The Steve Doyle Principle
As a rule of thumb, if there is ever anything dubious in the Amateur Team East, blame Steve Doyle even if he is not directly to blame. It’s more fun that way.
And there certainly was something very, very sportingly amiss this year. As reported in US Chess Life online, there was a team consisting of “Stephen Fanning [ 5 years old ] … officially named “GGGg.” Besides Stephen, the team consists of Zviad Izoria, Eugene Perelshteyn and Roman Dzindzichashvili.” As might be expected, the top 3 boards named in this quote win this event easily even if they are playing with an empty chair rated -300 on the last board. It gets worse: apparently the father of the 5 year old 4th board paid the 3 GM’s to play. Uck! And then he posted flames of hapless amateurs outraged at his strategem! In my opinion, a successful purchase should stay on the q.t. — he should keep quiet uttering “muahahaha” in the privacy of his den and high-five his GM employees…. not draw attention to the title purchase.
The blogosphere has gone wild over this bizarre capitalistic non-amateur title purchasing, although it is amusing to consider the joy on the patron’s face when he realized this was, in fact, legal and stacked-board rules were not in effect in the East. Readers, check me on this: were the rules in effect in other regions, and if so, how could a rules divergence take place? Makes no sense, particularly since there is an inter-region playoff. Can anyone shed light, what is going on?
The Karpov Rationale? What??
I unearthed this mystifying quote quoting Doyle: “Steve Doyle says that despite a misconception to the contrary, there is no rule against “stacked” teams. There was a rule from 1994-1998 that such teams could not enter the U.S. Amateur team playoffs even if they won, but that was overturned when Karpov formed a stacked team in 1998. ” Huh? Karpov? What? We want a stacked team with Karpov in a playoff? Can anyone make sense of this? Who overturned it and what was the rationale at the time? I am sure the “Karpov rationale” will be good for a chuckle, except for teams not named “GGGg” and their patrons. What the heck is going on and why are the rules such a smoking ruin?
Some people didn’t seem to understand how purchasing a title using the “empty chair” (meaningless 4th board strategy, 4th board gets mated in 7 moves, etc., etc.) might be a little, how shall we say, dubious, pointing out it’s within the rules. That I will term the “soulless gambler automaton opinion.” It is valid and at the same time stinky. Every single team besides GGGg should have been saying (maybe they were) … “what the hell is this and how can it be allowed, what is Doyle doing? Let’s find Doyle and bitch at him!” Of course the rules shouldn’t permit the obvious money transaction and the event should be returned to the horde of WEAK PLAYERS shooting for their tiny spot in the sunshine! GMs are great at amateur events, sure, but not all concentrated on one team. Spread them out, put a little competitiveness in the event, and restore the word “Amateur”!
Enough Talk, Here’s the Solution
Time to introduce the quick fix. Arguing about the 5 year old’s chess is not an interesting or valid conversation. Weirdly, some members of the blogosphere started arguing with the patron/dad about the kid’s chess. That’s not relevant! Neither is the low rating of the 5 year old (rating manipulation is not on target either). The fix is strikingly simple:
The Ginsburg Competency Criterion.
Here it is.
The Ginsburg Competency Criterion states, “if any fourth board fails to score a minimum of 1/2 earned (non-forfeit, non-bye) point out of 6, that team is ineligible for first prize and a trip to the Playoffs.” This prevents 3 world-class candidates playing with a [insert low rated beginner here], or 3 former world champions playing with a lowly rated toaster oven, or the 2008 sickness. I frankly am surprised Izoria and Perelshteyn agreed to play; they must have gotten paid a lot, but it really smells. I saw recently Izoria in a rather contrite interview compared getting paid here to getting paid to play in the German Bundesliga – that was good for a chuckle. In the Bundesliga, one routinely sees 2600+ GMs tangling with each other. One does not see Dzindzi playing an expert or a 178-rated player playing an expert.
My criterion foils the purchase scheme, because nobody will want to pay good money to win 2nd in a motley amateur event!
And now some perspective to use my criterion versus historical winners. Refer to the History Roster at the bottom of this post for more information on the past winners.
The 1986 Situation
In 1986, my team won the USATE with: Michael Rohde, Leonid Bass, me, and Julia Sarwer. Our team was called Ace Reporter Tisdall and we all wore white towels around our necks, because that’s what our hero, GM Jon Tisdall, does.
Julia scored a key victory in a close match. Julia is the sister of Jeff Sarwer, portrayed as some sort of child anti-Christ in the rather exploitational movie Searching for Bobby Fischer. So this 1986 team passes muster under my Competency Criterion. It appears Joel Benjamin alluded to this team and Julia’s contribution in a recent op-ed on the 2008 event at Gambit.
I will dig up our amusing team photo that appeared in Chess Life at the time.
The 1994 Situation
In 1994, my team won the USATE with: Ilya Gurevich, Victor Frias, me, and the requisite low-rated kids, the Kendrex brothers (4th board player and alternate, non-scorers). This team would be disallowed under my suggested criterion and well it should be. What a trio of scum-sucking stacked opportunists. It was Karmic revenge that we forfeited in the playoffs after Frias pulled a no-show in our first match versus the South.
And I believe this squad is alluded to in the Gambit New York Times blog.
Dylan Loeb McClain writes in Gambit, “Years ago, a team similar to GGGg won, prompting a rule that any team that had a rating difference of more than 1,000 points between two consecutive members (normally the third and fourth players) could not compete in the playoff.” As far as I know, this refers to my 1994 squad. Joel Benjamin goes on to write in another Gambit entry, “Eventually the tide turned against such highly stacked teams. From 1994-1998, teams were ineligible if the difference between the third and fourth board was more than 1000 points. Then former World Champion Anatoly Karpov was coaxed into playing at the USATE, and the rule was repealed.” Well, actually, my annoying 1994 team caused the rule change so I would peg the anti-stacked era to start in 1995. And the rule should have stuck – the Karpov/repeal business is ridiculous.
Side Note on a Prior Squad Headin’ for Trouble
Amusingly, Dzindzi was on another squad-headed-for-trouble in the 1980s. He played with Barclay Art Gallery in 1984, a team which saw many of its members and patrons arrested after the event for massive art fraud. This included a famous American IM and an active NM from the NYC area. I will let the readers google for this droll art fraud themselves – it landed chess on the front page of the New York Post in the 1980s. In that year, the soon to be arrested art ‘dealers’ were deflated with their main employee, Dzindzi, lost in an upset to Jaya Krishna aka IM Jay Whitehead. When the game ended, Jay was in the hallway. A Barclay Art Gallery minion asked Jay, “What happened to Roman?” Jay said in a fantastic monotone, “I forked his queen and king with a knight.” The flack’s face fell. It was all so wonderful, such good times in the hallway. Of course, Jay’s team (Jay, me, Rohde, Triinu Mikiver) then lost in the last round in a tough match versus the Collins Kids featuring future IM Jon Litvinchuk. See the roster below for the winning 1984 team composition. And that’s the way it should be: kids and/or rank amateurs slugging it out. I don’t recall another chess front page in the 1980s, except for a Sam Sloan headline where his purchased wife ran away spouting juicy accusations about his predilections. So to sum up the 80s front page chess news a) art arrests, b) Sloan sex scandal. Slim pickings on page one in the 80s – no Fischer.
Back to the present: problem solved! We will never have the poopy diapers smell hovering over this event again. The Ginsburg Competency Criterion foils the fat cat payroll artistes!
Readers: if anyone has political pull, put my codicil up for the vote! And somebody yell at Doyle.
2/26/08: Cynical Postscript from Duif on ICC: ” Law of Intended Consequences: your competency rule suggestion just means people will buy or trade draws for the 4th board, I think.” Oh no! The shame! Say it ain’t so.
Post-Postscript – Playoff Travesty:
I could amend the Competency Rule to be 1 out of 6 earned, no forfeit, no bye, minimum. That might work better. The goal is to simply head off at the pass this year’s disaster. New development: the USATE “winning team” will not compete in the playoffs (either voluntary or coerced, doesn’t matter; massive outrage and disgust voiced by many parties). What a travesty, what a smoking ruin. David Sands has it right at the Washington Times; this truly was an Amateur Event sham. Somebody yell at Doyle on this score too.
U.S. Amateur Team East Champions
1971-2003. Note some early dominance from Regan/Fedorowicz/Cowen.
1971 Franklin Mercantile CC Mike Shahade, Arnold Chertkov, Myron Zelitch, Eugene Seligson1972 Penn State CC Donald Byrne, Steve Wexlar, Dan Heisman, Bill Beckman, Jim Joachin 1973 The Independents Edgar T. McCormick, Edward Allen, Steve Pozarek, Charles Adkins 1974 Temple University Mike Pastor, Bruce Rind, Harvey Bradlow, Joseph Schwing 1975 GSCA Four Ken Regan, John Fedorowicz, Edward Babinski Jr., Tyler Cowen 1976 GSCA Four Ken Regan, John Fedorowicz, Tyler Cowen, Michael Wilder 1977 Mahko Ornst Damian Dottin, Sunil Weeramantry, Jasper Chin, Doug Brown 1978 Westfield Winners Stephen Stoyko, Stephen Pozarek, Saul Wanetick, John McCarthy 1979 Mahko Ornst Doug Brown, Timothy Lee, David Gertler, Harold Bogner 1980 Heraldica Imports Roman Dzindzichashvili, Jose Cuchi, Jose Saenz, Ignatio Yepes 1981 The Materialists Eugene Meyer, Robin Spital, Gordon Zalar, Peter McClusky 1982 Metalhead 'N' Mutants Tony Renna, Jonathan Schroer, Andrew Metrick, John Kennedy 1983 The Costigan Team Thomas Costigan, William Costigan, Andrew Costigan, Richard Costigan 1984 Collins' Kids Vasity Stuart Rachels, John Litvinchuk, David Peters, Marcos Robert 1985 We Don't Have One George Krauss, Robert Miller, David Gertler, Sam Waldner 1986 Ace Reporter Tisdall Michael Rohde, Mark Ginsburg, Leonid Bass, Julia Sarwer 1987 Walk Your Dog Michael Feinstein, William Mason, Robin Cunningham, David Greenstein 1988 Bergen County Chess Council Aviv Friedman, Jose Lahoz, Lee Rutowski, Jonathan Beeson 1989 Rube V. Rubenchik, R. Shocron, D. Rubinsky, R. Rubenchik 1990 Walk Your Dog 3 Michael Feinstein, William Mason, Seth Rothman, Paul Gordon 1991 Collins' Kids Graduates John Litvinchuk, Sal Matera, William Lombardy, Joe Ippolito 1992 Made in the USA David Arnett, Josh Waitzkin, Eliot Lum, Dan Benjamin 1993 Bonin the USA Jay Bonin, Mark Ritter, Harold Stenzel, Dan O'Hanlon 1994 Jimi Hendrix Exp Ilya Gurevich, Mark Ginsburg, Victor Frias, Chris Kendrex, Steven Kendrex 1995 Brooklyn College "A" Genady Sagalchik, Alex Kalikshteyn, Yuri Alpshun, Joe Valentin 1996 Westfield CC Robin Cunningham, Todd Lunna, Jason Cohen, Jerry Berkowitz, Yaacov Norowitz 1997 Kgovsky's Killers Igor Schliperman, Mark Kurtzman, Stan Kotlyar, Nathan Shnaidman 1998 WWW.ChessSuperstore Anatoly Karpov, Ron Henley, Irina Krush, Albert Pinnella Light Blue Dyllan McClain, Nathan Resika, Brian Hulse, Alan Price 1999 Clinton-Insufficient Lusing Chances Jim West, Mike Shapiro, Alan Kantor, David Sichel, Mel Rappaport 2000 Total Brutality Philip Songe, Savdin Robovic, Igor Schliperman, Mark Kurtzman 2001 Zen and the Art of Bisguier Ron Burnett, Art Bisguier, Sergio Almeida, Noach Belcher 2002 Weera Family Hikaru Nakamura, Sunil Weeramantry, Asuka Nakamura, Michael Ellenbogen 2003 UTD Orange Andrei Zaremba, Dennis Rylander, Ali Morsaedi, Clem Rendon
Addendum from Dave Gertler
Feb. 29, 2008:
Hey Mark, just read your chess blog, very interesting/amusing. 2 notes: 1. Barclay Gallery fielded 2 teams at ’85 USATE, both 5-0 going into last round; we beat one, then nosed the other out on tiebreaks. Sweet.