Ethics Problem: Red-Flag Matches used to gain Youth Master Record for Nip
Here is something we should definitely nip in the bud.
As GM Hikaru Nakamura correctly pointed out on ICC and in his blog, there is no way matches should be counted if someone is trying for a youth/rating record. He nails the issue on the head – it’s all about the integrity of the record. A nine year old should be able to do good things via rated tournament games and not need that extra “boost” for a mad record rush. Unless, of course, the nine year’s old relatives are trying to short-circuit the system in order to gain, yes, you’ve guessed it, the time-dependent record. And how to short-circuit the tournament system? Simple: sprinkle in a few matches. After all, if a kid needs some points pronto, all the “sponsoring relative” needs to do is find a “friendly” match opponent in the rolodex for just such an emergency. Readers: I heard disturbing and disgusting reports that Nip’s coach paid the match opponents. I can only hope it’s not true. Can anyone verify? If so, all the matches should be tossed out.
Author’s note 3/15/08: IM Greg Shahade posted this agreement on Hikaru’s blog:
” I am a big fan of Nicholas Nip, I got to see him first hand at the US Chess School training session in San Francisco. I think he’s a great kid, with a ton of talent and I don’t think that he would ever knowingly cheat. Despite that, I don’t believe such matches should be valid, if someone wanted to they are such an easy way to unfairly gain rating points, and kids have been doing it for a while to qualify for certain events like the World Youth and such.
I just think it’s terrible that such matches are allowed, especially in regards to breaking records, and the USCF needs to do something about it, even retroactively in this case (especially as without matches Nip’s record may be almost unbeatable in the future). This is nothing against Nip, who is a great talented young player, but this practice of junior players being allowed to play matches of many games against a single player (who may be extremely overrated) to boost their ratings quickly and either qualify for events or break records needs to stop immediately.
By Greg Shahade on 3/10/2008 1:36 PM ” I could not agree with this sentiment more.
Here is Nicholas Nip’s recent (and painful to read) rating history according to USCF MSA:
|Date||Event||Reg. Rtg.||Quick Rtg|
|MECH QUAD 2 (CA)
|2187 => 2207||2060 => 2102|
|MECH. QUAD (CA)
|2186 => 2187||2051 => 2060|
|WINTER TUESDAY NIGHT MARATHON (CA)
|2193 => 2186|
|MATCH NIP-PEREZ (CA)
1: SECTION 1
|2167 => 2193||2002 => 2051|
|NIP-FUENTES MATCH (CA)
1: SECTION 1
|2137 => 2167||1952 => 2002|
|WESTERN CLASS CHAMPIONSHIPS (CA)
|2144 => 2137|
|FALL TUESDAY NIGHT MARATHON (CA)
|2128 => 2144|
1: SECTION 1
|2104 => 2128||1904 => 1952|
|MCCLAIN MEMORIAL (CA)
|2113 => 2104||1911 => 1904|
|NOVEMBER CUPERTINO (CA)
|2101 => 2113||1893 => 1911|
Note the big rating gains in the Perez, Fuentes, and Schiller matches. The Perez and Fuentes matches were rated one day apart, on 2/23 and 2/24! Not to malign the competitive abilities of these people, but let’s state the obvious: none of these matches should count to accomplish any type of record or receive any type of invitation. The whole thing is entirely absurd – even a relative of the Caissic Kid did not rig the match, it smells like they were, in fact, rigged. To take it further, if any of these people (Fuentes, Perez, Schiller) are family friends, it’s already far gone and out of the question to count the matches for this particular record. It’s not the kid doing this, it’s some well-meaning relative or “proud coach” (living vicariously?) but it still smells.
Postscript 3/14/08: a California informant reports that the match opponents are, in fact, family friends. These matches should be annulled.
Postscript 3/15/08: Reports are popping up in the blogosphere that Nip’s coach paid the match opponents. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, it just did. If this is indeed the case, the offending party or parties should apologize to the world chess community and voluntarily rescind all the matches. Of course, it’s psychologically difficult to rescind a vicarious award.
Boo Young Caruana, Bravo Young Nyzhnyk
I haven’t seen rating manipulation like this since the famous “Caruana gambit” – where future GM Fabiano Caruana, in very unsportsmanlike maneuvering, was pulled out of Marshall Chess Club events (many times) early (forfeiting his remaining games) to protect a few measly USCF rating point gain. In retrospect, how silly that must appear now that Caruana is at or near 2600 FIDE. Parental rating shenanigans always smell funny. And it’s never the kid’s fault. It’s the observer/parent/relative who pulls off these stunts. I want to point out a counter-example – Ukrainian Kid Fresh Ilya Nyzhnyk (somebody buy him a vowel!) is front and center on the world stage, playing in Aeroflots and other strong opens (he recently beat David Pruess and previously won the “B” group at the 2007 Moscow Open at only 10 years of age with a score of 8.5/9 and a performance rating of 2633) and he’s not lurking trying to build a lofty ELO or go for youth records with behind the scenes “matches”.
The USCF should revisit this issue pronto. Nakamura’s complaint is not sour grapes – it is quite obvious, prima facie, that matches are easy to rig and should not be used as a tool for what I am assuming is a close relative’s quest for child Caissic honor. The situation could be even worse: bogus matches could be used to rig invitations to youth squads or student teams! After all, the chances are exceedingly high a child’s match opponents are at least casual acquaintances of the aforementioned relative. And if so, fuhgeddabit – (visualize a baseball umpire ejecting the match, giving it the heave-ho – these matches are outtah here!).
Solution – Stop The Tanner Gambit and the Nip Gambit Deferred
Solution: ban the use of match play to gain child rating records. The potential for abuse is too great. Things can get really silly – for example a sponsoring relative might even be paying the ‘hurry-up offense’ match opponents. The incentives for abuse make for a lengthy list indeed. This sort of glaring abuse problem was actually exposed by Sam Sloan when he outed Robert Tanner’s fake matches, forcing Tanner’s ouster from the USCF Ethics (!!) Committee. Tanner was trying to gain an NM title and claimed matches vs campfire buddies as legitimate games. The “Tanner Gambit” should not be used again in match form – ban the Tanner Gambit and the Nip (Match) Gambit Deferred. And it would also be nice to ban the “Caruana Withdrawal Gambit” – any youth withdrawing from an event who is not dying of bubonic plague should not be given any rating point gains from that event.