Tuesday, May 10, 2011

First Republican Debate and High School Nationals

I watched the Republican debate and was really impressed! Ron Paul seems intelligent, consistent, reasonable -- I don't happen to agree with him on the evils of government, but it's so nice to see a Republican who isn't anti-intellectual and who doesn't pander to religious extremists, that I'm a fan. Gary Johnson also seems like a sane, thoughtful, competent person. Rick Santorum seems like an asshole; Hermann Cain seems like a lightweight, and Tim Pawlenty was right in the middle until it was revealed that he borrowed millions of dollars from school districts and then refused to pay it back. That makes him an asshole.


Did everyone read Melinda Matthew's article about high school nationals? In which she describes how, when she was working for the USCF as a volunteer tournament director, that she catches Sunil Weeramantry cheating in the last round, that he goes crazy and curses her out, she tells the entire TD staff, and they do nothing at all, don't even ask him to leave the floor. How unbelievable is this?

A Rant


My plague allusions (if that’s the proper literary term) reached an interesting conclusion when I incurred the wrath of...well, a figure who probably comes closest to being deified in the scholastic chess world: a chess coach.


Round 7 began innocuously with a phone call from Tom Nelson asking if I could score-keep in the Championship section. I donned my blue apron and raced to assist.

As the round progressed, a man came to my table repeatedly to lean over my shoulder and, without asking, to examine the score sheets. Because I thought he was not directly affiliated with a school, I allowed him to look. But I finally gave into my suspicions and asked if he was a coach, which he affirmed as he reached to take the score sheets from me.


I had been instructed: No coaches at the scoring table. So I took back the score sheets, placed my hands on top of them, and told him I couldn’t allow him any more access unless all the other coaches were allowed access as well.


That’s when the fireworks began.


This coach instantly exploded, heaping his vituperative rage on me personally and insultingly. Fortunately for me, the tournament’s professional staff took note of our ongoing confrontation, questioned everyone involved and rallied to my side, vehement in their unified censure of the coach’s actions and behavior.


And here I am going to hop on my soapbox. This coach, with his prima donna attitude and inconsiderate treatment, is sending a powerful, negatively-charged message to his team. Coaches, above all, should hold themselves to the highest standard, one that includes good sportsmanship and consideration to others, both on and off the boards. No one – not a coach, not anyone – has the given right to demand special dispensation or, especially, to belittle and demean others when they don’t get their way. By feeling entitled to publicly berate a volunteer, this coach set a very poor example to his team and to the other players who witnessed the noisy proceedings – and his disturbing behavior.

Even if this coach could help Nicky achieve 200 rating points in one week, I would never, ever let Nicky anywhere near such a person, because ultimately, how people live their lives and how they treat others far supersedes mercurial ratings or tournament results. Hyper-competitiveness will never trump simple human decency in my rulebook.


The coach began his tirade by asking huffily if I knew who he was. My answer: No, and I really don’t care, because now I know exactly what he is.


End of rant.

In case it's unclear, the reason coaches can't have access to the last round results of other players isthey also have the right to advise players who ask in the last round whether or not a draw helps the team. If some coaches can see all the results and the rest cannot, you're giving one team a huge edge. Notice that Hunter was half a point behind Bronx Science going into the last round; 3 Hunter players took somewhat surprising draws against lower rated opponents, and Hunter won by half a point.

What to me is the most amazing is not that they let him cheat, but that they let him verbally assault a female volunteer and mother, and she complains about it, and they agree, yet nobody says or does anything. Two hours later, he's up on stage, representing the USCF, giving out the Scholar-Chessplayer Awards. sick.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Kudos to you, a modern liberal, for being able to appreciate Ron Paul's principled approach without resorting to ad hominem, even though you disagree with his overall philosophy. I doubt some of the moonbat commenters here could manage the same, like that anjoishi fellow.

As for Nakamura's step-dad...well, that speaks for itself, doesn't it. Being part of chess royalty has its privileges.

J.A. Topfke said...

For a laugh, Google 'Santorum'.

I would like to agree with and basically repeat what the above anonymous poster said and thank you for your level-headed appraisal of Ron Paul even though you may disagree philosophically with the role of government.

I will be voting for Ron Paul because I happen to agree with his views on limited government. As someone much wiser than me once said, "that government is best which governs least."

I also support Dr. Paul for his strong stance on civil liberties and oppose Obama for his bruising of our civil liberties, for instance his extending the Patriot Act and the enhanced pat-downs of the TSA.

Dr. Paul also takes a principled approach against militarism, which is why I believe a lot of the Rush Limbaugh type Republicans despise him, and has been consistent in his arguments even in the last Presidential campaign. Meanwhile, Obama has expanded the wars in the Middle East, sending more troops there than even George Bush, bombing more countries and continuing the drone missile attacks into Pakistan even after the recent bin Laden incident.

As for the other candidates, I am a little surprised, no offense, to find out how much we agree.

Pawlenty and Santorum: you said it best.

Herman Cain was interesting in a the-rent-is-too-damn-high kind of way, but stumbled out of the blocks when he basically admitted he didn't have a plan. It was funny to me that he had a three step solution to everything, without actually offering a solution, just a decision-making process. I also noticed that he likes to count on his fingers...a lot.

I liked Johnson but he seems to me to be a paler version of Ron Paul. And, I know this is totally shallow, he comes off as a little effete.

As for the Nationals, it has been my long-held opinion that the people running those tournaments are incompetent at best, so I will leave it at that.

J.A. Topfke

Anonymous said...

Sunil was like this long before Hikaru made it big. He's been a punk for many years. (No wonder Hikaru is kind of a jerk too - he had quite the role model.)

Anonymous said...

I am in shock. Is there a committee on the USCF that you(Elizabeth Vicary) can make a formal complaint against Sunil because this crossed the line of any decent behavior by a coach(attempted cheating and intimidation). Frankly, this is a matter for the Ethics Committee to decide possible sanctions against Sunil. People who have become chess royalty due to their efforts or children's efforts have a certain standard to uphold, especially in the scholastic community.

Leon said...

I was going to post this last year, but never got around to it:

When I was 14, I was paired against Sunil in the first round of a two-bit NYC swiss. He showed up half an hour late, I made things complicated, and his flag fell five moves before the time control.

He argued with me, saying we should just continue the game. I agreed, played a couple of moves, realized my advantage was not as great as I thought, and told him I would have to get the TD and make the claim.

Sunil, argued with the TD, claiming that when his flag had fallen there was a "clear space" between the minute hand and the 12. The TD pointed out that there was no such space. Sunil claimed that his clock had continued to run and closed up the space while he was arguing with me. In case you're wondering, the rule book says this invalidates his "clear space" claim, but that did not bother him. The TD, who clearly didn't know much, ended up giving him 30 seconds (as near as that can be estimated on an analog clock, and he ended up beating me.

I was shocked to hear later that he had started coaching children, when I had had this personal experience with his ethics with children in a fairly meaningless game.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

This comment keeps being posted and not showing up, so I'm reposting:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "First Republican Debate and High School Nationals":

For a laugh, Google 'Santorum'.

I want to agree with and basically repeat what the first anonymous poster wrote and say thank you for your level-headed appraisal of Ron Paul even though you may disagree with him philosophically about the role of government.

I will be voting for Ron Paul because I agree with his views on limited government. As someone much wiser than me once said, "that government is best which governs least."

I also support Ron Paul because of his strong stance on civil liberties, and oppose Obama for his bruising of our civil liberties, for instance his extending the Patriot Act and the enhanced pat-downs by the TSA.

Dr. Paul also takes a principled position against militarism, which is why I believe a lot of the Rush Limbaugh-style Republicans despise him, and has been consistent in his arguments even in the last Presidential campaign. Meanwhile, Obama has expanded the war in the Middle East by sending more troops there than even George Bush did, bombing other countries and continuing the drone missile attacks into Pakistan, even after the recent bin Laden incident.

I am a little surprised by how much I agree with you about the other candidates.

Pawlenty and Santorum: you said it best.

Herman Cain is interesting in a the-rent-is-too-damn-high kind of way, but stumbled out of the blocks when he basically admitted he didn't have a plan. It was funny to me that he had a three-point solution for everything, without ever actually offering a solution, just a decision-making process. I also noticed that he likes to count on his fingers...a lot.

I liked Gary Johnson but he strikes me as a paler version of Ron Paul. And, I know this sounds totally shallow, he seems a little effete to me.

As for the Nationals, it has been my long-held opinion that the people running those tournaments are incompetent at best, so I will leave it at that.

J.A. Topfke



Posted by Anonymous to Elizabeth Vicary's blog at May 11, 2011 8:29 PM

Anonymous said...

Yep,
TWO,CHESS JERKS!!

Anonymous said...

I've been significantly disappointed in Sunil's ethics despite his reputation ever since I witnessed him "win" a time scramble by using a two-handed technique that involved hovering above the clock with one hand & numerous times even pressing the button BEFORE making his move. Each player had a fraction of a minute left & the position on the board was complicated. His opponent didn't make a claim & the arbiters said nothing, but I was disgusted. This was also before Nakamura came onto the scene.

Anonymous said...

Sunil and Hikaru are two very decent people. Where was Sunil's side of the story ever told? I'm sure he has one. Hikaru is a fine young man. How can you call him a jerk if you don't even know him? If it wasn't for Naka where would U.S. chess be?

anjiaoshi said...

In Kazan, Russia, beating Topalov in the Candidates. >:-D

Carol said...

Coaches should be able to see the results of games during the final round so they can advise players who might ask if a draw would be ok for the team standings. Why else is that a rule--that coaches are allowed to do this? Sunil and other coaches have always done this. It is not "cheating".

Elizabeth Vicary said...

I have coached at Nationals for 11 years, and coaches have never been allowed to go to the scorer's table and look at the results of other teams' games.

Frankly, I think it's a terrible idea to allow coaches to tell players during the round what result the team "needs." It sounds ok at first, but what always happens is the player says "Can I take a draw?" and the coach says "No, you have to win," and then the kid freaks out, draws or loses, the coach is furious and the kid is devastated.

That aside, you definitely can't let some coaches see results and not others.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous @ May 16, 2011 3:06 PM - I do know him. And I still think he's a jerk.

Anonymous said...

Sunil the Unethical has deserved a number of beatings since I first crossed his path in the mid 70's. He has passed on his attitude to Nakamura as well who fortunately seems to be on the path of becoming mature. I once witnessed a young Nakamura on the conclusion of a loss not only refuse to sign a score sheet but to tear his opponents offered scoresheet in half.

Anonymous said...

The protocol for draw offers in the last round allows very limited communication. The rule is a good one.