Greengard's ChessNinja.com

2006 US Ch Rules

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I just posted the regulations and prize fund at the official site. Two groups of 32 players, nine-round swiss system, winners of each group play final rapid match. As mentioned yesterday, the field is complete but the actual pairings aren't up because the Kreiman case isn't resolved yet. "Either before or right after the weekend" is what I'm told.


What is the Solkoff tiebreak?

Modified Median, without dropping scores.

Smart of Boris to have stayed quiet all this time...he is staying quiet, right?

Modified Median, without dropping scores.

Smart of Boris to keep quiet until AF4C makes a decision...he is keeping quiet, right?

I'm no expert on these things, but isn't it somewhat strange that you're having 64 players spend nine days playing games that could take more than seven hours to complete, then determining a champion based on who is the best rapid chess player?

What if the top two players in Group A post scores of 8.0 and 7.5, but the top player in Group B posts only a 7.0? I'd be really upset if I were the 7.5 guy (though my playing strength is such that I would rejoice at a 0.5 result among such competition).

I think if you're going to mix time formats like this, you should throw in a lightning/bullet round (and why not some Kriegspiel while you're at it) and crown an "all-around" champion.

Group B will be easier :)

The top players in group A are Nakamura, Ibragimov, Onischuk and Akobian, who are all at their peak. Group B will be mostly the old guard. Not that they are weak, but still...


Once you split the field into two groups all bets are off. What I mean by this is, even though the two groups are split and seeded by rating, one can not make any a-priori judgements about the strength of each of the two groups. Thus, in your little example above, the fellow who posts a 7/9 in Group B might have faced much tougher opposition than the fellow who posted a 7.5/9 in Group A. The likeliness of this happening is even exagerated by the variance in strength of the qualifiers.

Take, for example, the Pittsburgh Steelers who won the Super Bowl this year. They only won ten games during the regular season, but they played in a very strong conference. A-priori, before the NFL season began, one could only assume that both conferences were about equal in strength.

Once you split the field into two groups it's like having two independant tournaments, with the winner of each tournament playing for the championship.

It is possible that the second place guy who scores 7.5/9 in Group A is "better" than the guy who scores 7/9 in Group B, but we'll never know.

Howard Goldowsky

Ugh, a rapid match to determine the overall winner? It's a shame that the US Champion won't be determined by 'real' chess.

Regardless of the Kreiman issue resolution, group A will include:

Nakamura, Ibragimov, Ohischuk, Akobian, Finegold, Goldin, Stripunsky, Kudrin, Benjamin, Dlugy, De Firmian, Serper, Gurevich, Gonzalez, Kraai, Friedel, Florean, Bercys, Goletiani, Baginskaite, Ross, Epstein, Vicary, Zenyuk, Cottrell.

Group B will include:

Kamsky, Kaidanov, Gulko, Shabalov, Ivanov, Novikov, L.Christiansen, Becerra, Shulman, Perelshteyn, Fishbein, Yermolinsky, Fedorowicz, Wojtkiewicz, Milman, Kriventsov, Muhammad, Zatonskih, Abrahamyan, Tuvshintugs, Airapetian, Itkis, West, N.Christiansen.

I am assuming that in case of some last minute replacements the groups will not be redone, right?

Howard's point about viewing the championship as a conference v conference contest is fair enough. But let's extend the (American) football metaphor a tad: the Super Bowl pits the AFC champion against the NFC champion, but what they play is a regular football game, just like those they played during the regular season and the playoffs. They do not suddenly start playing, say, Arena football.

So what sense does it make, after nine rounds of classical chess, to determine the US chess champion with a rapid round?

And by the way, doesn't the math imply that a nine-round Swiss is more than capable of turning out a meaningful champion? I guess the choice of format simply seems mysterious to me. The only way I can make sense of it is by assuming that the rapid final was designed with the media in mind.

Your words are wise, ill-styled "dimknight"! "Sageknight" would better suit you. But these arguments have cut no ice with AF4C thus far, and I suppose it's a done deal now.

Can we at least, however, have some discussion about how this media-oriented experiment is to be EVALUATED? What threshold of media attention would be sufficient to induce AF4C to do this again? What level of INattention would convince them that this is a dead-end?

If they do NOT get some minor channel to broadcast it on satellite, if tape of the rapid final does NOT displace a fourth rerun of the Utica, NY Industrial League Hold-em Throwdown from the valued 2 AM EST slot on ESPN-6A, then can we agree that this is getting us nowhere and go back to a real chess championship? Or will we be told that we haven't jazzed it up enough, and that in the next Survivor Chess Championship Final the contestants will have to wear loincloths and eat live spiders? :-)


Well, Stan, you are absolutely correct about A group being stronger. But I think the whole purpose of the AF4C is to create some sort of controversy. Tournament format, women's troubles, the rapid chess tie-break... you can go on and on and on. The motion is no controversy - no interest in chess. I guess you can abuse chess this way until it's totally dead. Just don't ask why more and more chessplayers escape to pocker (read the New in Chess article).

I am assuming that there is a typo in the prize distribution chart. It says "places 25th-30th $2200". It doesn't mean that places 31-32 in eash group get no prize, does it?

I suspect part of the reason for the format change was to avoid the spectre of a 9 way tie for first. (The problem isn't the max number of perfect scores, but what happens when everyone draws some games.)

Sure, you could use a blitz playoff at that point. But this way it's scheduled and seems less like a "failure" of the format.

I still don't like it, though. For me they might as well switch to scrabble. But then I'm not a top level player---they may prefer some form of chess to any form of nonplaying tiebreak.

Ah, well.

In any swiss system, you'd think that it would make more sense to put the rapid games at the start of the tournament. You could play just enough games at just the right time control so that the resulting swiss ranking would correspond very closely to what it would at longer controls.

Some statistical/probability analysis could fine-tune the time control for the number of players and their ratings.

Regarding the prizes question, the 25-30th is intentional. There are four women's prizes, bringing up the total to 64 prizes.

The only problem with this prize distribution would be if there were less than four women--which is clearly not the case.

As for the groups being set--hardly. I don't anticipate the final group assignments until a week before the championship, when all the loose ends are tied up. After all, the 'fudge factor' assignments are meant to balance the two sections (such as they are), and it'd be a shame if they release the sections too early, then have someone cancel at the last minute and spoil all their plans?


I don't think it's intentional. Women's placement does not affect overall placement, so the way it is written those who finish 31-32 get no prize at all.

Or, which would be a change from previous three championships, you would have to exclude the women who won female prizes from overall standings before giving out the rest of the prizes.

As a David "Fluffy" Vigoreto fan I find your list missing the most important person.

I was hoping to see Kamsky play Nakamura in a normal game. now that opportunity will not happen even if they become finalists.

I see that 60 of the 64 players will be eligable for a prize of at least $2200. that is nice but I would hope we dont have to leave out the 4 people next time. I am sure something would be fair for working so hard in the tournament and the guys at the bottom could use something to heal the wounds of battle. being at the bottom of the list they will be battle scared for sure.

did af4c consider the idea of having the tournament pick a challenger who then plays the champion. that would give AF4C a MATCH at the end. possibly with even more excitement. Lets say Kamsky wins the tournament then he plays Nakamura in a match for the title.

Can everyone please, please remember that isn't some sort of George Bush "fuzzy math" - all 64 players receive a prize. The confusion that others, such as tommy and stan kriventov are getting mixed up with is that they are forgetting about the fact that there are 4 women prizes on offer.

When you take these off, then you have 60 prizes to distribute. And since these women prizes are $12,500, $9,200 and 2@ $6,300, they are obviously more than what's on offere from the last prize in the main pool of $2,200.

John, then the regulations should state that for overall prize distribution the top two women in each section are removed from the standings first.

Stan, It clearly shows the four women's prizes underneth the main pool - this is the way we've done it every year and no one has complained.

I just spent the last couple of hours reading over all the info on the Kreiman case. well maybe there is more information. but I read a lot.

My opinion at the end of the reading is that the USCF and AF4C has some big liability problems with this case. I feel it is probably best to allow him to play and to set up a more formal system of rules and procedures to handle any problems in the future.

I played over the game but then there is the gary kasparov game lost to deep blue in the caro kann last game. the world champion and most people say the greatest chess player of all time. he played worse than white did in the Kreiman game. so where is the proof. I dont see any proof. yes white lost. but that is about all I can see as proof. you can prove white lost but that is all you can prove.

I dont want to see the USCF wasting $50,000 to $100,000 on legal fees defending this issue. and if the AF4C spends that kind of money we will lose them as sponsors.

The points were made that there should have been protests at the time of the tournament and not months later. that the tournament arbiter had more legal authority than what is present now.

I think that a lawsuit and scandle on this issue will only further hurt the hope of finding sponsorship for chess in usa. I would let the issue go. Kreiman is not going to win the tournament. and if he does then he will have played some good chess. I think that the USCF and the AF4C has more to lose on this issue that what can be lost by allowing Kreiman to play. It seems to me he has a contract to play. breaking his contract is not so simple and not so smart.

Let me add that I dont know Kreiman. Have no idea who the person is.

Has the AF4C or USCF asked Kreiman and DeGuzman for a statement regarding this game?


The thing is, this is not how it was done in the past. I played in three last US Championships, and in each of them the prizes were specified for all places down to last, as well as female prizes. Women got the bigger prize between the female and the male prizes they have won. Thus, the total prize fund was not fixed (the better best females did, the less was the overall money paid).

See http://www.uschesschampionship.com/2005/news/rulesandregulations.htm if you have any doubts.

I also do not personally know Boris Kreiman. But after reading this on the "Boris Kreiman Chess Academy" site ("best school in the USA"), I feel like I know more than I need to:

"A Grandmaster is equivalent to an NBA All-Star basketball player like Shaquille O'Neil. Grandmaster Boris is the Shaquille O'Neil of chess."

I hope Nakamura puts a Qh5 upside this guy's head (metaphorically, of course).


What many players didn't seem to realize last year was that the person responsible for the running of the event and drawing up the prize list (who didn't work for the AF4C) got it wrong to the tune of some $25,000...in the favor of the players, I may add!

So what happened, I hear everyone ask? Well, go back to last year to see what was paid out
you'll see it was $277,000 - it should have been what we announced, namely $253,000!

It was caused by the fund being split into 64 and then including the top four women prizes! This of course should have first been taken out of the equation and THEN the fund split into 64!

It wasn't picked up until near the start of the tournament (but if the discrepency had been in our favor, I'm sure it would have been brought to our attention - probably by someone like you, Stan!) when we saw the program booklet, so the AF4C opted not to amend as it had already been published and put in the players contracts.

The things we do at the AF4C!

Yes, Stan, they accidentally gave away that extra money last year. True story. They calculated the prize fund and forgot the women's prizes! This year they remembered...

We went through this "they might as well flip coins as play rapid chess" when I first tipped the possibility of this format months ago. You can save some pixels reading the comments here:


Personally, I don't much like mixing formats. But this isn't ANY DIFFERENT than what happened last year and, based on the length of the tournament it's likely we'd have such a tiebreak at least half the time. This just schedules it so they can prepare the media instead of having the tournament "end" without a winner. If you prefer coin flips or formula tiebreaks, please go sell that to the media, the players, or to other chess fans.

Anything is better than formula tiebreak for the title and it's not true that GM games of 30'+5" are garbage. You have to settle ties somehow, so which is it to be? Not knowing when the tournament ends and rapid tiebreaks anyway, or a scheduled final rapid match? Lastly, both finals players will have had fantastic tournaments. The money for both will be huge. They will have played nine games of classical chess. "Real" chess. It's not a rapid tournament.

Having two groups is another matter. True, we are now for sure that certain players won't meet. Kamsky and Nakamura didn't meet last time, either, for example. Worrying about who can't play whom is a rather odd concern when the winner will likely have played perhaps six of nine games against GMs in a 64-player field. This isn't an all-play-all.

I know one was requested of him and I believe Kreiman provided a statement to the USCF.

John Henderson:

I do not play chess competitively and Iím just a casual hobbyist and fan. Nevertheless, while you are here, Iíd like to take the time to express thanks to you and the AF4C for doing so much for chess in general and especially in the U.S. The dedication, time, and money that have been put into the U.S. Chess Championship are most admirable. I know it is not an easy task. Iím sure thousands across the country who see the gameís beauty join me in applauding your support of it. Please let others in your organization know that your efforts are not unrecognized and are most appreciated.

Best of luck to you, the AF4C, and all involved in this yearís U.S Chess Championship. I look forward to the games.



The USCF Executive Board has voted to expel Kreiman from the Championship, pending approval from their legal department.

Gutsy of them-assuming they actually go through with it--but high time.

Odd. I would have thought they'd swap Cottrell and N. Christiansen, just to keep spouses in separate divisions and avoid any controversy on that basis.

Mig, no one said that rapid games were "garbage." That's your word, and an interesting choice.

I'm sensitive to the fact that you don't want to see this dead horse beaten in your own barn, but you make it sound like it's a settled issue. You challenge us to "sell" the idea of an alternative tiebreak system to chess fans, but I don't think I'm making a leap to say that chess fans simply haven't been sold on rapid tiebreaks.

Duif made perhaps the best point: *scheduling* a rapid round instead of holding it in reserve as a tiebreak debases the process (we may differ as to degree). We'll see if this was a wise choice. I tell you that I am not heartened, especially as the AF4C official press release on the subject a) does not mention anything about the promise of an exciting playoff and b) states unequivocally that "All matches begin at 1 pm," despite the fact that the championship website says that the rapid match starts at noon.

I'll shut up now except to say that I'm skeptical about the idea of "making chess marketable." I tend to think that, ultimately, it will be up to chess players on the ground to go out there and open clubs and work with schools to *build* a fan base. Otherwise, we're not sportsmen and sportswomen--we're businesspeople seeking to expand our market share.

NOW I'll shut up. Respectfully.

I just was reading something that is very important to this Krieman case. Chess Life mag January 2006 page 32 Andy Soltis column, Chess to Enjoy.

He quotes Pal Benko about a US Championship. Now this is for 1st place championship buy none other than Bobby Fischer himself.

Benko "recalled how Fischer needed a draw from him to clinch first prizer in a us championship. bobby agreed to the draw in advance......"

now here we have a case where there is no problems. no one seems to mind. it is out in the open. and accepted by USCF ( published acceptable ok by their magazine latest issue. ) and accepted by eveyone else apparently. you can read more in the magazine. No mention of ethics violations.

I dont think the USCF has proper legal grounds to deprive Krieman from playing in the us championships. bringing all this into court and the uscf and af4c will lose their shirt.

yes I am biased in the Krieman case. I dont know who Krieman is but I am a life member of USCF and if they go bankrupt on this silly issue then I lose my lifetime membership value.

I need for USCF to remain financially healthy so I can continue to have value in my life membership.

Don't worry tommy, Cassandra said in his post that the USCF decision (to expel Kreiman) is "pending approval from their legal department."

But I know you will continue to worry...because I am quite confident that you (like IvanTheTerrible on a different thread, discussing a different situation) will prefer your own personal legal "expertise" over the advice given by the licenced attorneys that the USCF is consulting before their decision is made final.

DimKnight: First, I can do without the rhetorical silliness. Several people, including you, expressed horror at the rapid final ("not real chess" "play kriegspiel"), as if rapid chess is the same as (or worse than) a coin flip instead of, y'know, chess played rapidly. But even blitz, which will likely be used should the rapid match be drawn, is more palatable than system tiebreaks or coin flips.

And as I said in the past comments I linked to above, this is a good time and place for some mild experimentation. I wouldn't want to see rapid tiebreaks in a world championship, for example. Different symptoms, different remedies. So where are all the suggestions for superior alternatives? Where is the way to solve tiebreaks within a schedule? I'm not asking fans to be sold on anything, but if the rapids are a necessary evil anyway, it seems like a good idea to embrace them and try to turn it into an advantage, or at least make the best of it.

Yet again, and for the last time, it's essentially a way to make the tiebreak exciting and programmed and to help prevent a flurry of draws in the final round (since system will be used to find the finalists and settle prizes). Either finalist will be a deserving title winner. This is not settling the US championship by lottery. Had Stripunsky beaten Nakamura in the rapid tiebreak match last year it wouldn't have been robbery. Likewise, nobody was saying Nakamura was lucky or undeserving, unless I missed it. Would anyone have been happier had they decided to split the title and prize and go home after round nine? Or if there had been a five-way tie for first after a half-dozen 17-move draws in the final round?

Making chess popular with anyone is a chore. What AF4C - and many other organizers around the world - are trying to do is attract some mainstream attention while not alienating the chess fan base. Saying this format - two groups and a rapid final match - is something radical is bizarre. It's essentially the same thing as last year and will have nil tangible distinction to the players.

Dear Mig, we aren't really escaping from the horror of computer tiebreaks. Consider the likely scenario of a tie for first in one or both of the sections. I wouldn't want to be the person who plays well enough to share first place but fails to qualify for the final just because his round 2 opponent lost in the last round to a much lower rated player.

This new method proposed by AF4C doesn't really change the randomness (dare I say unfairness) of the swiss system and computer tiebreaks. All that AF4C has done is mix everything up a little by creating two sections A and B. We can debate whether change was good or not--and we never will reach a clear cut answer.

Of course, AF4C is putting up the prize fund, not Mig Greengard or anyone else in this forum. They paid for the privilege of keeping all of us on our toes. God bless them for all their efforts on behalf of professional chess!

Michael Aigner

Not escaping system tiebreaks, but deflecting their importance. The swiss has intrinsic faults, unavoidable ones. We can either highlight them by using system to decide the title or hide them by removing them at least one step from deciding the title. This is the distinction I'm trying to make. Last year we had a final rapid match in an empty room. This year it won't be empty. Next year it might be on a stage on live TV. We don't know, and we won't know, until we try. There is nil chess culture in the US to damage; experimentation is essential.

I'm not opposed to a rapid tie-break and 1 "winner", but in the stated prize structure, the $$ at stake at that point is a little absurd compared to the overall prize fund.

Compare this to your normal CCA event where the tie-breaker still means somethings but it worth a much lower percentage. At Foxxwoods for example, they play for the free room at the next year's event.

The section winners will be fighting over an extra $8K at the final match up. That seems very steep. You fight 10 days for the first $17K and the next $8K is decided in a few hours, or 12 minutes after that if a sudden death blitz game is required.

If I was one of the section winners (and I most certainly will never be), I'd make a deal to play for a smaller percentage and take my chances being lambasted on this forum and elsewhere for having done so.

If you put that much on the line have a real match. If you want to do rapid play tie-breaks, make the stakes a little more proportional relative to the whole event.

Mig--Apologies if you took the "rhetorical silliness" for anything other than an attempt on my part to sound a little less obnoxious. I know you're sick to death of discussing the whole situation.

But let's just remember that we're NOT talking about a rapid tiebreak here, but the games that will decide the actual championship. Sure, the two combatants will have had to do a lot of work to get there, and either will make a fine champion, but that doesn't make it right. Nor does the fact that, as you keep repeating, it was this way last year. To be honest, I wasn't paying attention last year; if I had been, I'd like to think I would have expressed the same reservations.

Sure, format experimentation is OK. But probably the most ironic thing about this whole discussion is that the domestic sports media (at whom this structure seems aimed) understand the concept of a tiebreaking "shootout" just fine.

What the organizers are doing is generating an artificial tie at the end of regulation to add drama. Not to produce a better result, mind you, but to make it more media friendly.

This is not a sport that has had a lot of inspired governance (domestic or international) through the years. But, and this is the important point, it's a sport we all love. Deeply. Does it really bother (or surprise) you that innovations should generate expressions of skepticism or concern? And remember that we're not against YOU, Mig, though it seems a fair number of us disagree with you. That's OK, we're not living in Kalmykia.

Is this going to undermine the result of the tournament? Not really. Is this going to alienate the chess fan base? Probably not. Is this going to generate useful media attention? Maybe. Is there something productive I could be doing with my time instead of grousing? Absolutely. But that doesn't mean I have to like it.

At least suggest solutions and improvements. How to produce a better result.

The media doesn't understand an event that may or may not end on a certain day. The NFL and other major sports have overtime games, but those are major sports. Chess, especially in the US, doesn't have the luxury of adding unpredictability to its other faults in the eyes of the general public. I'm not interested in sacrifing the integrity of the game on the altar of the mass media. I'm interested in making the best of what we've got.

Trust me, I'm long over people disagreeing with me. It doesn't surprise or annoy. I'm asking people to go beyond "ooh, icky!" and be constructive. Of course you don't have to have a superior alternative in mind to know you don't like something. That you don't like the food doesn't mean you know how to cook better. But stating dislike at least implies there is something better.


Have to disagree that "the media doesn't understand" about variable schedules.

Both baseball's World Series and the NBA's finals can be a variable number of days, because they're both "best of" formats.

The media deals with that all the time.

However, one huge difference is everyone knows in advance of these events exactly who the competitors will be. So while you don't know the day on which it will finish, you can start doing media coverage on who will be in it.

To make this similar, you have the two sections be the Division finals. Play them out. Then take a week off (in part to allow buzz to build). Then bring back the two division winners for a final match (rapids ornot).

But that's more expensive, and I think not likely at this point in the sport in the US.


As I said, those are major sports. When chess has the problems of baseball and the NBA I'll call you from my yacht and we can discuss the format! It's almost impossible to get the media to a chess event. Adding "and we're not sure when it ends" is just another complication. We don't have the luxury.

And in that final match, a delay of which has been discussed, how long is it? What if they play two or four classical games and it's even? The problem is finding a way to schedule an event that potentially doesn't end. The Kasparov-Karpov 84-85 match is our warning. It has to have an end.

my understanding from previous US championship coverage is that the players themselves prefer some form of chess to the "let the gods decide" stuff. That, to me, is a valid argument for having tiebreaks come in the form of rapids.

But that's tiebreaks. They may be necessary, but I still prefer a format where it COULD be decided with one time control.
But if the sponsor likes this format better, it's their money.

Here's what I would do, though.

1. Have the regular time control championships.

At the midway point, introduce a "half time" contest. Some suggested a Capablanca Cup, or Monaco Cup. Whatever. A little rapids event in the middle of the event, like an NBA slam dunk competition. Give it a decent money prize, maybe $4,000. Construct it so there can be only one winner. Everybody plays in this. Also, do whatever you have to do so that each player has a specific rank order finish.

Then go back and play the second half of the regular champinship with the regular time control.

Now--if players are tied at the end, the tiebreak is their score in the Capablanca Cup.

This gives you some serious drama, because someone with a low Capablanca rank will HAVE to step it up in the regular games.

The regular games end on schedule. Even if there's a 10 way tie, you know exactly who the champion is.

So...if you're going to mix rapids and regular, I'd make it a true media fireworks event. :) With enough of a prize to make it worthwhile for the person who wins that one and doesn't win the overall. But it makes the quicker time control games completely irrelevant if someone can win outright in the slower time controls. They only come into play if there's a tie.


To get the Capablanca Cup halftime event over quickly and guarantee single rankings, make it Armageddon games in a knockout format. That's it, no other chess. White has 6 minutes, Black has 5 minutes and draw odds. Winner advances.

Losers play additional ladders to determine single rankings.

Fsat, crazy, decent prize, fixed length event that then provides a "play on the board" based tiebreak number to use ONLY IF NEEDED at the end of the regulation games.

And if a player hates the format, hey--they just have to win in the regulation time, and it doesn't matter if they came in last in the half time event. :)


In 2000 I outlined a "skills" competition we wanted to sponsor at KasparovChess.com. Problem solving, tactics stuff, shuffle chess, blitz, game identification/trivia. Would be an interesting side event instead of straight-up chess.

Playing the tiebreaker (which would have to be blitz to have a single winner in one day) before the end of the main event is something of an anti-climax, no? "And so and so wins because he won a different event four days ago" doesn't sound so good to me. It provides a degree of certainty, one that can lead to short last-round draws depending on the pairings.

It doesn't have to be one day if it's planned for. It could be 2 or 3. All depends on cost and practicality.

But I think it would be fun. "What was her Capablanca rank?" could tie it back into an event with great visuals. And it would create as much pressure to win some games as it would to draw some others.

Knowing you will win on tiebreaks going into the last round isn't a bad thing in and of itself. Again, we get that in baseball and basketball all the time. Team A is 3 games behind Team B, Team C has clinched the Division title...The most it could tell us is that if players A, B, C, and D all draw in the last round, we already know B will be the Champion, D will be 2nd, A will be 3rd, etc.

What that does is put pressure on the players other than B NOT to draw.

You could go back and run a simulation with the last 2 US Championships and see what things would look like going into the last round. But I'd bet it would create more dramatic interest, not less.

warm regards,

I haven't seen many short agreed draws in baseball or basketball lately. The stadium sells out anyway. Knowing exactly what will happen if you agree to a draw is the problem.

The Larsen Prize is back this year. $5,000 for attitude; that can't hurt.

Regarding the "tiebreak vs. playoff" debate for deciding group winners - on behalf of the AF4C, I polled a fairly representative group of former US Champions (a number of whom are playing in 2006) to ask their view on what they felt would be best for the players.

They almost unanimously went for tiebreak - they felt that was the best system, as it meant the player who had the best performance rightly wins through. Based on their feedback, that's what we opted for!

A lot of people out there are moaning that we don't consult - the truth of the matter is that we do, and a number of champions have had an input into a number of changes, including the two group and rapid match format - and they were fairly comfortable with that.

If Kreiman is expelled from the championship, my biggest concern is that it can establish a dangerous precedent, especially if De Guzman is not punished in any way (and presumably, he already got his compensation for the game).

Say, I am playing a guy in the last round whom I really don't like and who I think I will lose to anyway. All I have to do then to hurt the guy is to play like a donkey against him and then have somebody complain about it. My opponent then will likely be disqualified based on this precedent, right?

To prevent this, if it is believed (strongly enough to disqualify Kreiman) that De Guzman lost to him on purpose, the loser should at least be punished too.

Hey where the hell are the singing cats???


Plain and simple, chess is not a spectator sport, and chess never will be a spectator sport unless it is turned into some circus. Good chess requires time, and there is no reason to believe that people will stay there and watch a long game. Hell, even the most avid chessplayers click back and forth between the playchess or ICC server during big games. All of these moves that are being made with an eye toward grabbing media attention are quite well-intentioned, but almost certainly doomed to fail.




Your point is well taken. But I don't think any of us should simply assume that a decision to bar Kreiman is / will be arrived at entirely on the basis of the game score vs De Guzman...nor that any similar disciplinary actions against anyone suspected of throwing an important game in the future, will be based solely on the game score, either.

The total picture, including all information of even the slightest possible relevance that can be learned about the suspect(s)' behavior during, before, or after the tournament, should be taken into account when judging whether the game most likely was or was not thrown (i.e. BOUGHT; everyone on the previous thread here who posed goofy hypotheticals like someone losing on purpose just because they felt like it, will be duly ignored by me, Mig, the authorities, and everyone else with an IQ higher than their shoe size).

I'm assuming (hoping) that A4FC and/or the USCF (Ethics Committee?) did make some sort of investigation -- at a minimum, questioning both Kreiman and De Guzman, and at least putting out inquiries if there were any witness to the two of them discussing a deal.

If I'm not imagining things, John Fernandez said on a previous thread here that the pair actually went to the TD's table at the end and asked him to cut two equal checks for Kreiman's prize money. Someone else said both played their moves very rapidly, and even then spent most of their time away from their table. If true, considering what was at stake in the Kreiman-De Guzman game, both those circumstances constitute powerful evidence: possibly, even stronger evidence than the game score itself.

Of course, just because it was said here doesn't mean it's true. But I would think (hope) that whoever made/is making the decision on Kreiman, would actively seek out such information from parties who were present, and then do his best to evaluate its veracity.

I fully agree with Stan that if Kreiman is punished in any way, De Guzman should be punished too.

The comments about Kreiman suing the USCF, while technically possible, seem doubtful to me. As someone who has been in court a lot this past year, I can attest that it is DAMN expensive. It took me well over a year and a fair amount of money to collect a scant $10,000 from a customer. I doubt that he will be willing to put up the big bucks necessary just to get started to win such a case (read: probably a $5000 retainer just to start), and I doubt any lawyer is going to take it on a contingency basis since it is not that type of case. As a GM, and this is just an educated guess, I doubt his pockets are very deep.

It is nice to say you will sue someone, but the reality of the costs, and the time and energy involved (don't discount this either since it can be very draining) often hit you in the face.

If de Guzman did have a deal with Kreiman to throw the game, he did it in a really inept manner. Very unprofessional of him. If you are going to sell yourself for $$, at least fulfill your agreement with some degree of integrity. If de Guzman had done a decent job in throwing the game in a believable manner, then he would have done right by his client, Kreiman. While I'm not about to shed any crocodile tears over Kreiman's predicament, it irritates me that the organizers and the USCF are put in a no win position. Either they expose themselves to possible litigation if they disqualify Kreiman, or they are condemned by the chess community for failing to uphold the integrity of the game.

This just goes to prove that there is no honor among sleazes. If de Guzman's allegedly deliberate loss to Kreiman had not been so suspicious, it would have been better for both Kreiman, and for de Guzman himself.

This type debacle has happened too many times in the past. In Boxing, when a pugilist agrees to take a dive, he doesn't get "knocked out" from some jab in the 1st Round. Instead, there is almost always some prearrangement with respect to what round the paid off Boxer will hit the canvas.

If Kreiman and strong players who wished to buy games had any sense, they would not only arrange to buy the win, but also come to some basic agreement on the manner and style of the throwing of the game. For instance, Kreiman would have done better to clarify that the game would end some time between moves 40 and 50, that de Guzman will experience some time trouble (to make any weak moves look "genuine". If de Guzman didn't want to sit all the way through Time Control, he could have suggested that he play some variation where he takes poisoned pawns with his Queen, while Kreiman breaks through with a direct attack on the King.

Some 35 years ago GM Milan Matulovic gained notoriety for his unconvincing job of throwing a game to Mark Taimanov in the 1970 Palma de Mallorca Interzonal. Ironically, if Taimanov (or somebody in his "entourage") did indeed fix the result, whereby he paid Matulovic to lose, there was Karmic justice at the end: By winning that game, he qualified for the Candidates' matches. He was paired against Bobby Fischer, and lost that match with 6 straight defeats.

If somebody is going to take $$ to lose, they ought to put away all notions of salvaging sporting pride, by "signalling" to spectators that the game is a farce. Rather, they should endeavor to take pride in their acting job, and aim to put on the most believable performance that they can.

Frankly, the USCF and A4FC ought to utilize the game theory of the "Prisoner's Dilemma" to resolve this mess. They should offer immunity to either de Guzman or to Kreiman, if they agree to rat out the other party. If Kreiman rats out de Guzman, then Kreiman can play, while de Guzman gets suspended from the USCF. If de Guzman drops a dime on Kreiman, than de Guzman will face no sanction, while Kreiman will be disqualified from the US Championship.

The core tenet of the Prisoner's Dilemma is that both parties will do better if neither talks. But the first one to talk gets a guaranteed benefit.

This is a huge incentive for false accusations. If both parties are innocent, but one is afraid of the threat of sanctions, a Prisoner's Dilemma situation can easily elicit a false confession to guarantee freedom.

This is why in most US jursidictions one cannot be convicted solely on the basis of uncorroborated accomplice testimony.

It's easy to get a confession in a Prisoner's Dilemma situation. But it's not necessarily any easier to get the truth.


After some more thought here is my opinion on how to handle the situation next year.

At the time players pay $75 at a tourney to qualify, they need to sign an agreement that gives USCF and AF4C all kinds of rights to not allow the player to play with the maximum liability limited to the return of the $75 entry fee.

now in that agreement must be a statement about agreed draws etc and also that the uscf and af4c reserves the right to not allow them to play without recourse. but even beyond that the right of uscf and af4c to reject anyone for any reason or no reason.

i am sure a good lawyer can do a good job. this way no one has a legal right to sue no matter what happens.

basically the people running the show take all power to do as they please. and the players have to agree to that or not be allowed to play.

I just want to add that I really love to read Duif's comments. they are so creative and well thought out. I have learned a lot from reading her comments.

Nice going Duif we need you here in the chess world.

I also want to add that I have always felt that AF4C is the most wonderful organization. First Class all the way and chess really needs you.

Iknow all these problems will get worked out in the future.

I also support AF4C in the format of the tournament this year. It sounds like a great format. The best choice in a difficult situation.

And to the chess fans. let me say that AF4C has come up with the money to throw a tournament and they need to be allowed to throw the tournament anyway they choose. if you dont like the tournament then dont play in it and dont watch it. but also Don't Complain.

Remember USCF was going to drop the US Championships. there was no longer going to any US Championships when AF4C came along and said they would be willing to try to run it. and they have done a super wonderful job. so STOP COMPLAINING.

Everyone who is a chess fan should be totally supportive of AF4C and everything they are doing for chess. I certainly support AF4C 110%. They are the very best thing to happen to chess in the USA. and Mig is the 2nd best.


as a non chess player with avid interest in the game nontheless would like to make a comment about existence of 'evidence' of cheating or 'proof' of collusion. is there not danger inherent in premature condemnations that unjustly may punish players who simply aren't playing up to par because of health/emotional issues. one does not have to look further than Shirov's recent inexplicable performances.

Thank you, Tommy, you are much too kind.

And I agree, of course, that AF4C has done a wonderful job in rescuing the championship and in promoting chess in schools. They are very much to be commended. In addition, there's no question that the Website they do for the Championship is one of the best chess event sites anywhere, which is great for fans. All it needs is more bios to be "practically perfect." :)

So certainly it's their money, and they can set the format. And I'm sure they do, as John mentioned, consult with many people, including top players.

I just think that the problem with the format isn't that it's a variable length. There are variable length championships in many competitions. Rather it's that no one going in to the last round can figure out what the probable outcome will be when there are ties. Our tiebreakers are just so obscure and complex.

So I'd like to find a way to have tiebreak position predefined before the first round. Build drama, create some "must win" situations, and move smoothly from end of the last game to the award ceremony.

Personally, when it comes to the national title I'd even be willing to see them use something like Grand Prix standing, with the tiebreak ranking announced prior to the first game (so any errors could be caught).

Again, play well enough in the regular games, and the tiebreak position becomes irrelevant. But if there is a big tie, even the most mathematically-challenged fan would know who would win the title. :)

Of course, the players might hate that one. I'm just saying there are different ways to solve three different problems:

1. Design a tiebreak system that is simple to explain and time bounded.

2. Have the championship end at a preannounced time.

3. Make it possible for the title to be decided with regulation play.

The two division/rapids playoff meets the requirements of 1 and 2, but not 3. All I'm suggesting is that if you don't assume the tiebreak rank has to wait to be assigned until after all regulation games are played, you may be able to come up with a format that meets 1, 2, and 3. And I think that is consistent with many other sports and competitions, for exactly the same reasons.


My solution: hold a "normal" swiss system tournament, then have a rapid match between the top two finishers (regardless of their final scores). If the top two finishers had equal scores in the main tournament, then the winner of the rapid match gets the championship. If one player finished ahead of the field, then the rapid match is just an exhibition match with a decent amount of money at stake.


What will you do if 5 people tie for first?

What will you do if 5 people tie for first?

Of course you might need a tiebreak method to determine the top two finishers in my scenario. And yes, it might seem arbitrary and unfair to use tiebreaks to eliminate some people, but not use the same tiebreak to determine the champion.

But I still think my idea would be an improvement over the arbitrary and unfair system that they are actually going to use.


There seems to be strong circumstantial evidence that BOTH Kreiman and de Guzman are guilty of fixing the result of their game. There are only 2 other scenarios: 1) de Guzman unilaterally decided to play for the loss, even though with no arrangement with Kreiman, de Guzman would have stood to gain no benefit whatsoever from the result. 2) de Guzman was trying to do his best, and simply playeed very poorly.

Under scenario 2, it would be in either de Guzman's or Kreiman's best interest to implicate the other (innocent) party as being implicated in an unethical action. Even if de Guzman orKreiman faced NO sanction, they would still be stigmatized by having admitted to being party to a scheme to throw a game. BOTH of their reputations would be in tatters.

Actually, the dilemma that the "Prisoners" face is that in aggregate, the least amount of (combined) time of incarceration that they would face would result from the scenerio where neither inplicates the other. However, if one prisoner implicates the other, but is not reciprocally implicated by the other, then the outcome for that Prisoner is better yet.

Remember that the Dilemma involves the belief on the part of the prosecutor that both Prisoner's are guilty of a crime. If the prosecutor is unable to secure the cooperation of at least one of the prisoners, then he would still be able to get them convicted of less serious crimes (for instance, misdemeanors vs. felonies).

The integrity of the process, with respect to how de Guzman and Kreiman are treated, is less important than the integrity of the game.

Let's face it: even if both de Guzman and Kreiman FALSELY implicated each other, the consequences for them would be relatively trivial. At the worst, they would have their USCF memberships suspended for a year. It's not like they would lose their liberty, as would happen if they were found guilty of criminal misconduct.

It is important to create an object lesson of this scandal, so that in the future, players will know that they ought to avoid the even appearance of impropriety

The core tenet of the Prisoner's Dilemma is that both parties will do better if neither talks. But the first one to talk gets a guaranteed benefit.

This is a huge incentive for false accusations. If both parties are innocent, but one is afraid of the threat of sanctions, a Prisoner's Dilemma situation can easily elicit a false confession to guarantee freedom.

This is why in most US jursidictions one cannot be convicted solely on the basis of uncorroborated accomplice testimony.

It's easy to get a confession in a Prisoner's Dilemma situation. But it's not necessarily any easier to get the truth.



You are talking sense. (Not that Duif wasn't; she always makes sense.)

Your observation that "The integrity of the process, with respect to how de Guzman and Kreiman are treated, is less important than the integrity of the game," is a refreshing change from the hyper-permissive, and ultimately anti-chess and anti-honest-chess-player, attitudes revealed by so many people who posted on this and other threads where the topic of cheating came up.

The unfortunate prevalence of those anti-chess attitudes (even here on a blog that supposedly serves chess "fans") might explain why, as you concisely pointed out, the consequences of being caught cheating in chess are so minuscule ... and remain minuscule even when enough cash is involved to raise the possibility of a real criminal prosecution in a real court.

Be prepared to be trashed as a Big Brother, Guantanamo-loving, civil-liberties-hating Bush**e, by the many buffoons who can't seem to discuss chess issues except in such screwball terms.

That said, I do worry about any generalized anti-cheating approach that relied too heavily on either the "Prisoner's Dilemma" philosophy which strives to "turn" the accomplice (although you did a great job of countering Duif, I don't think her objection can be completely dismissed), or the analysis of a suspect game score in terms of the game's quality, plausibility, etc.

While I do believe that game scores and quality should be taken into account in determining whether a game was likely thrown or bought (one and the same thing, as far as I'm concerned), I also believe those in authority should always look at the totality of circumstances surrounding the suspect game. That means investigating the conduct and statements of both players before, during and after the game, seeking out and interviewing potential witnesses, with an eye to uncovering any information that might shed light on whether they made an agreement or exchanged or agreed to exchange money.

Of course, it is conceivable that such inquiries might produce exculpatory evidence, as well.

As I said earlier, I hope those who (reportedly) reached a decision to bar Kreiman from the championship, did in fact look at more than the score of the de Guzman game.

Not that I think Kreiman would be getting a raw deal if they didn't. Rather, I think upholding the integrity of the GAME and the integrity of the PROCESS might actually coincide in this exemplary case.

The more credible the process, then the more confident the A4FC, USCF, and other organizers are likely to feel about using it to resolve similar accusations in the future -- rather than being scared away by the fear that the mass of chess players (and donors??) might brand their decision unfair and boycott them, or that their actions might furnish grounds for a lawsuit.

I don't know this for a fact, since I don't have access to a chess database right now, but...

Look up De Guzman's games as white. Observe what opening the majority of his games are. Then compare with the opening he played at the 2005 AO.

For good measure, examine his win/loss record with his different openings...

The way I heard it, the Kreiman/De Guzman kaffesklatch was first brought to the attention of the tournament staff when a player complained that 'De Guzman's playing the opening he plays when he's throwing a game.'

Does De Guzman's record bear this out?

Just checked De Guzman's games in ChessBase Mega 2006.

After 1. d4 Nf6, de Guzman plays 2. Nf3 44 out of 51 times, 2. c4 6 out of 51 times and 2. Bg5 1 out of 51 times.

De Guzman never has 2. g3 in there.

I checked to see if De Guzman backdoors this somehow, but after 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 De Guzman plays 3. Bg5 in all 22 of his 22 games after that position.

Yes he plays Bg5 passively, but he usually gets his Bishop out of the pawn chain first and usually develops the Bishop to e2.

Perfect, DeGuzman was trying something different, didn't understand the resulting positions well(because of a lack of experience) and lost like a dog.

Who tries something different that they don't understand in a critical last round game vs. a GM in a major swiss?

Probably NOT John Fernandez.

Who tries something different that they don't understand in a critical last round game vs. a GM in a major swiss?

Well, Kasparov was ready to play the Grunfeld for the first time in his life in game 24 of K-K II in Moscow 1985. And in 1987,
in the final win-or-die game 24 Garry played the Reti, which was
not part of his opening repertoire. I certainly won't claim that Garry didn't understand those positions, although I assume that Garry himself would say that in 1985 he knew nothing about the Grunfeld compared to later years, The point is there is precedent for strong players playing new opening systems in crucial games.

As for this DeGuzman issue I know nothing about it and have no opinion!

I begin with a caveat: I have not played over De Guzman - Kreiman. And I'm too weak a player myself to offer a reliable opinion on it, anyway.

Now the meat: In the initial thread where this game was posted here (by Jesse Kraii), a number of people said other titled players had reviewed the score and all had concluded that White's level of play was approximately 1600.

Let us assume for argument's sake that those titled players who reviewed it were independent (had no personal stake in the outcome of the game, such as being contenders for an open spot in the US Championship themselves); therefore there is every reason to trust their evaluation.

Now, let us all review DP's above comment which -- unless meant sarcastically -- appears intended to exonerate both parties ("Perfect, De Guzman was trying something different...").

Taking the two statements together, the direct implication of DP's comment (again, if taken at face value, rather than meant ironically) is, that he believes it is not out of the ordinary for an IM with an established FIDE rating just shy of 2500, playing with a slow time control (i.e. not blitz or something like G-30), to play at about a 1600-level when playing positons that result from an opening he "doesn't understand" due to "lack of experience" with such positions.

What might this say about DP's qualifications to comment on any game between high-level players?

DP, if you were being sarcastic, please take my comment as a vindication of what you wrote, rather than a condemnation.

Obviously what I said was not meant to be taken seriously in the sense that I believe that is a reasonable explanation for how he played. DeGuzman played in a way that I would never play even in that opening(with which I have zero experience). In fact, he nicely concocted a way to walk into a pin that lost a pawn. Kreiman played the supporting role flawlessly. My point was responding to the implication about the opening choice--- it is not really good evidence that there was cheating. My question is about how do you build up evidence against cheaters and what is the rubric for calling someone a cheater. In the end, imagine DeGuzman says he tried something new, didn't know what he was doing, he was nervous because he needed money to pay rent, had a headache, had problems with his wife, etc. And somehow substantiates all of this. How can you reply? Isn't the pride of the legal system in the US innocent until proven guilty? But in a crime, where there is often little evidence anyway and few resources to seek it out, doesn't that mean that the best thing to do might be to accept cheating as a fact of life and move on.

Probably not any sane chessplayer who is trying to do well in the game.

Comparing this to Kasparov's use of 'non-repertiore openings' in K-K matches is insane. You don't think he spent weeks prepping those things?

I actually have experience in this. I was 6/9 in the Canadian Open in 2002 and had Black vs. a known Closed Sicilian and King's Gambit expert. I couldn't find anything against the Closed, and I had something vs. the KG. I stayed up all night, prepped this amazing line, then he played 2. Nf3. I had no idea what to do. In fact, I spent 35 minutes thinking about what to do on move 2. (This got a lot of weird looks from many spectators.)

In the end, I won anyway. But the lesson here is you don't just trot out an opening you don't know.

It would be one thing if De Guzman was a known unpredictable player, who has played 7 different first moves with White, and has a totally flexible repertiore. If anything, his tree shows he's a narrow player who generally sticks to what he knows.

The entire discussion about his opening choice is beside the point. He played pathetically, almost randomly, and then just resigned. Looks like it was either him or his (subconscious) ego wanting to make it clear that the game was thrown and that he wasn't "really" losing.

Probably he just didn't have enough experience throwing games. He will learn. :)

What few people here mention is that DeGuzman is a well known fighter. He routinely plays on a piece or more down in an endgame against masters, sometimes even against senior masters. He is known to swindle or flag Grandmasters from lost positions (Ehlvest in last round of 2001 US Open, Yermolinsky in Las Vegas last December). And here he plays the opening like a 1400, loses a pawn and then mysteriously resigns just down a pawn???

And in case it matters, I've played DeGuzman many times. About 25 times to be exact. I've lost my fair share of dead won positions against him. Those of us in NorCal call it the DeGuzman curse.

Michael Aigner

Was waiting for you to pipe up, fpawn, as I know you've played him a ton.

If you have a universally known fighter (I recall you mentioning this to me, but I wasn't so sure), who resigns in the middle of the blue after playing so passively (very unlike him), then you have more than enough evidence.

Well, he could still say he was sick that day, etc., as DP suggested a few comments up this thread.

But the point is, against the background of facts that you and fpawn have supplied (assuming for the sake of argument they can be accepted as facts)....If de Guzman was facing discipline and argued that he played terribly because he was sick, the burden would be on HIM to convince the arbiters he was in fact sick enough to knock 800 Elo points off his normal playing strength (i.e. 2400 down to 1600). Perhaps he could submit doctor's reports, results of an MRI brain-scan, etc.

Otherwise, the sum total of evidence available would point strongly to his having thrown the game...and if he was punished and he sued, his claim would get laughed out of court.

For the sake of uneducated readers obsessed with transferring irrelevant political/legal/civil rights terminology into chess contexts, and for non-U.S. citizens / residents (even those who pretend to have "legal training") I guess I should add this by way of explanation:

THE "PROOF" needed to be legally bulletproof when punishing de Guzman (and Kreiman) is simply whatever would persuade an impartial authority hearing the case (such as a civil-court jury -- assuming some USCF body punished him, and he turned around and sued the USCF) that IT IS MORE LIKELY THAN NOT that he cheated.

Since we're not talking about the D.A. charging him with a crime and seeking a criminal conviction, he does NOT have a defense based on "reasonable doubt."

That concept simply does not exist in the context we are discussing. He still CAN AND SHOULD BE PUNISHED, as long as a majority of reasonable, impartial people would believe the evidence presented makes it likelier than not that he threw the game -- even if there are ample grounds for reasonable doubt that he did it.

Although I have no legal training, I understand that legal types use this mathematical shorthand:

For either side to win a civil case (what we are talking about here), the evidence must lean at least 51% toward their interpretation of events, rather than the opposing side's version. (The legal term is: "a preponderance of evidence.")

While, a D.A. winning a criminal conviction must prove his case with 95% certainty (i.e., "beyond a reasonable doubt.") Again, the latter is NOT what anyone is talking about in relation to the De Guzman - Kreiman case.

When is this thing going to be resolved? Mig wrote "'Either before or right after the weekend' is what I'm told." There are less than 2 weeks before the event starts, and if they kick Kreiman out, any replacement player would almost certainly have to scramble to make the necessary arrangements to play on such short notice.

The replacement player (Preuss, I believe) is on standby. He has been notified to be ready and it probably being kept up to date. Annoying, but there's not much else to do.

I don't mean to criticize, but is there any chance that the two groups will be announced before we all come to San Diego?


Try directing your comments towards the USCF - we can't publish the groups until they decide what actions (if any!) to take against Boris Kreiman. Taking Kreiman out means a number of changes in the format of the groups. As of late Saturday afternoon, the USCF Executive Board, despite the evidence they have in front of them, seems to be doing its level best at making a fudge of the issue. I only hope they hold their nerve.

John Henderson

Can anyone deny that de Guzman-Kreiman was still probably a higher quality game than we are likely to get from blitz tiebreaks at the actual championship?

The format they have wouldn't be bad for a qualifier where you were just looking to get a decent challenger for Nakamura. But for the real thing it's more than a little jokey.

Yes, I can deny it. That game was silly garbage. Have you looked at the Stripunsky-Nakamura tiebreak games from the last championship?

Yes, it's a little unusual, but what's jokey about it? Two nine-round swisses instead of one. Will either of the group winners be an undeserving champion?

If you go down to 1 minute/game, you could likely get lower quality (although Nakamura is still pretty good at that time control).

The USCF should make their decision about Kreiman soon, one way or the other.


Yes, Stas, you are quite right in lamenting the USCF handling of this situation. Regardless of what decision is reached, there will be protest over how long it took to either exclude the guy or include him (the latter case because the pairings would therefore have been able to be established all along).

On another note, I was wondering if the chess club you had at Penn State was already in existence when you got there, or if you helped to start it. i haven't found one here at Ohio State yet, but might want to help start one and was curious about how you went about it.



The club originally existed in the 50's but was inactive until Greg Vaserstein and others restarted it in the 90's. When I came there, it was already active for a few years.
I published an article in Chess Life a couple of years ago that discussed some technical questions concerning starting and running a collegiate chess club, if that could be of any help.


For whatever this is worth Ohio State has a decorated history as a collegiate chess power back in the 80s. I remember a Chess Life article which had a pic of the team members John Bracey and Douglas Jennings analyzing a game. They had an average rating over 2200. University of Toronto won that year.

My point is... there is history laying around in someone's file cabinet at OSU. No need to reinvent the wheel.

Well, my point was that you have two nine round swisses (hardly a good format for a serious championship among GM's anyway) to decide who gets into an essentially random arrangement for determining the champion.

A nine round swiss among the top 100 on the rating list wouldn't be likely to yield a decent championship candidate, let alone among -American- chessplayers, whether or not they are used to it.

Swiss is decent for fun, money-creating weekend tournaments but it implies very little about the strength of GM quality players. Neither of the "bracket" winners would be a deserving champion (at least, not solely on the merit of having beaten a few GMs and IMs in a Swiss).

Any tournament has to balance many objectives. If the only concern were to find the absolute strongest players it would be easy. We could take the top 40 players from the rating list and have them play a quadruple round robin with plenty of rest days. There are, however, a few drawbacks to this approach.

Other factors include publicity, sponsorship, promotion, cost, and time. In a country like the US with little in the way of broad chess culture and nil attention, sacrificing those factors in the name of finding someone you deem worthy and decent doesn't make any sense. A world championship title depends much more on the credibility of the title holder as being the strongest, for example.

There are a dozen American players with a good chance of winning the title under any format. Scoring a 2700+ TPR in a strong Swiss is not random. There is certainly more of a chance element, but it compensates in field size and attractiveness over, say, a 12-player round robin final. There's no one best system, especially not one that works equally well for every event.

I'm sure the AF4C will continue to experiment with the format in an attempt to build prestige, draw more attention, and cut costs.

What advantages, exactly, does it have over a 12 player final? Or an 8-player double round? I wasn't saying it was random, but there are a lot of people at this tournament who have precisely zero argument that they are the strongest American chessplayer.

Having lots of players and lots of games is cute and democratic but serves no useful purpose, as most of the games are ignored by everyone not playing in them. How many people are watching and analyzing games from Linares this week? Even just counting Americans, it'll be more than have any interest in Swiss or rapid games from the US Champs. Game quality matters; note the difference in interest between Las Vegas 1998 and San Luis, even though you'd think Vegas might be a better forum.

There's no point to this conversation if you hold that the only "useful purpose" of a chess event is to statistically prove who the strongest player is. There are many other useful purposes for a chess tournament, especially a national championship.

Linares is Linares not because of the format but because of the caliber of the players and their chess. Fans also watched the stupid KO's in high numbers, especially in the final rounds. And the US championship serves different purposes than Linares, or Corus, or the world championship, or the Russian championship. A broad field creates more possibilities of contact and also feeds the grassroots much better than an elite round-robin.

As for ignoring the games, you're wrong. The last championship generated a lot of interest, especially relative to the category of the event. (Three players in the world top 100.) The 1% of the chess fan population that can tell the difference between a game between 2700's and one between 2500's is not going to have much of an impact.

Speaking just as a fan, I'd love to see the US Championship designed as a prestige event that could truly showcase some top players, but with a couple of wildcards to allow the sponsors to create more press interest or reward extraordinary accomplishment.

Maybe invite the following
1. The previous years US Champion
2-3. The top 2 players by rating on a single rating list from about 4 months before the event.
4-5. The two players with the highest number of Grand Prix poitns for a 12 month period ending 2 months before the event.
6. The US Open Champion
7. The US Jr. Champion
8-9. 2 wildcard invitations, announced 6 weeks before the event.

Then stage an 8 round round robin.

And again, speaking as a fan, I'd like tiebreaks to be simple and established prior to the last round. Either something like the Capablanca cup we discussed before or a lottery drawing. But done so everyone knows going in to the last round who needs to win what to be champion. And so that it is possible to win by playing only the regulatin event.

That would let you reward accomplishment, reward activity, maintain prestige, but still mix it up a little with the wildcards. Keep the costs a bit lower and really showcase each player.And have a predictable finish date.

Just a thought,

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on February 9, 2006 3:08 AM.

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