Archive for the ‘Roman Dzindzihashvili’ Category

The Fabulous 00s: Curing the GGGg Debacle at the US Amateur Team East 2008

February 26, 2008

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.

A Brief History (from NJSCF)

U.S. Amateur Team East Champions
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.


The Fabulous 70s: News of the Weird and my First Dzindzi Encounter

November 11, 2007

Chess Life & Review editor Burt Hochberg really foisted some lu-lu covers on the chessplaying masses in the 1970s.

Here is a typical shocker, Paul Morphy’s hand (actual size). Shades of the macabre Edgar Allen Poe!


A whole nation of chessplayers suddenly found themselves putting their hand on the cover photo to compare. And the truth became apparent: Morphy had a small, delicate, feminine hand. You can see for yourself by noticing the relative size of the push-pins.

When the nation got tired of macabre comparisons, it was time to look inside for the latest, juiciest, Rating List. Here is the State of the Union of the US Juniors, September 1977.


Some notable names and numbers:

Mark Diesen, World Junior Champion, heads the pack at 2440 (an astronomical rating back then). Close behind are Michael Rohde and Yasser Seirawan. Note the Whitehead brothers are neck and neck with Paul at 2269 and Jay at 2256. Girome Bono, #13, is still active on ICC. I used to play Karl Dehmelt (#16) quite a bit on Philadelphia-area tournaments. 13-year old Joel Benjamin is #22 at 2199 (one point shy of master!). I’m #18 at 2212. Moving down, “Collins Kid” Louis Cohen is #35 at 2142. Chess author John Donaldson is #37 at 2141 (a late-bloomer, obviously, at 18 years of age). Peter Winston is #41 at 2131 and right next to him is the fellow who wrote about him in a recent Chess Life, Charlie Hertan at 2129. Billy Adam, subject of my related article, is #46 at 2119. #47, Richard Kaner, won the National HS one year in a highly improbable upset year.

The under-16 list is also amusing. #33, Miles Ardaman, at 1784. #47, David Griego, at 1642. Everybody starts somewhere! The #2, Tyler Cowen, might have quit chess early but nobody can say he didn’t keep busy. And he has an amusing new book out titled “Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist” – I kid you not. In a weird cross-disciplinary coincidence, he was mentored in economics by Schelling at Harvard (author of the famous Schelling curves, showing incentives to contribute, and a key citation in my NYU Information Systems dissertation.

Just to convince people there’s actually chess on this site sometimes, here’s an upset win I scored over GM Roman Dzindzihashvili way back in December 1979 (The Chicago Christmas Masters/Experts). Ben Finegold quizzed me recently on ICC as to the existence of this game (his father witnessed it). Yes, it does exist, and here it is, unearthed from the tomb of my ancient scorepad pile.

NM Mark Ginsburg (2373) – GM Roman Dzindzihashvili (2595) Chicago Christmas M/E 12/30/79 Round 4.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Nf6 6. O-O d6 7. c4 g6 8. Nc3 Bg7 9. Bg5

I was extremely familiar with this position, having just played Eugene Meyer a Kan-thematic training match in Washington, DC.

9…Nbd7 10. Kh1 b6 More careful was 10… O-O 11. f4 Qb6 12. Nb3 Qc7. In the early stage, Roman was playing quickly, obviously underestimating the unknown kid.

11. f4 Qc7 And now more circumspect was 11…O-O 12. f5 Ne5 13. fxg6 fxg6 14. Nf3 Nf7! 15. Bh4 Qc7 with a playable game.

12. f5 gxf5? This makes everything worse. Relatively best was 12… e5 13. Nc2 O-O 14. Ne3 Bb7 15. Rc1 Nc5 16. Ned5 Nxd5 17. Nxd5 Bxd5 18. cxd5 Qd7 19. f6 and white is much better, but not completely winning.

13. exf5 e5 Strangely, it’s already lost for black.


14. Ne6! The computer shows another unusually attractive way to win: 14. Nd5!! Nxd5 15. Ne6!! (an exquisite and extremely rare double knight sacrifice; you’ve heard of double bishop sacrifices (Lasker-Bauer) but how often have you heard of a double knight sacrifice?) 15…fxe6 16. Qh5+ Kf8 17. fxe6+ and white cruises. For example, 17…N7f6 18. cxd5 Qe7 19. Bxf6 (or keep sacrificing for a quicker kill, 19. Rxf6+! Bxf6 20. Rf1 Bxe6 21. dxe6 Qxe6 22. Rxf6+ Qxf6 23. Bxf6 and wins) 19… Bxf6 20. Qh6+ with destruction. At the time, I saw my 16th move “Excelsior” theme and decided to go for that. It wins easily enough, but I have to rate the computer line higher in creativity and speed of execution.

14… fxe6 15. fxe6 O-O 16. e7! A great move to be able to play against a strong player. Black’s rook is frozen to f8.


16…Bb7 The problem is that 16… Re8 is crushed by 17. Nd5 (or by 17. Rxf6 Nxf6 18. Bxf6 Bxf6 19. Nd5; it’s unusual that white has so many winning lines so early) 17… Nxd5 18. Bxh7+ Kxh7 19. Qh5+ Kg8 20. Qxe8+ Kh7 21. Qh5+ and this pleasing pendulum maneuver nets white a second queen. So black must resort to the text and the rest is just a mop-up with no special carefulness or technique required; a good thing because at this age I had none.

17. exf8=Q+ Rxf8 18. Nd5 Nxd5 19. cxd5 Rxf1+ 20. Qxf1 Nc5 21. Rc1 e4 22. Bxe4 Bxb2 23. Re1 Be5 24. Bf4 Qf7 25. Bxe5 Qxf1+ 26. Rxf1 dxe5 27. Bb1 Bxd5 28. Rf5! Nd7 29. Rh5! The very active rook cannot be stopped.

29…Bf7 30. Rxh7 Bxa2 31. Rxd7 Bxb1 32. Rd6 b5 33. Rxa6 Kf7 34. Kg1 Bd3 35. Kf2 Bc4 36. h4 Bd5 37. Rb6 Bc4 38. g4 Bd3 39. Ke3 Bf1 40. g5 Kg7 41. Ke4 1-0

After the game, Roman feeling the anger of losing to a weaker player (I’ve felt that way many times), said “You have just bought yourself bad luck for rest of life.” This was tame compared to the Bill Lombardy speech I received after Bill lost on time at a World Open, but I knew what Roman meant – I would be in for heavy weather the next couple of times we met. And indeed, the next time we met (I was white again) I won his queen but he gained too much play with a Rook, Knight and Pawn and scored a positionally well-executed victory that made it into the Robert Byrne New York Times column (World Open, 1980).


Here is that game:

M. Ginsburg – GM Roman Dzindzichashvili World Open 1980

1.g3 c5 2.Bg2 Nc6 3.e4 g6 4.Ne2 The sort of off-beat knight placement in anti-Sicilians favored by the dearly departed Billy Adam.

4…Bg7 5.c3 e5 6.O-O Nge7 7.Na3
O-O 8.Nc2 d5 9.d3 Be6 10.f4 dxe4 11.dxe4 Bc4 12.Bd2 Qd3 13.Rf2
Rad8 14.Ned4
The sort of tactic that might “work” but no player is very happy about executing. It wins black’s queen but gets a structurally very bad game.

14…exf4 15.Ne1 fxg3 16.Nxd3 gxf2 17.Nxf2 cxd4 18.Qc2
Be6 19.Kh1 dxc3 20.Bxc3 Nd4 21.Qb1 Nec6 22.Qf1 Ne5 23.b3 h5
24.Rd1 Ng4 25.Rd3 Nxf2+ 26.Qxf2 Nxb3 27.Qc2 Rxd3 28.Qxd3 Nc1
29.Qe3 Bxc3 30.Qxc3 Rc8 31.Qe3 Nxa2 32.h3 b5 33.Qxa7 b4 34.e5
b3 35.Qb7 Rc1+ 36.Kh2 Rc2 37.Kg3 Nc3 38.Be4 Nxe4+ 39.Qxe4 Rc3+

An amusing bygones-era photo collage of the combatants in this game – the unlucky GM, as you probably can guess, is on the left – his photo is circa 1992, I think, and mine was from April 1979: