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US Ch 2006 Prize List

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I just added the full prize list to the US Championship website standings and crosstable page. This is the corrected list. (Typed in by hand from a scrounged player sheet. Argh.) The group distribution on the rules page is still wrong, but I added a note.

33 players made at least $2,900, the lowest prize was $2,000. The prizes were distributed with the tiebreak system, a somewhat cruel but effective way to encourage fighting games all the way through. Stripunsky and Christiansen came out on the cruel end of things, losing out on over $4,000 for finishing third instead of second on tiebreaks. Of course Shulman went to the final on tiebreaks too, but I don't begrudge that since he led the whole way. You win some you lose some on these systems and it's true that there was a record high degree of combativity.

As many have pointed out, and as was mentioned last championship, the official hotel was too expensive for most players, even the strong ones who could expect to finish in the top half with at least an even score. I'd say fewer than half stayed at Humphrey's, which was a pretty place but a bit rich at $125/night for 12 nights (that's $1500 for you English majors out there). The organization wants to promote an elegant image for chess and for the event, but they are pricing the players out of the official hotel this way. Either they need to drive a better bargain or accept that most of the players will prefer the Holiday Inn or the Loma Lodge ($250 for a week!). As long as there are plenty of alternatives around it's not a big deal, I suppose, but there are advantages to having nearly everyone under one roof. The organizers didn't seem to mind and no one was forced to stay at the official hotel, as is happening at the Euro Championship again.

One of the frequent suggestions about the field is to cut it to 32 or fewer and keep the same prize fund. I see the point, but I also like the festival atmosphere and many stories created by the giant field. You also take away many chances for US players to get norms. For better or for worse, players here are used to risking not coming away from an event with a profit and it's somewhat fitting that quite a few who are mostly playing for the honor of the invitation just break even financially. (I was about to say that at least there isn't an entry fee, but there's that $75 qualifier fee, paid multiple times by many players.) The chance for big bucks with breaking even as the worst case scenario isn't too bad or they wouldn't show up. Ten players made $5,800 or more, plus the $5,000 Larsen Prize.

Failing to keep this item on the money format discussion and venue critiques still to come one idea tossed about was to add another layer to the qualification system, making into more of a cycle. Then only 10-24 players make the final, which would still have the big prize fund. First prize could then be closer to $100,000, a number that might be big enough to catch the attention of the money-mad US media. Have only the defending champion seeded into the final, toss in the top two or three women qualifiers, and that's it. Amateurs would still have a chance to make it, but the field would be much more compact. The second tier of qualification could take place online (with proctors) to cut costs, or done regionally. This second stage might build interest, the way the candidates matches did for the world championship.

Below the jump, some comments from Gata Kamsky and Larry Christiansen posted to an earlier item.

Greetings :)

Anyway, I wanted to post a few thoughts in my mind. Firstly, I would like to disagree with statement that Shulman had a stronger opposition. Just a quick comparison, I could be wrong, but if Yermolinsky had won in the last round against Larry, I would have had a better tiebreak than Yury I think. The fact is that tiebreak system is not depending on the player directly, but on how his opponents overall result, basically at the mercy or luck of others. Secondly, there was a MAJOR disrepancy with the way the current USCF pairing rules work with regards to the color. In any normal pairing system in the world, Yury would have had to switch color from white to black when playing against me, but except for this USCF color balancing rule. Basically, having a 1 point lead and having a second white in a row against a leading contender is a big advantage. I'll also like to take an opportunity and ask the USCF to eliminate this rule to bring the pairings up to standard with the FIDE and rest of the world rules. And lastly, I think it's needless to say, but when having a US Title at stake and having a multiple way tie for the qualifying spots, tiebreak qualification is not the way to go for legitimacy of the title. I understand if the tiebreak is used for less important positions, but it's more important to deserve the qualification spot, especially if our individual games between Yury, me and Larry produced all draws so far.

Now, I would like to express thanks to the organizers and to Mig for great coverage and splendid work you guys did on the tournament. It's also great that players were consulted on the rules and changes beforehand and I hope this tradition will continue :)

The format in which US championship ran this year was experimental and as such there are bound to be some imperfections. Let us hope that we'll continue working together, players and organizers to find that perfect formula :)

Cheers, Gata

The tournament venue was one of the best I have played in, jet noise notwithstanding. The organizing team did an oustanding job under difficult circumstances and the quality of games was quite high, despite some notable blunders. My hat is off to players and organizers alike.

People forget how degraded the US Championship tournament had become before Erik Anderson and his team became the main organizers. The tournament had been held many times in obscure budget motels, deserted industrial parks and haunted hotels (I still had a good time at most of these events too).Ha The round-robin events produced very dull chess and the KO system also had its problems. The idea of "democratizing" the tournament is a good one, in my opinion--although some revisions should be made. Creating opportnunities for players in all regions to participate makes for a more interesting tournament,and I think should be good for keeping people interested in the game. The proposal of "superqualifiers" on the internet seems like a good way to increase interest in the event and expand regional participation.

Here are some ideas to improve the event:
They should dump the uscf pairing system in favor of the European (much fairer to all players in the long run) and announce the pairings 1 hour before the round. Perhaps the tournament could be extended to 11 rounds, with the first 4 rounds held at G/60 and include 2 free days.

Anyway, lets try to build on this great event and make it better next year. Had to get all this off my chest.

Larry Christiansen


(Failing to keep this item on the money format discussion and venue critiques still to come one idea tossed about was to add another layer to the qualification system, making into more of a cycle. Then only 10-24 players make the final, which would still have the big prize fund. First prize could then be closer to $100,000, a number that might be big enough to catch the attention of the money-mad US media. Have only the defending champion seeded into the final, toss in the top two or three women qualifiers, and that's it. Amateurs would still have a chance to make it, but the field would be much more compact. The second tier of qualification could take place online (with proctors) to cut costs, or done regionally. This second stage might build interest, the way the candidates matches did for the world championship.)

Fantastic idea! I think this would be much better!

Best wishes,
Susan Polgar

I'm impressed with Susan's PR skills, LOL.

Stage 1:

Hold 9-round swisses in 4 regions of the country, open to anyone over 2200. Winner gets $8.000 and goes to the double-round robin that selects the challenger. (No player is allowed to enter more than one of these tournaments - a certain maximumn number of players allowed. Extra participants eliminated by rating).


Stage 2:

Double round-robin among the 4 winners. Winner gets $10000

Stage 3:

Current champion defends his title in a 14-game match @ 60 mintes/per game, two games a day.

Winner takes $50.000 - loser gets $20.000

Hold final in big city (New York, LA, Chicago, etc).

just a ruogh idea...

Stage 1:

Hold 9-round swisses in 4 regions of the country, open to anyone over 2200. Winner gets $8.000 and goes to the double-round robin that selects the challenger. (No player is allowed to enter more than one of these tournaments - a certain maximumn number of players allowed. Extra participants eliminated by rating).


Stage 2:

Double round-robin among the 4 winners. Winner gets $10000

Stage 3:

Current champion defends his title in a 14-game match @ 60 mintes/per game, two games a day.

Winner takes $50.000 - loser gets $20.000

Hold final in big city (New York, LA, Chicago, etc).

just a ruogh idea...

Question about the prize list. Kelly Cottrell-Finegold is shown as having .5 points (and netting $2000, not bad for a Class C player), but in the Group A listing it shows she lost every game and has 0 points. Was half a mercy point given? :)

Seemed like a strong tournament this year at the upper end! Just a bit of a shame that a lot of it occured on the same days as Linares.

I`m not one who gives that much weight to ratings alone, but in this case, couldn`t they add a requirement to the US Championship, that you have to either (A) have a 2500 or higher USCF rating, or (B) had at some point a 2500 or higher USCF rating? While ratings aren`t everything, they are a measure of performance, and if someone has not performed up to a certain standard, do they really have any place at all in the championship of a nation? The USA has plenty enough 2500+ players. The tournament would be much more meaningful with regards to the ultimate champion`s result, and it would be more prestigious as well. Rather than getting a few easier (to a GM anyway!) points by beating up on sub-2400s, they`d be forced to contend with GMs and maybe a couple of IMs. There`d be no near-freebies, like winning against, oh, a 1600-player. Things like that affect the final standings, and therefore, tarnish the image of the championship as a whole.

Fix the money issues, of course. But the class of the event could also be raised.

If you are going to have a gender-qualified event, like "Women's Championship", then it should be separate from the gender-neutral event. It's not like they let the Silver Bullets compete in the MLB playoffs so they can be crowned Women's World Series champions (while the Yankees win the real thing). It is understandable in physical events to have a separation of gender - the average men is much stronger than the average women, blame DNA, not society. But in a mental game like chess, unless you believe women are inherently incapable of mastering chess, there should be no reason to hold separate events. There should just be a US Champion, and if that is a man or woman, so be it. If, for the sake of publicizing chess to certain groups who are under-represented in the game (or for whatever reason), you can hold a Woman or Youth or Blind US championship - but don't interfere with the 'real' one. Letting the Silver Bullets into the World Series playoffs cheapens the event.

A question: was the brilliancy prize for 'Chimi' for just one game or all? If for one, which one?

A question: was the brilliancy prize for 'Chimi' for just one game or all? If for one, which one?


Very clever--all kinds of positives there!

I'd prefer to see it "toss in three or four wildcards" rather than pre-defining any spot as gender-restricted. But that's me. :)


In the group A Akobian and Fernandez got $500 more for exactly the same places as Shabalov and Perelshteyn in group B. Another blunder of organizers? Most of the prizes look higher in the group A too.

No, nostalemate, look again, it's legit. Where there are ties, the prize money for the places involved is thrown in a single pile and shared equally. The score breakdowns were different in the two groups, so the piles had different amounts of money in them.

I surrender. I give up. No more US Championships for me. No one seems to want to do the Championships in the best way possible. No one cares about the object which is to pick the US Champion in the best way possible with the most prestige. Everyone seems to want to draw in all kinds of other issues.

The most prestige is when you have a Challenger vs The Champion.

Then you have a Challenger cycle. The ONLY participants in the Challenger cycle are the very Best of the Best Players. NO ONE ELSE NEED APPLY.

Now once you get that as #1 idea in the mind everything else falls into place.

Let us define a worthy challenger contestant. He or she is someone who has proven he is among the best by showing that he has beaten many strong players and therefore has a high rating. ONLY those with HIGHEST ratings need apply.

Let us look at the World Championship as a model. Kasparov is WC. he played a match with #2 Anand. he later played with Kramnik when he was #2. now Kramnik refused a defense with #1 Kasparov. a mistake. Now we have #1 Topalov and again there is not a match with Kramnik. a mistake.

there are not 63 other people to consider. only the very top maybe 5 ro 10 maximum in the world are considered.

At San Luis there were 8 people to chose a fide world champion. and a woman was included because she qualified.

Look back into history. the US Championship was originally decided by a challenger vs champion match.

the 2006 champion would have 100 times more legitimacy and prestige if Onischuk had beat Nakamura in a Match. not have some low rated player accidently deliver a defeat to the champion so Onischuck wins by default. That is totally Rediculous.

I have no power to fix things up. I now get the feeling that AF4C does not fully understand the issues and has been allowing some Chess People to run the show who have lots of other issues.

Mig wants lots of people so he has lots of people to write about. but Mig that does not get us the proper champion. Let us all put our desires aside and get a Match Champion with prestige and honor and continuity.

It was this very fact of Bobby Fischer facing the reigning World Champion in a Match that brought so much free publicity to Chess. it was not a big tournament. it was the Challenger vs Champion concept that does the job. let us return to what has been proven to work.

Let us choose as potential challengers say 8 to 16 of the best chess players based on Rating and possibly on the fact that they have been playing some number of games over the past year. we want some activity.

Have a playoff between the potential challengers to determine the official challenger who then plays a match against the reigning US Champion.

AF4C I wish there was some way I could get this message to you. You are spending a lot of money. Use it correctly on a Match Championship. ONLY the BEST against the BEST. that is what a true championship is. the Best facing the Champion.

the rest of the discussion. I surrender. I give up. it is simply the insane mind going crazy. bring some sanity to the US Championship. let us be a model for the way the World Championship is held.

I hope the numbers are not correct. As currently stated on the website, the A group earned $3,500 more than the B group. That is more than $100 per player! Certainly we are not talking round off errors here.

By the way, I truly suspect there is an error. If you add up all 64 prizes then you get $258,800, which is some $4,600 higher than the alleged prize fund.

Michael Aigner

P.S. Importing webpages into Excel is really cool!

Petrel,forget the names and their scores. Look at the places only. The 6-7 places in the group A are worth $3700 each, while the same 6-7 places in the group B are worth only $3200 each. What am I missing?

Yeah, there are errors on the prize webpage. You can see that in group 1 people with the same scores are listed with different prize amounts.

Top 4 prizes = $63,700
Group A = $99,300
Group B = $95,800

Um.... you're right, Stan.

I find it pathetic that Batchimeg Tuvshintugs (3.5/9 after playing seven GMs and WGM norm, Natasha Christiansen (0.5/9) and Kelly Cottrell (0/9) got the same prize. However, next year will bring some changes I'm sure. I suppose her brilliancy prize provided some compensation for the poor prize structure.

How about having this points system for the swiss tournaments?

Win with White: 0.95
Win with Black: 1.05
Draw with white: 0.45
Draw with black: 0.55

You may not need any tie-breaks at all, in most circumstances.

"100 times more legitimacy"
Sounds like the rigorous mathematics and logic that you have become so famous for.

It seems that the biggest reason that the challenger model is not viable now is because so much money is needed from entry fees to fund the prizes. All we need is a very rich person to set up a trust fund for the championship. Then we can make them play for months and months if that is what would define legitimacy to the chess world. Until then, we'll just have to accept the fact that the championship is a business decision and is barely staying afloat as it is.

I'm a little disappointed at the number of solutions that involve faster time control games. I'm sorry, G/60 is not the same chess as the time control used. I really think that 6+ hour games are the only way you can call it a chess championship and not some kind of rapid chess championship. Maybe FIDE time controls of 90 30 will do if you don't care about the quality of endgames which there were very many nice ones this tournament. Also, don't forget at the highest level of chess how many games are decided in endgames. Another point, if you do G/60 there are NO NORMS!

They short changed people? But wait, everybody says chess is good at teaching kids math, critical thinking, planning ahead, etc.

Ok, time for them to admit it, all chess teaches your kids is chess. Nothing more. I bet most kids who play chess wouldnt know what percentage an increase from 1 to 4 is.

As all good mathematicians know. 100 times a small number give a regular number. for example 100 times 10 cents is only $10.

But I do admit that the expression of 100 times more is an expression which is in common use in this country. I am sure everyone else understood it that way.

As far as needing entry fee money. I disagree strongly. Although I think both of us do not know the figures are. how much money was raised by the entry fees. I doubt that it pays for that many prizes.

In my way the total prize fun could be cut sharply. with say 8 players in challenges playoff, the prizes can be greatly reduced. Since in the final Match there is only a need for a prize fund for the 2 players. so we only have to find prize money for 10 people instead of 64. I really doubt that the entry fees paid all the prize fund of the lower 54 players with extra for the upper 10.

My method could do the job for $100,000 total. $50,000 for the winner of the Match and $25,000 for the loser of the match. leaving $25,000 to split up among the 8 challengers in their contest. Remember the winner of the challengers will automatically go into the Champions Match where he will receive $25,000 even for losing so that $5,000 as top prize in the challenges will do the job. that leaves about $3000 each for the other 7 in the challengers. 7 x 3 = $21,000.

Thus my system saves $150,000 on the prize fund. and allows the publicity media to focus on the contests and match in a simple way.

Look closely, this has all the advantages and automatically solves so many problems. For example there were so many problems with trying to have so many people. The major problems that I have been reading about have had to do with getting all the lower rated people into the tournament. things like a conflict with women world championship, were some players cheating in getting their qualifications, etc etc. all that will go away automatically. it is all not needed in the first place. and none of it adds to the prestige of the Championship or concerned people who had a realistic chance of winning. dont bother with all that noise. settle down to a simple system of only the best people.

Even all todays conflict over the prizes actually paid out would go away. with only a few prizes there will not be a mistake. $50,000, $25,000, $5,000 and 7 prizes of $3000 for $101,000 total. what could be simpler. Even the Accountants can add that one up without the spreadsheet. I do it in my head.

Sometimes I think people just wanted to pass money around to as many people ( friends ) as possible. that is not what a championship is suppose to be all about. you can do all that, but then do it in a regular tournament. You can call it the San Diego Invitational Tournament for Everyone of My Friends.

And will this have 100 times the prestige that was obtained from this years tournament. You bet. That is a measure of how little there was out of this tournament. remember there was basically no publicity.

I thought that we learned at the HB Challenge tournament that throwing money in the form of big prizes does not really get us anything. We need lots of publicity. We need to get the word out. big money prizes does not automatically get the word out. I say spend a few dollars on the right Public Relations. Get the word out there.

100*10^(-10^23)=10^(2-10^23) and 2 is small compared to -10^23 so basically 100 times a small number equals that same number.


what you write is correct in that 100 times zero = zero which is what you wrote in algebraic notation to obscure the simple statement. I see you like to have fun with numbers.

But what brought me here was that just a minute ago I ran into this.


another huge problem that AF4C has faced with the Championships. My evidence is that the total incompetence of Chess People are screwing up the generosity of AF4C.

this again is strong evidence that I have been correct all along. Apparently one reading of the above is that Anna Hahn won the 2004US Championship from a lower rating. and it caused a lot of trouble.

But with all these problems why do the Chess People not tell AF4C to not have low rated people in the US Championships. Maybe because they want to simply milk money out of AF4C the same way money was milked from the HB Foundation.

Look Chess people. Stop this political BS and get down to simple chess. simple Championships. ONLY the best of the best need apply. Stop milking money from those trying to help. You only kill the golden goose. and I think AF4C has been just about killed by the total incompetance of the Chess Leaders who have milked the AF4C to get all the money for their friends.

The same financial fiasco with the prize money happened last year. the 2004 Womens Champion was not recognized as a worthy champion by USCF or the AF4C. Anna Hahn was abandoned by USCF and AF4C after winning her Championship. When are you going to learn from your mistakes. AF4C if you need some guidance from someone with a clear head and no conflicts of interest. just ask me for my opinion.

I predict that AF4C is soon going the way of the HB Foundation. HB learned quicker. they were talked out of half million dollars in one year. total incompetence from their highly paid advisors.

I give up. I just give up. I dont know why people like Nakamura and Kamsky are wasting there time with chess. I dont know why AF4C is pouring its money down a rat hole. The entire chess scene in the USA is insane. No one seems to have any common sense among those who know how to play chess. where are the MBA's and business owners. that is right, I ask that question because I have an MBA along with the math background and I have run several businesses making a profit in all of them. so I have little patience for the incompetance and financial waste I see permeating chess.

one aspect of applied math is applying the numbers of money to a business.

If I was Erik Anderson right now, I would say "sayonara."

My notation is not obscuring. It's elucidating.
If you have 10^(10^76) coins, then it does not matter whether it's just pennies or coins worth 1 trillion dollars each. 10^(10^76)*10^n=10^(10^76+n) and 10^76 is so large is hardly maters whether n is -2 or 12.

From the article Ahna won the 2003 women's championship; USCF scheduled a 2004 women's championship for I think July, but there was already a 2004 men's and women's championships in Novemember 2004, so they called the women's championship in Novemember the 2005 women's championship, but they did not do the same with the men and so the 2005 women's championship coincided with the 2004 men's championship. So that's a bit queer because the men did not have two championships in the year 2004. But on the bright side female players get two chances at some money. So it's not as if the money were wasted: it went to female players instead of male players, and chess needs female players. Poor Ahna though. But I guess in this case Ahna would sue USCF, and not AF4C. Should Ahna have sacrificed her spot for the good of chess?

Have to agree with "Tommy's claims about prestige when it comes to chess. Champion vs Challenger usually brings out the press and mass coverage over tourneys. This is an absolute in the World Championship Cycle, don't see why it would not have brought press and mass coverage to an event like this on the National stage. We all know Fischer won US Championships almost yearly (had they been HELD every year) but really no press or mass media coverage until what? When he was a CHALLENGER for the World Title. Now some might say, that is was the prestige of the World Title that brought out the coverage and of course to a major degree it was, but do not underestimate the head to head, challenger against reigning champ formula, that we humans find so endearing. Great comments Tommy!

Sorry Mig for the missed quotation mark after Challenger".

Thanks Bruce

It is nice to find someone agrees with me. I have felt like a lone cry in the wilderness. I know everyone who comments here does so only expressing what they think is best for chess. We all seem to have different ideas on what is best for chess.

What is so valuable about this open forum that Mig allows us to have is that it provides a way for all of us to share ideas. I know for myself after reading different opinions on many topics I have changed my mind and realized that someone else had some good ideas.

I like the way Duif expresses her ideas. she is very good. and I disagree sometimes with her but I always think deeply about what she has to say. I mention Duif because she has converted me to her ideas on several occasions.

So thanks Mig.

I do hope that AF4C will review the entire US Championships and make some decisions to fix a few things. And Thank You Erik Anderson for bringing us chess fans such an exciting tournament.


A round robin with the best of the best top 10 'Americans' in active FIDE rating is sure going to excite the sponsors and public alike.

Kamsky, Gata g USA 2686 0 1974 M
Onischuk, Alexander g USA 2650 0 1975 M
Nakamura, Hikaru g USA 2644 0 1987 M
Ibragimov, Ildar g USA 2635 0 1967 M
Seirawan, Yasser g USA 2635 0 1960 M
Ivanov, Alexander g USA 2606 0 1956 M
Kaidanov, Gregory S g USA 2603 0 1959 M
Akobian, Varuzhan g USA 2600 0 1983 M
Goldin, Alexander g USA 2598 0 1965 M
Shabalov, Alexander g USA 2595 0 1967 M

They won't have to risk their ratings against lowly players who strangely they have trouble beating.

They are all grandmasters so grandmaster draws will be happily accepted.

All those women will not get ideas in their heads that they can beat top level men.

Young guys like Elliott Liu will think this chess thing isn't for me its for middle-aged Soviets. Young women won't get a chance to beat Elliott in the last round.

The present system is perfectly fine at identifying a legitimate champion. But more important it is forward looking, to get better players in chess in the future.

Good point tommy - I've always blamed the low turnout of women in the US Championship on two things:

1) The top women just don't like playing men stronger than them. I know there are some exceptions, but a lot of these women went from scoring +6 and +7 in the US Championship to +1 (if lucky). A lot of people can't handle that. (We saw the same thing in the New York Masters, where some GMs just couldn't handle getting minus scores). This has caused a mass exodus of basically all the players who played in US Women's Championships a long time ago.

2) All the goofiness surrounding Anna Hahn in 2004 left a bad taste in many people's mouths. I still think it is the most disipicable thing I've ever seen, and it was really the moment for me personally where I decided I was leaving chess. We sold our souls for a Silver Medal. If Susan Polgar gets all the credit for the Silver, she should likewise get the blame for what took place to make that happen.


Are you saying that the only ones who should be allowed in a US Championship are those born here, or who have last names like "Johnson" and "Smith"? If you are going to have an event to find the US Champion, what are you doing allowing a 1600 to compete? That is not 'forward looking', it is silly.

John...where can I read about the issue with Anna Hahn. Most of what I have read is about the "great work" spearheaded by Polgar.

Michelle Kwan, the figure skater, got a spot on the US Olympic team, even though it cost Emily Hughes her spot, and the spot was promised to Emily Hughes for her results in a prior competition. Kwan could not compete for the spot in that competition because of a groin injury. People are sympathetic to Kwan for all she has done for figure-skating, for her being a stand-up girl (remember that Simpson's episode where Kwan got to go on the space shuttle that wasn't slamming into the sun?). Emily I believe kept mum and left it up to the US Olympic Committee.


You were not present in any of the official meetings or discussions among board members. It is very unfortunate that you spoke based only on your personal knowledge, not official facts. This topic has been debated to death and the small group who refused to understand the problem lost. The same group decided to spread incorrect information after they did not get what they wanted. I am not going to waste time to back to it.

The bottom line is the entire USCF executive board voted unanimously not to grant the automatic qualifying spot in 2003 for the 2004 team because of the problems with the USCF rules. There were serious legal problems with the language. It was brought to the attention of the board almost two years before the Olympiad and before the 2003 US Championship. Unfortunately, it was not changed. Am I to blame for this?

At the end, the USCF Executive Board felt that the USCF cannot harm all other women to protect Anna Hahn because of the vague wordings in the rules. The AF4C, the USCF and the KCF made a deal to organize the 2004 US Women's Championship as the fairest solution. It was NOT my idea. I was NOT involved in that process whatsoever. In fact, I expressed my opinion against this last minute 2004 US Women's Championship. They decided to go ahead with it.

The same thing happened this year. The USCF voted not to grant automatic qualifying spots to the 2006 US Champions (male and female) for the 2006 Olympiad. Is it because they don't like Anna Hahn as well? Or are these board members against Onischuk and Zatonskih this time? The board had to address various problems and they had to protect the USCF. How come you are not making a big deal out of it this year? Let's not have a double standard.

I also find the following statement from you very offensive: "Note the similar death of marketing of the 2004 Olympiad Women's team - only 2 of the games were even played by someone born in this country. US reporters only care about US players..."

Are you suggesting that we should treat US born players differently? The Olympiad is not about playing every player equally. The Captain and Coaching Staff had to make decisions based on who were in best form.

I am not born in the United States. Neither is Garry Kasparov. I don't think either one of us have a problem getting media attention. Don't blame the media for the incompetence of the chess PR people. Petrel and Duif have given so many wonderful suggestions. Did anyone care to implement them?

Best wishes,
Susan Polgar

Ever notice how Susan Polgar is _never_ wrong or at fault for anything. She is a saint and always fights for the right thing.

I guess that the net effect of all of the maneuvering was that Anna Hahn was replaced by Jennifer Shahade who played exactly two games in the Olympiad and I guess made a draw.I mean no offense at all to Ms. Shahade, who is a strong and attractive(stylistically speaking) player. But was it really worth all of that fuss and is Ms. Shahade really that much stronger than Anna Hahn? I would think not. If we accept this conclusion, then what was done to Anna Hahn really was terrible. The only fair thing would have been to give Hahn a spot and then adopt the new rules. The same goes for Vanessa West's qualification and I am glad the USCF did the right thing this time.

If the USCF promised the 2006 Olympiad spot to the 2006 US champion then for consistency people should be in an uproar over Oni and Zato.

However, there is a difference in that the language had the 2003 US champion for the 2004 Olympiad. Presumably USCF held a 2004 women's championship to match up 2004 with 2004. But that was not their intention since for 2006 they are not promising spots to Oni and Zato for the 2005 Olympiad. So that does not add up.

All this fighting over Anna Hahn is wonderful. It proves the point. the point that the present system does not pick the Best of the Best. If the system had picked the Best of the Best then the US Champion would have been accepted in the Olympiad.

Now we hear from Susan Polgar that the USCF has again decided to not automatically seed both the mens and the womens champion into the Olympiad.

What more proof do we need the present system does not pick the Best of the Best as the US Champion. even the USCF admits the system does not work. that is why it does not want to recognize the US Champion both men and women as one of the best 4 players to represent this country in the olympiad. Now if the USCF does not recognize the US Champion as the Best of the Best then why is AF4C giving away over $250,000 in prize money plus expenses to hold the US Championship in an unacceptable format.

I guess it is because the US Championship is NOT run to pick the Best of the Best. they see it as a money give away to as many players as possible as if that is good for chess. Then they go back to their room and pick who they feel are the best 4 players to represent the country.

1) AF4C should be furious over this. Why are they spending so much money on a false premise.

2) All the fans should be furious. Why do we hold a US Championship and award a title to someone who is not the Best of the Best. in fact not even one of the top 4.

3) how many years of throwing how much money at this system of not picking a suitable champion will it take for the title to gain prestige. I say it NEVER will.

4) I ask you. Can you think clearly. Do you understand what is happening here. The USCF throws a big party and passes out $250,000 of someone elses money to as many people as possible and a phoney title that they have no intention of recognizing as having any value.

5) We the fans are being cheated out of a true champion. AF4C is being cheated out of over $250,000 each year. Everyone is being cheated. This must stop and stop immediately.

I demand that the USCF in the next US Championship run a system where they as leaders of chess in the USA accept their responsibility and conduct a tournament and or Match that will pick a US Champion that everyone will recognize as the Best of the Best. the Best Man and Best Woman player in the USA. nothing less than this is acceptable.

Lastly I hope everyone who is a good chess fan in the USA will demand the same from the USCF.

US Champion = Best of the Best.

for those looking for something to read about Anna Hahn and the mess made of that situation I suggest you start here:


The USCF does not want to offer Olympiad spots to the US Champions because it does not consider the Tournament valid in picking the best of the best as a champion. they know this system is no good. they know it does not work. they are running a scam on the public. the public is suppose to think they are doing a good job when they know they are not doing that.

the uscf is saying that it considers that they can sit in a smoke filled room locked away from the public eyes and they will pick the 4 best of the best for the Olympiad. It is called EGO run wild.

I now need to address another related topic. that is what happened to Anna Hahn and how to judge that situation.

well we can argue that a Silver Medal was won and therefore the end justified the means.

The correct top priority in all decisions made is if we are acting out of love for everyone. when we act out of love for everyone. So we ask ourself the question did we act out of love for Anna Hahn. Did we speak the truth to her. did we uphold are word and agreements with her. did we made our decisions to benefit her. Remember Love is giving. So did we Give everything to her. or did we take from her. Remember Love is Freedom did we give Anna Hahn the freedom to chose what she would like to do.

The answer seems obvious. We did not act out of Love for Anna Hahn and therefore our actions were not what they should have been. We should have chosen differently.

I will now give a clue to help on this matter. whenever we are using our analytical mind to make decisions it will never be to choose love. for love is not of the intellect. love comes from a different place. Love comes from the place that listens to all the reasons to not have Anna Hahn on the Olympiad team and then Love chooses to put Anna Hahn on the Olympiad team against all the screaming that the mind can do. When you experience this happening. Then you shall know you have chosen to Love.

Now how do I know this is the right or correct answer in all cases. That is because God is Love and when I chose to Love Anna Hahn I am choosing God. and how can I ever be wrong when I choose God. For God in his Love might have given us a Gold Metal. now wouldn't that have been nice. Who is to say that god would not have inspired Anna Hahn to win all her games.

Remember this. On all decisions we make. All decisions are always the choice between choosing god/love/freedom and choosing our own insane mind that can never choose love/freedom.


I love you man, but...

tommy: "All decisions are always the choice between choosing god/love/freedom and choosing our own insane mind that can never choose love/freedom."

If these are the choices, and tommy is the representative of god/love/freedom path, I'm more proud than ever to be an athiest. That 'insane mind' crack is just so ripe with irony that it's stinking up the room.

For an MBA running 7 successful businesses while developing models of advanced, beyond-us-mere-mortals mathematics to save the chess world, you sure do have a lot of free time. Do me a favor, go wake up Zuggy. I'd like to hear his opinion on universal love and the daughter of god's will, Anna Hahn.

Being reminded of the Anna Hahn situation reminds me just how bad the state of chess in the U.S. remains. If the AF4C pulls out of major sponsorship, I wonder if there will ever be anyone to step up again.

It seems like a lot of chess is concerned with measuring success by the number of new people it can introduce to the game (schools, women, juniors, local/national exposure, etc.). The AF4C, as a non-profit, also targets these ultruistic goals. But this type of business model is wrong to sustain any type of professional class of players. Money will always be a problem, because instead of expanding the base of money, the chess world is always leaking it outward, presumably in exchange for membership growth.

People who compare chess to other professional sports leagues have it wrong, since those other 'products' bring in revenue and thus has the chance to be self-sustaining, even profitable. U.S. Chess is very much more like sponsorship of the arts, dependent on the genorosity of others for anyone to make a living, and vulnerable once that money is gone. I have to agree with John Fernandez - if chess was a marketable product or could generate it's own money for professionals, it would have happened already. There might be an explosive future personality in chess that is marketable, but the game itself is not.

6-2 in my March Madness picks so far, hope others are doing better.

Regarding this

"I find it pathetic that Batchimeg Tuvshintugs (3.5/9 after playing seven GMs and WGM norm, Natasha Christiansen (0.5/9) and Kelly Cottrell (0/9) got the same prize. However, next year will bring some changes I'm sure. I suppose her brilliancy prize provided some compensation for the poor prize structure.
Posted by: Daaim Shabazz at March 15, 2006 14:04 "

Correct. One change could be cash awards for wins; let's say $200 a win for those not in prize contention. And if some poor soul got 0/9, you could award a booby prize.


As much as I love this game and would like to see it garner the respect it receives in many other countries, I definately agree with you and John regarding its marketability.

I had a conversation with Susan Polgar regarding a similar issue at last year's National Open, and I came away from that with the feeling that she might have thought I was the antichrist.

"There might be an explosive future personality in chess that is marketable, but the game itself is not." You would think that we would have learned that from the Fischer boom and bust and how often in this country does a true chess genius like Morphy and Fischer (perhaps Pillsbury) come along.

I don't think I'm looking at the glass as half empty, but if I am, I sure don't see a container around to use to fill it up.


"award a booby prize." I don't know if that would have been the best choice of terminology for this year's recipiant, had there been one? :o


here is a very clear history of what happened at the 2003 Championships. this is on the week in chess.

Notice the horrible results that did happen because of the way this tournament is put together. This is a perfect example of what happens when the ratings of the people are so very different.

And with the turmoil that happened and all the promises of doing things differently. We are still stuck in the exact same mess with NO CHANGES from the 2003 tournament.

Definition of INsanity: You keep doing the same thing expecting different results.

Well that sumarizes the US Chess Championship. We keep doing the same thing expecting different results.

Well I guess there is one change. Under the table the USCF is no longer recognizing the tournament champion as being a good chess player. they sweep the winners under the rug.

Poor Anna Hahn. does she even play chess anymore. or was she abused so bad by USCF and others that she totally quit chess. I would like to know. Did anyone stand up for her. Did anyone try to help her out. Or was the entire establishment into a conspiracy to destroy her.

OMG look at what all the loving people did to Jesus. they hung him on a cross and cruxified him. he bled to death while the world laughed. and what was his crime. well he tried to love everyone.

so why expect anyone to treat Anna Hahn much better. Everyone was there for a lynching. so she got lynched. And everyone says. I did not do it. and what was her crime. well I am not sure but she was young and pretty and she had a big smile. it must have been that smile. maybe it reminded them of Jesus he smiled also.

Never have so many written so much with so little information. You can search here for Hahn's name and read the actual chain of events as they played out. Just about everyone involved posted.


It's a lot easier to digest if one just scrolls past Tommy's posts.

"The same thing happened this year. The USCF voted not to grant automatic qualifying spots to the 2006 US Champions (male and female) for the 2006 Olympiad. Is it because they don't like Anna Hahn as well? Or are these board members against Onischuk and Zatonskih this time? The board had to address various problems and they had to protect the USCF. How come you are not making a big deal out of it this year? Let's not have a double standard"

There is a difference between the 2006 US Champions (Zatonskih and Onischuk) not being granted automatic qualifying spots for the 2006 Olympiad versus the 2003 Women's champion (Anna Hahn ) not being granted an automatic qualifying spot. It was announced before the 2006 US Championships itself that there would be no automatic qualifying spots for the defending champion. There is no question of the board being biased against Onischuk and Zatonskih because the board didn't know in advance that they would be champions. However, they are given additional points in the calculation of their invitational rating for the Olympiad.
In the case of Anna Hahn, the rules prevalent at that time indicated that she would automatically qualify for the US Women's olympiad team as a result of winning the US women's championship. Larry Christiansen qualified for the Olympiad by winning the 2002 US Championship, Alexander Shabalov qualified for the Olympiad by winning the 2003 US championship. The rules were changed ipso facto (after the fact) to deny Anna Hahn a chance to qualify. No doubt, the USCF board voted for the 2004 US women's championship but that is just to stave off litigation as a result of an unauthorized agreement between the then USCF ED and the organizers of the so-called "Dream Team". I don't see how USCF harms all women by giving a spot to Anna Hahn to which she is legitimately entitled. This is just a blatant attempt to twist and misrepresent the issue.

No, en passing, I did not say that at all. I pointed out that a small tournament limited to foreigners - people who learned their chess elsewhere and came to the US - is just not that appealing to sponsors. And it is not good for young home-grown talent.

All the top Yuri's and Alexei's should play. But widening the pool does not harm anyone and it helps for the future.

Now, en passing, sorry that 'I' allowed a 1600 to play. In my view that was a loophole, since closed, that did no-one any harm.

A Swiss is good at selecting number 1 in a reasonable sporting way from a big field. There is a good champion and a lot of people got good experience and hopefully renewed confidence.

By the way, Liu is a more likely name than Smith, if you want to caricature the future of US chess.


The Anna Hahn incident could have been avoided. As to my prediction that it would happen again (or nearly happen again) in 2006, I was wrong. Anna and Rusudan performed so strongly (their names in the finish order crosstable amongst GMs 100+ points higher rated) that there was no chance any of the other women would sneak in with a last-round victory. However, in case anyone doubted that it "could" happen, imagine that Anna wasn't there (a sad thought) and compare the results of the 2nd and 3rd place women in her group. The 2nd place player got three games against players near the bottom, and scored half a point more. The 3rd place player got zero games against players near the bottom. Yes yes yes, that's part of the Swiss System as we know it, but method that is broken (which the Swiss System is, vis-a-vis a tournament within a tournament such as the US Women's Championship) can be repaired.


Despite not being in "any official meetings", I like to think that I'm pretty darn well in the know. I know what happened, end of story.

Here is what I see as an outcome of the 2004 Women's Event:

- You guys won the Silver
- Very little media traction from the event - no increased sponsorship, etc.
- 2006 Olympiad seems to be dead in the water - no "Dream Team" this year?!
- A lot of players getting fed up with the process and USCF in general
- Anna Hahn got snowed over
- You (Susan) don't seem to be playing anymore in the top events

So what is left? We had this whole push in 2004, won the Silver, and that's the end of it. I see nothing lasting having come out of it.

That's ultimately my problem. I wanted to see something sustaining come out of it, and it doesn't seem anything did.


I am glad you and a few other people seem to think that you know more than I do. That is fine. Some people still do believe that the earth is flat. That is their right and I am not going to waste time arguing about it.

As for your complaint about the media, the players and captain of the 2004 US women's team had to sign a legal agreement with the KCF in 2004 prior to the Olympiad. Without it, we could not go to Calvia. Jennifer and Anna fought very hard against it. They felt that the contract was unfair. I do too.

At the end, everyone basically had to compromise and signed the contract or we could not go. After the Olympiad, there were more ugly incidents which I am not going to discuss here. This is between the KCF, the USCF and the players. The SPF was not involved whatsoever.

KCF fully controlled the media stuff. Team members and captain could not do anything until at least 1 year after the 2004 Olympiad is finished. By that time, it was too late. Please contact the KCF if you want to know why there were very little media attention. I cannot answer that. The entire experience left a very bad taste in my mouth and I am not going through this again even for a million dollars.

The KCF is sponsoring the US Olympiad teams in 2006, 2008 and 2010. Again, I am not involved and I have nothing to do with it. And no, I will definitely not compete in the next 3 Olympiads.

I was prepared to play in the 2006 US Championship. Unfortunately, I was not able to finalize all the details with Mr. Erik A. by December 31, 2005. Therefore, I had to pass. Maybe 2007. I accepted invitations to compete in 2 major events in 2006, perhaps 3. When the organizers and I are ready to announce the events, you can read about it.

Best wishes,
Susan Polgar

tommy, what was Jesus' ELO rating?

Well John, which is it?

Do you know more than Susan, or is the earth round?


I don't recall saying that I know more about the situation than you. I'm simply saying that I know a lot. That shouldn't be that difficult for you to believe, as we're talking a time where I was extremely involved in the organization of many top events in the US. I also happen to know almost everyone. That SHOULD count for something.

You're simply being dismissive of me because I "wasn't in any official meetings" and thus this means (it appears you're suggesting) that I have no right to actually have informed viewpoint here.

It simply appears to me (someone who truly wants to give you the benefit of the doubt, by the way), that you're happily playing both sides in this argument. You're simply too quick to point out all the things you've done right, while at the same time, it is always someone else that does the bad things. You were very quick to claim a ton of credit for the Olympiad success and the Dream Team and all of that. You also took the side that Anna Hahn didn't belong on the team, banking that we wouldn't remember after all the successes happened. You won the Silver (and played amazingly, I might add), full points there. The problem is that it is now 2006, we've lost almost all of our top women (including you) and they aren't participating in the top events. It's hard to believe that what occoured in 2004 did NOT impact this. And heck, I didn't think of it until a few players mentioned it to me in San Diego.

I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just saying that the attitude you express is earning you a great deal of negative feelings by those in chess these days. Your need of "ample time" in an event where we have some players being named to the event literally a week or two before strikes me as odd, although we do understand how difficult schedules can be. Heck, I have things in my calendar for 2009 (one hopes I'll even be alive then), but my day-to-day schedule, as packed as it is, is always in flux. That's the way of the 21st century. I just think you've done too much for chess to be viewed in such a negative way as you currently are. You should be better than that.

And no, the earth isn't flat, nor is it perfectly spherical. Sadly, the frequent flier miles we get do not take into account the earth's curvature. We'd get a few more miles if we did.


You and I disagree with this issue but that's fine. I accept your opinion. But as I said before, there was a lot more dirty dealings behind the scene than you could ever imagine. You can blame me if you wish. I should have gone public and refused to go to Calvia.

Some people I thought were my friends looked directly into the face of my teammates and I and blatantly lied for their personal benefits while hurting members of the team. This is the #1 reason why I will not play for the US Olympiad team in 2006, 2008 and 2010. I don't want to take even one penny from any of these people and I will never associate with them again. My experience between 2003-2004 with these chess politicians is worst than anything that I had to go through in my career. That says a lot.

I like Anna Hahn personally. I have nothing against her. I never discussed about how Anna would do as part of the team. I only spoke to the board members about the legal issues which were raised by a number of other players. The board discussed about Shabalov as well. Legally speaking, the USCF blew it when they could have taken care of the problems when it was first brought up to them.

Sometimes, things would be simpler if the earth is flat :)

Best wishes,
Susan Polgar

I took 1 st loan when I was 25 and this aided my business a lot. But, I require the sba loan again.

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    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on March 15, 2006 6:25 AM.

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