Greengard's ChessNinja.com

Shocked, SHOCKED

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Oh, the innocence. While our endless debates (search "Kreiman") tend to circulate around whether or not prearranging results is okay or not, it appears match fixing comes as a surprise in Vietnam.

It happened at the Phuong Trang Cup which wrapped up last Sunday in Ho Chi Minh City when one of the finalists accepted “defeat” though his king was under not threat.

Spectators shouted at Nguyen Vu Quan of Hanoi after he “lost” to Truong A Minh after only 22 moves. There are allegations that the two players had agreed upon the result beforehand and to equally share the top two prizes totaling VND42 million (US$2,650).

Say it ain't so! What won't people do for a few million dong these days? It's sad that many in the chess community have lost this sense of outrage about prearranged games and similar manipulations. Moral and peer pressures are stronger than penalties that are nearly impossible to enforce.


This time , i will definetely agree with Mig. Really i cannot stand anymore any cynic comments of the type "they are professional players, they just want to maximize profits" or melodramatic ones like "they have to feed their family". Such behaviours violate the core of sport ethics and they should be denounced.
Moreover do not forget that chess does not produce any serious economic value (such as an industry who produces goods). We follow competitive chess just because we like it and nothing more (it is a kind of caprice or should i say fetish??). So if behaviours like that start to become the norm, i cannot see the reason why we will keep following competitive chess. And then i am curious who is gonna pay their covetable prizes...

Once again it takes a third-world country to show us first-worlders how to act. Maybe booing and shouting at chess fixers would get our game into the newspapers more often. Can we get the score of Quan-Minh? Or is it Minh-Quan?

It was a Chinese Chess game, not Western chess, so I don't think anyone on this forum will be able to decipher the score or evaluate the position.

Throwing a game is one thing. Prearranged draws are another. Quick draws are a third. My view is that the latter two are and should be acceptable in a Swiss tournament based on prize funds, and that the prearranged draw gets a little sketchy (but the short draw still fine) in an appearance fee event. Even then, of course, the sponsor is the only one with a right to complain -

People make too much of this; I don't think anyone is likely to benefit from throwing a game absent a cash payment. And nobody thinks that sort of thing is acceptable (except Boris).

I wasn't sure what they meant by "though his king was under no threat."

There is very little to distinguish a short draw and a pre-arranged one.

"Once again it takes a third-world country to show us first-worlders how to act."

I'd boo and hiss at anyone thought to "prearrange" a game. They should be summarily banned from the sport for a year, and registered as such at the USCF (For US players) and FIDE. TD's should be required to check this list prior to a tournament beginning to weed out the cheaters.

To me, this is tantamount to shaving points off a pro basketball game by a player for his own gain.

What ever happened to ethics?

Prearranged draws are acceptable! (?? may be a better comment) Come on. Mark has a valid point comparing point shaving.

There is also the flip side -- what about the rest of the field in a swiss? The arranged draw impacts those competitors as well. It is more than the sponsor who has a right to complain. Without attention to the event by the rest of us, there is no sponsorship.

IMHO, this isn't any different than buying a title, only the credibility attack is for the $$

Many years ago, I was playing in the final round of a Swiss where the top 8 (if I remember rightly) would qualify for the next level. (Vienna City Championship)
My opponent and I knew that a draw was all we needed. In fact, it was announced before the round that 6.5/9 (again, if I remember correctly) would suffice.
We played a French Exchange variation, it was all over in 15 moves or so.
I do not feel we did anything wrong.

Quite a few years later, I was in a similar situation but with a difference. Last round again, and a draw was not enough for either of us (different opponent this time, I add). A win would have meant qualification for the final.
After useless persecution after at least one adjournment, my opponent (FM he was, and disappointed, as I can understand) realised that I could indeed draw with K+B against K+B (of the opposite colour)+P...

It would have made sense to simply toss a coin: loser resigns, winner is happy.
Or not? I think not.


"Once again it takes a third-world country to show us first-worlders how to act".

Don't flatter yourselves, Greg. In chess, the US is 3rd world. You need foreign experts to even make an Olympiad team for you.

I wonder whether if one stops posting results between rounds at large swisses, this begavior might stop.


We're very proud of attracting such talented foreign experts.

gg, Take away the Russian/East European/ex-Soviet Central Asian contingent from the Olympiad teams of France and most other "big" Western chess countries, and take away the Indian contingent from the UK, and limit all those teams to local citizens or permanent residents (not necessarily native-born, but people who have spent most of their lives in the respective countries and did not emigrate there to be chess players), and what do you get?

Answer: You get teams that would in nearly all cases be weaker than a US team were it limited to "permanent" Americans (Nakamura, Christiansen, DeFirmian, Benjamin, Fishbein, etc.)

So, your assessment was off-base. Just like most of the anti-Bush invective that people mindlessly toss on this blog, it will earn you brownie points at cocktail parties from fellow no-think America-bashers ... but that's about all.

Eopithecus, by coincidence, the USCF Forums had a thread that began with a question about a case where a TD did what you suggested.

That TD posted no wall chart or other results until the tourney was over, and did not even show players' scores next to their names on pairing sheets. I don't think the reason had anything to do with preventing prize-motivated draws or other illicit arrangements (it would be irrelevant anyway except for the top boards in the last round or two).

It got on the USCF Forums because someone who was there complained about it and wanted to know what might be the reason.

As I recall, most of those who posted comments felt that what the TD did was incomprehensible and probably self-destructive from a business standpoint (who would ever want to play in one of his tournaments again?), although apparently legal.

Bear in mind that USCF Forum posters, unlike habitues of nearly all chess blogs, tend to be serious, civil and reasonably well informed -- most are TDs who are going there for information they can use in running their own events.

In no way am I denigrating any of the above grandmasters in flyonthewall's post, but the not-so-good part is that excluding Nakamura, all are well past their chess prime. My question is who will be replacing them in a few years? That's the rub.

OK, Mr. Flyonthewall, let's look at the Olympiad teams. France has one eastern European and none of these "Central Asians":

1 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2576 FRA 623539
2 GM Sokolov Andrei 2628 FRA 627089
3 GM Lautier Joel 2682 FRA 600016
4 GM Fressinet Laurent 2633 FRA 608742
5 GM Bauer Christian 2638 FRA 603767
6 GM Bacrot Etienne 2708 FRA 605506

England does NOT have an "Indian contingent", yet averages 2626 elo:

1 GM Adams Michael 2720 ENG 400041
2 GM Short Nigel 2677 ENG 400025
3 GM Speelman Jonathan 2551 ENG 400033
4 GM Gormally Daniel 2554 ENG 406465
5 GM Conquest Stuart 2505 ENG 400181
6 GM Pert Nicholas 2494 ENG 403989

Names like "George Bush" and "Joe Smith" are notably absent in the "US" team:

1 GM Onischuk Alexander 2650 USA 14101025
2 GM Nakamura Hikaru 2664 USA 2016192
3 GM Kamsky Gata 2671 USA 2000024
4 GM Kaidanov Gregory 2603 USA 2008564
5 GM Ibragimov Ildar 2637 USA 4102878
6 GM Akobian Varuzhan 2575 USA 13300580

Greg, I agree, many 3rd world countries are proud to attract foreign experts, good pay and lifestyle and people will come.


Despite a few errors you pointed up in my prior post, it turns out the hypothetical "real American" team stacks up reasonably well against the UK, although not against France.

"Real USA" team (i.e. excluding immigrants who were already chess pros or on the way to being chess pros when they arrived in US - such as Akobian who came here at age 18, and MAYBE Dlugy who came here at 13 when not yet a master):

1. GM Nakamura 2664
2. GM Benjamin 2565
3. GM DeFirmian 2560
4. GM Christiansen 2556
5. GM Fishbein 2519
6. GM Fedorowicz 2497

The team would be stronger with inclusion of GM Wolff (2564) , who is inactive (only 4 rated games since 2000), or GM Dlugy (2531), whose published bios do not make clear how far he had progressed in chess (if at all) before he emigrated to US at the age of 13 in 1979. He became a (national) master only in 1980.

In regard to the UK I was unaware that either Short or Speelman were active players. I know Short is heavily involved in chess as both a writer and politician, but I'd assumed he more or less retired as a player several years ago. (Wrong: I see he has many rated games in recent FIDE periods.) Ditto for Speelman, whose name I haven't seen anywhere for many years, except among author lists and the like. Turns out he, too, has many rated games in recent periods.

Absent Short, the UK team would be on a par with the "real US" team listed above; actually probably a bit inferior, since the US entries out-rate them on 5 of 6 boards and I doubt Adams outclasses Nakamura by as much as the rating difference suggests -- if indeed at all.

The French team has far more "real French" 2600s than I thought; I was aware only of Bacrot and Lautier. I assume Christian Bauer is a "real" French and shouldn't be excluded by a criterion similar to what I used to exclude Maxim Dlugy from the "real American" team.

Flyon - if you assume that all top rated players will play, then you get the USA team you proposed. But France and England (not 'UK') are not playing their best teams. Take their top-6 active home-grown players and they both outrank USA.

My original point had nothing to do with France and England. Maybe they are 2nd world chess countries.

The 1st world in chess includes Ukraine, Armenia, Hungary, Netherlands, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, etc. Small populations that don't need foreign experts.

Greg started the "us first worlders" line. First world in wasteful materialism, sure, but not in many other things (like chess).


We in the U.S. don't have the solid gold bathroom fixtures that are common in some countries, but we are nonetheless proud of our wasteful materialism.


Sure you are proud of your SUV's and Saddam and Marcos were proud of their gold toilets.

Other countries are proud of their cultural achievements in chess.

Great that there is so much pride to go around.


We Americans altruistically buy gas-guzzling Hummers and SUV's to pump oil money into the Middle East, and this is the thanks we get!!?

It appears the thread has been lost here.

Let me say that there were some valid points brought up, but the fact does remain that in any game it would appear to be unethical to prearrange a result in a contest.

You certainly cheat the fans, and probably the sponsors as well.


Sorry. It won't happen again.

Adams does indeed outclass Nakamura, and indeed any american sans Kamsky. I'm always amused by americans making much of Nakamura, who has never even played in Adams' class of tournament. I don't care much for the idea that Onichuk isn't American; heck, I'm from Maryland, my tax dollars fund him at UMBC... he'd better be!

Again, I don't see what the issue is with draws? The rules permit a draw by agreement. Full stop. They require some play, so 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 exd5 1/2-1/2.

What I find incomprehensible is that the player in Vietnam was willing to LOSE, and split a prize he could have taken home on his lonesome... If it had been an arranged losse to allow the better of them to claim sole first (free of other competitors) that would be one thing, but this arrangement makes no sense at all...

Obviously an arranged loss is verboten. I see no problem with draws, however, and prearranging is a bit silly to be honest. Play the Petroff or something, or the exchange Slav. Everybody kknows the drawing lines, so just go through the motions. This is different from an actual prearrangement how?

Regarding draws, gmc, fuhgeddaboudit. You'll never convert the ban-the-draw crowd. They are impervious to reason -- just look at tommy's post on the subject where he talks about changing the rules.

While tommy is easy to write off, I note with alarm that the anti-draw virus -- like other brain-wasting diseases -- seems able to infect knowledgeable people too. Witness the infection of a well-respected Grandmaster who also won acclaim as a teacher and organizer -- Maurice Ashley.

When Ashley joined the anti-draw movement by writing a widely publicized open letter a few years ago, he initially endorsed only harmless changes like banning draws by agreement before a certain move threshold. However, in later postings on his own blog, Ashley can be seen sliding down the slippery slope toward supporting ANY policy that aims to prevent games from ending in draws -- including schemes like the Ballard Scoring System, which radically alter the rules, strategies and aesthetics of the game now known as chess.

In at least one instance, he verbally supported a European organizer (whose name I forget) who runs an annual event using just such a system, where either or both players get penalized for a drawn result NO MATTER HOW ARRIVED AT.

If anyone reading this doesn't see a big difference between a GM promoting a form of "fairy chess" (i.e. a game whose objective -- the scoring of the outcome -- is defined differently from that of chess), and, for instance, Fischer promoting Chess960 (which is, quite literally chess played from a different starting position), please go to your sports sites, or poker sites, and stop distracting us who love chess.

The real problem is not lack of outrage but willful blindness. Most members of the chess community adopt a shoot-the-messenger mentality whenever anyone tries to bring this subject up. The only way this will ever change is if someone produces a photograph of a bag of cash being shoved under the table at the start of the game, or something similar.

For further information you can google "Jaffe Capablanca Havana 1913" or "Matulovic Taimanov Mallorca 1970". "Bonds cream clear" provides additional background.

Cassianist, I think you're right, but I detect at least a little bit of movement in the right direction -- witness the Kreiman-De Guzman scandal (over a probable payoff for a final-round loss in last year's North American Open). It resulted in an official inquiry that almost led to GM Kreiman's losing the U.S. Championship qualification spot he had won through that disputed game. The USCF Ethics Committee ruled on the complaint earlier this year and decided to take no action, because the allegation revolved around a suspicious-looking game score and that was deemed to be not strong enough evidence to justify penalizing a player. I don't know whether the committee sought or heard any eyewitness accounts. (Some on this blog claimed that money was seen changing hands and that both players spent most of their time away from the board while their game was under way. Of course I haven't a clue whether that was true, but I would hope the Ethics Committee would have at least asked people with any direct knowledge to come forward and testify.)

I am so amazed by the way youngsters now earn their Grandmasters title in the world, I understand there is one from India who is now campaigning for his grandmaster's norm at the age of 13. Young chess players are so advanced in their tactics and strategies that they hardly pay much attention whether the opponent is an old GM or not. They are simply superior in playing chess, daring and even sometimes having a taste similar to GM Tal who has the appetite to make sacrifices. I seldom hear Grand Masters opening Bird's, Dutch or Alekhine's Defense. Possibly there so many lines now that Rickter-Rousser has already been forgotten. Artificial Intelligence regarding chess is so advanced that sometimes we can seldom win chess with those operated in the computers, sometimes too insulting because AI is too superior than a human mind.The other folly I noticed with our chess tournaments is the price money is very small compared to other sports. Aside from GMs Kasparov, Topalov and Anand, I seldom hear other Grandmasters having made a fortune in chess. Maybe it's high time to raise the prize money of chess tournaments so that we can attract the likes of GMs Karpov, Fischer and Kasparov. More power to our young chess Grand Masters of the world for their brilliancies and strategies to win.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on May 9, 2006 7:02 PM.

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