SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
I don’t know if you have been following the 2011 US Championship, but it is living up to its billing as one of the most exciting events in US chess history. At stake is $166,000 in prizes as well as 5 or 6 qualification spots to the World Cup later this summer. The time control is 40 moves in 90 minutes plus 30 minutes for the rest of the game (with 30-secs per move).
GM Alex Ivanov having a difficult moment during one of his games. He seems to be saying to himself ”Why did I do that??” Alex finished with 3.5 pts in 7 games.
Not surprisingly, almost all of the US’ best players have shown up (with the noticeable absence of Nakamura). This year’s format is innovative: 2 separate round robbin tournaments with the top two finishers going forward to a 4-player knockout finals for all the marbles.
Today (Friday) the definitive list of the final-4 will be known. Already Kamsky and Shulman have qualified from the 1st round robbin (with 5 and 4.5 points respectively). From the other round robbin Robert Hess has qualified (with a powerful 5.5 points) and now everything depends on the play-off between Onischuk and Shankland (who both have 4 points).
A visibly relieved Shulman(left) and ecstatic Kamsky qualifed from their round robbin
[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/h49RgrWdZAI width=”480″ height=”300″]
Many time US Champ and former Candidate for the world championship, Yasser Seirawan came out of retirement for his 1st US Championship in years, scoring a respectable 3.5 points in 7 games (one loss, one victory and 5 draws).
Veteran Larry Christiansen finished with 2.5 points, but was the most combative player: only 1 draw in all!
Simultaneously taking place to the absolute US Championship is the 2011 Women’s Championship. The latest news has Irina Krush as favourite.
Meanwhile, in Canada, the CFC executive is desperately aware that its 2011 Zonal –which is to begin on the 6th of May–is heading to be an embarrassing disappointment. To date, only 18 hopefuls have signed up. There are no sponsors, no prize money other than the players’ entry fees, no website, no media blitz, no… (you get the picture!). Did I forget mention that not a single former Canadian Champion is amongst the participants? It is not a boycott of the event by the leading players in the country; it is simply a democratic reflection on the lack of responsibility of the CFC leadership.
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A worried Hal Bond (the hapless organizer of this smear to Canada’s national identity) this week started an equally desperate campaign to try to lure players in the 1900-2200 FIDE rating range to participate. Bond’s bait: the Zonal awards 1 player an automatic IM title should he get 6 points out of 9!
”Who will score the IM title at the 2011 Zonal? Who will it be this time?”–Hal Bond
I remember many years ago during the 1989 Canadian Zonal in Windsor, the chief arbiter (Martin Jaeger) spoke to the players before the start of the final round: he made clear that he would forfeit any of the players if he felt that they were simply trying to help the opponent get the IM title! All of the players fought hard and the games ended in draws: the result was that no one got the IM-title that year.
This always impressed me! It said something to me about the Canadian sense of fair-play and sportsmanship. About the respect for the IM-title as a standard of excellence, about the respect for the game of chess, but especially about what it means to be Canadian.
Clearly times have changed and the CFC leadership now has little shame in pimping
the IM-title to attract an extra handful of lowly rated amateurs who are willing to bet a couple hundred dollars for a chance at glory.
But a word of warning to those who few who might be tempted to participate just for the remote chance of an IM title: it is FOOL’S GOLD.
A player in the 1900-2250 range with an IM title will become the butt of jokes for the rest of his natural life. There is no dignity in that. One of the more dubious attempts by FIDE during the past 20 years to promote the game in 3rd world countries has been to use the IM-title as a pro-active mechanism in attracting media attention and more fans to the game.
As a result, we all know of stories of players with IM-titles and very low ratings. Most come from Africa. The chess media considers them jokes and often treats them with contempt and scorn. And that is too bad because it is not really their fault (it is the opportunistic chess-politician’s fault), but it is a natural reaction to a questionable policy that demeans the game , the IM-title and brings chess into disrespect.
The last time I checked Canada was not located in Africa. Besides, the CFC should not be going down this road. It is a very poor reflection on chess in Canada…the IM-title should be about excellence. The CFC was not always this way and in the past behaved with dignity and was guided by common sense and high principles. The group in charge of the CFC today will not always be there: don’t let them destroy what previous generations have built.
If the clothes fit…Do you want to become Canada’s next 2000-rated IM ?? It is your choice!
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS