Thursday, December 31, 2009

Time to Go

This will be my last BaconLOG entry. It was started while working at the Atlanta Chess & Game Center as a way of getting the word out in the way IM John Donaldson does with his excellent Mechanic’s Institute Newsletter. After leaving I used it, for the most part, to comment on the world of chess. The chess world has changed dramatically since playing in my first USCF rated tournament in 1970. One of the biggest changes has been the rise of the machine. Often called an ‘engine’, I have come to think of the computer chess program as the ‘Oracle’. The Oracle has altered the way the game is played. It used to be that the final word on a move, or position, was given by a Grandmaster. The joy in analyzing chess was to study the analysis of a GM and possibly finding a mistake. Today GM’s write in their commentary things like, “Deep Purple says this”, and no one questions the Oracle. It has been said that ‘beauty is in the flaws’ and if the Oracle makes no mistakes, where is the beauty?
Former World Champion Kasparov has been working with the young GM Magnus Carlsen recently. The pictures shown on websites and magazines all show a third entity working with them, the Oracle. World Champion Viswanathan Anand was quoted as saying recently: I use computer a lot, I must admit. I check analyses, variations, and I have to do this, because everybody else does so, and one has to check and re-check everything. But I use computers a little strangely, because while I am looking at a position with one eye, I can be watching a film or doing something else as well.
I read recently that the Oracle had produced a theoretical novelty on move 34. THIRTY-FOUR! GM Vlastimil Hort was asked in New in Chess, 2009/3: If you could change one thing in the chess world, what would it be? He answered, “I would strickly expel and forbid all computers. Using them is a surrender of the human brain.”
It is not just chess that has been altered by the Oracle. I played backgammon with Dan Heisman at a World Open earlier this decade. We only played for low stakes, only one dollar a point, as it was the first time I had played for money in almost two decades. After our session he asked about my past. I said that I had previously played professionally in the late 70’s and 80’s. He said, “I could tell. You’ve got that 80’s style.” He went on to tell me that a computer program, ‘Snowy’ had altered thinking on the game. As an example he said it was now commonly accepted that most players would make the two point with an opening roll of 6-4. I cringed at the thought of making that play, as it far too early to make that inner point as it limits one’s options considerably. I mentioned something I had read on the Chicago Point website: “Back in the 80’s players had style; now they are all techies.” Something similar could be said about chess.
Hans Berliner wrote in the NYTimes, Feb 6, 2003: "You don't have to be really good anymore to get results. What's happening with chess is that it's gradually losing it's place as the par excellence of intellectual activity. Smart people in search of a challenging game might tray a game called Go."
I have recently begun to study seriously the ancient oriental game of Go. Although I learned how to play decades ago, I have only played a few dozen games in my life. I now have two games ongoing on the Dragon Go Server. Because of the Oracle, that is simply not possible with correspondence chess. Fortunately, Go programs are not very strong, offering little, if any, help. I must think for myself and it’s the same for my opponent. Peter Shotwell writes in the forward to Go! More than a game: “It’s almost infinite complexity has defied computer programmers attempts to ‘memory crunch’ the game as they have done so successfully in chess. Low-ranked amateurs can beat any program, and the situation is unlikely to change much in the foreseeable future as it would take more than a lifetime to play a program that plays Go the way Big Blue, Fritz, and Deep Junior play chess. A chess champion who aided in the development of Deep Blue recently commented that computers have changed the way championship chess is won, because all the top players must now employ them to study complex combinations. On the other hand, only human minds can play Go well, making the Go board one of the last places on earth that has been unaffected by the incursion of modern machinery.”
I participated in many studies at the Georgia Institute of Technology psychology department, with many having to do with memory. Not only was I paid, but I also received results of the studies. One of the most important things I discovered was that, as one grows older, it is very important to try and learn new things. In the forward to Go Fundamentals by Shigemi Kishikawa, John Fairbairn writes: “Go has apparently been shown to provide beneficial intellectual stimulation that aids in staving off senile diseases. This may (like many of its benefits) be because it is a game that relies heavily on pattern recognition rather than pure analysis-right brain over left brain.”
The beauty of an idea is that it was discovered by a human mind. Computer programs do not have an idea; they only produce what it has been programmed to compute as the best move in a given position. It has been written that the difference between chess and Go is that while chess is akin ten to the twentieth power, Go is ten to the power of two hundred. Again from Peter Shotwell, “Part of the mystique of modern computer Go is the game’s sheer insolvability. Ever since Wang Ni noted in 1050 that no Go game had ever been repeated, many statistics and ‘folk lore’ have accumulated. One popular adage is that ‘There are more possible games than atoms in the universe’. Because the board is so large, even after pruning, the first 14 moves of Go produce a search tree with ten-thousand trillion leaves. It would take Deep Blue, which analyzed two-hundred million chess positions every second, over a year and a half to play one move of Go. Still, it would not know if that was a good move, because, unlike chess, Go is so vague in terms of profit-now versus influence-later calculations, and is so complex on a local scale.”
What seems now a lifetime ago when I was playing both chess and backgammon can best be summed-up by words from a Bob Dylan song, Shelter from the Storm:
'Twas in another lifetime, one of toil and blood
When blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud
I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form.
"Come in," she said,
"I'll give you shelter from thestorm."

The love of my life read to me, what has now become a classic quote, from a book she was reading, by Trevanian. “What Go is to philosophers and warriors, chess is to accountants and merchants. “ The quote usually ends there, but it continues: “Ah! The bigotry of youth. It would be more kind, Nikko,to say that Go appeals to the philosopher in any man, and chess to the merchant in him." But Nicholai did not recant. “Yes, sir, that would be more kind. But less true."
She seemed to derive satisfaction from the fact that what she read bothered me...Now that I have delved more deeply into the game of Go, I have a much better understanding of what the author meant by the exchange. Players of Go consider chess in much the same way players of chess consider checkers. Zhang Yunqi lists the qualities required to excel at Go as, "The tactic of the soldier, the exactness of the mathetician, the imagination of the artist, the inspiration of the poet, the calm of the philosopher, and the greatest intelligence."
Microcomputer executive and expert Go player Nolan Bushnell said, “Those interested in impressing others with their intelligence play chess. Those who would settle for being chic play backgammon. Those who wish to become individuals of quality take up Go.”
During my studies of theology and philosophy, I have been most attracted to Taoism. Several years ago while on retreat at a monastery I read a book that changed who I am. That book is, Change Your Thoughts - Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. I have heard it said that you are the books you read read the people with whom you associate. My path first led me to chess, then backgammon, and now to the beautiful, nebulous, mystical game of Go. The Great Man, World Chess Champion Emanuel Lasker said, "If games are played by sentient beings on other planets, then they play Go."

Sunday, December 27, 2009


The first question in Buce Pandolfini's column, The Q & A Way, on the www.chesscafe website begins: "I had some keen interest in chess at High School but after raising three children and a busy career, chess went off the radar."
I thought back to my youth spent playing baseball. When I stopped playing, baseball never 'went off the radar', and I have been a fan all my life. I wondered what it is about chess whereby it 'goes off the radar'? Why do more players not become lifelong fans of the game?
The question continues: "Now that I am in my middle age, and the children have grown up and left home, I have got interested in chess again. I attended a couple of local tournaments but was rather disheartened at the number of younger children competing in the adult grades and winning. There is much talk of children being professionally coached at ridiculously young ages now. I also noted that a competitor at the world youth championships was seven years old and had a rating of 2012, this makes my 1400 pale in comparison. I was wondering do you know of any player taking up the game in middle age ever rising to the title of IM or grandmaster or are older players like me doomed to a steady decline in ratings and brain cells (at least Korchnoi gives me hope)."
Thinking the question came from an American, I was astonished to learn it came from Savern Reweti, of New Zealand! I have heard much the same from many adults here in the states.
Since I turned fifty in 2000, I have been a strong advocate for Senior Chess. It has been my experience that, given the opportunity of playing in a Senior event, players for whom chess went 'off the radar' will come back to the game. Some of them will only compete in a Senior tournament because they do not like playing with children. In conversation several have mentioned the high energy level and the constant fidgiting, something older players, for the most part, no longer do, as the energy level has ebbed.
There seems to be a disconnect between scholastic chess and adult chess. Consider the statement by an outgoing president of a state organization about the incoming president: "He comes from the scholastic side of chess." Different people on separate occasions have said to me, "I don't know much about adult chess, as I've only been involved in scholastic chess."
Adult members of the USCF are vastly outnumbered by junior members, and there is power in larger numbers. Consider this question by larryfoushee on the forum of the Kentucky Chess Association website (, Is KCA now a puppet to scholastic chess?
It elicited this response from Ken McDonald: "The scholastic events draw a lot more people and make money. So how does it feel to be subsidized by youngsters and their parents?"
larryfoushee answered with: "it feels bad."
It sure as hell does 'feel bad', especially considering people with this kind of attitude have not been around long enough to know that at one time the situation was the reverse and it was SCHOLASTIC CHESS being SUBSIDIZED! The fact is that the rise in scholastic chess has come at the expense of adult chess! An example would be the American Foundation for Chess, which was to be used for Grandmaster chess, but was co-opted (I have heard the word 'hijacked' used), and the money diverted toward scholastic chess!
I have, unfortunately, experienced this kind of attitude from many 'on the scholastic side', especially in regard to Senior chess. Only fifty or so players attended the US Senior this year. Add two zero's on that for the attendance at the Supernationals this year. Ten times fewer attended the US Open. During an email exchange with the president of the GCA, Scott Parker, I wrote that I would like to put a zero on the number of players at the Ga Senior, US Senior, and the US Open. Mr Parker replied, "Enough of this nonsense." NONSENSE! I will admit it may be asking for too much at this time to expect to be able to put a zero on the number of participants at the US Senior, especially taking into consideration something pointed out to me in an email; that being the fact that there may not be five hundred Senior members of the USCF! Yet, could it not be a future goal for which to aspire?
I am galled and appalled, but not surprised, that anyone would write such a thing as "How does it feel". I think of the greatest Rock & Roll song of all time as I write this; that being Bob Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone. How does it feel... About having to be scrounging for your next adult tournament?
I have previously written on the BaconLOG about attending the Supernationals and the US Open this year, and the disparity between the two. I played in the Governor's Cup in Sioux Falls South Dakota in 2002. There was a scholastic tournament held in conjunction with the 'adult' tournament. Fortunately, the scholastic event was only on Saturday. It was a zoo! The disparity between Saturday & Sunday could not have been any more pronounced. I mentioned this to the organizer, Dee Knudsen, who said that, "Without the scholastic tournament, there would not have been an 'adult' tournament."
I played in a Grand-Prix tournament in Orlando some years ago at a hotel undergoing renovations. Not having one of my better tournaments, I went to the bar for an adult beverage, where I met a pretty flight attendant, and we struck-up a conversation. She was surprised to learn I was actually playing in the tournament as she thought that, with all the children and parents, it must have been a junior tournament. I recall her saying, "I always pictured a chess tournament as being quiet and dignified. This is more like Bedlum!" She also said the airline personel did not appreciate all the children running around like 'chickens with their heads cut-off' and had complained to the hotel manager and the company for whom they worked. The perception has become that chess is for children. The perception has become the reality. Is it any wonder so many adult players have gravitated toward adult games like poker?
Scholastic chess is viewed as separate and distinct from adult chess; of that there can be no dispute. Scholastic chess 'pays the freight', so to speak. Without scholastic chess, there would be no USCF. Those that derive income from chess know only too well that scholastic members buy more equipment and books, etc. than adult members. They do so not only because there are more of them, but because younger players become involved, and purchase what they need, before dropping out and moving onto something else, with the chess stuff going into the closet. It is taken for granted they will be replaced by other youngsters 'coming into the system'. Chess is, therefore, being run like a pyramid scheme. If, for whatever reason, juniors stop entering the pyramid, there are not enough adult members to support the USCF. What would happen to scholastic chess if a pedophile, like Robert Snyder, for example, were to kill a student? With the 24/7 infotainment cycle, everyone in America, and the rest of the world, would learn of it, and down would come the pyramid.
Why are there so few adult members if the object of scholastic chess is to bring in more members? Some time ago I had an adult player tell me that the influx of junior members bode well for the future of chess. He was stunned when told I had recently read on the USCF forum that only three percent of scholastic members went on to become adult members! Money and resources have been aimed at scholastic chess for a generation now. If the object were actually more adult members, then why are there vastly fewer adult members than there were when the scholastic movement began? USCF has not even retained the number of adult members it had a generation ago. Imagine how strong USCF would be if it had simply retained those members...The question has to be asked: Have adult members chosen to leave because of the children's explosian?
In theory there should be only one chess. I am reminded of a quote by Chuck Reid:
In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; In practice, there is.
In practice there is a schism between adult and scholastic chess. If scholastic chess is bigger and stronger than adult chess, it is because it stands on the shoulders of those who have come before them.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

USCF Rating Foreign Tournaments

This was posted December 25 by NM Rex Blalock (NM Reb), who now lives in Lisbon, Portugal. Reb is from my native state, Georgia, USA.
"I recently noticed that my uscf rating had changed due to some events I had played in Portugal ! I was astonished and so wrote an email to the USCF to see if this were some sort of mistake. Their reply said they had started doing this in 2008 due to the directions of their policy board !? What kind of nonsense is this ?! I am not even a current member of the USCF and yet my uscf rating changes when I play in fide events abroad ?! Does this make any sense to anyone? It certainly makes none to me."
I was unaware USCF rated games played in other countries, especially by non-members. This is news to me. I find it quite bizarre, to say the least.
Further communication via private message continued:
Merry Christmas !
Yes, please do put it anywhere you like with my permission ! I am completely against this and wrote to the uscf about this and all they told me is they started doing this in 08 due to " policy board directions " ! If they are going to do this, against my wishes, I think I at least should be allowed to play rated chess when visiting the US without having to renew or pay a per game rating fee. I think my position is sensible.

I would like to be able to see the USCF forum if I can ? I am a lapsed member though and may not be able to.
I have also read that they now rate G/30 to G/60 as both quick and regular chess ?! This is also hogwash in my view and I wonder do they always do this or just sometimes? Is it announced in advance when an event is rated as both ? I do not wish to play in any event that affects more than one rating, its ridiculous. Are they doing this in order to make more money from rating the games ?

Reb has been an expatriate for many years, playing in tournaments in the US when he returns to visit, with the last being the 2008 Ga State Championship, where he finished in a four way tie for third place with 3 1/2 points. Although from Georgia, as were the other three players with whom he tied, he was not eligible for the title of State Champion. Checking his MSA, one finds the last three rated tournaments were in Portugal! Reb will be coming home to live soon. I have informed him of some of the many changes he can expect in the chess world, and would have to say he seems to be in a state of 'culture shock'!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

2010 US Masters

It is the time of year when a chess player begins to consider tournaments he would like to attend next year. I was surprised, and elated, to learn the 2010 US Masters will be returning to Hendersonville, NC! I would like EVERY chess player to give strong consideration to attending this tournament! I say every player because there will also be a tournament for 'sub-masters', those who do not qualify for the US Masters proper, and also a 'sub-sub-masters' for the triple digit set! This will make it a real 'Chess Festival'! You can read the particulars here:

If you cannot make it to play in the tournament, I urge you to consider a trip to the mountains as a spectator. You will enjoy 'rubbing shoulders' with the Masters, and I'm sure you will enjoy the visit!
I happened to live in Hendersonville when two previous US Masters, 2006 & 2007, were held in this beautiful mountain city. Both tournaments were exceptional events. I attended as a spectator and heard absolutely no derogatory comments concerning either tournament. As a spectator, I was able to talk with many players, particularly recalling a conversation with Victors Pupols, who came all the way from the Great Northwest. He said he did not care for large cities, and loved the mountains, so Hendersonville was the place to be!
The tournament will be held in the same hotel, the Quality Inn and Suites on Four Seasons Blvd, which has an indoor pool, and a putt-putt range. I recall FM 'Big Head' Todd (The Monster) Andrews and the tournament winner, GM Jaan Ehlvest enjoying some putt-putting after agreeing to a draw in the final round of the 2007 event.
Unlike the massive tournaments, there is no 'crush' before the round, with players elbowing each other, trying to get a view of the pairing board. This is a more intimate tournament, and a more enjoyable one, too!
There are many restaurants nearby, and for those who like to stretch their legs, some are within walking distance. I recall a Golden Corral on Chimney Rock Rd, my friend NM Neal (Ol' Swindler) Harris and I used to frequent, with him usually buying! Before I'm accused of disparaging my friend, the 'Ol' Swindler' stems from the Legendary Georgia Ironman, Tim Brookshear. After he lost to Neal for the second time, in the same line, I mentioned that maybe he should've looked at the line before playing it again. "I know, Bacon, but that Neal...he's just an Ol' Swindler!" I mentioned it to Neal later, and he laughed out loud, going on to tell me it did not bother him in the least. He's that kind of guy! And yes, the Ol' Swindler will be playing...As will the man I have called the 'Victor Korchnoi of Southern chess', SM Klaus Pohl. Knowing Klaus as I do, he would have to be dead to miss this event, and then I would not wager against him being there in spirit! I know there's a Chick-Fil-A nearby, and far too many others to recall, though I do recall with pleasure an Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar, because it was the first place Neal bought my lunch!
For those who have never been to Hendersonville, I must say that one of the best features is Main Street, which will take you back in time. Walking down Main Street, one will expect to see Andy and Barney! There are many locally owned shops in Hendersonville. One of my favorites is Mountain Lore Books & More. A short walk from Main St is the Henderson County Library, at 301 N.Washington St., known for the Friends of the Library bookstore spread over three weekends in September. Booklovers come from many different states for this event. The Friends even have their own warehouse, and the proceeds help to make their library one of the best in the state. For those who would like to celebrate a victory, or maybe drown their sorrows after a tough loss, Hannah Flanagan's stays open late. It's the local 'watering hole', a place where one may fine himself sitting between the mayor and the owner of the local tatoo parlor. The Black Rose Public House, also on Main St, is a little more 'upscale'.
No trip to Atlanta is complete without visiting the Varsity. In Hendersonville, the same could be said about Hot Dog World, just off Main St. For seafood, the Bay Breeze Seafood Restaurant on Asheville Hwy was one of my favorite eating establishments. Although there are many coffee shops, the Black Bear Coffee Co on Main St is the most popular. I enjoyed the coffee at a shop just off Main St, the Terra Nova Cafe. The Cypress Cellar is located on Main St, and the Blue Water Seafood Company is only a short distance away from Main St. I must mention the Dixie Diner and Tooley's Cafe. There are so many, I do not have room for them all; these are just a few of my favorites. While researching restaurants for this article, I noticed one with which I am not familiar, but may have to try, the Crazy Lady Cafe. I had this girlfriend onetime that some of my friends called 'Crazy Debbie' behind my back. On second thought, maybe I should pass on this one!

A most popular attraction is Jump Off Rock in the neighboring city of Laurel Park. According to a 300 year old legend, a young Cherokee chieftain and the woman he loved used to meet here. He was called away to tribal wars. Returning warriors brought her news of the chieftain's death. She went to the rock, and jumped off into the 100 foot precipice. Fortunately, for the chess player doing the 'goose-egg shuffle', there is now a railing...
To get there, one simply takes 5th avenue.
Where else can one see a sign directing one to 'Bat Cave'? Also nearby is the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, for those religious souls. Scenic Chimney Rock Park is an amazing place, it has miles of high rock hiking trails, waterfalls and wonderful scenery (Last of the Mohicans was filmed there). One can consider cruising the loop up and around Grandfather Mountain to Boone and through to the Linville Falls.
Asheville is only a short drive and it is a most beautiful city. One can take one of my favorite roads, Tunnel road, to go to the mall, with a Barnes & Noble across the street, along with a Books A Million. Downtown Asheville is an amazing place. Just walking around one finds a virtual cornucopia of sights and sounds! I recall one chess mom telling me at the state scholastic championships in Charlotte that Asheville was an "Artsy fartsy community." I liked that, for some reason. The independent bookstore, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe is worth a visit, as is the sister store, Downtown Books & News, where I was able to procure a copy of the best chess magazine in the world, New in Chess, that is, if I could beat Jimmy Hardy to it! I also recommend the Captain's Bookshelf for used and rare tomes.
For those who have never been, I would recommend a trip the the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa, location of the first two Land of the Sky chess tournaments, hosted by the irrepressable Wilder Wadford. Dr Karl Burger, a master who had played all over the world, once said he had never played in a more opulent venue! And then there is always the Biltmore Estate.
The tournament will be directed by Kevin Hyde, now a lieutenant colonel, who has done tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a fine man and one cannot find a better TD! His wife and children will be there to make it a family affair, ensuring everyone enjoys some down home 'Southern hospitality'. The tournament will be held in early spring, before the 'snowbirds' arrive, so the room rates are very reasonable, with chess players having run of the place. There is nothing like the cool, crisp mountain air! I was at the US Open in Fort Lauderdale (to be honest, it was called Fort Lauderdale, but it was quite a distance away), in 2004, but could not play because of a bad back. I decided to take a walk during the afternoon and was about to pass out from the August heat, so I went into a shop, to soak up some cool air. The owner took one look at me and said she could tell I was not from the area, because I would have known better than to go out in the life-threatening mid-day heat! I think about that when contemplating playing in this year's US Senior in Boca Raton...There will be none of that in Hendersonville! One can get out and explore, if one desires...
One of my most vivid memories of the aforementioned US Masters is the friendship between one of Neal's students, Josh Horwitz, and Ray Robson. The Horwitz family hosted the Robson family for the tournament, a very gracious deed, indeed! Although a thousand points separated the two youngsters, their age and common interests found them as 'fast-friends'. I like to think that friendships that could last a lifetime could emanate from a visit to the US Masters in the beautiful mountains of the great state of North Carolina.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"I just got good"

From the excellent Mechanic's Institute Newsletter #472:
Bobby Fischer facts: His USCF rating was 1726 on the May 20, 1956 list2231 on May 5, 1957 2626 ( # 2 behind Reshevsky) March 1958 .
I am remined of the answer Bobby gave to a question concerning how he became so strong so quickly: "I just got good."

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sign of the Times

In the excellent LA Times chess column of Nov 6, IM Jack Peters reports: "The 45th annual American Open ended in a three-way tie last Sunday at the Renaissance Hotel in Los Angeles. Two favorites, GM Melikset Khachiyan and IM Andranik Matikozyan, shared first place with 20-year-old Julian Landaw. All scored 6-2 in the 36-player Open section...
Landaw, a master since 2006, achieved the greatest success yet in his chess career. He had to take a last-round bye that evening to return to college at UC Berkeley."
One cannot help but wonder what would have happened if he had played that last round game...Earning a half-point by withdrawing early would seem to cast a cloud on "the greatest success yet in his chess career."
IM Peters goes on to report: "Organizer Randy Hough described the turnout of 197 players as "rather disappointing." The tournament was one of the country's largest in the 1980s, consistently attracting over 400 entrants.
On the other hand, attendance boomed to 144 players in the American Open Scholastic."
A sign of the times...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

David Nguyen

The chess column in today's NY Times has a game played in the U1600 section of the recent National Chess Congress. It is won by the winner of that tournament, David Nguyen. He won all six of his games. His rating going in was 684. His performance rating for the tournament was 1911. He had previously played 11 rated games in 1994. The article states that Mark Glikman, in an email message, wrote that the odds are about "one in a trillion." It also says that "Goichberg said he would also ask the federation to raise Nguyen's rating, which was about 1250 after the tournament. The federation changed it to 1600."Mike Nolan has stated that he has "found evidence" that my rating was over 2000. My rating 'floor' is 1700. It should be 1800. I have been accused of using my 1700+ rating to gain advantage, although I have previously asked the USCF about this, being told it was BC-Before Computer. No one wanted to take the time to do the research, so I let it go. I have now written to Bill Hall, Mike Nolan, and, the man Mike said takes care of these things, Walter Brown, asking that my rating be changed to the 1800 floor. I have heard nothing from anyone, yet Bill Goichberg can ask that this fellow's rating be arbitrarily and capriciously changed and it happens immediately. Why is that?I know nothing other than what I have read in the NY Times, but it seems unfair to this person to be given a 350 point rating boost based on one tournament. Thirty something years ago a young man by the name of Charles Daniel entered a tournament in Atlanta for those rated under 2000, or unrated. It was his very first tournament, and he won it, and the, I think it was $1500, big money in those days, that went with it.In my four decades of playing in USCF tournaments I have seen many players work hard, and play chess that was not rated, and improve their game. Some have won money, in some cases, a considerable amount of money, in each section as their rating caught up with their playing strength. Why should this man NOT be allowed to do the same thing?