The importance of symbols…






Time is 17:45 (London time) and NOT a single major US news service has carried the US Team’s success in Baku two days ago , since the NY Times’ controversial article depicting the US Team’s victory as due to ”imported talent”. (READ: mercenaries or “hired help”)


As I have tried to explain in yesterday’s blog (and here with the ‘flag’ omission), the reasons are more complicated than just one article in the NY Times.  True, the US Team was a PR disaster at the closing ceremony and definitely deserves to be criticized for this.  But there is something, obviously, very wrong with chess in America.  If all you do is listen to Susan Polgar, Maurice Ashley and Yasser Seirawan–as eloquent they can all be–then you will probably end up understanding nothing about American chess’ problems.

On the otherhand, most countries would be happy to have American Chess’ problems, especially because of Rex Sinquefield, who has single handedly sponsored America chess for a number of years now.  Now if only we could convince him to move to Canada…

Baku: the day after…



Click on above image for original story

So I suppose there will be no parade thru Times Square, or a visit to Obama’s White House. On the otherhand, with a bit of luck, and assuming that Donald Trump is not elected in November, there will be little risk of any of the US chess team being deported in the near future.

This is the modern world we live in today. Things can change quickly, and often for the worse.


I remember being in Dubai (27th Olympiad) in 1986 when the US had real chances of winning the gold medal (Seirawan had defeated Kasparov in their individual encounter, leading the US team to a well deserved victory over the reigning champions), and for many Americans it seemed likely that they would win the gold medal.  The White House was waiting for that to happen and Reagan was anxious to phone the US team to personally congratulate them. (The players were made known of this plan before the final game)

And the NYTimes headline would have been  “US wins gold at Chess Olympiad“, and not have included the qualifying ” with the help of imported talent

But that never happened. The US could only draw with Bulgaria in the final round, and the USSR wiped out Poland 4-0 to clinch the gold. President Reagan had better things to do than have personal contact with a Bronze medal winning US team.

Thirty years on, probably Obama is not interested (assuming he even knows)…chess is almost dirty word in America today. Stripped of prestige and rapidly disappearing from important newspapers, our royal game exists almost entirely on the internet, far away from public view. If it were not for a wealthy patron in St.Louis who pays for EVERYTHING in US chess, well…you get the picture.

As of 16:15 September 14 (London time), except for the above mentioned NYTimes article and a few St.Louis news services, not a single major US news service has carried the American victory in Baku. Not TV,radio or internet based.  Says something, doesn’t it!










Thursday 15th September (14:05 London time)

Still absolutely no coverage on the US team’s gold medal in Baku from any major US news services on any of the media (print,TV,internet, radio). What is going on?  It can not be that bad, can it?!  I thought that CNN and FOXnews had no standards….



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Just some breaking news from Baku, where the USA and Ukraine tied for first place in the Olympiad, but the USA won on tiebreak, taking the GOLD!  (Ukraine: Silver; Russia: Bronze)  Congrats to all!!!  More later when I write at greater length!



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Most of them anyway!  I don’t see Lesiege or Krnan, but maybe Lesiege is holding the camera (and Krnan is holding Lesiege!?) But joking aside, STELLAR performance!!!!



Anti-cheating rules: a big PR disaster!



Don’t say I did not warn you!  The very first day the Baku Olympiad began the complaints started rolling in.  Some arbiters decided to impersonate the ‘Toilette Gestapo’, forcing players who needed to take care of some body functions in private to make a written request first. Several captains protested strenuously, and a petition was quickly circulated to end this abusive and humiliating practice.

A number of arbiters then tried to justify the above mentioned arbiters’ actions by hiding behind existing regulations that anticipate some sort of control to visiting the washrooms during the normal playing period.  But as Tsorbatzoglou eloquently argued, no rule can ever justify  disrespect, abuse and/or humiliation of anyone while representing his/her country in a prestigeous event.


Then yesterday, the ‘Anti-cheating’ Gestapo decided that longtime Kirsan critic Nigel Short would be their target, but he would have nothing to do with it. He refused to cooperate with them, as a matter of principle.


The incident was described in a article written by Peter Doggers:


Many inside the chess community are fully supportive of Nigel’s actions.  Myself included. I have been a longtime critic of the way FIDE has dealt with the problem of cheating in chess, having written literally dozens of times here on this blog on this subject.


When FIDE first decided to form an anti-cheating commission a few years back, I (rightly) pointed out the error of asking for simple volunteers to become part of the process.  No one paid any attention, ofcourse, and as a result, there were no IT-hardware experts on the new commission, despite that fact that cheating is virtually 100% a hardware problem!

INSTEAD, and probably a direct consequence of having a commission that was blind to the real problem,  initially floated and proposed were ridiculous ideas such as mandatory strip searches , or the creation of a BIG-BROTHER database of games of everyone who played chess, and so on.

This latter idea,  incredibly, was somehow accepted; to filter these games using chess engines  to look for, find and identify ‘cheating suspects’…essentially stigmatizing and OVERWHELMING the entire anti-cheating commission with McCarthy like paranoia where EVERYONE becomes a potential suspect until they can prove their innocence!


I don’t know where all of this is going to lead, but I think that FIDE has to admit that a HUGE mistake has been made.  FIDE should seriously consider dis-banding the current anti-cheating commission and start over. Not from scratch per se, but learning from its mistakes. This time NOT a group of volunteers (who in some cases clearly are unfit for the job or are only interested in self-promotion), but INSTEAD  experts should be INVITED to become part of the next committee.

Ofcourse, I have little faith that this route will be investigated, and so more controversy and scandal can be expected.