator of so much calumny, sam sloan, plys his wickedness.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on August 29, 2005 6:21 PM.

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