Rene’ Phillips: Victim or Victor?

Rene Phillips blitzing with Sulaiman Smith. Photo by Frank Johnson (
Rene’ Phillips (left) blitzing with Sulaiman Smith in Atlanta.
Photo by Frank Johnson (

There are many controversies in chess. Lately the chess world has had to address a number of cheating allegations of players who have tried to take advantage of the system. These players are often barred, suspended or expelled. However, another question comes to mind. What happens when arbiters or tournament directors are in violation of the rules. Hurricane Katrina survivor Rene’ Phillips wrote an essay about his experience at the National Open in Las Vegas last month and if his accounts are accurate, it points to egregious violation of player rights. Here is Phillips’ essay:

“Am I a Victim, Victor or Inmate?”

Hi my name is Rene’ Phillips United States Chess Federation Victim 11489052. I wished to share my experience from the National Open in Las Vegas this past weekend. I thought a brief mention of three terms would serve to help place readers in the milieu of the event amidst the sights and sounds consistent with the allure of Las Vegas. Many would argue that the words “victim”, “victor”, and “inmate” are completely unrelated. “Victory” is a term most people relate to a contest or debacle wherein winning, overcoming, subduing, persevering, and completing a task that ends with the desired result. While the term “victim” carries the connotation of an event where one or more people have been hurt, or wounded intentionally or unintentionally with no attempt of the aggressor and/or any other party present to make amends. Finally, an “inmate” is a person charged with a crime, deprived of many rights who then imprisoned pending trial.

During the National Open in Las Vegas this past week, I was allowed to experience both sides of the spectrum. I am playing GM Zviad Izoria in the second round of the G/10 championship. I have the White pieces and was able to reach a very familiar position of the London System. Izoria upon reaching an equal position and desiring to complicate things sacrificed a piece for two connected passed pawns. Upon returning the piece, I found myself with a special advantage and huge advantage in time. We both agreed to play without the increment as we could not set the function on the clock at the beginning of the game. Hence the digital display read two minutes for me and 10 seconds for Izoria.

A time scrambled ensued and the crowd gathered around this the last game of the round with an upset looming in the air. I notice there was a crowd of approximately thirty spectators pushing and jockeying for a better position from which to view the debacle. In the time scramble Izoria attacked my rook and in haste to move the rook, I inadvertently knocked my King down and grabbed the attacked rook. Upon releasing the rook and restoring my King to an upright position, Izoria with 2 seconds on the clock captured my rook and uttered “Touch move!” I see Izoria now has one second and thus with two pawns and no checkmate in site for either side, I shun summoning the tournament director for the inadvertent King touch and announce “Flag”!

GM Izoria at this time uttered something in his native tongue and stopped the clock. The digital display showed 12 seconds for me and no time for him. At this juncture, a woman wearing a burgundy tournament director’s shirt intervened without being summoned by either player and stated the game was a draw. The woman TD was later identified as Betsy. Betsy advised that she would place one second on Izoria’s clock and then the game can be officially drawn. I inquired as to the basis of the draw and Izoria answered for the TD and said “because I am up a rook and I would win with more time.” The tournament director Betsy picked up the clock as more people gathered around. She places the one second on the clock and says now the game is a draw.

I am immediately rushed by several spectators as I proceed to the pairing table in an attempt to get a second ruling from another TD. Upon arriving at the pairing table along with several other players, we were met sternly by TD Walter Brown. I politely inquired if I could speak with another tournament director about a ruling just rendered, and without hearing my story, Brown yelled rudely, “Whatever the tournament director said is final. Now we have work to do and you have to get out of here!” I attempted to diffuse the situation by talking calmer, but was met by even more stiff verbal humiliation. Another director with a long white beard chimed in on cue and yelled, “What is it that you want?!

At this time TD Walter Brown advised that he would call security and have me thrown out if I didn’t leave. Seeing a ride to jail was inevitable if I continued to attempt to reach resolve with the outraged and angered TDs, I exited the room and proceeded to the tournament registration table. I requested to speak with a senior director or an executive level administrator with the tournament staff and was advised that Mr. Bob Snead was not available, but upon being given my name and brief details of my issue, would get back to me.

I forwarded my name, brief details of the incident and started back toward the tournament room. Prior to reaching the tournament room, I was met outside by TD Walter Brown who related that he had just been made abreast of the incident and he stated, “I just heard what happened and I think you got ripped off badly. I will return your entry fee in exchange for your inconvenience.” I returned to the game room only to find out the third round had started and I had been paired against a women’s IM and she had started my clock. Approximately five minutes had elapsed in the G/10 game, but I knew going back the same directors who were infuriated by me inquiring about the previous game would me met with swift and quick verbal humiliation.

In spite of my anger and feeling of helplessness I won the game against the WIM. I however could not shake the feeling of being cheated and victimized. I won the game and was not declared the victor, but was victimized by the player, the tournament directors and the GMs, IMs, FMs, and other rated players present who witnessed this travesty and said nothing on my behalf to the tournament directors. Throughout the remainder of the National open I was asked by scores of players, coaches, and other tournament directors about the incident. I retold this story at least 20 times to different directors who all stated that I should have summoned another director (which I made several attempts) and ask for a second opinion.

Notwithstanding, after the numerous futile attempts at getting some type of meaningful resolve I talked one last time to Bob Snead who related that I would get my entry fee returned, but I should have made an attempt to contact another tournament director on the day of the incident. Thus here I stand several days later, feeling not like a victor, but a victim, and much worse a victim who has no recourse. Here it is I have returned home and still feel helpless with no returned entry fee, a crosstable from the G/10 that reflects a draw against GM Zviad Izoria in round two despite me winning the game on time. More importantly as a retired policeman whose job was to protect and serve, despite receiving an award from Janet Reno as America’s top cop in 1997, I was treated like a criminal by the National Open rulings or lack of proper rulings and United States Chess Federation and as a victim have no recourse. Inmates lose very many rights after they are sentenced for crimes, but even after being found guilty of the most heinous of crimes, they retain the right to appeal. What about me?

Signed Rene’ Phillips
National Open Inmate
United States Chess Federation
Inmate Id# 11489052
Appeal National Open #101


  1. These violations by arbiters and tournament directors happen all too often. I have witnessed them and have been told of many cases where there have been no recompense for wrongful decisions.

    In this case, it appears that Izoria was the beneficiary of an egregious ruling that made absolutely no sense at all. How do you put time back on the clock when someone flags and then rule it a draw? In this case there were many witnesses. Something needs to be done as a restitution.

  2. There seems to be a rampant lack of accountability for tournament directors at major events. One of the games I was watching at the World Open 2008 showed just this.
    There was a tournament director in a yellow shirt standing next to a board that was in a time scramble. One player had 2 seconds on his clock while the other had 5 seconds. The 5 second time delay was active on the chronos clock they were using. The position was drawn and player B was trying to flag player A. Player B had a bishop and pawn while player A had a knight and pawn. Both pawns were blocked by the opponents minor pieces. The kings were basically running around the board trying to gain opposition.
    Player A claimed a three-fold repetition while the tournament director was standing there. But the tournament director had looked away from the board for a few moves and didn’t see the repetition. The whole purpose of him standing at the board was to watch the game for confusion/controversy, but he got distracted and looked away at a critical moment. Another tournament director was called and he suggested that the 50 move rule might apply – but that was incorrect because neither player was keeping score nor calling moves out loud. So the decision was made for the players to continue on. The tournament director really can’t suggest moves or draw claims to players but they can reply to claims. Insufficient loosing chances might have been a claim with a forgiving TD.
    Anyway, the game continued and player B made a quiet bishop move instead of moving his King. Player A stopped to consider this new move and flagged. He was so irate that he flicked the pieces at his opponent and grimaced threateningly. He clearly wanted to fight anyone he could at that moment.
    I often see floor TD decisions being appealed only to get rejected by the head TD at these large events.

  3. Crazy. There have been so many of these cases at the major American events that it’s almost expected. There was controversy at the 2001 Chicago Open with a 12-year old junior player (now a rising star). His opponent thought the round started at 11:00am, but it started at 10:00 and he came rushing down after forfeiting. I stood there when he came rushing through the hall.

    The 12-year old had gone to report the forfeit instead of marking it down. The forfeiter explained his excuse to the Tournament Director (TD) who then asked the 12-year old if he wanted to play the game anyway! He said, “You can play for rating points.” In the guise of offering the 12-year old a chance for rating points, he gave the forfeiter a second chance to win! The boy agreed to play.

    I went complaining to the most experienced TD who was shaking his head in disgust, but referred me to the Chief TD. When I explained it to the Chief TD, he said a TD can offer that option! He even gave an example of someone being stuck in traffic and forfeiting, but I told him that is a totally different case. The guy overslept in his room!

    I had never been so upset at a tournament… and it was not my game… and my clock was ticking during all this. The boy’s parents were there the whole time and I was explaining what was going on. Then I started going back-and-forth with Chief TD and asking for the rulebook and he didn’t have a copy. I insisted that the ruling was bogus and was a violation. He made the other TD go back and explain to the 12-year old that if he played the game, he’d be losing his right to the forfeit. The boy played… and won with his hour advantage. I won too. Thank goodness!

  4. This type of behavior can’t continue to take place especially among blk players who are qualified to win the rounds i have heard story after story to this event u hate to think that the games are set up for certain players to win, Renee was a pure accident i can’t believe the TD was that insensitive as well as the GM,forget winning the game what about character, intergrity of the game .. you have a real complain Rene

  5. The worst case I have heard was the cheating case during the 2006 Olympiad during the Jamaica-Finland match. Shane Matthews was playing GM Tomi Nyback on board #1 and the game had reached the following ending.

    In Nybäck-Matthews, white was in time pressure and apparently attempted to play 47.Kf4 which would lose immediately to 47…b2. After realizing this, he placed the piece back on e3, then played 47.Bc3. Matthews protested, but the arbiter upheld the ruling that Nyback was

    Nyback picked up his king and moved it to f4-square (which would have lost immediately). He returned it to e3 and then moved the bishop to c3. Matthews immediately protested and when the arbiter was summoned, Nyback said he was adjusting the piece which had been on the same square for several moves.

    A witness from Barbados was watching, but they would not allow him to offer his testimony. They may have felt that since the onlooker was from the Caribbean, he would not be objective. The arbiter acknowledged Nyback’s explanation. A devastated Matthews let his clock run out in protest and Jamaica filed a grievance appeal. A win or draw would have won the match for Jamaica, but they had to settle for a 2-2 draw.

    The appeal was denied and the reasoning was that Matthews signed the scoresheet (in effect accepting the result), but shouldn’t the cheating action take precedence? It’s like saying, “Yea… he cheated and while you certainly protested, you also signed the scoresheet. Sorry.” Shame. Nyback certainly wouldn’t have tried that against a well-known player, but it shouldn’t matter. You’d think a Grandmaster would have some self-respect. 😐 Here is an inteview during which Matthews described the event.

    Read Full Story!

  6. Rene –

    Of course you were a victim! The floor TD made a bad call, and then the TD leadership did not allow you to make a timely and proper appeal of the bad call. They even treated you rudely!

    I was really getting steamed until you said that Walter eventually approached you and admitted that now that he understood the incident, he agreed that the TD blew it. I know Walter, and was surprised by his initial reaction to your attempt to appeal. Perhaps he got intimidated by the approaching “mob” and used poor judgment in how he reacted. I also know you, and I know that you just wanted to appeal a really bad ruling, so the comments about calling security was totally uncalled for.

    Unfortunately at that point, Walter did the only thing he could do – offer to refund your entry fee. Putting it in perspective, officials in other sports (NFL, NBA, etc) make bad calls all the time, and sometimes the call is REALLY BAD, and directly changes the likely outcome of the contest. The leagues sometimes make pronouncements after the fact that yes, the officiating crew blew it. They may “coach” the the officials involved, but they don’t change the outcome of the game.

    So what can be done. First, you are doing the right thing by continuing to publicize in detail what you experienced. Secondly, we all need to be as aware as possible of the rules for the type of event that we are playing in, so we can act effectively during disputes. Thirdly, the USCF need to continue to work to improve TD training, and tournament organizers need to have a clearly defined appeal procedure, that can be executed in a timely fashion.

  7. I have lost respect for GM Izoria even though he initially acknowledged defeat. He did however, claim touch move on inadvertant contact. This is the bottom of the barrel. Just like Nyback, this GM could not fathom losing and exchanged their values for victory. Izoria should have taken his loss like a man… but he helped the TD to make a bogus ruling. Who ever heard of such an explanation?

  8. I am never surprised by how human’s behave under pressure. Those are the times that true character is revealed. Sometimes you find out that the person has integrity and courage, other times …

  9. We must document and file complaints for every situation, and
    collectively keep a record. Are there any brothers and sisters out
    there who are willing to train to be top TDs, and to organize top
    tournaments? Is USCF required for being sanctioned or registered
    by FIDE? I want a clear, and unbiased approach that is solely
    based on merit/performance, and very little on prizes, and money.
    Don’t get me wrong, I think prizes and money are important for the work done, but they should not be allowed to inspire cheating at any level and from any perspective. {Personally-I do not have
    the time to be a TD, but would consider doing so after I make
    tenure as a Professor.}

  10. I only know a couple of brothers in the U.S. and one of them is Boyd Reed out of Pittsburgh. The other is the brother with the gray hair and glasses that we usually see at the World Open.

    I think some of this is merely incompetence on the director’s part and there are a number of yellow shirts that fit this category. I am also surprised at how some GMs and IMs don’t know the rules in chess. The bad thing is the tournament directors often defer to (or favor) the GM because they assume they know the rules, but what Izoria stated was absolute nonsense. How can that game be ruled a draw? There is NO WAY.

    There are so many questionable cases. I remember Jacob Wamala telling me (and Kayin Barclay) that when he won the Massachusetts High School championship on tiebreaks, they made him play a blitz tiebreak with Josh Bakker to determine who would represent the state in the Denker. I understand that this was not stated before the tournament. Bakker won the blitz and went to the Denker. Jacob wasn’t complaining, but just mentioning this case. Kayin said to Jacob, “You played blitz for the Denker????” 😕 There are all types of issues with American chess organization. Remember the K.K. Karanja case? He had won the Apis prize for top player under 13. When he kept the status the next year, they took it from him and gave it to another player because they said he had already won once. There was no stipulation saying a player couldn’t win two years in a row.

    People of African descent are underrepresented in chess which is why these incidents continue to occur. We are grossly underrepresented in terms of titled players, arbiters, organizers, politicians and financiers. As long as that is the case, we will continue to see these cases.

  11. Thanks Daaim for the post and thanks to everyone for the encouraging words. The healing process for this travesty is much shorter and easier than the post Katrina rebound. Seeing and hearing about similar and more overt acts of misappropriated and mis-managed authority is equally disturbing. The helplessness I felt through this entire incident is the hardest to cope with. I know I won the game as well as all of the people who were watching unfortunately, there are no tournament records, crosstables, or pairing results sheets to support or solidify my claim.

    I have wondered what can be done about the incident, even paying me a large sum of money doesn’t compensate for the humiliation and degradation I experienced at the hands of men I could have physically crushed with my bare hands were that my make-up. All in all, it seems futile to write to the USCF and run the gamut of speaking with the very people who were responsible for the injustice. I pray that no more of our youth have to experience what Barclay has experienced. To wit, I look forward to the day when all players (of every nationality, gender, and age) can rely upon a Chess governing body with the necessary checks and balances of power.

  12. I didn’t mention Kayin Barclay’s name above, but yes… he was the 12-year boy I was talking about. He still had his innocence and took it in stride, but I’ll tell you, it would have been mayhem had he lost that game! I can mention several other stories where the rulings were questionable. This just tells us that we need to learn the rule books of our respective federations and the FIDE rules… and as Kimani is pointing out, we need to get involved in other aspects of chess besides playing.

    I think Kimani’s point is, if we don’t document these cases, they will reoccur because there is no recorded precedence… no memory from which to correct a future occurrence. When Vaughn Bennett filed a $150 million lawsuit against the U.S.C.F., the was bringing out some of these issues, but his rambling 49-page statement did him no justice. He told me he wasn’t expecting to get anything… he just wanted it on record and to make a strong statement.

  13. Daaim – Perhaps the silver lining in this would be an interview with “the brother with the gray hair and glasses that we usually see at the World Open”. I’ve chatted with him at some of the Continental Chess events through the years, but am embarrassed to say that I also don’t know his name. He may have some suggestions on what players should know about the rules, and what they should do when disputes arise. There are two sides to every story. My perception is that TD’ing is a thankless job.

  14. There are a few brothers this could be- if we talk about the light
    skin brother with grey hair and glasses this is likely to be Mr.
    James Cope (Jr.) {He was at this year’s 2008 World Open}.
    Otherwise in distant past though I am not sure about World
    Opens because I do not attend them often – a brownskin brother
    with grey hair and glasses could be Mr. Wilbert Brown who is
    based in Baltimore. I know him well and will talk to him soon. Mr.
    Ralph Mikell out of D.C. also does TD work but I don’t know if he
    works with Continental Chess much. I simply don’t know the full
    black TD landscape but when I see a brother TD at tournaments I
    am participating in, I usually know their names as indicated above.
    We must get to know all the people involved in this social and
    sporting dance of chess and life. Keep in mind that because of my
    own relative inactivity, there could be other brothers that could be
    named.(I am presently not aware of any sister TDs.)

  15. James Cope… yep. I didn’t see him this year… he must have been on the under-1800 floor. It’s interesting that we are hard-pressed to come up with names in other aspects of chess. I’m not sure if Colette McGruder is a certified TD or not. There are not that many International Arbiters of African descent either. Typically all we do is play.

    We should be able to go to any TD… like Ernie Schlich who ran the main floor at the World Open. I met him and he seems very personable. However, few of the TDs and organizers would understand the deeper issues we are discussing… or would deny that it happens. There is also a lot of “passing the buck” to avoid dealing with nasty situations.

    Who can forget the 12- year old Akeem Gregory-Thompson and 14- year old Hikaru Nakamura scuffle that resulted in Akeem getting kicked out of the 2002 World Open? He hasn’t played tournament chess since. To their credit, both Akeem and Hikaru have turned out to be fine young men and it was merely one of those boy fights. However, the ruling was HORRIBLE and we have lost a talented chess player.

  16. There was a younger brother acting in a TD capacity at the 2008 World Open. I didn’t catch his name, but I did observe how he handled issues. My overall impression from day one this year is that there was some tension amongst the organizers.

    They weren’t the friendliest. If I am handing you $400, the least you could do is smile while you take it. I observed yellow shirts so preoccupied as to not look up at who was asking questions.

  17. Frank,

    That was Boyd Reed… really sharp brother.

    You’re right about the tension. I had a brief conversation with Brenda Goichberg and it was not a positive one. Some of her statements were really shocking and made me wonder about the future of the World Open.

    We’d better stop relying so heavily on the big tournaments.

  18. My experience in Philadelphia with Pete Rogers, Elvin Wilson, Jeff Johnson is still the best fellowship of Chess amongst brothers I have had the honor of experiencing after Hurricane Katrina. I also miss the inter-state matches between Philadelphia and Baltimore at Lamont Rogers house. I have had the honor of playing for Philadelphia in conjunction with meeting legend William “the exterminator” Morrison. The tournaments I have attended around the country pale in comparison to the fun, competition, and comraderie between the “brothers” of chess. Every African American player should have the joy of the experience of one of the Roger’s fellowship inter/cross state matches. I am back home in New Orleans and would recruit my coach Stephen Muhammed, and a few African American masters from Texas and Louisiana for a match against Philly or Baltimore.
    Going forward, since money isn’t the most important allure of the tournament scene, I pray we began to look long term and invest in our youth’s maturity in chess play and its administration.
    I find it interesting how issues of this sort seem to work towards galvanizing people in the chess community. We can only hope that the future will produce less drama and more tournament directors and organizers of color.

  19. Rene,

    You’d be surprised at how many pockets of chess activity exist in the Black community in the U.S. Everyone has a story of the same type of activities… New York, DC, Maryland, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, Atlanta, South Carolina, New Orleans, Los Angeles and many others. People need to start writing these histories.

    I agree… the Philly brothers are the best out there! In my case, they have supported The Chess Drum without fail. When I told you they’d take care of you after Katrina, I knew what I was talking about.

  20. Rene – I assume that you have at least been given your entry fees back, as promised. An appeal to USCF ought to be possible, for the purpose of having the outcome of the game set to a win for you in the rating system, and likewise, I believe that USCF’s Tournament Director Certification Committee considers complaints regarding tournament directors, and this would be a way to get the situation clarified and the TD(s) involved reviewed.

    By the way, when I used to run the main tournaments in LA through most of the 1980s, one of my two “right hand men” (though both were left-handed!) was perhaps the leading African-American TD in the US, Andrew Smith (also known as Angalifu, and he hosted radio shows for KPFK for many years by his African name). Another top-notch TD who comes to mind is Vincent Moore, an NTD from the east coast, who has also been a leading admin on ICC (handle: albi).

  21. Hal my man! Thanks for the information Hal. I had been discouraged about further pursuing justice in the matter as I felt it was futile because retelling the incident over and over and then be given a myriad of excusses only frustrated me more. I can’t wait to send this information to the committtees you mentioned in hopes of some sort of viable resolution. To date I have yet to receive any entry fee, mental anguish fee, or appearence fee.
    I would love to do a follow up on the response of the USCF albeit, I shudder to think any response will be different from the many I heard from USCF employees to boot. Rene’




    coach rene, thank you for speaking to Diamond Abdus-Shakoor at the Elementary Nationals. I did not know that she would encounter and be aware of rules being inconsistent. EVEN THE KIDS SEE WHAT’S GOING ON. MALE OR FEMALE, AND REGARDLESS OF RACE AND SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS; RIGHT IS RIGHT AND WRONG IS WRONG!!! THE TRUTH DOES NOT NEED AN ALIBI. WE DON’T QUIT OR GET MAD WE GET FOCUSED AND DETERMINED.



  24. Brother Shakoor,

    If you what you said is actually happening, it may be a function of poor coaching of those kids, but certainly the director should be alerted so these kids can learn the right way. Kids should also learn that there are rules in chess and they are not to be bent or broken for ANYONE… not even for a coach or parent. These are life lessons.

    If someone touches a piece or makes an illegal move, kids should get the coach, who will get the tournament director. One should never let their opponent play on. Unfortunately, some coaches are unsure of the rules. For example en passant and castling rules create problems for some coaches who have not learned the rules correctly.

    I remember in my youth days of playing, I lost two casual games because I didn’t contest illegal castling (moving king across check) and later lost a winning position. Another time an opponent took en passant incorrectly. When I questioned it, he said, “En passant… fifth rank.” I was dominating and let him play on only to lose the game. In both instances, the illegal moves changed the course of the game immediately. I think we are obligated to correct these infractions. If not the effects can be devastating.

  25. Bro. Shakoor, good to hear from you my brother. I lost your number and still want to keep my promise to you and Diamond. Please contact me at my cell number.

  26. Rene’ Phillips told me in a phone conversation yesterday that GM Zviad Izoria (originally from the Republic of Georgia) was not arrogant in his expressions during the incident. That is to his credit. However, he did contribute to the incorrect ruling of Betsy Dynako. Someone needs to produce a rulebook to show where this ruling is stated. There needs to be restitution. Maybe I’ll write a front page article on misrulings in the USCF in order to draw attention to these repeated mistakes. If you have any misrulings by USCF TDs and/or organizers, please let me know… or post here.

  27. Hello brothers, its unfortunate that this type of behavior continues to go on. The truth of the matter is theses people have been cheating at chess for centuries so this should not take us complete by surprise or even to be outraged by this malicious behavior, it seems more appropriate for us to take measures against this cruelty with various protest, complaints, arguements and legal action if necessary. This is one of the reasons that i have chosen not to compete in their “big tournaments”, however we as Africans need to move away from this “caucasian controlled climate” to direct and promote our own ideas for future generations. If izoria and the like can get themselves to play fair then they can get some too, personally i dont see where they are so strong anyway,yet it seem they enjoy a certain pretense with thoses titles and ratings. Brother shabazz thanks for being. Peace.

  28. Lionel,

    Apart from the Fischer accusations of rampant cheating on the international level, what we see here in the states may be a different nature. I believe much of it is either incompetence or inconsistency of the stated rules. You also don’t have people who are strong enough to fight to maintain integrity. There is a lot of passing the buck which leads to lack of accountability. I’ve seen TDs say, “You’ll have to see so-and-so.” It is as if no one knows the proper ruling.

    However, not competing in tournaments doesn’t help us. We need to do both… play in major tournaments and organize tournaments. How many of us are willing to make the sacrifices to raise money and organize tournaments? I have heard many proposals, but have not seen much in the way of execution.

    I would also submit to you that tournaments in other parts of the world are a lot more professional than what you find here in the U.S. You are not carrying your set and clock around and wondering who you’ll play a hour before the round. There are not rapid games played in the same room with 40/2.

    What is the alternative? It just so happens that the system we have is broken. If it were fixed then we wouldn’t be having this discussion. So… the organizers need to fix these problems and at the same time, others can produce well-organized and professional tournaments, to force existing organizers like Bill Goichberg to improve quality. Maurice Ashley’s tournament did this, but as you know the HB Global lasted one year.

  29. I was looking through my e-mail and found this note from Kenneth Moody written over a year ago. He was making notice of something that happened to his grandson in a tournament.

    —–Original Message—–
    From: []
    Sent: Tuesday, January 02, 2007 10:29 AM

    News = Chess in the Schools Tourney – NYC

    Rules for determining awards should be clear and available before the start of any chess tournament. This would eliminate any doubt about fair play and possible human error. This was not the case in the “Chess in the Schools” tournament held in Central Park on Sept. 30th, 2006 in New York City.

    I am speaking about the 10 and under-unrated section in behalf of Devin Robinson. This was a 6 round, 10 minute Swiss tournament. In this section the top 5 finishers were recognized, called to the stage, and awarded trophies. Devin did not even receive an honorable mention even though he was in a 5 way tie for 2nd place with a score of 5 with one loss. At the conclusion of the awards ceremony I asked the tournament director what method was was used to determine his 6 place finish? They told me that the opponents he defeated were weaker than the opponents of the players receiving the trophies.

    As we left the tournament, I tried to soothe Devin’s disappointment by explaining this to him as best I could. A week later, after reviewing the results of the tournament on line I noticed the one of the players scoring 5 points and receiving a trophy had not played all 6 of their games. I made a call to “Chess in the Schools” tournament director for an explanation. The person stated that in unrated tournaments that this was legal and that the computer determines the final outcome of the place finishes.

    Another thing that happened was the tournament directors failing to properly record his score twice during the tournament. After having them correct this both time and during the beginning of each of these rounds the still failed to pair him properly. These combination of errors, as well as the amount of games played by all of the contestant cast doubt on Devin’s final standings in this tournament.

    In my opinion, Devin Robinson did not have any reason to feel disappointed and rejected. He should have earned a trophy as should the other young chess stars in that section.

    As a Grandfather, I will try to convince my Grandson that the “Chess in the Schools” is a good program and that he should not refrain from playing in future tournaments.

    Name = Ken Moody
    National_Rating = 1785
    FIDE_Rating =
    City = Atlanta, GA
    Country = USA
    Phone = 917 447-4080
    Email =

  30. I’ll echo Daaim’s suggestion – get involved in organizing and directing! As these stories make clear, there is a serious need for sharp, committed people, to improve the organization of events.

    And in case you are wondering, yes I both organize and direct scholastic events. For free, on my own time. It’s part of my give-back to the community. I enjoy seeing the kids have an opportunity to play chess, and gain the same kind of benefits that the game gave me while growing up.

    But it’s not easy or fun, like competing in tournaments, which I also do. I chuckled reading Daaim’s last post .. I am familiar with all of those types of challenges. Often the score takers are green volunteers, and floor TD’s not much more skilled. Most do not get paid, maybe they get a coupon for lunch, but that’s it. Scores get misreported. Bad game calls get made. Trophies have to be decided on tie-breaks. Players just leave without withdrawing.

    So get involved, whether at the scholastic level, or the adult/open level — YOU can make a positive difference.

  31. This is such an excellent website and it has helped me keep up with chess events around the world.
    Bravo to the fantastic man that runs the site.

  32. Hi – I’m way behind on my chess reading this year, what with work, political blogging, etc. I did notice this particular thread, though, and I wanted to throw in my general observations. I apologize in advance for the length of this post.

    First, with respect to the original post: I do apologize for any unpleasantness Mr. Phillips encountered. I was sequestered on the top floor of the Sheraton, running the U1400 section, so I was separated from the “fun” on the ballroom level. What I always tell any tournament player is this: know the rules, bring a copy of the rulebook with you, and don’t allow other players (no matter who they are) to speak for the TD who’s handling the situation. (TDs can be intimidated by titled players too, so someone in Mr. Phillips’ situation should make sure the TD verbally makes any pronouncements.)

    Second, there are some African-American TDs. I believe Andre Harding is a Senior TD, who also has a hand in running the Marshall Chess Club in NYC. James Cope (Maryland) is also a Senior TD, who is usually at the World Open. Leonard Dickerson (Tennessee) is (I believe) a Senior TD as well.

    I earned my National TD title after passing the exam in 2006. I’ve been involved in organizing and/or directing a number of national and state events in Illinois and Pennsylvania. The “secret” is to jump in and do it. Start at your local level. Talk to local organizers. Put out an e-mail for help. Find out who your state clearinghouse is; they can help you with scheduling. Most of all, be prepared to WORK. Chess organizing is hard, generally thankless work. You have to love the game to do it, because you sure won’t get rich.

    More African-American TDs would be nice. What really needs to happen, though, is to get an organization together that can not only work within the USCF, but also get more African-Americans involved in organizing and directing. There are a lot of informal chess cliques and clubs in the larger cities, and a huge number of players who just show up for skittles. So, maybe some of the stronger players out there could do freebie exhibitions at these places – a “Game of the Month” lecture, a “Beat the Expert” exhibition, etc. That’s one way to get these players thinking beyond just showing up and shoving pieces around. Once they get the bug, maybe they’ll be interested in helping run local events, too.

    Third, becoming a TD or organizer is about more than just knowing chess or business. Chess players, as we all know, are a very odd assortment of personalities and idiosyncracies. I’ve seen a player (quite literally) strip down to his boxers during a tournament, another high school player literally spit on a chessboard (that wasn’t even his!) and chased another player into a bathroom due to suspicion of cheating. (Yes, that was part of the Varshavsky incident at the 2006 World Open.) I could tell stories for days about the weirdness and underhanded behavior I’ve seen at chess tournaments – and guys like Bill Goichberg could probably go on for weeks on the same topic. If you can’t handle dealing with oddballs, don’t become a TD.

    Fourth, I should note that a previous poster said that TDs don’t get paid. Well, at the bigger tournaments, they do – but the amounts aren’t exactly staggering. Examples: I worked at the 2008 National Elementary Championships, and I averaged $13/hour. Not too bad, you say – but that was for 45 hours of pounding a cavernous concrete exhibition-hall floor, taking questions, getting results slips, and watching players/spectators over the course of three days. My legs hurt for a solid 72 hours after the tournament.

    At the World Open, after five days of running the U1400 section, I probably averaged $11 an hour. No, it wasn’t as taxing physically, as adult tournaments don’t require the same level of individual attention, but the mental load – especially when making pairings or resolving player disputes – is comparable to arbitration work, which pays quite a bit better than that. (So, for that matter, does my regular job.)

    So, we do make money – but nothing to make a living on. Even Bill and Brenda Goichberg, who (obviously and deservedly) make the most on CCA events, can’t make THAT much, given the size of the prize fund.

    (Here’s a fun exercise: Pick any year in the last 10 or so. Find out how much money the Open section paid out in prizes. Now, take the total number of players entered in the Open. Assume they all paid the maximum, late, on-site entry fee, and figure out how much would have been collected under that assumption. Then, try to pay the Open prizes from that amount. Dosvidanya!)

    Last, this is a very good site. I have to commend Dr. Shabazz for his work in maintaining it, and the Drum community for its participation. I will try to add my meager voice to the beat as time allows.

  33. Boyd,

    Good to see you posting here again. Don’t worry about the length if you have something worthy of writing. 🙂 I enjoyed the information and suggestions. I often mention your name (along with James Cope) when tournament organization comes up. We certainly do need

    Rene’ talked to me about it awhile back and did feel that he was the victim of unfair treatment. I do know of many cases that appear to be tainted by preconceived notions. Many TDs assume that the strongest players know the rules better and will often listen to their side. How Phillips-Izoria was declared a draw is beside me.

    I believe Rene’ is still discussing the issue with USCF. I will ask him to post here.

  34. Hi Boyd,
    On the subject of minority tournament organising, I am a prospective tournament organiser(hope to do a lot of smallish competitions in New England and upstate NY in 2009) but for some strange reason, can’t get any contact information about any TD whom I can have work these for me. I asked a TD from Continental chess the other day when I was playing a small tournament in Delaware and he advised me to check with the Eastern New York Chess Association. I subsequently found their website and the email addresses of some of their office bearers and persons who run clubs in the general area. Sadly, more than a week later I have no information on whom I could get to TD tournaments in the upstate NY as well as the New England areas. I have a few hotels(and access to a building) who would be interested, but can’t do anything more without a TD. If anyone has any suggestions I would appreciate it. I have already tried the USCF but for privacy reasons they can’t even release email addresses of prospective TDs

  35. I wasn’t going to record this incident, but a friend suggested that I inform the drum.
    National Chess Congress 2017: My kids, Grace, and Ayo are playing in the under 600 section as a team. Fifth round they are paired against each other. Even though, there are others players in their section with the same score. Immediately, the tournament directors were called and I inquire how is this pairing right? Bill said it must be a mistake, but they refuse to change the pairing. Boyd Reed, TD from Pittsburgh was the director. Do these TDs check the pairing? There were only 39 players in under 600, Grace and Ayo have the same last name and on the same mixed double team. In essence, points were taken from them, on purpose or not, thereby affecting their team chance to place.
    Team Standing:
    1 SORDIC Gabriella Sorrentinio-Mark A DiCostanzo (1043.0) 10.5 1st
    Mar Dicostanzo II (1873) 5.5
    Gabriella Sorrentino (213) 5.0
    2 JINSMI JINSMI (1951.5) 10.0 2nd
    GM Bryan G Smith (2505) 5.5
    Christina F Jin (1398) 4.5
    3 LISHA LISHA (2175.5) 9.5 3rd-4th
    Rachael Li (1732) 5.0
    GM Alexande Shabalov (2619) 4.5
    4 SHABAT SHABAT (1788.0) 9.5 3rd-4th
    Kameliia Sharuda (1790) 5.5
    Donald Battle Jr (1786) 4.0
    5 WANSTR Lilian Wang â?? Paul Stricker (1403.0) 9.0
    Paul Stricker (1288) 5.0
    Lilian Wang (1518) 4.0
    6 ITKRAD ITKRAD (2116.0) 8.5
    WFM Hana Itkis (2076) 4.5
    Dan Rade (2156) 4.0
    7 FENWAG FENWAG (1962.0) 8.5
    Camden Wagner (1571) 5.0
    FM Maggie Feng (2353) 3.5
    8 ZLODEV ZLODEV (1952.5) 8.5
    Leon Deng (2069) 4.5
    Nicol Zlotchevsky (1836) 4.0
    9 MARMAR Jacqueline Martin â?? Zachary Martin (1593.5) 8.5
    Zachary D Martin (2058) 4.5
    Jacqueline Martin (1129) 4.0
    10 FELFEL Aya Feliachi-Ramzy Feliachi (662.5) 8.5
    Aya Feliachi (803) 4.5
    Ramzy Feliachi (522) 4.0
    11 KHMLEN KHMLEN (2188.5) 8.0
    GM Aleksan Lenderman (2687) 4.0
    Nikki Khmelnitsky (1690) 4.0
    12 GORMOR GORMOR (2175.0) 8.0
    GM Elsha Moradiabadi (2592) 5.0
    Atmika Gorti (1758) 3.0
    13 BHAARU BHAARU (2051.5) 8.0
    Siddharth Arun (2180) 4.0
    Megha Bhanuprasad (1923) 4.0
    14 TRATRA TRATRA (2016.5) 8.0
    WFM Priya Niki Trakru (2020) 4.0
    Rohun Trakru (2013) 4.0
    15 BADBAD Grace Bady-Ayo Baady (284.0) 8.0
    Ayo Bady (unr.) 5.0
    Grace Bady (284) 3.0
    16 NARNAR NARNAR (1495.0) 7.5
    Narkee Narasimhan (1938) 4.0
    Meena Narkeeran (1052) 3.5
    17 LOULOU Christine Louzonis â?? John Louzonis (1087.5) 7.5
    Christine J Louzonis (769) 4.5
    John Louzonis (1406) 3.0
    18 AYYAYY AYYAYY (1029.5) 7.5
    Aadarsini Murugan Ayyappan (1174) 4.0
    Adhiraiyan Murugan Ayyappan (885) 3.5
    19 HUSAR HUSAR (2177.5) 7.0
    IM Justin Joe Sarkar (2436) 4.0
    Emily Jia Hu (1919) 3.0
    20 BHAFIS BHAFIS (1939.0) 7.0
    GM Alexande Fishbein (2555) 4.0
    Rachana Bhanuprasad (1323) 3.0
    21 MOSSHA Elizabeth Moshkevich â?? Suneel Sharad (1851.5) 7.0
    Soham Sharad (1868) 4.0
    Elizab Moshkevich (1835) 3.0
    22 YOUPRY YOUPRY (1687.0) 7.0
    Sean P Pry (1564) 4.0
    Vanita Young (1810) 3.0
    23 YAVRAO YAVRAO (1564.5) 7.0
    Catherin Yavarone (1536) 4.5
    Varun Rao (1593) 2.5
    24 ZHUWU2 ZHUWU2 (1371.5) 7.0
    Tony Wu (1022) 5.0
    Jenny Zhu (1721) 2.0
    25 ZHALI Jane Zhang-Eric Li (1213.0) 7.0
    Jane Zhang (unr.) 4.0
    Eric Li (1213) 3.0
    26 WANHU WANHU (2043.0) 6.5
    Merric Hu (2113) 3.5
    WFM Ellen Wang (1973) 3.0
    27 HAMDRE HAMDRE (1891.5) 6.5
    GM Alexey Dreev (2760) 4.5
    Amelia Wolf Hamilton (1023) 2.0
    28 SONKOD SONKOD (1712.5) 6.5
    Suhas Kodali (2060) 4.0
    Ann* Song (1365) 2.5
    29 YERBEN YERBEN (1709.0) 6.5
    Joseph Bennett (1785) 4.0
    Sai Sneha Yerra (1633) 2.5
    30 GUNLIE GUNLIE (1544.5) 6.5
    Jack Lieberman (1755) 3.5
    Pranitha Gunasekaren (1334) 3.0
    31 TAYTAY TAYTAY (1387.5) 6.5
    Brian Tay (1460) 3.5
    Allison Tay (1315) 3.0
    32 PRAPRA PRAPRA (1382.5) 6.5
    Gracy Fr Prasanna (1877) 3.5
    Kevin Prasanna (888) 3.0
    33 NWOBAD Kasey Nwokobia-Arad Badiee (1177.0) 6.5
    Arad R Badiee (1177) 5.5
    Kasey Nwokobia (unr.) 1.0
    34 LEYBAD Valerie Leyman-Barzin Badiee (1017.0) 6.5
    Barzin M Badiee (1458) 4.0
    Valerie Leyman (576) 2.5
    35 MOSBUI Gabrielle Moshier-Jason Bui (833.5) 6.5
    Gabrielle Lynn Moshier (595) 3.5
    Jason Bui (1072) 3.0
    36 CHICHI CHICHI (2042.5) 6.0
    Angelica Chin (2022) 4.0
    Jonathan Chin (2063) 2.0
    37 ZHUDON ZHUDON (1965.0) 6.0
    Joshua Dong (1838) 3.5
    WIM Evelyn Zhu (2092) 2.5
    38 WANWAN Ellen Wang-Brandon Wang (1853.0) 6.0
    Ryan Wang (1877) 3.0
    Stan Wang (1342) 3.0
    39 LIULIU Catherine Liu-David Liu (1717.0) 6.0
    Kelsey Liu (1710) 3.5
    Kevin Liu (1724) 2.5
    40 LAMHUA Kuipi Lam â?? Oliver Hua (1582.0) 6.0
    Kuipi Lam (1221) 4.5
    Charles Hua (1943) 1.5
    41 STRTAH STRTAH (1575.5) 6.0
    Joshua Micha Taht (1507) 4.0
    Erin Kath Strauts (1644) 2.0
    42 SAVORU SAVORU (1518.0) 6.0
    Sanjay Oruganti (1476) 4.0
    Saniya Sand Savla (1560) 2.0
    43 XIEXIE Nicole Xie-Timothy Xie (999.5) 6.0
    Timothy Xie (1455) 3.0
    Nicole Xie (544) 3.0
    44 DOMDOM Aasa Dommalapati â?? Abhinay Dommalapati (908.0) 6.0
    Leah Dominick (591) 4.0
    Quinn Dominick (1225) 2.0
    45 CHACH2 Siri Hamsini Chakka-Mallikarjuna Chakka (682.5) 6.0
    Mallikarjuna Chakka (1099) 3.0
    Sirihamsini Chakka (266) 3.0
    46 GUMJAI Amogha Gummadivalli-Samkith Jain (0.0) 6.0
    Samkith Jain (unr.) 4.0
    Amogha Gummadivalli (unr.) 2.0
    47 SERFOR SERFOR (1764.5) 5.5
    Servin-Demarrais (1408) 3.0
    Robert K* Forney (2121) 2.5
    48 YANYAN YANYAN (1509.5) 5.5
    Sarah Yan (1501) 3.0
    Erick Yan (1518) 2.5
    49 KANDAB Meghana Kancharla-Jay Dabral (1086.5) 5.5
    Jay Dabral (771) 3.0
    Meghana Kancharla (1402) 2.5
    50 SAMLEV SAMLEV (2177.5) 5.0
    Daniel Levkov (2207) 2.5
    WFM Mart Samadashvili (2148) 2.5
    51 MIYBOR MIYBOR (1919.5) 5.0
    Julia Ka Miyasaka (1764) 3.0
    Peter Theod Boris (2075) 2.0
    52 ARAARA ARAARA (1834.5) 5.0
    Athira Arayath (1834) 3.0
    Nikhil Arayath (1835) 2.0
    53 BREBRE BREBRE (1615.5) 5.0
    Nicklas Breskin (1971) 3.0
    Larisa Breskin (1260) 2.0
    54 CHACHA CHACHA (1372.0) 5.0
    Andy Chang (1372) 4.0
    Annie Chang (unr.) 1.0
    55 SYUSYU Sijia Yu-Sicheng Yu (1277.0) 5.0
    Sicheng Yu (1277) 3.0
    Sijia Yu (unr.) 2.0
    56 JINTIA JINTIA (1886.0) 4.5
    Lisa Jin (1573) 3.0
    Eddy Tian (2199) 1.5
    57 MOUMOU MOUMOU (1844.0) 4.5
    Arvin Mou (1886) 2.5
    Iris Zhaoying Mou (1802) 2.0
    58 ZHUWU1 ZHUWU1 (942.5) 4.5
    Stanley Wu (829) 3.5
    Sophie Zhu (1056) 1.0
    59 SYRPAX Olga Syrodoeva-Alexander Paxson (781.5) 4.5
    Olga Syrodoeva (500) 3.0
    Alexander Edwin Paxson (1063) 1.5
    60 KARKAR KARKAR (1768.5) 4.0
    Leif Kazuo Karell (2037) 2.0
    Mira Karell (1500) 2.0
    61 LAMHU2 LAMHU2 (1307.0) 4.0
    Koiip Lam (1333) 3.0
    Oliver Hua (1281) 1.0
    62 ULMULM ULMULM (1286.0) 4.0
    Robert Andr Ulmer (1600) 2.0
    Annie Ulmer (972) 2.0
    63 WONNAL Joanne Wong-Benjamin Nallengara (1266.0) 4.0
    Benjamin Nallengara (1266) 2.5
    Joanne Wong (unr.) 1.5
    64 ZHUZHU ZHUZHU (1227.5) 4.0
    Ryan Zhu (1253) 2.5
    Florina Zhu (1202) 1.5
    65 NGNG NGNG (1147.5) 4.0
    Timothy Ng (1517) 2.0
    Sophia Ng (778) 2.0
    66 YEVYEV Eva Yevdayev-Tamir Yevdayev (859.0) 4.0
    Eva Victoria Yevdayev (1045) 2.0
    Tamir Yevdayev (673) 2.0
    67 CHELUO Claire Cheng â?? Will Luo (1191.0) 3.5
    Will Luo (1243) 2.0
    Claire Ziyun Cheng (1139) 1.5
    68 ANALIA ANALIA (1500.5) 2.5
    Jason Liang (1945) 1.5
    Ananya Ananth (1056) 1.0
    69 HAMHAM HAMHAM (1069.0) 1.0
    Eleanor Sylvie Hamilton (1271) 1.0
    Josh Hamilton (867) 0.0

    1. Hard to tell from here. It just raised more questions. How soon were they notified? Seems like it would have been after the pairings were posted. What happened after Bill said it was a mistake? Did Bill specifically say to you the pairing would be changed? Whose responsibility was it to make the change? Bill or Jabari? I know there is no official rule about siblings or relatives being paired, but is there a rule about people in mixed doubles not being paired?

      1. I was just informed about this comment. I’m responding here solely in my capacity as a director at this event.

        First, I was responsible for pairing the top five sections of the National Chess Congress (Premier, U2200, U2000, U1800, U1600). So, I had nothing to do with the pairings in the U600 section, and the pairings were not mine to review. Bill Goichberg handled the bottom five sections.

        Second, if this was the dispute I think it is, I do not recall Mr. Goichberg saying a mistake was made. I do recall Mr. Bady claiming his children should not have been paired against each other. However, it is the players’ responsibility to request such an accommodation – a director cannot, and IMO should not, assume such a preference. My recollection is that no request was made prior to the round in question, either by or on behalf of the Bady children. After the round is paired and posted, it’s a bit late to request that. (Side note to all family members who want to play in the same tournament: if you really want to guarantee you don’t play each other, play in different sections if at all possible.)

        Third, NTD Jabari McGreen was a floor TD at this event. He was, for reporting purposes, listed as the assistant for the U600 section. However, he was not responsible for checking any pairings.

        Fourth, there’s no rule about not pairing mixed doubles partners. While I try to avoid it, generally speaking, I am fine with pairing mixed doubles partners if there is no good way to pair the section without doing so. The overall integrity of the tournament’s pairings come before maximizing the possible score of a mixed doubles team.

  36. Update: Ayo Bady and Grace Bady overcame the ruling of the 2017 National Congress, Mixed-Doubles, where they were paired against each other. Fast forward, they came in 1st place, Mixed Doubles, and took home the $2000.00 prize.
    Section 9 – UNDER800
    Chief TD HECTOR L RODRIGUEZ III (12669867)
    Chf. Asst. TD ANDREW B REA (11052452)
    Section Date(s) 2018-11-24 thru 2018-11-25
    Processed Received: 2018-11-25 Entered: 2018-11-25 Rated: 2018-11-25 Re-Rated: 2021-07-22
    Stats 6 Rounds, 23 Players; K Factor: F Rating Sys: D Tnmt Type: S
    Time Control: G/40;d10
    Show floating point ratings from this event
    * Click on a Pairing Number to see the Player’s Opponents.
    * Click on a Player’s Name for more information about the Player.
    Crosstable data is shown in score group/rating order, which is not the same as the tiebreak order used at the event.
    Crosstables are not intended to show the distribution of trophies or prize monies. (See Frequent Questions)
    Crosstable data is shown as reported to the USCF by the Tournament Director.
    Please contact the TD to report any crosstable errors.
    Note: The information below the “Total Pts” score shows the highest norm earned in this event.
    For more information on norms, see The USCF Title System.
    Pair | Player Name |Total|Round|Round|Round|Round|Round|Round|
    Num | USCF ID / Rtg (Pre->Post) | Pts | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |
    1 | AYO BADY |5.5 |W 17|W 18|W 7|W 10|W 2|D 3|
    PA | 16473506 / R: 843 ->1007 | |W |B |W |B |W |B |
    | Q: 841 -> 983 | | | | | | | |
    2 | ALEX N SHUTE |4.5 |W 8|D 3|W 4|W 11|L 1|W 6|
    NJ | 16346844 / R: 731P13-> 927P19 | |W |B |W |B |B |W |
    | Q: 707P13-> 902P19 | | | | | | | |
    3 | ROMAN MODHERA |4.5 |W 13|D 2|W 20|D 6|W 12|D 1|
    NJ | 16831106 / R: 744P3 -> 900P9 | |B |W |B |W |B |W |
    | Q: 706P3 -> 860P9 | | | | | | | |
    4 | GRACE BADY |4.5 |W 21|D 5|L 2|W 20|W 8|W 12|
    PA | 15470752 / R: 818 -> 849 | |W |B |B |W |W |B |
    | Q: 794 -> 824 | | | | | | | |

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