Gizmos, etc at the Ga St Championship
Although I was playing in the 2009 Ga St Championship, I would like to try and write this as a reporter.
The tournament was held in a large room at the student center at Emory U. There was a small room which served as the director's room between the playing hall and the cafeteria. One of the titled players complained about his opponent's friend talking with him as the friend had a hand held gizmo and headphones. The young fellow had been my opponent in the third round and I said nothing about his listening until he placed the gizmo on the table and the screen became lighted. I asked the TD, Scott Parker, if he knew the young man and he said he did, so that was good enough for me. The titled player, who is from outta town, later complained about his opponent, a recent big winner at the Supernationals, because his opponent would go talk to his father, who was on a 'puter! Scott said it was a legitimate complaint and took care of the matter, going on to tell me he had seen a computer IN THE PLAYING AREA on Chessbase! He did not say to whom the 'puter belonged, or any more about it, but there were many functioning computers in the playing hall, along with many other types of gizmos, some plugged in, some not.
During the final round, a cell phone went off...and off...and off. It just rang & rang many times before the player realized it was his. His opponent went to get the TD and was informed the offender would incur a ten minute penalty. "A TEN MINUTE PENALTY, he excalimed, "Why a GRANDMASTER gets forfeited, yet this man only gets a ten minute penalty? The aforementioned titled player siad it had been announced before the tournament. "That don't make it right!"
The business meeting was held before the last round and therefore, the round began late. Once the round began, the politicians who were not there to play chess, rather than going down to the lounge area two floors below, stayed in the director's room. Every time the door opened, and you know it opened frequently with all the players and spectators, there was a cacophony of noise. One player said he would rather they leave the door open, as it would be easier to get used to the constant noise in lieu of the intermittent blast. Another said, concerning one of the parents with a particularly loud and piercing laugh, "If this wasn't so serious, I'd have to laugh, too. Or CRY!"
A personal note: It was my opponent with the ringing cell phone in the last round. When a cell phone goes off, it's analogous to a person standing up and flailing his arms about; he can do it in an empty room, but not in a crowded one. The man's phone disrupted EVERYONE in the playing hall, and for this he received only a ten minute penalty! When his phone blasted off, I had 48 minutes left. By the time the TD changed clocks (because neither he, or my opponent could subtract ten minutes from the clock, that, I believe, at one time was the official clock of the USCF-you know the one, the cheap plastic thing that makes a loud 'Thwack' every time it's punched), and I got it back together and made my move, I had only 28 minutes remaing, so it cost ME more time than HIM! Anyone bring a cell phone into the playing hall shows a definite lack of respect for his opponent; the other participants; and for the Royal Game! The fact that my opponent incurred only a short time penalty shows just backward chess has become in my home state. GRANDMASTERS get forfeited for it! It is WAY PAST TIME to rid the plaing hall of ALL cellphones! The penalty should be an IMMEDIATE forfeit and banishment from the site FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE TOURNAMENT! It is WAY PAST TIME to rid the playing arena of ANY electronic device that could potentially be used for cheating purposes!
I have just spent some time with one of the players in the event, going over the games played. His wife was there, and it was her first time at a tournament. She asked me if it was always so loud at a chess tournament and if it bothered the players? She also asked if it is legal for a player to go outside to the tables to look at his computer! He made such an impression on her that she, not knowing anyone other than her husband, and me, went to the pairing list in order to ascertain the name of the youngster (he will, for obvious reasons, remain nameless).
I was appalled by the noise made by the pooh-bahs, former pooh-bahs, parents, players, and hangers-on. The TD's did an extremely poor job keeping it quiet. I played at a Barnes & Noble in Louisville recently, where our G/60 had to compete with people, in our midst, on cellphones, etc. THE CONDITIONS THERE WERE BETTER THAN THE CONDITIONS AT THE GEORGIA STATE CHAMPIONSHIP!
This is the major tournament of the year in my home state. How can we expect chess to be considered a PROFESSIONAL game when even the board members show such a lack of respect for the players trying their hardest to concentrate?