Sunday, February 17, 2008

USATE 2008: "Speak of the Devil"

Kenilworth A vs. GGGgSteve Stoyko sits down to play Zviad Izoria

As I mentioned in my USATE 2008 Preview, there is a three-GM team this year at the World Amateur Team and U.S. Amateur Team East featuring Izoria, Perelshteyn, and Dzindzi. They call themselves "GGGg" (and not "The Three Tenors," as I had suggested). Obviously this team goes against the spirit of amateurism that the event intends to promote, and in previous years the organizers have explicitly forbidden such imbalances. It's clear that the rule that no teams field players with more than a 1000 point difference between any board needs to be re-instated. While we all love seeing the GMs come out, it's simply unfair to use them to stack the deck against truly "amateur teams."

I was not so angry about the Three-Gs while their existence was still a rumor and the chances of actually meeting them seemed remote. But now that we were paired against them in Round Three, I naturally take the whole thing more personally. As I took piece after piece from my 101-rated opponent on Board 4 (whom I mated in under 10 minutes), I felt a bit cheated out of my usual experience of competitive team play. This was not why I came to USATE.

The Kenilworth Chess Club again sponsored three teams for the event:
  • Kenilworth A: FM Steve Stoyko (captain), NM Scott Massey, NM Ed Allen, Bob Rose, and Michael Goeller (alternate)

  • Kenilworth B: NM Mark Kernighan, Geoff McAuliffe, Greg Tomkovich, and Joe Demetrick

  • Kenilworth Rookies: John Moldovan, Joe Renna, Gordon Agress, and Jim Cole

Kenilworth BKenilworth B

Our A and B teams had the pleasure in Round One of sitting next to each other on Boards 14 and 15 (with the A-Team playing down and the B-Team playing up). Fortunately, the organizers saw fit not to pair us, though that was likely an option for them...

Kenilworth RookiesKenilworth Rookies: Cole, Renna, and Agress

The Rookies were started last year by team captain Jim Cole and feature players relatively new to competitive play. This year they include our new club president, John Moldovan, who at 1800+ seems hardly a "rookie," except that this is his first USATE!

Kenilworth Rookies T-shirt

Long-time Kenilworth Chess Club regular Mike Wojcio fielded six teams playing under the "Chessaholics" banner, including many of the scholastic players he coaches. And a number of our club members are on other teams. So the KCC has come out in force to support the USATE and I'm sure that most of us will enjoy the long weekend. But the Three-Gs have really spoiled my fun this year...

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Spirit of amateurism"? These people are not receiving prizes. I should think an aspiring amateur chess player would enjoy having a strong opponent and being forced to play a challenging game.

As I commented on the first "three tenors" post, "Of course, the GMs probably were paid money to participate on the team by the boy's parents- I doubt it's just a publicity stunt. But what is the problem with this phenomenon? It's not the grandmasters' alleged "greed." How do you make your living, more honorably than they do? The grandmasters have spent their whole careers perfecting the art of chess. It's not greed to expect compensation and publicity....these GM's have much more of a right to publicity and money than random patzers who are hoping for a fluke win in the USATE. It's actually pitiable if such strong grandmasters are forced to earn their living by accepting a relatively small sum of money for a good deal of work."

Anonymous said...

Simply re-enable the 'anti-stacked team' rule - why was it ever removed?

Anonymous said...

Your article sounds like a child on a playground shouting “not fair! He’s too good!” “Spirit of amateurism?” Chess would be much more respected by the rest of society if it were possible to make a decent living at it. Yes, then more people would take up chess, and there would be more of the “amateurs” that you like so much.

So Izoria is a “devil” just because he worked harder at something than you did (for very little reward, I might add)? If you don’t think people who worked hard at something deserve to make a living at it, then you must not respect that thing, right? So why are you running a chess blog? And Greg, why is the U.S. Chess league (a league that hopes to support professionals) featuring this man’s blog? It looks like a direct attack on chess and those who are really passionate about it. Maybe it should be left out next season?

(P.S. who is a professional at chess? Is a guy rated 1800 who is making big bucks running a kids’ chess organization a professional? Does he deserve censure too? Or is it just the people who are actually good at it that tick you off?)

Bionic Lime said...

I see no problem with a team taking advantage of the rules as they are given by the organizers. And, honestly, seeing Dzinzi -- who is a rather large man -- sitting next to this cherubic seven year old made quite a site!

Also, for the record, the TD made an announcement at the beginning of the final round that there never was an anti-stacking rule in the USATC-East. He said there were such rules in other USATCs. However, he went onto say that they would look at it for 2009.

You could simply take the average of the mean rating ((Bd1+Bd2+Bd3+Bd4)/4) and the median rating (which, for four boards is simply the average of boards 2 and 3), which would essentially serve as an anti-stacking rule.

Three GM Joke said...

We all go to USATE to have fun and play competitive team chess.

The GGGg board 4's opponents were cheated out of a competitive game. The young player made illegal move after illegal move. His opponents should have been paid for giving him instruction while play.

Each of the board 4's opponents could have probably spotted him Queen odds and still have won. They were also deprived the chance to gain any rating points.

The team event is called US Amateur Team Event, and the key word is AMATEUR. How can any team with 3 GM's be considered amateur?

Note that it is extremely difficult for any "normal" USATE team to score 1.5/3.0, = score vs. 3 GM's. The best that you can hope for realistically is a tie match. This defeats the purpose of an event where people make differently (but fairly) balanced teams that can actually compete with each other.

3 GM's is nothing more than a joke. It is disrespectful to make such a team, and also disrespectful to allow such a team to play in the event.

I'm all for making a team within the "rules" but if an anti-stacking rule isn't in effect for 2009 then we might as well change the name of the event to US Stacked Team Event. It has a nice ring to it, don't ya think?

Also, why can't the participants of the event vote on the "rules" of USATE?

I'm sorry, I thought that USATE was held in America. I guess I was mistaken.

Michael Goeller said...

I have nothing against the 3 GMs making a living, but they should do it in a more ethical fashion. To be paid to participate in the US AMATEUR Team is like professional athletes being paid to participate in any amateur athletic event. Sure, it has been done -- and so often that we have even done away with amateur athletics in most contexts (including the Olympics). But it is against the spirit of amateur competition. Next year, I think I'm going to pay some GMs $5000 to play with a monkey on their team. There is no rule prohibiting that.... And maybe I can take my monkey onto the David Letterman show afterward as a "World Chess Champion."

Michael Goeller said...

You know, that monkey scheme is not a bad idea... I'll bet I could then sell that monkey for at least $10,000 -- especially if he makes it onto the talk show circuit....

Anonymous said...

I have no respect for GMs like Izoria, Perelshteyn, and Dzindzi who would prostitute themselves just because some stupid parent wants to put his kid on a pedestal. The kid was awful and should not even play chess.

And I bet Steve Doyle was in on the take as well.

To add insult to injury, I just learned that this prostitute team is allowed to participate in the playoff. What a disgrace!

Bionic Lime said...

Where is there confirmation that the GMs were paid to play by the kid's parents? Or is that a rumor?

As to these other comments regarding being cheated out of a competitive game.... Are you going to also say that the "COLLINS KIDS BANK ST B" team (with one 383, and three 100s) shouldn't be allowed to play, simply because their opponents in the first several rounds will vastly outrate them and not get a "competitive game"?

Bionic Lime said...

One more thing... I believe that a team with a 2600, 2500, 1800, 1700 would have a decent chance to win against GGGg. Board 3 and Board 4 would split, 1-1. It would be up to the 2600 and 2500 to score 1.5, which, while less that 50% statistically, would not be very uncommon.

Would you call this a stacked team? Or a team against the spirit of amateurism?

Michael Goeller said...

I have nothing against the 2600, 2500, 1800, and 1700 team configuration, since any other team would have a shot at beating them or at least drawing them in a match. In fact, as I allude to in my first post on the subject, our Kenilworth B team drew a match with the Perelshteyn+Dzindzi+1800+1700 team last year, basically knocking them out of title contention in Round One.

Anonymous said...

Nobody's mentioned the benefit to the third boards who get to play a GM. How often does someone playing second or third board get that kind of opportunity? Fourth board gives a lesson. Second and third boards get good ones.

Anonymous said...

I think it's pretty well-argued that Mr. Goeller's preferences for lower-rated opponents on certain boards and higher-rated opponents on other boards is ridiculous. It's purely an aesthetic consideration. He is sore at playing an easy-to-beat player, and he would be sore at having to play a grandmaster. Sorry it goes against your "spirit of amateurism" sense of aesthetics that a team was specifically designed to have the best chance of winning what is, after all, a competition! You don't roll over and die when you play chess, although I'm sure that it seems that way to the stronger players than you who have devoted their entire careers to studying chess. If this is truly an "amateur" tournament, why is the average rating allowed so high? You cannot argue that this GGGg team didn't follow entry rules regarding average team rating. Sorry your team lost. Maybe you'll learn to play chess better for next year's tournament. Why don't you listen to some nice classical music during your game to improve the aesthetic experience?

Anonymous said...

To the person who made the "prostitute" comment: how do you "prostitute" yourself to make a living? Unfortunately everyone has to make money to survive, and you have to do something for that money. The GMs at least earned their money by hard work and talent.

To the person who said "I'm sorry, I thought that USATE was held in America. I guess I was mistaken": I thought in America hard work and objective achievement were rewarded with a good life. I thought those who are good at something were respected. Instead you just want to exclude those who are "too good," and complain if someone who actually worked hard at something makes some money at it.

To Michael Goeller: the reason we have professional-level players being paid to play in amateur tournaments is that there are virtually no professional tournaments. Or, you could say, there are amateurs being paid to play in professionnal tournaments (such as the World Open). Do away with all the 10,000 dollar under 1400 prizes, and instead let the professionals (who have worked hardest at chess and sacrificed for it) have a chance to win this money--then you won't see GMs playing in amateur tournaments. Somehow 1400 rated players think they should win tons of money at chess and not have to face good players, all while having other careers! Dzindzi and Izoria have to pay their rent. You spend a lot of time studying and persuing something, you necessarily give up other possible careers.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you guys understand, but the life of the professional chess player is not to sunny, actually, unless you are over 2700 fide (or a female over 2400). To add to poverty, lack of health insurance, loneliness, and constant stress, you guys now have to question a professional's right to even make any money at chess! Meanwhile you have not devoted 1/100 the effort that GMs have. Is it because you believe that chess is not worthy of being a profession?

Anonymous said...

I am shocked that ANYONE can honestly think that a 3 GM team is an Amateur team. Look it up in the dictionary. Look at golf or any other sport that has an amateur league for some additional help.

The GMs certainly don't make a lot of money, but why can't we have ONE big AMATEUR tournament in the US where the GMs just aren't allowed? Meanwhile, GMs could show up at weekend events all over the country and win week after week if they wanted to. Come to Boston, GMs, and win the weekend pot every week!

But stay out of the AMATEUR event.

Anonymous said...

Can GM's who have not officially received their title yet play? How about GM-strength IM's? How about prodigies? Can we exclude anyone over a certain IQ? No, I didn't think so. Get real.

Anonymous said...

i like what Elizabeth Vicary posted on her blog:

"I want to mention that I think the argument for banning stacked teams like GGGg is completely ridiculous. It's basically saying organizers should ban players for being too good at chess, because their presence is unfair to patzers. I heard this argument a few times during the last round and I had to walk away because it seemed so embarrasing and pathetic. Why don't people think it's awesome that three grandmasters are willing to spend their weekend playing 1800s and experts for no prize money, just for fun?"

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know how last year's team fared? I thought they were an awesome team! I expected them to repeat.

Anonymous said...

These Arguments about the spirit of amateur are ridiculous. The event is clearly a PRO-AM. If it were not every player would have to be under 2200. I think the only ones complaining are the loosers.

Anonymous said...

The anti stacking rule was removed so that Anatoly Karpov could play in the event with his "Stacked Team". They couldn't win btw.