My introduction to chess in Louisville was the state championship, with a time control of G/90, held at the U of Louisville campus on Shelbyville road. I decided to go by a few days before the tournament, but had trouble finding the location. It turned out the address given was wrong. I was able to locate it, finding many large earth moving vehicles with construction taking place. Because of having previously played in far too many tournaments with ongoing construction, I was filled with a feeling of trepidation.
Upon arriving at the playing site on the day of the tournament, it turned out my unease was justified, as only a small portion of the lights actually worked, because of a construction accident. I considered not playing, but decided that since I was there...It turned out to be a mistake. It was terribly difficult to play because of the glare emanating from the sunlight outside not being offset by the indoor lighting. The lighting was inadequate, causing a headache.
The tables upon which the the boards were placed were the most narrow I have ever seen in my forty years of playing tournament chess. There was no room whatsoever for one to prop his elbows, or even place his hands and forearms on the table in front of the board. I asked the winner of the tournament, IM Bryan Smith, about it after the tournament and he said, "I know. I've never seen tables that small!" Some time later I mentioned it in conversation with the former President of the KCA, Miami Fugate, and he looked perplexed, saying no one else had mentioned it...
I should have withdrawn after the first round, which I managed to draw versus a lower rated player, but decided to go eat and come back because the director said the lights would be working for the second round. Although I found the lights on upon my return, my head was killing me. I lost a 'blunder-fest' and decided to withdraw. Upon returning home, my friend, former Georgia Champion, and Louisville native, Mike Decker, said that from my description, I had a migraine headache. He gave me some strong pills which diminished the pain somewhat and I was able to sleep.
I entered a few of the Monday night tournaments at Meijers, a big-box store. The time control was G/30. The playing location was in the eating area of the store, so there were employees and patrons eating, and talking, alongside the players. To get to the restrooms, patrons would go right by the tournament. There would be the usual 'gawkers' and women with small children, some of whom would be wailing. Obviously, this is not conducive to good concentration...
I found the director, Steve Dillard, had a rule that any player could opt to play without taking notation if he would subtract five minutes from his clock. With a score of 1-1 going into the last round, I had to face a gentleman I had met previously while he played speed chess, and played quite well, at the Heine Brothers coffee shop on Bardstown road. Upon seeing he was not writing down his moves, I told him it was a rule, and he began taking notation. For this I was accused of 'using intimidation' by Ken McDonald on the KCA message board. He wrote, "I observed you forcing a player to record his moves at Meijers one night. You insisted this was part of the USCF rules and that your opponent must abide by them, despite the "house rule" commonly in effect allowing players to reduce their time by 5 minutes in leiu of recoding moves.
Intimidation is a part of chess that I dislike."
Now, imagine that! Accusing a player of using intimidation simply because he insists on his opponent following the rules!
Steve Dillard has been involved with chess for many years and has done some good things for the Royal game in Louisville, and Kentucky. It would seem he would know better than institute his own 'House Rule' which does not conform to USCF rules. One would think that after having it pointed out to him, Steve would rescind his 'House Rule'. One would be wrong. John Linton told me recently that, since his opponent chose to not take notation, he did the same. So there we have an example of two players playing in a G/30 tournament, the minium for having a game rated by USCF as a 'classical' game of chess, yet both opponents only having 25 minutes! Any game less than 30 minutes can only be rated as a 'quick' game. I have absolutely no idea how many games have been rated illegally at these tournaments over the years. John went on to inform me he lost that game rather quickly, telling me he would never again not take notation, as it helped to slow him down. That is exactly why children are taught to keep notation! Not to mention the fact that, without a game score, one cannot go over the game and learn from the mistakes made...Without keeping notation, it becomes a throw away game. GM David Bronstein wrote he advocated fifteen minute games be played in such a situation, as one can play four games in one evening. That kind of tournament would allow one to have an equal number of White & Black, too. One would not have to keep score at that time limit. Unfortunately, it would only affect one's 'quick' rating, and one of the reasons these G/30 tournaments are so popular is that the games do have an affect on one's 'regular' rating. The youngsters like to see the movement of their rating, hopefully upward, almost as much as some of the fathers!
There is a chess tournament held at a Barnes & Noble on the third Sunday of the month. It is a G/60 and on the website it is written: 'Slow down and think!'
Imagine that; slow down and think in relation to a G/60! I thought it funny enough to send emails sharing it with my friends.
I decided, after a conversation with Steve, to hold a G/45 quad tournament on the first Sunday at the same B&N. The conditions are not ideal, with other patrons conversing, using cellphones, etc, but it is free. I decided to make my tournament a G/45 because some of the parents did not wish to bring their children knowing they would not get home until after seven. I also decided to start later, after Mike Thomas asked me to start at 1:30, in lieu of 1pm, to allow the players who attend church time to have lunch before beginning the first round. Imagine my surprise when I saw the same 'slow down and think' on my tournament notice! I have no idea who put it there. It was embarassing to me to see it, but, in order not to 'make waves', I said nothing.
I had enough players for exactly one quad the first three tournaments, but only two players came for the last one. There were some problems with the B&N, and negative comments by some in the chess community so I decided to discontinue the tournament. Steve Dillard left a comment on the message board reading: "Sadly it is easier to give up than to dig in and work to grow an event."
If players do not wish to support an event, they do not deserve an event!
Ron Lipman left this comment: "Excellent example of the power (and results) of negative energy!"
This from a man who, during a discussion at the Monday tournament called me a 'dinosaur'. His son, Andrew, a fine young player, took a half point bye at the state championship. I asked him about it and he said his son had played not one, but two, soccer matches the morning of the Ky Open. I mentioned his son did not play very well in the event, and Ron said it was because Andrew never plays well in tournaments with 'long' time controls. I said G/90 was not a 'long' time control and was immediately lamblasted with a soliloquy about how hard it was to keep hyper-active children sitting and interested for 5 hours. (Not, for example, at the Atlanta Chess & Game Center. For example, two of the big winners at this year's Supernationals, Daniel Gurevich and Ryan Joseph Moon, never seemed to have a problem with longer time controls). Ron had won his last round game and was pumped, so I listened, without saying anything as he continued, telling me Andrew 'loses focus' in the longer games; that in twenty years all chess will be G/30; and people like me are 'dinosaurs'. I was shocked by the vehemence with which he delivered his rant, but it made me think...
Many years ago Tom Pate, one of the stronger players in Atlanta was to face Jim Allison, a weaker player, rating wise. Tom, for some reason, decided to run five miles before the game. He lost.
I wondered why any father would allow his son to exert himself physically by playing two soccer matches before playing two games of chess. I also wondered why Ron would blame the 'long' time control for his son's poor performance...Chess is strenous; no less demanding than playing even one soccer match.
Mr Lipman, a member of the KCA board wrote on the KCA message board recently, "Remember, most players in this area aren't that used to 2 or 3 day tournaments and the longer time controls." He also let his feelings be known regarding classical chess when he wrote, "Personally, I would like to see shorter time controls (G/90?),..." His full post can be read on the KCA message board in the thread: What is the current state of chess in Kentucky?, Which is posted under: KCA Issues.
Actually, I have turned out to be a very positive person as I have aged. Part of it stems from the fact that, after taking many blows during the course of my life, I am just happy to be here...
I can, though, understand Mr Lipman's position. The weaker the player, the less time used. With the median rating now at 400, most USCF members are very weak, and young, and, therefore, do not use much time. You can see this at any large tournament. The games in the lower sections end almost in class order, with the stronger players playing longer games, for the most part. Every chessplayer becomes stronger as he learns to use more time. I have advocated different time limits for different sections. Unfortunately, each time I have done so, I have been lamblasted by directors and organizers for even suggesting such a thing! They maintain it is simply unworkable; that all players MUST begin their games at the exact time. It is not what is best for the players these people have in mind, I suspect.
I recently arrived at a scholastic tournament here in Louisville a little before noon. Imagine my surprise when I found the last round ending, with parents and players leaving! It was a four round tournament. Since chess requires thought, and thinking requires time, I wondered how much went into the tournament...
Joshua Snyder, President of the KCA, wrote on the message board, in regard to the tournaments at Meijers and B&N: "Meijers is actually a lot quieter than B&N in my experience and for local club level tournaments like this, they are fine venues.."
In my forty years of playing in USCF tournaments I have played in many different venues. I KNOW what constitutes a 'fine venue', and these do not even come close! It makes me wonder how a President of any state organization could consider such a noisy place a 'fine venue'. The St Louis Chess & Scholastic Center is a 'fine venue', as is the Nashville Chess Center, the Mechanic's Institute Chess Room in San Francisco, and many other places all over the country. Places like bookstore coffee shops, and business lunch rooms may be ok for club type skittles, but not for rated play! The outgoing President, after losing the election to Mr Snyder, told me, "He knows very little about adult chess, coming, as he does, from the scholastic world." Maybe that explains why the President of the Kentucky Chess Association would make such an outlandish comment.
At the meeting before the election, Mr Snyder said that, if elected, he intended on holding a Senior tournament in Lexington in November, to much applause by the assembled Seniors. We are still waiting...