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bucklehead 67 ( +1 | -1 )
Interesting article There is an interesting little article in the "Skittles Room" over at ( -> ) entitled "Kafka Lives at the American Open." In it, an IM relates how he was recently accused of cheating because he talked with his wife (also a participant) during games in the playing hall.

I say this is interesting because it appears to be the sour remembrances of a bitter man as well as a hit-piece against a teenager. To add to the drama, the teenager in question has responded to with a spirited defense, as has the TD who received the accusation. A good read.

I pose the following question: is there anyone who sympathizes with the IM?
ccmcacollister 50 ( +1 | -1 )
Jeff, an entertaining first-read ... but it is almost naptime now. Perhaps later. I guess you did say "sympathize", rather than 'support' ... anyone.
* * *
BTW, I was just wondering; was it Tarrasch that would say, 'who stands less worst' ?
Springs to mind now, for some reason ... Believe I'll just ponder that today and leave off digging out the gold filigree dinner invitations for another time ...
* * *

PS// The baby seems charming & I'd offer "Congrats" to those proud parents !
Sorry, let me clarify; "The Infant seems charming & I'd offer 'Congrats' ... !" };-)
More: Chess
wschmidt 166 ( +1 | -1 )
Jeff, I read Tim Taylor's article last week when Chesscafe first posted it and this morning I noticed the responses from the teenager and from the TD. It was interesting, then, to see that you had brought it up in this forum.

I've generally been a fan of Taylor's article writing and I've got a couple of books of his that I like too. When I read first read his article, I had a couple of thoughts - first I thought it was inappropriate to publish the teen's name (and I thought that Chesscafe should have required that it be taken out). That notwithstanding, I had no reason to doubt the accuracy of what Taylor was relating and felt that what he was relaying was probably some overreaction on the part of the teen, the teen's parents, and the TD.

I read the responses this morning. Both provided a similar alternative set of key facts which, frankly, seemed equally or even more likely to be accurate than Taylor's recitation. (For those of you who aren't going to go the the source, the main distinction is whether or not the teen accused Taylor and Taylor's wife (the teen's opponent) of cheating or whether he simply pointed out to the TD that Taylor and his wife had been talking to each other during the course of the teen's game and that he thought it was inappropriate and should be stopped in future rounds.)

Having read the responses, I came away with the feeling that Taylor was probably out-of-line at the tournament and was definitely out of line in the Chesscafe article. One of the things I've liked about his writing in the past is the enthusiasm and sense of immediacy he brings to his subjects. I guess a risk in doing so is that sometimes you lose perspective. My guess is that that is what has happened here.
ionadowman 343 ( +1 | -1 )
Interesting... ... a case of "this guy said, that guy said".
One thing stands out in all this. The IM clearly recalls hearing the word "cheating" and took what was said to him as an accusation. Both the kid and the TD deny making a direct accusation, merely (I infer) an objection. There is a kind of middle ground here that might well have led to muisunderstandings: the one side mentioning that the IM's behaviour might be construed as cheating; the latter taking this as a direct accusation. I've seen this kind of thing happen before in other fields.

But there are some rather uglier possibilities. Consider a game in which you, with a winning game, but momentarily under a little pressure, blunder away your queen. You start to look for alibis. Did the IM receive notice of this objection during the game? That would have been the appropriate time. I seem to recall that it came after the game - after the queen blunder certainly! The circumstances do seem just a litle sus...

The TD, perhaps harrassed by the size of the event and the duties he had to perform (and maybe the kid's parents were heavying him a bit) seems to have been less than professionally tactful in his approach to the IM. By the by, was Mrs IM approached on the same topic, and in the same manner? I think IM amd Mrs IM ought to have been approached during one of their conversations together, both together quietly reminded of the USCF rules and both together advised that an objection had been made.

Note that: "objection" not "accusation". No doubt IM would have explained the situation and possibly even protested, but at least the position would have been made clear, and it would have been left up to him to decide what to do next. As a professional, IM would have had to acknowledge at least the correctness of the line the TD was taking, but even if he did feel a bit miffed, there would be rather fewer hard feelings.

That the IM quoted a minor's name on the internet seems short of professional - but I suspect that this IM wanted to be upfront and direct: to state what his beef was and with whom. On balance, I think he overstepped the mark here. His remarks about long memories and reputations do have a rather strong whiff of slandering someone's character. That someone is a teenager: even supposing his accusation were malicious, he ain't going to admit it. Let it go.

The teenager probably did feel somewhat disturbed by sotto voce conversations nearby. He was not to know about IM's family situation. He might not even have been particularly aware of the marriage connection between the two. Now, you don't expect tact from teenage kids. The TD ought to have supplied that.

Overall, I'm inclined to sympathise with the IM ... marginally, and this is based solely on the article and the responses to it. Everyone in this seems to have done something wrong enough to contribute to misunderstandings and ill-feeling all around. Chess can have that effect. To play well you have to give quite a lot of yourself, physically, mentally and emotionally. Small wonder that small disturbances to the equilibrium produce what amount to tantrums.
(That is why I was prepared to accept John McInroe's tantrums in tennis: he put so much of himself in the play that disturbances - such as a dodgy line call - led to childish-seeming behaviour. It's like being rudely awakened from a deep sleep. You ain't gonna love the one who shook you.)


bucklehead 154 ( +1 | -1 )
Insightful comments When I first read Taylor's piece, the teen's response had not yet been appended. It was the "Kafka" reference that drew me into the article; and while the author took great pains to make the case that he'd been railroaded, I didn't walk away convinced. But I didn't walk away entirely disagreeing with him either.

Once I noticed the replies, I gave it all a careful re-read, and this helped add a bit of perspective. Was Taylor really that surprised that someone should complain about what could easily have been game consultations taking place in the playing hall? Was the "punishment" really that out of line?

What came through most clearly on the re-read was how much Taylor had let his anger fester. Usually with these things, you get a rush in the heat of the moment, you unload on your adversary (verbally, perhaps), then you storm off. Once you're home, you sit and think and calm down and perhaps your brain starts asking the right questions. But instead Taylor brooded and simmered until this insult to his character grew to literary proportions. The result was an article that spends half its time ripping into a person Taylor estimates as maybe 14-15 years old. That's just bad form.

I can see the event very clearly in my head now; and while the IM may have had cause to complain at the time, the cold light of day should have dented his rage a bit. That it did the opposite tells me a great deal about the man's character.
ionadowman 581 ( +1 | -1 )
bucklehead and wschmidt... ... both make cogent remarks in respect of Mr IM's response to what he saw as - or claims to be - unfounded accusations of cheating. But I wonder if there isn't more to this than mere petulance. I find the responses by neither the teenager nor the TD involved to have been particularly convincing.

I also think we need to bear in mind that the IM's living is at stake here. A Topalov or a Kramnik might survive accusations of cheating - it is doubtful a "mere" IM would! Recall that young high flyer from India? Where is his chess career going now? Suppose this IM had been cheating and it could be proved beyond reasonable doubt. Now tell me this dude could continue to make a living from chess. Put it in a context of a couple of centuries ago: an accusation of cheating would have led to pistols at dawn, no error. I can see why this rankled. I can also see why it still does.

Now, suppose, as Mr IM says, he not only wasn't cheating, it never even crossed his mind that he had done anything wrong. He not only denied any wrongdoing, but attempted to refute the charge based on the game in question. Mr Teenager claims Mr IM's article to be a whole pack of lies, but he doesn't challenge a single specific fact to offer an alternative explanation, except to say that he did not actually accuse them of cheating.

He does, however, admit quite clearly that he approached the TD after the game, not during, to express his "discomfort" at their conversing together (I note, for what it might be worth, he mentions their conversing "all around" the playing hall as well as "in front of my board"). These two circumstances in my view make it reasonably likely, thiough of course it doesn't positively confirm, that Mr Teenager's motives in making the complaint were not, shall we say, wholly and altogether to save others from a similar "discomfort". I reckon he wanted to blame them rather than himself for his game result. That the rest of his letter is itself a petulant rant is only to be expected: he's a teenager.

No, I'm more inclined to blame the TD. That he doesn't really believe it doesn't stop him mentioning that other "credible witnesses" have in the past accused Mr and Mrs IM of cheating, be it noted. It does seem to stop him mentioning whether these accusations were substantiated, rebutted or quietly dropped, however. If the teenager's claim not in fact to have accused Mr and Mrs IM of cheating, that too doesn't seem to have given the TD pause before mentioning these "other" accusations in the past.

Let's look at the situation. He approached Mr IM and gave the latter to understand that he had been accused of cheating. If in fact Mr TD had no intention of making an accusation, it wasn't obvious to Mr IM. It ought to have been. He is right in this respect: accusations of cheating have to be taken seriously. But this cuts both ways. If the accusation is well founded, the cheater must be brought to book; if the accusation is malicious, the accuser has equally to be brought to account. There are, no doubt, many occasions in which accusations are well intended but turn out to be wrong. Very well: that situation has also to be cleared up to the satisfaction of the accuser, the accused, and everyone else. That ought to be the TD's responsibility in the first instance. If it is beyond his capacity to handle it, then he has to have some recourse available to him to pass it on. [One for the USCF (or the NZCA) to think about maybe? Does Bob Gibbons ever visit this site?]

But note this: the teenager said he brought no such accusation. If that is true, then why was the word "cheating" heard in what the TD said to Mr IM? Mr IM admits frankly that he doesn't recall exactly what the TD said at this point: merely that he heard the word "cheating" and gathered that he was accused of it. He does give direct quotes of the subsequent colloquy with the TD, none of which the latter denies.

Further, he never took the trouble to investigate the matter. He claims the commitment to dealing with several hundred players involved in the tournament, but without you investigate, you aren't really "taking accusations seriously". He never troubled himself to examine the game in question to see if any accusation were credible. But remember, the teenager said he hadn't accused anyone.

So Mr IM had reason to believe he had been accused, had reason also to believe he was denied his "day in court", and hence had reason to believe the matter remained unresolved. Small wonder he exhibited a certain "animus" at a subsequent tournament a few weeks later. I also suspect that this lack of resolution is why Mr IM stepped over the line in naming the teenager involved. His name had been impugned without his being permitted any opportunity to contest or rebut the claims made against him. It still rankles. That he went public is not at all to be wondered at.

As a professional writer, Mr IM probably comes across (to me) as the more credible witness. All the same, I'm still inclined to come down in his favour. The teenager probably was somewhat disturbed by his opponent's actions, but I suspect exaggerated it as a species of alibi for his failing to win a "won" game (I could easily be wrong about this, but the circumstances bear all the right hallmarks). I'm not particularly inclined to blame him. In my view (admittedly inexperienced in tournament direction) the TD didn't so much handle the situation as footle it. My own impression (rightly or wrongly) is that he has been less than honest. Remember that dig about past accusations by "credible witnesses" that he personally doesn't believe? Yeah, right! Sly beggar.

I've suggested earlier how the thing ought to have gone, and if a quiet word about the rules of player contact caused Mr IM to spit the dummy, then it would have been Mr IM's problem. But who knows, other than the dramatis personae of this little comedy? Perhaps that's what really happened.


ccmcacollister 175 ( +1 | -1 )
ionadowman I may be more sympathetic to the IM here than most, particularly as it seems the youth might be seen as trying to use the status of being a minor to his advantage, imo? And seems we most agree overall. The thing there is; with the IM, how is it that his pen goes ballistic having heard one word and cannot seem to recall the rest?! Absurd~!
I just think it seems like we have a barrel of fish thats quite smelly all in all .... In the end tho, we seem to agree the TD was not so hot, in fact it seems to me that the TD would have a hard time in finding a way to handle the matter worse.
1)Seems game was Over. No complaints valid (Or was it just said the game was over, since advice received during it would be illegal?)
2) If it was Not over ... then any accusation was "witnessed" or not. And so actionable
or not. (I suspect NOT ... but perhaps his suggestion of someone making some claim in a prior event was on his mind and he was out to score on someone?)
3)IF he had reason to act, asking someone not to Speak to their spouse is absurd. Unless that Rules Change has been put forth in writing before the event; and I presume a USCF advertised event ... then also in writing inthe advertising in Chess Life ... or notice that some rules will be altered. Speaking is not prohibited. Even speaking of the game if I want to lecture all what a wonderful game I have, I can. Not until someone gives advice would it become an illegality. Unless going to a completely different rule of disrupting the site or harrassing an opponent.
4)Who is he trying to impress calling himself Arbiter? Was it FIDE rules or USCF? Was he directing 2 seperate events or sections? I'm not clear just what he was impowered to TD over.
There is just no story here that holds together, imo. Certainly no TWO that make a fit.
ccmcacollister 163 ( +1 | -1 )
oops ... almost forgot a major point Any suggestions about going over the game ... completely irrelevant. What moves were or were not made in the game would have nothing to do with supporting or disproving a cheating claim. So imo the TD goes wrong there again ... in suggesting he would not have the manpower to go over all such games (goodness, does he get that many cheating claims?!) ... & he should have just pointed out the game scores irrelevancy but instead makes it appear that it would actually have been a material consideration.
It seems to me that the handlings of this matter were things that even a local level TD should know better than.
imo it seems to look like it was all something of a who can make who look worse contest?
Still if I were an aggrieved and accused player, I would certainly have pressed the matter at the site and not gone to sourgrapes-like tattling in print. And as bucklehead suggests, how far does one go vs a teen ... especially when one cannot even seem to remember more than a word spoken by way of third party? Hearsay? Or more like hear(x1word)say-say-say-say-say-er-what'dHeSayAgain-say.
But I can't feel bad for the teen making print if he was slinging allegations. But it does look like a big "if" from someone who can only seem to recall one word of that, yet seemed clear on the "remedy" of the TD ...
They have a nifty phrase in England, i have learned. It goes, "Pardon, would you repeat that?" :))

Signed, Former Local TD

PS// What happened to the Players/Appeals Committee >?!
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ionadowman 4 ( +1 | -1 )
I understand Americans have a similar expression: ... Er ... Would you run that by me again, please?
ionadowman 257 ( +1 | -1 )
Curses... wrong button ... again... I find the IM's dim memory of what the TD was saying in the first instance quite credible, myself. It is clear he was concerned about his wife's and family's well-being and peace of mind, and when approached by the TD, whom he seemed to have been on friendly terms, and given that it was betwwen rounds, no doubt had been expecting a friendly social exchange. As such probably didn't attend very closely to what was being said until a key word rang the alert bell.
Now that his attention was fully engaged, he was in a position to remember the exchanges that followed. It is more than likely that the surprise at being thus ... confronted ... led to something of an overreaction.
Now, the TD (as I now recall) claimed he didn't actually accuse the IM of cheating (as neither did the teenager). But it must have been obvious to him that the IM did think he had been thus accused. Rather than reassuring him that far from an accusation what was being said was more in the nature of advice or a warning to keep to whatever code of conduct is required of players, and to avoid disturbing other players, the TD allowed the IM's comprehension of what was said to stand. So far as I'm concerned, he might as well indeed have flat out accused him of cheating in the first instance. The effect would have been no different.
I'm also inclined to think the game score would help, on the grounds that it would lend credibility to a denial (far more than it would support an accusation). In that sense the IM presents a persuasive case: it is very hard to believe that offering advice would have led to such a poor game that Mrs IM fell into. (Conversely, it is quite easy to imagine the teenager's error being at least partly due to having his concentration disturbed). Neither constitutes proof - which, by the way, would be very difficult to obtain unless somehow someone managed to record the conversations between IM and Mrs IM, and found incriminating remarks on the record.

But I agree with Craig this far: no one comes out of this looking all that good. Possibly the IM comes across as slightly more ... truthful ... than the other two. I was about to say "more honest", but there is a difference. His naming the minor seems to fall a little short of the highest standards of moral rectitude (Geez, hear me)

One thing that has emerged from this discussion is overall, the IM doesn't seem to have come in for much support from other correspondents. Is it merely because the teenager came under attack, or does this go deeper?
ccmcacollister 51 ( +1 | -1 )
Interesting addendum ... ?! ...
Looking thru some mid 70's games on a dbase ->
I see a certain IM Tim Taylor playing some games at Lone Pine! And doing pretty well in some. If I am not mistaken, Lone Pine is or was the site of an Invitional Tournament called something like the US Closed Championship?! Or maybe it was called "Lone Pine" and was the US's closed championship!? Well something like that, maybe. Maybe even "probably". But its been awhile !
wschmidt 51 ( +1 | -1 )
I don't believe Lone Pine was connected in any way with the US Closed, Craig. It was an invitational event hosted by a wealthy fan of chess. Here's a link to an article recapping one year's activities.


I believe Andy Soltis' chess mystery novel, Los Voraces 2019, which was serialized on the web before coming out in print was based on a Lone Pine-type tournament. It was an amusing read, with lots of quirky chess master types.
ccmcacollister 4 ( +1 | -1 )
wschmidt Yes, I see that now. Thanks for the info Walt! :)