Western Chess

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Delegates' Meeting, day 2

9:05: Attempting to call the meeting to order, but no one can find Bill Hall, the Secretary.

9:06: Called to order, but I'm not sure who is keeping the minutes. Remaining Alarie motion, requiring appointed Delegates to "opt-in" -- confirm to the USCF that they know they've been appointed. Personally, I think it's a solution with no known problem, but since she saved us the trouble of voting down all her other motions, I suppose we can live with this. More debate than this really deserves. Passed.

9:20: Motion by Mike Atkins to suspend the rules to delay implementation of abolishing the 5-minute deduction. Steve Immitt in New York has apparently been haranguing everybody who will take his IMs, and we get to waste a lot of time on this to placate him. Lots of smoke and mirrors. Since I've spoken against this, it would be unfair for me to summarize everyone's argument. We're up to 9:45 now, no real progress. Several claims that the Delegates "didn't understand" what they voted on. I certainly did. Motion to delay passed implementation for a year. Idiots.

9:50: Back to regular order. Motion from the Governance Task Force to require "voter registration." Delegates are automatically registered. Registration to be limited otherwise to Life Members, continuous members for five years, and people who voted in 2009 and 2010. The point seems to be to reduce election costs. And, well, to discourage people who know nothing and vote at random (e.g. for Sloan or Sloan clone), from polluting the voting pool. Amendment to except 16-18-year-olds from the 5-year requirement. Lots of confusion as to what we're supposed to be debating. Failed. Amendment: for 2011 only, just Delegates who were present at the 2010 Annual Meeting would automatically get to vote. Withdrawn. We're up to 10:30 now, not a lot of progress. Amendment: Require registration but allow anyone over 16 to register. Lowest common denominator, but it wouldn't help all that much in trimming the fat. Lots of bafflegab about "disenfranchising." I'm getting a headache. 10:40: Tim Just calls the question, but since it hasn't been typed yet ... OK, it's up now. Question called. Amendment passed. Silly amendment by Larry Cohen to require Delegates and EB to register. Straw poll negative, withdrawn. Question called. Motion passed as amended.

10:50: Change requirements for nominations to require signatures of 50 voting members including 15 Delegates from 5 states. Filing fee not changed. Some technical changes about dates. Amendment: Allow petitions to be gathered starting July 1. Accepted as friendly. 11:05: Some confusion about what we're voting on, but question called and motion passed.

11:10: Changes in recall provisions. Fighting the last war. Probably harder on EB members. My nose bleeds for them. Passed,

11:13: Report but no motion on making the EB the BOD. This may come up again later, but I suspect it will get referred for another year.

11:15: Alarie sponsors Joe Lux's "No Confidence In EB" Motion. She's now repeating the same stuff as yesterday about the CAS arbitration and her "everything must be public" motion. Postponed indefinitely.

11:18: Recognize 25 years of the Denker tournament. Passed by acclamation.

11:23: Don't sell or outsource (most) National Scholastics. I don't like it, but I suppose the scholastic crowd (which doesn't include any, you know, scholastic players) will get their way. I suspect this will come back to bite them, but it's not my problem. Some tinkering with wording, then passed.

11:30: Motion to add "no 14H claims" to 14H with no requirements for advance notice. Motion to delete the new variation. (Rest of the motion is to revert to the version of 14H from last year.) Amendment failed. Main motion passed. Idiots (squared).

11:45: Add to the Denker, tournament for state junior high and elementary champions. (To be named "Barber Tournaments.") To committee(s) with the EB having authority to act. Some quibbling about junior high/middle school etc. Passed.

11:50: Goichberg -- FMs added to PPHBF eligibility. Passed.

11:55: Kuhns -- Adopt the FIDE rules on Chess960/Fischerrandom and add to the rules-change page. Refer to Rules Committee with authority to implement. Passed. Kuhns -- delete FIDE rules from the web page and just link to the FIDE web site. Passed.

12:02: Votes of thanks. Passed.

12:05: Adjournment.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Delegates' Meeting, day 1

We'll again be liveblogging the USCF Annual Circus ... er, Delegates' Meeting in a few minutes. In theory it starts at 9, but in practice they are unlikely to finish calling the roll before 9:30. The agenda may be modified to discuss the FIDE election/CAS arbitration first (which will probably be protracted as everybody and his brother tries to speak), but we'll see in about 45 minutes.

9:10: After a sincere but slightly macabre ceremony in which each state was asked to name someone who died in the last year for a moment of silence, we are now going through the call of the roll. 9:20: We are told that a quorum is present, but they couldn't be bothered to give the number. (Later: subsequent votes show at least 69.)

9:23: Boilerplate motions. Mike Nolan appointed parliamentarian. 9:25: Now we're bickering about the exact order of motions on the advance agenda. Since the motions in question are losers, kinda pointless.

9:30: Rectifying motion from Winston, that what the Bylaws in the Delegates Cal say is really what the Delegates adopted last year. Or at least we all agree to say so. 9:32: Acceptance of election results. (Walters and Nietman elected, Sloan to the glue factory.) Some Polgar/Truong badinage from the chair, seems well received. Moving along well so far.

9:35: Ratification of EB actions. Should be pro forma. Donna Alarie is arguing against it, displaying her vast legal expertise. Passed, though not unanimously.

9:40: ED's report. He's starting with a hagiography of Jerry Hanken. I'll bite my tongue. 9:45: Still going on. Verbose and lachrymose. I wish Hall would get back to business. 9:50: Finally done with Hanken. Now Hall is telling anecdotes which seem to amount to "Things are better than last year." Unexeptionable but not very informative. OK, finally some specifics -- spending some money on hardware upgrades, getting new people will need better salaries and bennies (what s shock). Bill could spend his time better learning to be terse rather than listening to motivational speakers. Promise of "improved" web services, few specifics. Mention of making the web page "more like Facebook" (pardon me while I cringe). Importance of supporting local clubs, trite but true. Now he's talking about "standardizing training." Sounds like a move to central planning economy. Because, you know,that worked so well the last time it was tried. "Spare a moment to think about our staff. You have no idea what they have to put up with." Oh, I think we do.

10:05: Financial report, Bauer. "Last two years have been very difficult." Well, duh. We've learned to live within a budget, can't spend whatever we want. 10:15: Randy make the mistake of asking for questions from the floor, resulting in some time-wasting irrelevancies. ("Why wasn't there more publicity for the U.S. Open?" A fair question, but it has nothing to do with the budget.)

10:20: Budget. Let's hope we don't end up trying to rewrite it on the floor, as was often done in the past. Last year expenses came in under budget. We ended up with a small loss because of $111,000 in bad debt write-off. Budget for next year shows a surplus of $100,000 (~3%). Some technical stuff about handling scholarship prizes in future.

10:25: Motion to adopt the budget. Question on FIDE event income -- higher because of KCF donation for the Olympiad, washes out under expenses. Budget adopted.

10:30: Publications. After a brief mention of cows, Dan Lucas is using his time to praise his staff. I don't agree with everything he's saying, but his heart is in the right place. Loyalty to subordinates hasn't always been the USCF's strongest suit.

10:36: Phone call from Richard Conn to pitch the Karpov ticket and the CAS arbitration business. I'm sure he's a fine fellow, but I think the EB is making a mistake in pushing this. Hole, stop digging, etc.

10:50: Conn seems quite impressive, certainly an asset to the Karpov campaign. Interesting to note that Conn started as a Kasparov associate, but then K&K are now good buddies. Mutatis mutandis. The thing is, I doubt there's any significant support here for Ilyumzhinov, so it seems like preaching to the choir. I'd consider this a preemptive strike by the EB against the "revoke the POA" movement, but I doubt they could time Conn's call versus the agenda that closely.

10:55: Finally getting to the point, the CAS arbitration. He makes a decent case, but much of it amounts to "Kirsan is lawless, so we can and must use any weapon available." Plausible, but not a slam dunk. I'll reserve comment until the other side gets to speak.

11:10: I don't really disagree with much of what Conn has to say, but he's going on too long and is probably losing his audience. Don Schultz is prolonging things with some softball questions. Now Tim Redman is complaining about the length. Beatriz Marinello is demanding a chance to reply. This could get ugly.

11:15: Marinello is now speaking. I don't really want to summarize or comment, since my personal opinions of her are quite negative. In a general way, I suppose I blame the chairman for letting this get out of control. Beatriz now seems to be arguing that a) Kirsan is going to win so there's no point in opposing him (resistance is futile?), and b) the incumbent faction has a track record (won't that always be the case?)

11:20: Motion to limit "reports" to 10 minutes

11:21: Chess Trust. Hall of Fame will soon reopen in St. Louis. Assorted CT actions. Request for donations, can be earmarked for the Olympiad.

11:25: FIDE Delegate/International Affairs, Khodarkovsky. 80 people will be going to the World Youth, including coaches and parents. I hope the USCF isn't paying for them all. Olympiad: Conditions in Siberia will not be good. The three hotels the locals promised to build aren't there. Suggestion that the players bring their own food from home. FIDE Presidential Board meeting -- agenda wasn't published, no minutes. Candidates match Topalov-Kamsky moved to Russia, Topalov may refuse to play, be replaced by a Russian. Kamsky might then appeal to CAS. Round and round we go. Another mistake, asking for questions. Couple of dumb and pointless ones from the usual suspects.

11:38: Election of Delegate-appointed committees. Should be routine. Bylaws: Alarie out, replaced by Ken Ballou. Elections: Mike Nolan stepping down as chair, committee to choose its own. Audit: Perks out, Mike Carr added. Ethics: add Harold Stenzel, Roger Gottschall. LMA: Perks out. Add Allan Priest, Steve Doyle.

11:47: Hall of Fame Committee: DelCall left out two of the HOF inductees, Herman Steiner and Jackson Showalter. Now Don Schultz is complaining about, well, everything. Since there's an awards luncheon at noon, we'll presumably shut this off soon.

11:53: Recess until 2 p.m.

2:05: People finally straggling in from the protracted awards luncheon. No telling when we'll get started again.

2:15: Still no sign of the President or most of the officers.

2:25: The Board members have surfaced, and we're about to get started.

2:29: Rules Committee, Kuhns. Naturally, not in writing. This will take a while. I hope we can figure out what we're supposed to be voting on. 1) Confusing formula for redistributing prize money when a player is limited in how much he can win. Passed. 2) Allow G/25 with delay to be regular-rated, and eliminate deduction for time delay. Motion to divide the question, Passed. a) Eliminate 5-minute deduction option for time delay. Passed. (Effective 1 Jan.) b) Allow G/25 w/delay to be regular-rated. Failed. 3) Late arrival -- reduce time for forfeit from one hour to 30 minutes. Failed, 32-37. 4) Abolish 28T, which allows tinkering with pairings to get players norms or FIDE ratings. Passed. 5) No Quick rating with less than G/5. Already the rule, just a reminder.

3:13: Old Business. Winston, continue promotional membership. No one's going to object to this, can't we just pass it? Passed.

3:15: Bylaws, Winston. 10-09. Replacement of absent Delegates. Delegates not present at 9:30 may be replaced by the State Chapter; the replacement serves the rest of the term. If the absent Del sends notice that he/she will be late, he/she can have until 2 p.m. Winston presented a written opinion from our Illinois attorney that this will be fine. Passed.

3:20 10-10, 501c3 status. This has been kicking around for years. Looks like we'll finally get a vote. Quibbles about legal language. Passed. Of course, that doesn't mean that the IRS will approve it.

3:38: 10-11, Camaratta, abolish OMOV. I sympathize, though I don't care for all his details. The workshop split down the middle on everything except postponing the motion for a year. Postponed.

3:36: 10-12 (determine sites for 2011 & 2012 US Opens early), tabled. 10-13, suspend requirement for one game a day in a 12-round U.S. Open. Extensive debate despite the fact that 12-rounders probably died with Hanken. Failed. 10-14, require continuous USCF membership of EB members. Well, duh. Passed.

3:50: 10-15, Committee chairs get special status. Bylaws workshop hated it. Rationale by someone I won't name sounds like sheer paranoia (have outsiders at closed sessions "to make sure they're not doing anything illegal.") Camaratta, one of the sponsors, says he just wanted the Board to tell the Delegates why they overrule a Committee. Withdrawn after debate.

3:57: Technical change of term limit from 8 years to 9 years. Passed.

4:01: New business. Motion by Don Schultz from the Membership meeting to endorse the Power of Attorney and participation in the CAS arbitration. Motion to amend by Ken Ballou to exactly the opposite. It's going to be a long afternoon.

4:15: I'm not going to summarize every speaker. No one has had anything at all original to say. (Con: USCF participation was not essential, Karpov isn't all that much better than Kirsan, Litigation is a dirty word, Pro: Kirsan is Bad, we need to support Karpov, backing out now -- even if the initial action was a mistake -- would hurt Karpov and help Ilyumzhinov.) Stay tuned.

4:28: Some of the Delegates started complaining that they didn't know what the case is about, so the lawyer from Case and White is explaining it in very general terms. People keep threatening to demand a closed session so we can get more details. We'll be here forever if that happens.

4:38: Substitution defeated. Schultz motion passed.

4:40: Bunch of motions to clean up the DACIs by deleting obsolete ones. Wonder if anyone will insist on debating them? Passed, after only a little time-wasting.

4:50: Cohen, detailed micromanagement of state chapters. Referred to States Committee.

4:59: 10-22, raise dues for 2- and 3-year memberships. Passed.

5:00: Bunch of Donna Alarie motions, all withdrawn.

5:00: Recess until 9 a.m. Sunday.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

USCF Election: Doomsday postponed

On July 21, ballots were counted in Crossville for the USCF special election to fill two one-year terms on the Executive Board. Results were: Mike Nietman 1517, Gary Walters 1472, and the unspeakable Sam Sloan 693. So Nietman and Walters are elected, and Sloan goes back under his rock.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Beauty is truth ...

The competitive side of chess is not the only one there is. Players who have never pushed a pawn in anger can still enjoy the art of chess, through the realm of composition.

There are two basic types of composed positions. In problems, the player must mate in a specifed number of moves. The positions are often rather unlikely from a practical point of view, but the "themes" -- blocking, interference, attraction -- can be quite impressive.

Studies, on the other hand, set a task, to win or draw, and are usually more "gamelike." Endgame studies have only a few pieces on the board, and feature subtle maneuvering. More complicated studies often resemble middlegames, and illustrate such tactical ideas as diversion and overloading.

The study above, first published in Deutsche Schachzeitung in 1914, was composed by the great A. A. Troitzky, one of the giants of the field. It illustrates the theme of domination --
though it seems Black has the whole board to roam, his King and Queen will be forced into a fork.

The solution begins with the improbable 1. Rb7!. Now if 1. ... Qxb7, 2. Nd6+ picks up the Queen, as is also the case on 1. ... Qc8 or 1. ... Qe8. The try 1. ... Qf8 fails to 2. Ne5+ Kc5 3. Nd7+, and 1. ... Qa8 2. Ne5+ is similar -- 2. ... Kc5 3. Rb8! Qxb8 4. Nd7+. So only 1. ... Qg8 remains, and after 2. Ne5+ Kc5 3. Rb8, the Queen seems to escape with 3. ... Qh7. Then comes the final point: 4. b4+ Kd6 5. Rh8!, and Black is brought to bay -- 5. ... Qxh8 6. Nf7+, and White wins. It would never have occurred in a game, but the game is richer for it.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

PSW final

Prize Winners

1st: GM Melikset Khachiyan, 5½-½; 2nd: IM Tim Taylor, 5-1; 3rd-4th: IM Jack Peters, Christian Tanaka, 4½-1½; 5th: Yian Liou, Konstantin Kavutskiy, Takashi Kurosaki, 4-2; U2200: Joshua Gutman, 4½-1½; 2-3 U2200: Vincent Huang, Eric Zhang, 4-2, U2000: Dennis Saccuzzo, 3½-2½; 2nd-3rd U2000: Cheston Gunawan, Alicia Bolm, Numan Abdul-Majeeb, 3-3

1st: Alfred Ong, 5½-½; 2-3: Michael Chaney, Robert Barker, 4½-1½; U1600: Chantelle Field, 4-2; 2-3 U1600: Cijo Paul, Annie Wang, Jerry Qu, 3-3; U1400: Leo Creger, 4-2; 2-3 U1400: Aman Madhav, James Holder, 3-3; U1200: Young Hong, Gia Peterson, 2-4; Unrated: Bhanu Narayana, 5-1.

Scholastic Open: Karl Tolentino, 5-0. Scholastic Reserve: Brian Santoso, 4½-½.

Hex 1: Alexander Pearson, 3-0; Hex 2: Stephanie Shao, 3-0.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Pacific Southwest Open, day 3

As we enter the final stretch, GM Melikset Khachiyan remains in the lead with 4.5/5, after drawing with young master Yian Liou (see photo). In the final round Khachiyan will face High School star Vincent Huang, while Liou will meet IM Tim Taylor on board 2. In the U1800 section, Alfred Ong stands alone in first with 5-0, though three players have a chance to cath up. Click here for complete standings.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Pacific Southwest Open, day 2

With all schedules merged, GM Melikset Khachiyan leads the field with 4-0. A surprising 2nd is young master Yian Liou with 3.5, who will face Khachiyan in round 5. In the Amateur section, Alfred Ong leads with 4-0, followed by Brian Glover and Michael Chaney (who took byes in the last two rounds) on 3.5. In the one-day Scholastics, Karl Tolentino scored 5-0 in the Open, and Brian Santoso topped the Reserve with 4.5. Click here for standings, or here for round 5 pairings,