Discrimination in Chess

Nov 28, 2010, 3:21 PM |

At the recent 17th Annual Eastern Chess Congress and Senior, a CCA tournament, the requirments for the Senior were that a Senior born before 11/14/60 also had to be rated below 2210. I sent the organizer, Bill Goichberg, an email:
I would like to ask why you have chosen to discriminate against those Senior players rated 2210 and above at your Eastern Senior?
The Senior players who have worked hard all their lives to attain the rank of National Master, or at least 10 points better than the NM standard of 2200, should feel insulted by your exclusionary rule! Although I have never been a NM, and probably because I have never been a NM, I take it as a slap in the face to those who have!
Senior chess tournaments should be OPEN to all! A Senior tournament should especially be OPEN to the very best players!
Think about it, Bill...What kind of example are you setting, not just for Senior chess, but for ALL chess?!
Michael Bacon

This is his response:
You could say the same thing about the US Amateur, or even the Amateur Team.

I considered holding a Senior Open, but in the Northeast two of the most active players, who win open Swisses regularly, are Sergey Kudrin and Alex Ivanov and both are slightly over 50. I want the tournament to be one which a 2200 senior feels he has a chance to win, but if a senior sees Kudrin and Ivanov at the top of the wall chart it will not seem like a senior tournament, but rather just one more open tournament in which they have hardly any chance to beat out these strong GMs.


I was, to say the least, incredulous at this reply, so I sent Bill this reply: Your attitude shows that you are willing to penalize stronger players, the GM's you mention, for being STRONGER PLAYERS! Your reasoning seems faulty, to say the least. What about those players over 2209? Or the 2300's; or 2400's? You will not allow them to play because they may win?! That's ABSURD! It is also DISCRIMINATION, plain & simple.
Bill, I have always relished the opportunity to play stronger players. The fact that I was paired against much stronger players was a sign that I was playing well (or very lucky!). I also realize that some players do not wish to play stronger players, but had rather play weaker players. I had to have that attitude when I played backgammon, because playing stronger players was a waste of my, and their, time. The payoff for the stronger chess players is that they have a better opportunity to win a cash prize than the weaker players they must beat to garner said monetary prize!
Senior tournaments are different from other tournaments simply because THEY ARE SENIOR TOURNAMENTS! Many players never get the opportunity to play in them BECAUSE THEY ARE DEAD! The fact that you exclude the better players who are still able to play in a Senior event is a travesty! I agree with Life Master Klaus Pohl, the Sour Kraut, who has said, "All Senior tournaments should be OPEN, because at our age, anyone can beat anyone!"
I am no longer a member of the USCF with the main reason being, to quote the High Plains Drifter, "Seniors don't get no respect!" If I were I would post this on the forum and let other Seniors let their fellings be known. I challenge you to do just that, Bill. I believe most Senior players will side with me in LETTING EVERY SENIOR PLAY!

Has Bill Goichberg become so powerful in US chess that he cannot be criticized, or even questioned? I copied many chess people whom I know, mostly Seniors, and received only two replies. The first began, "It’s an interesting topic, and I probably agree with you."
The second person let me know in no uncertain terms that "Bill Goichberg is a businessman and has the right to do whatever he wants to do. He can exclude anyone, for whatever reason."

Well, yeah, I suppose he can. Nazi businessmen did just that! In this country the government stepped in when 'businessmen' refused to accept people of color.
IM Boris Kogan emigrated to this country from the Soviet Union in the 1980's. He settled in Atlanta and became a force in chess, winning the majority of tournaments. Imagine what would have happened if tournament organizer Thad Rogers had excluded higher rated players such as 'Hulk' Kogan because he 'wanted the tournament to be one which a 2200 senior feels he has a chance to win'. We saw IM Boris Kogan at the top of the wall chart and, instead of thinking it 'just one more open tournament in which we had hardly any chance to beat out this strong titled player', we RELISHED the chance to do combat with such a strong player!
The fact that Goichberg would write that it would be looked at as "just one more open tournament in which they have hardly any chance to beat out these strong GMs" makes me wonder if there were any 'special' players Bill would like to see win the event!
On the CCA website (www.chesstour.com) it is written that: We are not a membership organization, but are affiliated with the US Chess Federation .
Since the tournament was run under the auspices of the USCF, it would seem that someone from that organization would step in and, at least, challenge Mr Goichberg on his exclusionary rule.

Incidentally, at the 2010 National Chess Congress, GM Kudrin has started 4-0, but the other GM Bill mentions, GM Alexander Ivanov lost to Deepak Aaron, rated 2245, in the first round, beat Peter Hess, rated 1927, in the second round, then lost to Mikhail M Sher, rated 2234, in the third round. The GM, considered far too strong for Senior chess, then withdrew.