Monday, February 27, 2012


When you send me your email address because you enjoy chess, I will send you a copy of a recent issue of The Chess Gazette. This is a cool newsletter because lately we've featured stories by John Hilbert and Phil Millett. (I encourage the sending of new stories.)

New items are mentioned too and discussed. There may be some sale items... this publication has been free since the 1980s!

And there are TIPS! For example I was at a recent tournament and one of the TOP players there offered a "secret" of some considerable importance to rating improvement. If you have watched either or both of the two Play Like Tal DVDs by Simon Williams, you will have an idea of what he was talking about. This will probably be touched upon in the next issue of CG.

It's easy to be on an email list and never do anything with the stuff sent to you. In fact eventually someone will ask to have their email address removed and I always comply. I have no idea why it took them so long in the first place.

Second Topic
What would it take to get you to come to a rated chess tournament?
The TD at this tournament suggested bigger prizes. That may be true but I told the TD I think it is more than that.

At any rate please send me REALISTIC reasons. That is, try to avoid the all inclusive and silly stuff. For example:
1. Free Food
2. Free Entry Fee.
3. No Stronger Players or Only Weaker Players.
4. Allow cell phone use during games or something else outlandish.

Must be things that would cause you to move from the couch to actual play. We are trying to build a consensus here. Myself I figure it would have to be something outrageous because the competition heats up among other alternatives such as texting, smartphones, and watching movies from Netflix.

One person pointed out to me recently that socially the world has gone insane preferring handling social matters via Twitter, Facebook, etc. rather than face-to-face talk. As I passed by a restaurant table over the weekend I saw a couple with their small child (and being ignored by parents) who was eating and the parents each on their cellphone tapping stuff in. The kid will eventually feel disconnected and the parents will get divorced because they had "nothing in common" or there were communication difficulties!

Before there was a dearth of tournament directors. Now there are plenty but few audiences of any size or worth. The number of local players at this weekends' Quad-Cities championship was less than one-third of the people who attended (26)! Isn't this crazy? It points out that there are other problems locally than poor attendance at my own events. I've heard it is like this in other "chess communities" too. At least that's what mail to me suggests!

One Possible Solution
A FAST solution would be something like the USCF giving Bonus Points for attendance and reducing ratings for non-play throughout the year (we already have rating inflation at the top end so this isn't going to hurt anything). That is Kids would lose no points for non-play for a year, adults of different age strata would (this would bring some people to the tournaments who won't play for fear of their rating dropping--well it would drop anyway!). I know an 1800 player who is probably 1600 by now because he hasn't played rated chess in 20 years and he still thinks he is an 1800 rated player! Psychologists or aging experts could figure the arithmetic on this. It is done in IQ tests (by age) and some years ago FIDE, decrepit dolts they can be, gave women chess players of a certain standing an extra 100 rating points because the difference between them and some other top female star (J Polgar?) was so huge. That was ridiculous but something could be done.

One Big Complaint Against Kids
1. Adults do not enjoy playing against "kids." Usually they will lose to them.
2.Some kids have bad manners such as when they are winning their friends crowd around and there is this "silent glee" present about beating the "old guy." They have other bad manners such as frequently leaving the table (bored) after they have made their move.
3. Kid ratings are usually WAY inaccurate and unduly punish adults who play them as a result of getting paired against them. A kid at age 8-9 might have a beginning rating of 1000 (let's say) but as he gets enthused about chess, he starts winning against weaker players, then stronger players, but may only gain 30-50 points at a time. It may take him a dozen or more tournaments to get to 1600-1800 but he is already playing at a level MUCH higher than his rating indicates. Why the USCF hasn't done anything about this is beyond me.
4. Losing to girls bothers people too. I lost to one once, some high school kid. You just have to get over it.

If you legislate "kids can only play kids" then you run the risk of ignoring a future Capablanca or Morphy. So there should be some kind of Graduation Process. I hear it time and again, Adults DO NOT like losing to kids. The kids Adults can beat usually do not come to tournaments. When they do their ratings are often not high enough to play against the really strong players. As one TD told me recently (and I know this to be a fact in my own tournaments), "There are few Class C and B players any more. That is true!

So, thoughts on these matters WILL be published in The Chess Gazette and I really encourage some soul searching and thinking on this... and then do something. Maybe then I will be able to make a suggestion to the USCF which will carry some weight.


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