Friday, May 4, 2007
2007 U.S. Championship-2
I am beginning to think I have magical powers :) Within about 48 hours of my post about no updated information being available about players, etc. at the USCF website, this morning Susan Polgar’s blog posted an updated list of participants - the "final field." I’d checked the USCF website last night and there was no updated information but I see today that the information was posted this morning. In all honesty, I cannot take the credit for this information appearing - it’s the Chess Goddess working her mojo. There is still no news, though, about the women’s championship. Oh, Great Chess Goddess, do you think you could work that mojo a little more and shake some information lose about that event? Please? Today Mig also had an interesting post at his Daily Dirt blog about the upcoming championship. He reiterated the buzz from a few months back that AF4C had withdrawn sponsorship from the championship due to a certain person accusing AF4C of publishing pornography on the internet. What evidently happened was that a domain name AF4C once used had lapsed, and that domain was taken over by someone who published pornography under that domain name. A certain person did a post at a certain discussion forum that included a link to that pornographic website masquerading under AF4C’s prior domain name. To say that a lot of people were extremely upset by this is possibly the understatement of the year. There are questions about the timing of all of these events – was the post done before – or after – AF4C withdrew sponsorship? Did the presence of a certain person on the Executive Board of the USCF cause one or more persons and/or sponsors associated with AF4C to recoil in horror, leading to the withdrawal of much $$$ support? What caused what and when? At the time these events were "breaking" there was a lot of discussion going on at various forums. If you’re interested in reading more, see my post 2007 U.S. Chess Championship – 3. Regardless of the reason(s) for AF4C’s withdrawal from the sponsorship deal, the people who have been hurt the most in the fall-out are the players. Only consider: The prize fund for the combined 2006 U.S. Chess Championship (men’s and women’s titles) under the auspices of AF4C was $254,200. The prize fund for the 2007 Men’s U.S. Chess Championship currently stands at $65,000, thanks primarily to Frank K. Berry stepping forward with $50,000 for the championship and USCF "pledging" $15,000 in additional prizes – out of the $25,000 that Eric Anderson of UF4C "donated" to USCF for prize money for the 2007 Championship. (What about the other $10,000? That is another issue in and of itself). The prize for the outright winner of the 2007 Men’s championship will be $12,000 (possibly more, if more sponsors can be found, or "patrons" step forward to purchase playing spots in the championship); the 2006 women’s champion took home $12,500, and the 2006 men’s champion took home $25,000. Mig pointed out that the majority of players who participate in this event will lose money because of their expenses for travel, hotel and meals. That is really a terrible shame. What incentive does any player have to participate in such an event if he or she doesn’t hope to finish at or near the top ("in the money")? Frankly, I’m amazed that so many players are participating! At least one, however, has withdrawn, evidently in disgust of the whole mess: Mig reported that for the first time in 23 years, GM Joel Benjamin will not participate in this year’s championship. Out of the 36-player field, 3 women are named: IM Irina Krush 2480; WFM Chouchanik Airapetian 2188; and WFM Irina Zenyuk 2186. Krush, who had some fine wins at Gibraltar in January and has been in good form of late (despite three losses in her last event, she still finished on 50%), is capable of adding some GM scalps to her belt and I would not be surprised that she finishes better than 50% - but she won’t win any $$$ for that unless some more $$$ is added to the prize fund. Airapetian and Zenyuk are probably too inexperienced to end up anywhere but near the bottom against so many GMs rated over 2600 – there won’t be any $$$ down there. But if nothing else, they will gain valuable experience playing against so many highly rated players and - as the old saying goes - "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." Meaning they’re not going to wait around to see if a separate women’s U.S. championship will be held, they’ll take their chances in the "Men’s" event. What a sad commentary this is on the state of professional-level chess in the United States.