Mig 
Greengard's ChessNinja.com

Women Troubles 2

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A few hot topics today, while a few others are still unresolved. I'll start by pointing out that while I run the official US Championship website, regularly relay official information from the organization, and am delighted to work with AF4C, I do not speak for the organization here. My opinions do not reflect those of AF4C except when they coincide and nothing should be taken as 100% official until it appears on the official site or you hear it from someone at AF4C (or, on some issues, the USCF). End of disclaimer. There haven't been any problems so far but I don't ever want there to be a case of "but Mig said" when it comes to Championship news and policy.

First off, the idea of changing the format for the women players in order to allow three of them to play in both the US Championship and the FIDE women's world championship, whose dates overlap. I covered this on the 16th. It went to a secret ballot of the women players with unanimity required. Seven players voted yes for the change, six voted no, one abstention. So it's not happening, although several other ideas were floated and shot down for various reasons. So Goletiani, Krush, and Abrahamyan will have to choose which event to play in.

Obviously, this sucks. I'd be happy to criticize anyone and everyone if only I could find someone to blame or come up with a solution that didn't have major drawbacks. The original schedule didn't have this problem but construction at the event site forced a one week delay and there is no way the event can start any earlier without changing the venue. Since contracts there are very much in place Ė and the host NTC Foundation is a major sponsor Ė that can't happen. It's a crime without a criminal and the most important thing now is to make sure it doesn't happen again. But what if the US Championship's dates are announced well before FIDE announces conflicting dates for an event? This is why one of the most essential things for professional sponsorship is a fixed calendar. Corporations assign such monies years in advance and the chess world is lucky to know what's right around the corner. (Hola, Mexico.)

Related, a few withdrawals which in turn result in a few new players. Greg Shahade has withdrawn and will be replaced by Salvijus Bercys, who is next in line from the US Open. Susan Polgar has withdrawn according to her blog, though I can't make much sense of her stated reasons. It's a big swiss; this isn't a preparation issue. Of course no one is obliged to provide reasons anyway. It's too bad she won't be there again. Having a woman with a legit chance of winning the event would be a boost. (She's also not playing in Ekaterinburg.) Regarding her comments about the change in schedule to accommodate Morelia players, this had no effect at all on the conflict with the FIDE Women's WCh. The closing date is the same; a free day was removed. I believe Jen Shahade has also withdrawn, but don't have that officially yet.

This opens another can of worms regarding the women's spots, one the AF4C is already dealing with regarding unfilled qualification spots. Polgar and Shahade were rating seeds, but if more rating seeds replace them quality starts to become a real issue. Is it a good idea to drop in a few more 2000-rated women players to sit at the bottom of the crosstable? Obviously there will be major changes next year, perhaps discarding the women's spots entirely, but this year still has to be dealt with. I don't think any more rule changes should be made at this point, however. Maybe serendipity will take a hand and Vanessa West will get one of those spots. (That's still unresolved.)

33 Comments

I admit Susan Polgar didn't write with razor-sharp clarity, but I think her reasons are clear enough. She had hoped to play, but by the time the dates finished shifting around, she felt there was no longer enough time for her to get into tournament-playing shape. This much is understandable, since most of her chess lately has been in blitz and simuls.

She also implies that she feels her reputation is at risk if she shows up for an event and doesn't contend strongly for 1st place. If you buy that argument, then it follows that she has more to lose than just pride if she enters the tournament and gets seriously kicked around.

As you point out, she's not obligated to explain or defend her reasons to anybody, but this is what I think she's saying.

Dear Mig,

There were a few issues that I discussed directly with Erik A. a while back regarding the 2006 US Championship. Unfortunately, we were not able to finalize it timely. That is why I am not able to accept my invitation. I need to know all specific details way in advance. For me to take off for 2 weeks for an important event with two small children as a single mother, I would need at least 2-3 months to make proper arrangements to have them care for such as bringing my mother to New York to help. Some people can do things on the spot. I am not one of those. I plan my schedule out 1-2 years in advance.

It was mentioned on this site that the new format will be splitting the field into two sections and then a playoff. Then there were talks about changing the dates and another format. As of right now, I still have no idea about which format will be used. It may not be important to other players to know but it is important to me.

I have never approved of the knockout system as the proper way of conducting the World Championship or Women's World Championship. It may be a fun system for the World Cup but not more. Therefore, my decision not to compete is obvious. In addition, I have a problem with organizations / federations making major decisions without consulting leading female players. Therefore, I am not going to participate in events with this circumstance (World Championship, Olympiad or US Championship, etc.).

As I mentioned about this many times before, I support the AF4C and I think they have done a lot for US Chess. I wish them well and I hope they will continue their good work.

About training, I will not play in any event unless I am properly prepared, especially when it is Swiss system. Basically the Olympiad is a Swiss event and I prepared for 18 months. Many others did not and I think the results proved that. As talented as Gata is, he still needs serious preparation. The lack of adequate preparation usually does not bring good results in any format.

Best wishes,
Susan Polgar
www.SusanPolgar.blogspot.com
www.SusanPolgar.com

[Oops, started this before Susan posted, sorry. Didn't want this to look like a response. Edited version now. Thanks for the clarifications, Susan.]

By that logic, you could have declined in July, no? If you need over a year to get ready you knew then that this time frame was too short when the event dates were announced originally.

As for the dates they were announced last summer and moved back one week. The format was either going to be the old 64-player swiss or the current two 32-player swisses. No changes in preparation required. As for the latest discussion about format for the women's title event, it was only ever presented to the players as able to be vetoed by a single player. (It was rejected by six.)

I suppose what I'm asking here is this: under what circumstances would you have participated in the US Ch? (Or would participate in the future.) Again, nobody has to answer such things, and waiting until the deadline is the prerogative of every player. But since you opened the debate on your blog and seem willing to discuss it here, I'm interested.

Dear Mig,

Two groups or one group would make a big difference to me because of the playoff implication in a different time control. I have to take into consideration of the possibility of a playoff against a man and a woman. As of December 31, 2005, I would still agree to participate if all issues would have been resolved.

I don't blame Erik or the AF4C. I know their task is not easy. But I have to make decisions based on my situation.

I had two events in the past two weeks. I am still in Corpus Christi, Texas finishing up my all-girls event. I have to be back in Texas in 2 weeks for another event that was planned long ago. I have to be in Moscow for an event in mid March. I did leave February 28 until March 13 open for the US Championship. As you can see, there is very little time in between. And then there are books, DVDs to finish and many articles to finish. I am also a full time Mom.

The Olympiad was a special event. That was my first International event in nearly 9 years and I have many records to protect. That is why I spent 18 months to prepare. To me, there would be a lot less personal pressure to play in the US Championship because it is an open event and not a women's event.

Best wishes,
Susan Polgar
www.SusanPolgar.blogspot.com
www.SusanPolgar.com

Having never competed anywhere near Susan's level (my highest USCF rating was 1830), I can't speak to the preparation issue.

I can, however, speak to the issue of scheduling as a single parent. I was divorced when my kids were 4, 6, and 8. I lived thousands of miles away from the nearest relative, because I had moved when I got married. I did have to travel for business, and it took me easily 2 to 3 months to schedule any trip, whether it was one day or one week. And if a date changed by 1 day, that meant starting all over again.

I know that there are many single parents who don't have these issues. I suspect they have more money than I did, and so had more options in that sense. Or lived close to relatives.

I changed jobs specifically to find one without travel involved.

A few years later I was able to move closer to my family, and then had a wide support structure including my parents, my brother's family, my sister's family, and several sets of cousins. My kids were also older. At that point, travel became much much easier--really a night and day difference. Then it was just a question of the total time away and not missing important home events, rather than the issue of any time away at all. I could go easily on a week's notice, and sometimes on a day's notice.

Every child is different, every family is different. I'm sure there are many single parents (male or female) who can manage short notice travel. I think if I had lived close to my family I might have been able to.

But there are also many families, and my own was one of them, where both the logistics and the emotional impact on young children can be very complex. In my case, my kids were dealing with the absence of their dad from their daily life. If I was gone, too, it could be terrifying for my youngest unless everything was handled with just the right preparation. Having grandma come stay when he was 8 was completely different than having a strange babysitter come stay when he was 4. And my mother was also a working mother (a college professor)--It was a completely different thing to ask her to stay overnight with the kids when she lived 15 minutes away than to have her fly in for a week.

So again I don't know about the preparation issues. But I understand completely the scheduling dilemma.

regards,
Duif

Dear Mig,

Two groups or one group would make a big difference to me because of the playoff implication in a different time control. I have to take into consideration of the possibility of a playoff against a man and a woman. As of December 31, 2005, I would still agree to participate if all issues would have been resolved.

I don't blame Erik or the AF4C. I know their task is not easy. But I have to make decisions based on my situation.

I had two events in the past two weeks. I am still in Corpus Christi, Texas finishing up my all-girls event. I have to be back in Texas in 2 weeks for another event that was planned long ago. I have to be in Moscow for an event in mid March. I did leave February 28 until March 13 open for the US Championship. As you can see, there is very little time in between. And then there are books, DVDs to finish and many articles to finish. I am also a full time Mom.

The Olympiad was a special event. That was my first International event in nearly 9 years and I had many records to protect. That is why I spent 18 months to prepare. To me, there would be a lot less personal pressure to play in the US Championship because it is an open event and not a women's event. I am looking forward to competing in the US Championship perhaps one day in the future.

Best wishes,
Susan Polgar
www.SusanPolgar.blogspot.com
www.SusanPolgar.com

Thanks, Susan. The possibility of a rapid playoff still existed under the old format. Indeed, both the women's title and the men's title required them last year. But this year it is scheduled.

What issues are you referring to, specifically? That is, what would AF4C have to have said or done in December to resolve these issues? I'm not aware of anything being up in the air at the time. I ask so other players may also share and so the organization can preempt as many issues as possible well in advance. Thanks, and good luck in Texas.

I for one am very disappointed that Susan Polgar has decided not to play in the US Champion ship. As a fan I like to see all the best players play each other, and in my view, her not participating diminishes the event. What troubles me I more is that among her reasons were that not winning would be a risk to her reputation. This doesnít put the championship in a very good light when established players feel they have more to loose then to win by participating.

If there isnít enough prestige in being a US co-champion, maybe a bigger prize fund would help or bigger appearance fees for the "big names." But donít look to me to come up with the money.


Once again, I feel the problem(s) here come down to sposorsip. Correct me if I'm wrong, but in the old days players could count on the schedules for the U.S. championship, Lone Pine, Wijk aan Zee, Linares, etc. etc. to be relatively constant. It seems the biggest tournament I see with the best sponsorship is Corus Wijk aan Zee. It's held every year in January, in the same town, at the same site, etc. Players can count on it happening, so there's never a problem. Even Linares seems shakier this year with the whole Mexican angle thrown in.

If I understand correctly, AF4C is hoping to make this a permanent site/time for the US Championship. If this is so, then it can't help but be a good thing. Still, we need to have the "Dunkin' Donuts US Chess Championship" or some such!!

(A coffee sponsor isn't a bad idea now that I think of it!)

I've posted before, on the Boylston Chess Club blog (http://boylston-chess-club.blogspot.com/2006/01/pay-to-play.html)
asking for some organization to help us local affiliates/organizers look for local sponsorship. Every Little League baseball team here in the US has a local sponsor's name on the back of each kid's jersey (e.g. "Milton Flower Shop"; needless to say, we all desperately avoided being on that team :) ). We need the same for local chess tournaments too! But none of us know how to do it.
Help!

-Matt

I deleted the "Topamura" troll about my ancient USCF rating and Maliq's taking the bait. But I am disturbed that it came from the same IP address as Susan Polgar's posts that immediately preceded it. If it is what is seems it is unacceptable whether the target is me, Anna Hahn, or anyone else. I'm disappointed to see this is the response to an attempt at dialogue about an important issue.

isn't that interesting....

Yikes, so a ton of women dropping out, Polgar, Shahade(s) [didn't Greg recently resign from the USCF Board too, what's up here?], Goletiani, Krush, Abrahamyan, yikes.

So looks good for... Zatonskih? Baginskaite?

Kinda depressing. Lots of spots to be filled. Can't say I'm totally happy with the way the US Champs has been going. Ah, to be 2002 again, the world seemed so wonderful during that event.

I don't know who's officially in or out from that list, John. The guaranteed prize fund for the FIDE Women's WCh is just 50,000. If they've announced anything more I haven't seen it. Maybe the players have more info about that. So on a purely economic level, it's probably better to be a big fish in a small pond than be an underdog by the second round in Ekaterinburg. But even though it's a KO it's the WCh, so tough call.

Yah, this became a bit of a train wreck with the open women's spots and the event clash. As Irina pointed out, it's hard to imagine this sort of thing happening with the open spots or the world championship. That's the trouble with affirmative action events. When push comes to shove they are treated as second class citizens because they are getting benefits other are not getting.

It's time to start looking for ideas for the next event.

With the women, a good place to start might be to work on repairing some of the bridges burned in recent years with a lot of the women. I was comparing with some old US Championships (and old US Women's Championships) and there are literally a couple dozen players who have just disappeared from chess who were at the high level of US Women's Chess for some time. That being said, I'd be more than happy to see some of the younger girls get a chance if those spots have to go to women.

I'm also thinking more radically, beyond the tournament. Putting that prize money into junior training programs for girls and that sort of thing, for example. Paying some of those top women you talk about to give classes to top girls around the country might kill two birds (Brit pun not intended) with one stone.

There is no reason there should be a competitive career path for US women chessplayers that is easier or different from that available to the men. Affirmative action tournaments are not a solution. Good chess is the solution. Resurrecting a type of roving training team that must include a few youngsters, with pro help for the top women and the top women helping juniors, would be better than dropping that prize money on 4/9 scores at the US Championship.

a couple of weeks ago I was in NY and had a chance to talk to Jenn Shahade a bit. She had a really fantastic idea to hold a large open alongside / following the US ch. This would be great I think and there would be more than the couple dozen or so spectators I saw in San Diego last year. It would also produce money! I only went by the US ch last year because I wanted to check it out and I was in L.A. and thought I may be able to help my helpless friend Mike Casella.

The National Open in Las Vegas is not exactly a big money tournament (especially when too much money is dumped into silly exhibitions) but it always attracts plaers because they make it into a festival of sorts. And living in Las Vegas, I can tell you, San Diego is a lot nicer.

An idea for the US ch would be to still have the 64 player swiss (9 rds) for the overall title and have a 10 player women's RR (also 9rds). You could seed a few spots in both and have one female q from each major tournament for the women's event- seed 4 and q 6, for example. If a player such as Krush or Goletiani or Vigorito wants to play in the overall event- let them qualify for it. The no one (like myself) can complain about anyone getting into the main event due to special treatment. Just an idea...

I hope they do not just go down the women's list to seed 1700 players. It would actually help me as my seed would rise, but I'd rather be #64 and have a prestigious event. I thought the rule change with the 50% was not good- it really only affected one tournament, the NAO- and didn't seem fair, although I do not think that West's 1/5 really earns a spot in the country's most prestigious event. The whole FIDE conflict was unfortunate- inadvertently a problem was created that had no solution. But hey, the Af4C can do whatever they wish as far as I'm concerned. let us not forget that without them, there would be no US Championship...

Mig,

I don't want to hijack this thread, so if you'd like to open a different topic to discuss sponsorship, just delete this and I'll look for it. (Or if you want to just tell me to go stand in the corner. :) )

Matt,

Sports sponsorship for niche sports is a pretty well explored topic. Lacrosse is a very good example right now, since it's growing pretty fast and doesn't have a big national pro circuit. The Sticks2Schools program in the San Francisco Bay Area is a brilliant example. And of course most people here know that I think the LPGA is one of the best models anywhere for a niche sport, very rarely televised, that gets great sponsorship.

There are several good books on sports sponsorship which, while they won't serve as an exact blueprint, will give you some ideas.

If after reading any of these you'd like to discuss how the details might be adapated for chess, drop me a note.

I have participated in large corporate sponsorship programs (including the Olympics) professionally, gotten small but very helpful personal sponsorship throughout my own amateur chess career, and of course been a "soccer mom" and so seen it on the grassiest of the grassroots levels. :)

Here are some book titles worth looking into. Again, not a perfect match for chess, but you'll get a sense of how these programs might be adapted:

1. Developing Successful Sport Sponsorship Plans, Second Edition by David Stottler (for pros) Good sense of where we might eventually end up as a sport.

2. Event Sponsorship by Skinner. Great book, easily adaptable to chess events, I think.

3. Made Possible By by Patricia Martin. Very different take, this is a book for nonprofit causes looking for corporate sponsorship. I include it because it speaks to a mindset many chessplayers and promoters have. Excellent advice on cold calling. Probably a best fit with youth and scholastic programs, but still interesting.

4. The Sponsorship Seekers Toolkit by Anne Marie Grey. Very very detailed book, a bit overpriced but an excellent roadmap to seeking sponsorship. Really well organized and pitched at beginners. Most appropriate for individuals.

5. The Athlete's Guide to Sponsorships: How to Find an Individual, Team or Event Sponsor by Drury. Great title. Not my favorite book in this area. The sponsorship seekers toolkit is better, I think. But this one is interesting if you want to read a lot of books.

6. THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SPORTS MARKETING by Graham. I enjoyed this book, and think it could certainly adapt to large or prestige events in chess. Many many ideas here.

Well, that should be more than enough to get started. I've limited this list to books about sponsorship rather than PR. There are some other good ones (GETTING YOUR SHARE comes to mind) that are out of print, but I believe all 6 of these are still available. Try libraries if you don't want to invest up front.

And again, drop me a note if you want to discuss these ideas further. Due to my illness I am extremely unreliable these days in terms of predictable response, so don't be surprised if you don't hear from me for awhile, but I'm happy to talk about it if it's helpful.

By the way, if you're just starting with these ideas I'd choose both a big picture book like #1 or #6 and a detailed book like #4 or #5 (or #2 to promote events rather than individuals). And if the whole idea seems strange and you can't imagine what you'd say on the first phone call to a potential sponsor, definitely look into #3, especially if promoting youth programs.

regards,
Duif

Duif,

Yes, US Chess sorely needs sponsorship but it will not happen with the current system.

The Susan Polgar National Open Championship just finished yesterday. In 6 months, we got sponsorships from approximately 40 companies and individuals. I am sure next year will be even much bigger. We also had daily TV (all local networks), radio and newspaper coverage. We even received proclamation from the governor of Texas.

We gave out 3 college scholarships, 4 Dell state of the art laptops and printers, 4 cell phones from Cingular, digital clocks and countless other goodies. Every participants ($28 advanced entries) received at least $60 goodie bags.

It can happen if one knows what to do. The USCF and some other organizations should definitely seek your help and expertise.

Best wishes,
Susan Polgar
www.SusanPolgar.blogspot.com
www.SusanPolgarFoundation.org

"I for one am very disappointed that Susan Polgar has decided not to play in the US Champion ship. As a fan I like to see all the best players play each other, and in my view, her not participating diminishes the event. What troubles me I more is that among her reasons were that not winning would be a risk to her reputation."

To be clear, Susan never put it precisely that way. She said that she would not participate unless she felt she would be at her best. One can read between the lines that she has worked very hard to achieve a her reputation, and she is going to choose carefully the events with which she associates herself. That seems to me a very reasonable position. As a 4-time women's world champion and winner of 10 olympic medals, just showing up is not an option for her. She also gave other reasons (e.g., arranging care for her two young children).

I feel like the comments on this thread are a little hostile to women?

If Susan Polgar says she can't play in the US Championship because she's busy and has two kids, then we should respect that. No one is demanding an explanation from Greg Shahade. I accept that Mig may be asking to troubleshoot for next year, but asking in such a public forum veers very close to overt criticism.

Furthermore, I am outraged on behalf of Kelly Cottrell/Finegold for the mean-spirited comments about her qualification. She qualified. The fact that no other women showed up is not her fault. The whole point of the 64 player system is to include more different kids of people, regional players, women, juniors, seniors, people who get very lucky, etc. If you don't think she is strong enough, then next year maybe they should invite only rating seeds. It begs the question, why have people play at all for anything? Why not give the qualification spot/overall us championship title to the highest rated guy? Then no one can complain. It reminds me a lot of the "problem" when Khalifman, Ponomariev, Kasimdzhanov, and Hahn won the world/us women's championship and everyone called them lucky and illegitimate. Get over it. If you dont like how the rules structure the qualification, you should be publicly lambasting whoever wrote the rules, not the people who play under them.

Aside from being absurd, I think on a personal level it is pretty hateful to single out one person for such derision.

"When push comes to shove, they are treated as second class citizens because they are getting benefits others are not getting"
I would suggest that when push comes to shove, (i.e. when there is a serious scheduling conflict that was known about well in advance, or when someone qualifies that people snobbishly decide doesn't deserve it), they are treated as second class citizens because people do not have the manners and courtesy that they should. I am speaking here about both the unfortunate situation of Krush, Goletiani and Abrahamyan, and the obsessively frequent references to the 1800-2200 rated women who are playing.
In the first case, I agree that there is no good solution for the scheduling conflict now. I voted against the proposed format change, partly because one of the players concerned told me there was no possible way to get to Russia in time, even if everyone agreed to the change, and partly because its absurd to have us play half a tournament, withdraw all the women, and have us play 2 games a day in some new tournament.
In the second case (and I should admit to being biased-- I was lucky enough to qualify for the US championship and I'm 2127-- one of the sorry, mocked few.) I feel like people are harping a little bit. Sure, my expected score is under 20%, but I imagine the intention behind inviting women is not the expectation that they can (at the moment, in general) compete equally with men. The intention is to encourage women, to generate press, and to make a tournament that isn't the old, boring, 14 player round robin where everyone draws every game. Will these qualification spots actually work to encourage women to play? It may take a few years to see what the effects are. Personally, I can say that qualifying has really motivated me to play and study more. On the other hand, I think the argument that women not showing up to claim these spots shows the ineffectuality of the idea is pretty reasonable.
With regard to Mig's ideas about teaching children, I think change can come in many forms, top-down (as in the us chapionship female qulification spots) or bottom-up, as in teaching children. The Polgar tournament seems to me the most effective initiative I have seen at encouraging girls to play.

Sincerely,
Elizabeth Vicary

Dear Elizabeth,

Well said! You certainly deserved your spot. It was a hard fought battle between 3 players and Melekhina (one of the Polgar Invitational participant) was the odd person out. Congratulations! I hope you will do very well in San Diego.

Best wishes,
Susan Polgar
www.SusanPolgar.blogspot.com
www.SusanPolgar.com

Elizabeth, I think you are perfectly correct. You have to understand that alot of what get's said about the spots in the championship is driven by the jealousy of players(men) who dream of playing in the US Championship who are not so good but think that if they only had been born a woman they could earn it. I think they underestimate considerably the obstacles for women to become good players. So, of course, enjoy your spot because you earned it.... beat some 2500+ guys in front of the world... but I think you could be a little more sympathetic towards your "attackers", even more so those of Kelly Cottrell Finegold.

I think Elizabeth is absolutely right that Kelly should not be singled out. As I've mentioned before, Kelly is no further from the top of rating pool for which she qualified than IM Ginsburg and IM Lugo are from the top of the rating pool for which they qualified. It's the mixing of the two pools that creates the situation, that's all.

I do respectfully disagree about the value and usefulness of gender-restricted spots. I can't tell anyone else what to do, but I am myself on record for a long time that I will decline any gender-restricted invitations or prizes offered to me, and I would stand by that now.

In an odd way, I myself have felt a little inspired by the whole situation, although in the opposite direction. I would love to play well enough to qualify for a gender-restricted spot--and then turn it down. :) I think my illness will preclude that, but if they do continue with the same format for the next cycle, then, yes, I think I will attempt it. If nothing else, it will encourage me to keep my USCF OTB rating active.

Obviously every person has to make their own decision in these situations. And I'm sure there are valid arguments on all sides. I just like the Jackie Robinson logic: "You have to act as if you believe that you are equal, not that you might someday become equal." I truly believe that that is the most effective way to create change.

respectfully,
Duif

I think Susan Polgar is one of the best people to help chess to grow in the USA. I have always been a fan of Susan. It was wonderful when she won the World Championship. I was frustrated when they took the title away from her by denying her some time to have a child.

I have looked forward to watching her play in the US Championship. and have hoped that she would win the Championship outright. I believe that would be good for chess.

Now of course I have to say I am disappointed that she is unable to play. However, whatever my disappointment. I want to say I support her in her decision. she needs to give no reasons for her decision.

And I want to say to Susan. I sincerely hope you will play next year and win the championship. And Susan thank you for being the wonderful person you are. You are so good for the children and so good to everyone. Just keep doing what feels right for you. dont pay any attention to what others might say. Always follow your inner self, your inner integrity. It will never let you down.

I didn't see much in the way of criticism directed toward Kelly personally or even obliquely. If such existed it was ignorant and beneath attention, I would hope. More to the point, if a 1600 qualifies it is either due to a spectacular result or a system with defects. I've always said you can't blame anyone for doing their best under the system presented. It's a shame that Kelly, or anyone, had to become a symbol for these defects. Actually, it wasn't even her that was the real issue, but the open spot that accompanied her qualification. Nor have I seen much in the way of mocking the women qualifiers in general.

I only brought up Susan's reasons because she brought them up in her blog, which is as much a public forum as this is. As I stated above, no one need provide reasons, but if you provide them of on your own initiative they are fair game. I disagreed with the implication that the date change made for a serious issue and wanted to correct the assertion that the dates were again changed for the Morelia event, which was not the case.

That said, if Nakamura announced tomorrow that he was dropping out, wouldn't you feel somehow entitled to an explanation? Would that be hostile? (For the record, he's not a woman.) Do our top players owe anything to the game, to the fans, etc? It's a loaded issue, especially in the US where it's such a fight for survival. And Susan is a special case in even more respects than the other top players because of her celebrity, gender, and all the work she does for chess outside of playing. My question was quite sincere: what would it take to get her to play? It's not a challenge, just a question! Would we not ask the same of Hikaru should he drop out?

This is an annual adventure around the world, not just here. Many national championships don't have the sponsorship to attract the top players, so they negotiate with them, etc. How many times did Kasparov play for the USSR/Russia championship? Fischer stopped showing up too. Now that we have the richest national championship in the world (!), the hold-outs are more notable.

My point about second-class citizen treatment was not to excuse it. I don't like the system, but of course I wouldn't blame the players for it. I was referring to the obvious resentment created when a typically merit-based system (Elo, in this case) is distorted for the benefit of a minority, no matter how deserving or how otherwise beneficial this may be. It's a small pie and tensions rise every time it's sliced.

I'm quite in favor of affirmative action in chess and in many other areas. In our case, it's not to redress previous injustice, only slightly to balance existing prejudice, but mainly to enrich the game and its community by extending its boundaries. I'm all in favor of investing in areas where chess is thin, including with women. The issue, as usual, is how best this is achieve this, how to invest the limited funds.

I was enthusiastic about creating a big mixed field, but the flaws have become more apparent each year. Same goes for the qualification system, particularly in the small pool of women players. The grind of playing in tough open swisses around the country, high fees and expenses with no realistic chance of a prize, all for a trip to an even tougher swiss, albeit one with considerable prize money and prestige. There just aren't enough women players in the US for whom that is worth the while.

I still love the qualification concept, but having a separate one for women doesn't work. Didn't work. Having the women in the swiss needs work too, even if you consider the women's title icing and not cake. The middle of the field is terribly random. I think the money can go to teaching projects for the pros and for juniors, and an event or two in which half the field are women. $50,000 can go a long way.

If I understand it correctly Judit Polgar will not play in women only events. She is competing against her peers (2700+ rated elite Gms of which she is the only female) in invitational events. As such the competition is both over the board and for the invite. Which is exactly the case for Ponomariov or Kamsky or Kramnik etc. Sometimes she might have an edge in getting invited sometimes not as is true if you are from the Ukraine or tall or thin or whatever. How did she acheive this place in the chess world? Of course it came through her results and her rating. At some point she had an opportunity that would lead to another and showed up with the goods. I am from Mi. Ben Finegold is our highest rated player ever he organises tournaments and is a leading figure in our states chess life,naturally I am pulling for his wife Kelly to do well. Her opportunity was fairly won under a set qualification she did nothing deserving personal attacks or annimosity. Having said that for the US or any other country to put another woman into the 2700 ranks will not be done by legislation or organisational quirks or perks it will be done by an individual getting the right degree of chess ability. Show up take your knocks get up off the ground learn from the experience and do it again. Fischer in the beginning could cry after a loss in the end he didn't need to. If after all of our best efforts all we can do is peak at 2000 we better learn to live with it or find something else to do whether we are men or women. The fact of the matter is most children learn to play chess and most adults will tell you they don't play now but played alot in school when they were kids. As a chess teacher I want the benefits chess has to offer for all of my students but am realistic and know that talent will lead to wins.
I would love to be able to own a Ferrari the truth is I never will so what life is not fair get over it. Somebody has to be rich it's not me somebody can reach 2800 as a woman she doesn't live here so what get over it. Kamsky had 3 more losses than the last place finisher at Corus but beat Anand and had the third most wins. I want him to learn from this and improve. Rather than wasting time ranting about the politics of the sport and how they play out along gender lines the player should learn from Kamsky and try to get good.
Regarding Susan Polgar the truth is her place in the sport is not primarily as a player now but her results as a player could affect her place in the sport! Secondly she still is stronger than most of the players in the US which is sort of embarassing ie: Kasparov being retired for 5 or so years taking the trip to Linares going plus 6 and winning going away and doing it every 5 or 6 years till he's 80. There is a natural pull to want Susan to play but really someone else should be killing themself to kick her out of their way!

Mig,

I like your line about investing where chess is thin. Obviously if we could atract women to chess the way they have been attracted to bridge, mah jong, and scrabble we'd have huge growth potential. Good for everyone.

duif

p.s. Susan has done an absolutely incredible job in promoting both chess in general and chess among women. We are lucky to have her in the US.
Like many other fans, I would love to see her play in the overall championship, but if not this year, perhaps in the future.


Duif,

Thanks for the sponsorship reading suggestions!! You rock!

I know there are untold hundreds of tireless organizers, chess club officers, scholastics volunteers, etc. who would LOVE even the most modest of sponsorship help. The easier anyone can make it, the better.

-Matt

Matt,

Two quick additional notes on those books, specifically on the #4 title

4A. Make sure you get the Sponsorship Seeker's Toolkit, not The Sponsor's Toolkit. Both by the same author, but for the two sides of the relationship.

4B. This book is pitched at organizations rather than individuals. And I think it would fit well with say a state organization, an active club, or a foundation. I think it adapts well to individuals, but you do have to make some transformations. (The #5 title is more of a checklist kind of book, and may feel more comfortable for some individuals, but I do think there's more value in #4 in the long run.)

The single most important message of this book, and it's absolutely critical, is that sponsorship is no longer about fundraising. That ended in the late 90s. It's now mostly about co-marketing. The sponsor uses you or what you represent to either reach markets they didn't reach before or to deliver a particular marketing message to their own target audience.

Take the local pizzza parlor that sponsors a local soccer team. They get two things: the team's members and their families will come to that particular pizza parlor more often. And the pictures of the team on the walls of the pizza parlor send a message about being part of the community. And, yes, they get some advertising during the games themselves, but to be honest that's often the least of the value they receive.

Susan Polgar and her foundation understand this better than anyone else I've seen doing chess promotion. Her events make great photographs, and they're photographs that deliver a message the various sponsors can use 6 months later to extend their own marketing messages. So it's not about attendance at that event--it's about the power of the marketing messages that are generated from it.

Good luck!
Duif

I was wondering: is the prizes list posted somewhere? I looked at the US Champs website, but couldnt find it there. Thanks.

It's been decided, but not announced yet. Such official details and other content will be appearing on the site almost daily from now on. They tell me I'll have the prize split today or tomorrow and the official regulations in less than a week.

Politics = crooks...but leave Anna Khan alone, she is hot, if there were women players like her before I would not have quit the game.

unbelievable. After this incident with the repeated IP (Topamura case) it should be impossible to be elected in the US for anything more then a highwayman.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on January 30, 2006 10:48 AM.

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