Moon over Miami

Sep 18, 2008, 1:41 PM |

Samuel Zimmerman returned from the ill-fated Miami Open all smiles, the reason being he had done very well in the speed tournament, beating a NM twice, while losing both games to IM Blas Lugo, and finishing with 7 1/2 out of 12, to win $115, but, more importantly to the young man, his Quick rating has gone over 1900, two or three hundred points higher than his (regular?; standard?; REAL?!) rating. I have to keep in mind that the vast majority of USCF members have never known a time when each player had only one rating...
In the Miami Open proper Zimmy got of to a fine start in the U1700 section, winning his first three games before being stopped by Jorge Cuervo (I just love that name!). After another win, Sammy lost to the eventual winner of the tournament, Adriel Patino. With his half point bye in the last round, the Z-Man won $175. Unfortunately, the check is in the mail!
Michael Easterwood played them all, winning five and losing two, to finish in the second score group in a three way tie for fourth and winning $383.33.
Joe Moon won two, drew three, and lost two, to finish with an even score in the Open section. I've always thought that if a player finishes with an even score in a section, he has proven he belongs in that section! That said, Joe did receive a full point bye in the second round, and a half point bye in the last round, which brought him $550. Joe finished in a tie for 17th place.
I have absolutely no idea whether the winnings I've quoted is the amount based on the so-called "guaranteed" money, or if it is only the 50% the organizers petitioned the USCF to be allowed to pay out. I have absolutely no idea if the players who left early will actually receive any money, but I do know that Zimmy received his speed winnings right outta the wallet of one of the organizers! Staying to insure payment of a prize would seem to be a very good reason to NOT take a half point bye in the last round!!!
Samuel did tell me that it was quite expensive at the tournament, saying it cost an "arm" for the short ride from the airport to the hotel, and a "leg" for the breakfast buffet!
A word about the taking of a last round half point bye...First, let me say I think a great deal of both Mr Zimmerman, and Mr Moon. They are fine young men and strong and improving chess players. They did absolutely nothing wrong in availing themselves of the opportunity of taking the free, gift half point in the last round in lieu of playing. I do find it ironic, though, that both of them were elevated to prize winner when the player with whom they tied lost the last round game. How do you suppose those two players felt about tying with a player who did not even play the last round! I find it ironic because I started a thread on the USCF forum (Last round half point bye 1, 2by nocab on Tue Sep 16, 2008 10:57 pm), in which I asked the question: "Is the awarding of a half point bye in the last round ethical?"
Please note I said "awarding", not "taking." To quote the Legendary Georgia IronMan, "Chess is the hardest thing I've ever done!" A long chess tournament is a gruelling affair. To receive a free gift of a half point while the competition has to play, oftentimes while exhausted, would seem to be a way to gain an unfair advantage. To gain an unfair advantage would seem to be unethical, would it not? As an example, take Mark McGwire, the man who "broke" major league baseball's single season home run record, set by Roger Maris in 1961. At the time McGwire was hailed as a hero. Now, after it has become common knowledge he used Andro to "gain an unfair advantage" he is a pariah in our society. Yet, what he did was not in violation of any major league baseball rule. JUST BECAUSE IT IS ALLOWED DOES NOT MAKE IT THE RIGHT THING TO DO!