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The President's Corner

The President's Corner by WCF President Kent McNall

Spring 2005 Ė Fellow WCF/OCF Members and Northwest Chess Players:

It seems hard to believe that by the time you read this the Washington Open is only a little more than 2 months away! I can absolutely tell you that the time has flown by since the planning on this expanded tournament started, and we have much to do before Memorial Day is upon us.

In addition to the $12,500 fully guaranteed prize fund and a very nice venue at the Lynnwood Convention Center, we have a lot of interesting side events planned: A Simul, a mini-blindfold exhibition tournament, guest lecturers, and more.

Here's a cool note that I can vouch for personally: We're raffling off a *tablet* PC. I have one, and I love it. You can write directly on the screen, and the whole computer is no bigger than the screen on a normal laptop. You can really increase your chances to win by entering the Open early (extended until April 15) - you get 10 extra raffle tickets for doing so.

There's a lot you can do to make YOUR Washington Open a total success. First and foremost, you can play! Second, you can get someone else to play - especially people that haven't played before or haven't played recently. Third, you can enter NOW instead of waiting ... that support really means something! Finally: We need a lot of volunteers to help out at the Open. We promise we'll keep your volunteer stint short and sweet, and not interfere with your game. Please email me at kent.mcnall@gmail.com to volunteer a little time.

Finally: Please don't forget that the WCF general membership meeting and election is held at the Open, on Sunday. Do you want to be more involved - can you give some real time? Consider running for office. This meeting will be important, so please plan to be there.

As I write this, I'm preparing to play in the Dave Collyer Memorial, and also looking forward to the Lilac Open, which the WCF is happy to be sponsoring. I know there's a lot of great chess activity besides the Washington Open in the NW - but still, I'm counting the days and I hope you are too!

Until we meet over the 64,

Kent McNall
WCF President

The President's Corner by former WCF/NWC President Duane Polich

December 2003/January 2004 Ė What another year already? Iím not finished with the last one. I still need to get in at least one more event before the annual ratingís list comes out. Oops, looks like that isnít going to happen. Well, I played in the Dave Collyer Memorial tournament in Spokane and the Washington Class Championships in Seattle, Fred says he isnít going to count my fill in house player games in the Washington Open, so no 3 events. Guess I am not a threat to win the Washington State Championship this year! Remember if you want to play in the State Championships or the Premier event you need to play in and complete at least 3 rated events in Washington within that year, so plan your activities accordingly! Speaking of the State Championships, it will be hosted in February at the same location as last yearís event: the Oki Foundation meeting center in Bellevue. This fine place enabled some great chess as Slava Mikhailiouk took first place and was crowned Washington State Champion for 2003. Geoffrey Gale took first in the Premier and earned himself a spot into the State Championship for 2004. The Championship and Premier are invitational and the invitations will be going out soon. Special thanks to Scott Oki and the Foundation for providing the site. Special thanks to Bill Schill for tracking down the Okiís!

The U.S. Chess Championships were held last January in Seattle and the event was a rousing success, which was won by Alexander Shabalov. Everywhere you turned there were grandmasters. The sad news is that the event may no longer be held in Seattle or at least for some time. The 2004 championships arenít scheduled until December and San Diego is the new location. Apparently a sponsor was found there who would provide a site. The other sad news is that Seattle may be losing itís top Grandmaster. Rumor has it, that our own Yasser Seirawan will be selling his condo in Seattle and making his new permanent residence in Holland.

Scholastic chess continues to grow in Washington State and was evident with the large turnout at the Elementary Chess Championships, which was held in Kennewick in April. The 2004 event promises to be even bigger and will be held in Bellevue and hosted by Americaís Foundation for Chess, who already has experience running a slightly smaller event (The US Championships). No I donít think they are promising a $250k prize fund! The Washington Junior Open and Reserve drew over a hundred players in March, the event which for a number of years was organized by the Washington State High School Chess Association was organized by the newly appointed WCF Scholastic Coordinator Anthony Hunting, with especially helpful assistance by Kirk Winges. This yearís event is scheduled for March 27th.

The Washington Open was a success and was held at the Meydenbauer Convention Center in Bellevue. The site was excellent except for a bit of noise on Saturday night, from the big dance booked for the hall underneath the playing rooms. Oregonian Nick Raptis and Washingtonís Hugo Hadzic tied for first place. Hugo gets seeded into the WA State Championship. We are working on a site in Lynnwood or Everett for next yearís event.

The Washington Class Championships were held in a hotel for the first time in a long while and the event was a success with Dave Roper coming out on top in the Masterís section. The event was a financial success for the WCF, thanks partly to the reduced cost of the site and a generous donation by Kent McNall. The popularity of chess continues to increase throughout the state with scholastic tournaments filling up on a regular basis and long established events continuing to draw participants in healthy numbers.

One slight blip on the screen which marred the year was a case involving rating fraud by a student who was looking to increase his rating possibly to help his cause in getting a scholarship. In this case it appears the student submitted results of matches that did not take place. The scores were rather lopsided and the student got a USCF TD to submit the matches to the USCF for rating. The TD did not question the results and otherwise had no reason to be suspicious. It came to light when his alleged opponents noticed a decrease in their ratings and found out about these match result submissions, which were made without their knowledge. A complaint was made to WCF and the matter was investigated by members of the board. Accusations flew back and forth and perhaps the whole story was never told. The student had claimed that he thought other people where involved in ratings manipulation and had assumed that this was okay. The student accused others and the WCF tried to investigate this claim. As with a lot of others things, there is more to the story that otherwise comes out. With the information that it had before it the WCF board submitted a complaint to the USCF ethics board. The student who had submitted the false results admitted to his involvement and was reprimanded by the WSHCA and was banned for playing for his high school team. This not only hurt the team by losing one of its top players from participating in matches but team morale was also damaged. I think the student learn his lesson. What remains in question is the participation of others in rating manipulation.

In the December issue, editor Fred Kleist wrote an article entitled "Ratings Fraud!". The article described the events as was purported by the accused student and other bits and pieces that could be gleamed from those involved. While the editor could have perhaps used more journalistic discretion, in naming the names or providing disclaimers, the matter is still under investigation and it remains unclear to the extent of the involvement of those named in the article and whether they acted in a dishonest or fraudulent manner. The WCF board will continue to investigate and hopes to get to the bottom of this matter. Of course those named were upset about the article and as such they deserve an apology. It appears that there was additional fallout from this article regarding clubs and tournaments in Eastern Washington and apologies are extended for that. I do hope that the parties reconsider their actions. The bottom line is that ratings manipulations whether submitting match results intended to manipulate oneís rating or deliberately throwing games to sandbag their rating is in direct violation of USCF rules. The rules state that all players should conduct themselves in a sportsmanlike manner. To do so otherwise is not fair and somebody else usually suffers from the results of those actions. The Washington Chess Federation clearly stands by these rules and will not tolerate such violations.

I am looking forward to chess continuing to blossom in the New Year and your WCF board looks forward to continue to serve its members by publishing (along with OCF) a first rate monthly chess magazine that brings you the news, events, games and stories happening in our region and by bringing you continued first rate events. Play On !