Tuesday, April 17, 2018

I'm sorry, what?

USCF President Carol Meyers issued a statement that began

"1. No cheating happened, nor is alleged to have happened, at the 2018 National Junior High Championship; the alleged incident took place prior to our event."

I'm sorry, what????????
We're accusing them of intentionally losing games to lower their rating in order to enter the National Junior High in inappropriately low sections. They did this and won the tournament.

Intentionally entering the wrong section is cheating.
They began their cheating with the tournaments on 1/15* and 1/19, but this was done only in order to cheat at nationals. In some sense, nationals is the real cheating because the earlier events have no victims in and of themselves.

The statement Carol Meyer issued is now being used by the Henderson coach to claim he has been exonerated.
Honestly, it's hard for me to fathom what she could have been thinking, but the statement needs to be retracted immediately.


Naisortep said...

The main point is not where the cheating took place but who were it's victims. Will anyone want to put in the work and pay the expenses to compete in the USCF Championships if people can enter with manipulated ratings? The USCF's reputation is on the line here. Ms. Meyers has great experience in fund raising so I hope she will recognize the seriousness of the charge.

Anonymous said...

Carol Meyer's statement is an artful legalism: She seeks to protect the USCF from litigation (which they could ill-afford to lose!)

Since there is overwhelming circumstantial evidence that "Sandbagging" (ratings manipulation) has taken place, it only remains for someone to stand up and submit a formal written complaint.

But who wants to catch flak for that? It will take a modicum of courage, and who wants to be tarred as a sore loser, or worse, a bigot?
The crux of the issue is: Who is doing the Cheating? Is it the student players? The Coach? The Chess Team? The USCF doesn't want to levy accusations against kids, especially "Underprivileged Minors".

If somebody forces the USCF to make this a matter for the Ethics Committee, the chances are very good that a finding of culpability for team and/or coach will be issued. The real question is what Penalty will be assessed? Will Henderson's Team Championship Titles be vacated? (what about for previous years). Will the Henderson players be stripped of their individual titles? Will they be asked to return their trophies?

Anonymous said...

Meyer's statement is just a lie. She is either grossly misinformed, doesn't care or doesn't understand.

You can't enforce rules if you are afraid of litigation.

This is just another one of those, let's ignore it, lie about it, and hope it goes away. It's what big corporations do all the time, and unfortunately, they get away with it most of the time.

I would hope that a small organization like the USCF would be immune to that sort of nonsense, but judging from their history (as told in recent threads in various places around the net), apparently not.

Hal Bogner said...

Elizabeth - It's good to see you active and posting again. Your voice has been missed! I'll second Brian Karen's post above, and add further analysis and some history for it, too:

FM Mike Klein's analysis (posted here: https://www.chess.com/amp/news/nationally-recognized-chess-team-under-scrutiny) is cogent and raises even further questions. I went through very much the same analysis with respect to falsified events used to raise the rating of an NTD from expert to over 2300, which eventually led to his resignation from the USCF executive board and from FIDE's Ethics Commission and Qualification Commission.

Several things which are important to understand as this is further addressed:

- The USCF Ethics Committee does not perform investigations; they have no resources and no charter to do so. They only weigh what is presented to them, and in the case of Robert Tanner, they were loathe to seriously address the matter, despite many months of pressure, until everything finally bubbled out into view of the membership as a result of my posting a similarly detailed analysis. (Mr. Tanner never admitted nor apologized, and he helps direct the national scholastics to this day, I believe.)

- Tournament directors, coaches and parents who perpetrate frauds need to be dealt with severely. However, the children may or may not be complicit, and certainly are too young to make sound judgements, so it is good that care is being taken with respect to them in the reporting thus far. It is quite possible that the children were coached to throw games, or that the games never occurred, and adults simply engineered the reporting of these manipulated or made-up results.

- US Chess has historically relied upon complainants to cause them to take up issues such as this, and has been very reluctant to act. Besides the Tanner case, the case of Boris Kreiman qualifying to a US Championship as a result of a thrown game was brought to USCF and USCF failed to act despite even being advised by their own attorney that they had sufficient grounds to do so. Having in recent years considerably upgraded the quality of people serving on their executive board, and having recruited an experienced non-profit executive from outside of the chess community, US Chess should both investigate and act on this obvious fraud on its own initiative, and establish both precedent and procedure for staff - such as the rating system administrator, or the executive director, to initiate investigations based on their own recognition of issues such as this, without the need to await a complaint. Surely, the organization itself has standing as the keeper of a system the integrity of which is relied upon by the membership.

- Lastly, it should be realized that the chief TD at the event was placed in a difficult position when the complaint was brought to him during the event. Running such an event is not easy, and I have not yet seen any reports on actions he may have taken or considered, nor on what organizational support might have been available to him at that point. Were it myself, I believe the best path of action might have been this: to interview the leaders of the accused program, and perhaps also some or all of the players involved, and in the absence of admissions, to make clear that their participation will be subject to further investigation, and to advise all parties that adjustments to the prize awards may ensure after the event, at the discretion of US Chess. It is not clear whether the chief TD could possibly have had enough resources to reach a conclusion justifying moving the students up to higher sections in the middle of the event, though that would also be a possibility to consider, and I imagine would be within his discretion. Just not an easy choice to make at the time. Hindsight is a different matter, of course.

Hal Bogner
US Life Master
International Arbiter

Anonymous said...

broadly stating that no cheating occurred seems ridiculous. This statement would seem to imply that they know no one at junior high nationals consulted an engine for their game or got assistance. this is impossible for the USCF to say. i'm afraid the upshot of all this is teams will just resort to engine use to cheat if they can't cheat this way, and the uscf still wont' do anything

Robert McLellan said...

The semantic issue is whether or not the USCF received a formal, in-writing complaint to initiate their "formal" procedures. Do we know if that has happened? And if yes, what has been the formal, in-writing response to the complaint? Keep on bringing attention to this issue. The coach is an amazing self-promoter with a book to sell which is far more important than the life lesson he is really teaching his team: to manipulate ratings so you can bring home a trophy. Sad and I hope folks stay on this.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

Galvin and friends are working on a statement, but as the Ethics Committee doesn’t do any investigative work, it’s somehow become our job to talk to people, gather facts, and write it up. I continue to think it’s a outrageous abrogation of responsibility.

Mike Fellman said...

The real victims in this are the Henderson kids, whose reputations have been sullied by a shameless self promoter who has consigned them to the permanent mediocrity of competing in novice sections.

God forbid his players actually improve and grow beyond the U750 section....

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Henderson kids are victims, here. They're middle schoolers -- they do what they're taught to do by their coach. They will never know how they would have done against their equals. They have fake trophies and sooner or later at least some of them will realize that their one chance to honestly compete against their peers was taken from them. They might have won in their legitimate sections, and then they'd have REAL trophies to be proud of, not these trophies they stole from more honorable and deserving players.

Of course, the Henderson kids aren't the only victims. The team that came in second should have won. The team that came in third should have gotten the 2nd place trophy. And so on, all the way down to the team that missed out on a trophy by one place. The same goes for the individual trophies. All these players are victims. So are their parents, coaches, and schools for that matter.

This is a major scandal and if the USCF does nothing, they should be ashamed. The Henderson coach, slimeball that he is, immediately played the race card in reaction to getting caught. If the USCF allows that to intimidate them into doing nothing, they do not deserve to have any authority over US Chess.