Friday, May 30, 2008

Irina Krush protests in Open Letter

I have made my opinion known during the playoff. I felt that it was absolutely ridiculous to have these 2 players play 5 playoff games after their last round's match, especially when Irina played more than 100 moves in her final game.

In addition, I also think that it is unfortunate to decide the national championship by the form of Blitz then Armageddon blitz which have nothing to do with the format the US Women's Championship.

There is nothing wrong with declaring co-champions. This has been done so many times in the past. However, in this case, the games were finished and the title was crowned. I am not sure what can be done to change the outcome.

I am sorry that both Irina and Anna have to go through this. The USCF President was there and so were the tournament arbiters and organizers. If they approved this outcome at that time and there was no complaint during the game, how can they go back and change their position now?

Now on the technical issue, both players committed violations. If you look at
this video, you will see that around the 1:10 mark of the video, Irina knocked over a rook and did not pick it up. On the other hand, Anna also moved before Irina punched her clock. I have played in countless blitz tournaments and this looks like a normal blitz game to me. I do not see anything unusual and I do not think that either player was doing anything "illegal" on purpose.

What is your take? Please be respectful to both players! Thanks!

Open Letter by Irina Krush
By Irina Krush
May 30, 2008

Dear CLO,

I would like to explain what really happened in Tulsa, which has so far been obscured by the final tournament report that you published.

Anna and I were tied at 7.5/9 points at the end of the tournament. We started our G/15 +3 second increment playoffs approximately fifteen minutes after my six hour, 106 move game against Rohonyan ended. We split these rapid games with one win each, then went into the blitz stage of G/5 + 3 second increment, which we also split with one win each.

We then proceeded to the final Armageddon game, that was to be played without increment. As the defending champion, I was told by the organizers that I had to choose how the time would be divided, and Anna would choose the color she wanted to play. I decided that White would be given 6 minutes, Black 4:30. Anna chose to be Black with draw odds.

The relevant part of the game is not that I had the initiative throughout, and maintained a winning position until the end. The relevant part is, of course, the clock, since I was deemed to have "lost" the title of US Women's Champion due to my time running out while Anna had 1 second left.

So, about the clock. Tom Braunlich, one of the organizers of the event, wrote in his report "At one point Anna had 2 seconds left compared to about 20 for Irina." This is a plainly incorrect appraisal of the time situation. Then Tom, in an attempt to explain how my 20 seconds ran out before Anna’s 2, wrote that "Anna’s draw odds were a big advantage here – she could blitz out moves hardly thinking (just moving the piece nearest to the clock), while Irina actually had to do something with her moves since she had to win." Unfortunately, this statement also has no basis in reality. Despite having a winning position, I didn't need to "do something with my moves"- all I needed to do was move quickly and the person with much less time would flag first. And, in fact, that's what I did. I moved instantly, as can be seen very clearly in the video you've posted of that game. I moved instantly, all the while having a significant time advantage until I got to 0 seconds while Anna had 1. How could this have happened?

First of all, let’s establish what the true clock situation was. Tom was certainly off in his estimate, but the essence of what he said was absolutely true: I had a large lead in time, let's say 8 seconds to 3 at one point, or as Anna herself says in her interview, “I realized that I had two seconds. I was so shocked that I am going to lose right now. She has six (seconds). I played Rb8-e8 because it was so close to clock.” So let's take 6 seconds to 2. Watching the video, seeing me move instantly, how could 6 seconds lose against 2?

And that's the crux of the matter. My opponent, seeing herself on the verge of losing on time, began playing moves before I had completed mine. She made her moves before I hit my clock, and as soon as I pressed the clock, it was punched back at me. That is how my lead in time was chipped away at, and this process began during the advance of Anna’s c-pawn, quite a few moves before the game ended.

Obviously, making moves before your opponent completes theirs is illegal. Were it legal, White, having the “disadvantage” of the first move, would always lose on time to Black if the adversaries were to settle into the rhythm of Black using White’s time to move their pieces.

The sad thing is, no one stepped in as this was happening. No arbiter, no organizer, did anything to ensure that fair play was being observed in the final moments of the game. It was a free-for-all, where the person with the worse blitz habits “won.”

People have pointed out that I should have registered my protest during the game, or immediately after. Unfortunately, while I was certainly in disbelief as I watched my opponent complete 3 moves with her last remaining second and saw myself lose on time despite starting out with a large time lead, during the game and immediately after, I had no clear grasp of how she had accomplished this. It happened too quickly for me to understand, but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen, and that it should be ignored.

An injustice that wasn’t brought to light at the moment it occurred is no less of an injustice. Moreover, in our particular situation, it is not an injustice that is difficult to redress. As no one in our tournament was in any way affected by our playoff, no games need to be replayed, no scores adjusted, no ratings recalculated- all that needs to be changed is the way the ending of this story is told.

It has been announced that Anna, by virtue of conserving 1 second on her clock, is the 2008 U.S. Women’s Champion.

I fervently dispute Anna's claim to the sole possession of this title. I do not believe that a Champion emerges through one second they have managed to keep on their clock through illegal means.

In my view, a winner of a tournament is someone who at some point, perhaps in some minuscule and barely perceptible way, lifts themselves above their competitors. I would be interested to hear any view that holds that Anna, through legal techniques, did anything to earn the title of Champion over me.

I’d also like to address my reaction at the end of this game, when I knocked a piece off to the side of the board before walking out of the room. This may seem like poor behavior to some, but I believe that my reaction was nothing compared to the aggression leveled at me by my opponent during the end of this game. Knocking off a piece and storming away had no power or intention to take away anything my opponent had been working for during this tournament. When my opponent moved on my time, however innocuous that may appear to be, I believe that she was committing one of the worst transgressions possible: depriving me, through unfair means, of the just rewards of my labor. That is where the aggression lies in this situation, and not in my expression of frustration and anger over being wronged.

I am pained that this incident has raised doubts about my sportsmanship. I have never in my entire career been accused of showing poor sportsmanship. I have never displayed any outward sign of anger or aggression at the end of a game, within sight of my opponent or spectators, or anywhere in the vicinity of the playing area. I have never failed to shake my opponent’s hand at the end of a game. I lost two games to Anna in the playoff, and both times I offered my hand in resignation, even though this isn’t even required protocol in blitz chess. And I have never been accused of cheating or violating my opponent’s rights in any way. I want this point to be clear: my reaction at the end of the final game had nothing to do with “losing” and everything to do with the way it happened and my perception of something unfair having occurred. And although the following piece of information is not entirely necessary as I feel perfectly capable of defending my sportsmanship all on my own, it is rather funny. Guess what Frank Berry, the sponsor and organizer of the US Championship, stated I should get an award for during his closing ceremony comments: that’s right, “sportsmanship.” Thanks, Frank.

I had hoped to resolve this matter in a friendly way, without being forced to voice my indignation in public. Four days ago, I wrote a letter to Anna explaining my position, urging her to study the video of our final game, and if she agreed with my conclusions about what happened, to write a few sentences for where she’d communicate her non-objection to sharing the title with me. In any case, I told her, I looked forward to hearing what she had to say. Unfortunately, I have not heard back from her, and since there is no guarantee that I ever will, I decided to go ahead and make my views known to the chess community.

What do I hope to accomplish through this letter? First and foremost, I want the truth to finally be relayed to the American chess public. As I’ve mentioned, the final tournament report that was offered to you was misleading, and I have yet to see a retraction of its false assertions. Secondly, I believe that to continue into the future, unthinkingly parroting that Anna Zatonskih is the 2008 U.S. Women’s Champion with no regard for how she “won” this title, is a travesty of truth and justice. I believe I have at least as much right to this title as she does, and I would like this right to be acknowledged. To this end, I am asking for responses to this letter from Frank Berry and Bill Goichberg, the President of the USCF. This event was held under their auspices, and I would like to know what they think of the results, given the evidence of what transpired.

I’d like to use this opportunity to say that despite the unsatisfactory ending of the Championship for me, this letter in no way expresses my feelings about the organization of the Championship as a whole. I had a wonderful time in Oklahoma, and wish to thank Frank and Jim Berry for their unwavering kindness and hospitality on all my visits to their home state, as well as to Tom Braunlich, who, in his capacity as organizer, was solicitous and helpful throughout the event.

To conclude, I will state that sharing the title would be an acceptable outcome for me, but I would certainly welcome any initiative to decide the title in over-the-board games, with real time controls that don’t degrade the participants into clock punching monkeys.

Irina Krush

Source: CLO
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Seneca said...

Irina, despite what some people say on this blog you there are so many that agree with you and, though we were not there and cannot know precisely what happened "in person," you did nothing wrong.

You are in the eyes of so many the co-champion, if not the champion, for 2008. It is not fair to you to have a title taken away when your opponent was making illegal moves. Period.

I do not know what will come of this but, rest assured, you are still the champ...the USCF has not the resolve to declare co-champions, which is the least they could do for you. However, it is my opinion that you are the rightful winner and 2008 champion.

I'm sure my opinion doesn't matter to the readers here. It sickened me to read the ignorant responses by some to a game and match in wich they were not present.

It all comes down to your statement of facts as to what occurred. You were not treated fairly due to your opponent's use of time and moving while your clock was ticking.

I think you both deserve and still are the U.S. women's Champion. If the USCF wants to stand up and do what is best, then then it is an immoral act on their part to not consider the blatent illegal acts commited against you.

This is a sad day for chess. I can't say how you feel regarding being co-champion...but you did earn it..and in my opinion, the overall title.

Yet another "black eye" for the USCF. The powers that be could do something about this right now, today.

You letter is appreciated by many people. Thank you. Stand up for what you know is right and no matter what, your fans will stand with you.

Best of luck and as tough as this tournament are our champion. I don't care what anyone else says in response.

Anonymous said...

It's clear that both players committed illegal acts.

Anonymous said...

I feel for Irina but you can't change the results especially when she didn't protest at that time.

Anonymous said...

I am guessing that the time to register an official protest that could change the outcome of the final game has passed. The old saying is that if you don't stand on your rights you lose them, and it looks like Irina has lost hers.

More important that a sense of justice or injustice is the establishment of rules that all are aware of and that govern all equally, like the rain falling from the sky. Change the rules as needed but not retrospectively.

Change the way important titles are decided, for example, and do away with armageddon finales?

Anonymous said...

irina, two wrongs dont make a right! there is no defence for you reaction and the uscf should not make desison until you understand that even though you were cheated(which is a fact!)what you did at the end of the match left a bad taste in the mouths of many chess players including the younger players who look up to you one thing susan allwas says is win with grace and lose with DIGNITY

Anonymous said...

We all know that Irina is the better player. Message to Irina: If you play USCF tournaments you get what you ask for.

ebutaljib said...

It's too late to complain now. It's over. Even if Anna would play illegal moves it would still be too late to complain. Looks like Irina doesn't know the blitz rules: ONLY the player can complain about something DURING the game. Arbiter is NOT ALLOWED to do anything on his own!

It doesn't matter if Irina lost because she was too slow, or because she didn't know the rules, she lost. Over!

Armageddon is like penalty shot-out. It's only purpose is to break the tie. Not only abbillity but also luck plays an important role and the better team doesn't always win.

Irina, you lost - get over it!

I understand your frustration and I completely understood your reaction after the game, but now this I do not understand.

I didn't think this before, but now I do - you are a sore loser.

Robin said...

First, I hope Ms. Krush sent this letter to the three individuals who she expects an answer from, as I am sure not everybody reads this Blog. Ms. Krush cannot expect an answer to her letter from any individual based on the assumption that the person reads Susan’s Blog.

Second, regarding the statement of Ms. Krush that, “making moves before your opponent completes theirs is illegal.” If it was against the rules, Ms. Krush should have immediately stopped the clock and asked for a ruling by the tournament director. Ms. Krush also states that, “no one stepped in as this was happening.” Again, I believe no one can step in or interfere in the game. It is up to the players to stop the clock and voice their objections to the tournament director. Also, Ms. Krush should have lodged her complaint immediately after the event if she thought there was a problem (clock or otherwise). Lodging a complaint a week after completion of the event is not very timely.

Third, if a video of the event (and the clock) was produced, it should be easy to review and determine if rules were or were not followed or a clock malfunctioned. However, I think this needs to be resolved immediately at the board and not weeks after the event has finished.

Lastly, I believe it is ludicrous to decide the U.S. Championship (men or women) in a Blitz game after many hours of chess where both participants are worn out from playing chess all day.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous 2:26:00
I don't know if you have any idea about the amount of stress these players where in. The result of a week of work is decided in a few seconds, both are tired and pumped up with adrenalin.
I can tell you from personal experience, that it is extremely irritating and unfair, when your opponent moves before you move yourself. And worse : It all happens so quickly, there's nothing you can do about it.
'lose with DIGNITY' is a good slogan, really, but lets not forget we're only human.
When you feel cheated like this, should you just smile and congratulate your opponent ? That's not so easy.


Anonymous said...


Thank you for writing this letter to clarify what we saw in the video. The arbiter should have made a ruling if he observed a breach of the rules. Also, Anna should honestly reply to you.

If there are to be tiebreak games, they should be played on a separate day when the the players are not fatigued. This might lessen the tension so that the players are not reduced to "punch monkeys" at the end of a tiebreak game. I hope that for the sake of chess that all this can be resolved in an amicable way. No one likes unpleasant outcomes.

While it is true that you did not immediately register a complaint, it should be remembered that even Judit Polgar did not immediately register a complaint against Garry Kasparov after his hand released a knight for a split second and then he retracted his move at Linares.

ebutaljib said...

People learn the rules:


Anonymous said...

Be respectful to the players.

But be DISrespectful of armageddon chess. It is STUPID.

Why not just make the tournament shorted by flipping a coin instead of wasting all that time with the regular games.

Anonymous said...

If the rules of chess are defined by the perceptions of the players (in blitz) then you win easily in a by tricking your opponent (like moving at the same time as your opponent and then push the clock at the same time wich does not allow any time to go on your clock). I hope Irina has learned a lesson and will use the same trick the next time.

Why use arbiters if they are not allowed to interfere?

Anonymous said...

For patzers and low level tourneys which are played only for fun and whose results are not entered into Chessbase or some official record, ending it a clock slamming melee is something which could be tolerated out of interest.

A bit of off topic but I think appropriate nonetheless...

IF and I stress ONLY IF these sudden death endings must be used, rather than playing it on a physical board, why not use computers. Why? 1. The timing is less vulnerable to dispute as to who did or did not hit the clock or whether someone moved before the clock was hit,etc.
2. There are no pieces to knock over and no ambiguous placement of pieces.
3. There will be a accurate record of moves and timing.
4. The program will automatically flag the loser.

It should not be hard to set up given the ubiquity of computers at the larger tourneys.


Anonymous said...

ebutaljib, there is a valid point though that in your scenario cheating is encouraged in the last seconds given that you will probably get away with it until it is too late- and especially if you otherwise had near hopeless task.

Therefore the rules are not right if they encourage cheating/breaking of rules if you can get away with it- where like here it might make all the difference.

So how do you justify it now?
Surely it would be better if the arbiter could intervene- or a protest be allowed afterwards- for the sake of fairness and to discourage rule breaking plus the motto cheaters don't prosper.

ebutaljib said...

They are allowed or better said - they must intervene when one of the players claims something, but not on their own.

Blitz is blitz. An ilegal move loses imeadiatelly, but only if your opponent claims it. If he continues playing then the move becomes legal.
Irina accidentally knocked her own rook from the board. Clearly an "illegal move" - the rook just disapeared without a reason, but since Anna didn't complain the game continues like the rook isn't there.

Steping into check, king and pawns moving for two squares, disapearing pieces, light squared bishops becoming dark squared, etc. - thats all blitz.

Probably thats why I hate playing it :)

ebutaljib said...

An excellent idea treetown !!!

Hey don't blame me for the riles, I didn't make them. But the rules are rules and it's Irina's own fault that she lost. Either way.

Anonymous said...

ebutaljib, I guess it is better to play it on the computer then as treetown says- as only legal moves are allowed, pieces don't fall over, and clocks automatically are pushed as you move .What you describe as blitz is no longer even chess once rules are broken.

I should add that delay of a second or two would not be a bad idea also- just so that someone will be less likely to lose on time a queen up or something stupid as they always have time to make moves.

Anonymous said...

I have met a lot of master who do not know the rules of chess. I find this absolutely amazing. If one is a chess master, they should know the rules of chess, especially the basic ones. I have no simpathy for any master who does not know the rules.

computojon said...

The rules state that a player must complain about illegal action at the time it occurs, and unfortunately that didn't happen here, so the result should stand. I also think that the latter half of "win with grace, lose with dignity" is important and should be abided by.

One suggestion for future situations like this -- some years ago I participated in a tournament playoff (obviously not for a national championship) where my opponent and I (mutually) didn't agree with the playoff conditions, and we simply informed the TD that we chose to be co-champions. The TD accepted our decision, and all was well. The point is that the players have a voice in the proceedings if they act collectively beforehand, but not if they act individually afterwards.

Best regards to all,
Jon C.
Princeton, NJ

ebutaljib said...

Yes, but if played on a computer we would here about mouse slips and how one of the players isn't used to playing on the computer, etc.

Irina is clearly wrong on this issue and is only stiring up trouble. I don't know why you Americans are so sympathetic to trouble makers like Fischer, Kamsky, Nakamura, etc.

Terrance said...

It's very evident that Anna moved on Irina's time. If you just focus on the clock as the last 3 moves are played, as Irina moves her piece and goes to press the clock her hand and Anna's hand are on the clock at the same time. This can only be explained by Anna moving on Irina's time.

Anonymous said...

They should be co-champions. I would not penalize Irina and I would not penalize Anna. Their actions were the product of an extremely poor set-up by the USCF, which is made all the more egregious by the USCF President who was present during these proceedings and allowed the Woman's Championship to be decided in such a ridiculous fashion.
And this is why I am NOT and probably will NEVER be a member of the USCF!

davx said...

Personally, I think it is a shame this even needs to be discussed. Blitz games are destroying chess, you don't spend your whole life studying the grandmasters style, techniques, and all the phases of the game to become a grandmaster yourself, and then it comes down to "making a move closest to the clock," the absurdity. Chess has had its own attraction for centuries and those with enough curiosity to engage in the battle, will find enough rewards. I'm tired of seeing the rules altered for the spectator. The clock should not interfere with the Art of Chess, merely nudge you along. So lets get back to the game!

Anonymous said...

I think if both sides broke rules- two wrongs don't make a right- it invalidates the whole thing.

How soon after the event did Irina make an official (if private) complaint? If she did it on the same day I think it should be looked into. If she did it a week later it seems too long.

However if it is found that Anna has won the title by breaking even one rule in the tie-break- it invalidates and trivialises the whole title to being meaningless, in which case it does not matter who has the title anyway.

It is like agreeing that they break the rules and decide the title by a game of tiddlywinks. Fair enough if they agree but it is meaningless.

Anonymous said...

This game is just showing the absence of the chess culture in the United States. If you would like to make classic chess more attractive to public, be careful it could be scandal.
It is not a fault of Irina or Anna,
it is just a fault of organizers.
May be the better way is just coin toss :-)), I think it was used in World candidate matches twice: Smyslov beat Hubner in 1983 and Ioseliani beat Susan Polgar in 1993.

Anonymous said...

This was posted by a well known USCF TD Mike Atkins:

MichaelAtkins on Fri May 30, 2008 2:45 pm

I have directed hundreds of blitz tournaments over the past 15 years and helped write the new USCF Blitz rules that are a modifcation of the old WBCA rules.

After watching the video several times, there was nothing illegal except for the piece being knocked over and not replaced. That rules states:
9.) If a player accidentally displaces one or more pieces, they shall be replaced the player’s own time. If it is
necessary, the opponent may press the clock without making a move. If the player presses the clock after displacing
pieces, then a penalty may be assessed.

I clearly saw Anna making moves while Irina was moving and you can see Irina doing the same thing. This is not illegal. Both players were moving extremely fast. Top blitz players have to do this to survive. If they wait politely until the opponent has moved and punched their clock before moving, they will lose every time. Anyone ever see Hikaru or Jorge Sammour Hasbun play blitz? I've seen MUCH MUCH worse at major tournaments, with players moving so fast I couldn't keep up with them - I wish EVERY blitz game had a video as it clears up all arguments.

The rules concerning the clock are:

6.) Except for pressing the clock, neither player should touch the clock except:
6a.) To straighten it.
6b.) If a player knocks over the clock a penalty may be assessed.
6c.) If your opponent’s clock does not tick you may press his side down and re-press your side; however, if
this procedure is unsatisfactory, please call for a director.
6d.) Each player must always be allowed to press the clock after their move is made.
6e.) A player should not keep a hand on or hover over the clock.

6D and 6E were at question here. Despite moving very fast, I did not see either player violate 6D and both players were following Rule 4 - Both players were using the same hand to move and hit the clock. Its really difficult to hover over the clock with one hand and move with the one hand at the same time, I didn't see that happening either.

I think the main culprit was our societal demand to have a clear winner. It used to be ok to have Co-Champions,. when did that end? I think some of the World Open 6-7-8 player ties helped to cause this, but when two players tie, they ought to be co-champs. If more than two, have a playoff.

Michael Atkins

Anonymous said...

This was the explanation by Michael Langer, one of the players who was there at the event:

mlanger on Fri May 30, 2008 5:54 pm

Here is how the events transpired by just before the Armageddon came by my recollection.

Tom Braunlich explains that one of the players, randomly selected, will choose the time split with the only condition that the sum of the both players' times should be between 10 and 12 minutes, ends inclusive while the other will choose her color.

Jim Berry: "Irina Krush is the defending champion. She will be assigned heads."flips the coin in the air "It's heads!" "Irina will choose the times."

Irina Krush: "Don't you think this method is unfair to whoever choose the times?"

Jim Berry: "You were selected to be the time chooser from the coin toss, sorry"

Irina Krush after consultation with her coach David Pruess chooses 6 minutes vs. 4.5 minutes split.

Anna Zatonskih after consulation with her coach Alex Onischuk, chooses Black.

If anyone (artichoke?) has a different recollection, please bring it up.

Anonymous said...

From the mouth of this patzer. Cry baby, cry baby.

Richard core

Anonymous said...

In chess (and of course in blitz too)is allowed to move in your opponent's time. Learn the rules.

Anonymous said...

The Armageddon nonsense came from Bill Goichberg. He's in charge of this stupid system and the players ended up getting hurt. Because of him Sam Sloan was elected and AF4C dropped the US Championship because of it. How much more do we have to suffer because of him?

Anonymous said...

I actually would like anything but Anna keeping the sole title from the armageddon.

I have bad memories of opponents in rapidplay games who moved in my time- but I was a young boy and just felt that they were taking advantage that I would not complain or stand up to them.

To me it is horrible if this method has won a national title- I would hope that the result does not stand. Looking at that video and Anna's play at the end is definitely intentional playing in opponent's time- it is not in the margins. She had her hand ready to move the piece before Irina had even let hers go. This is no accidental moving before the opponent presses the clock.Even hovering over the piece on your opponent's turn is illegal as it obstructs and distracts.

Actually the last point happened in thos old games- I couldn't even see the whole board! This mistake must be corrected or it is a travesty.

Anonymous said...

There's a lot of pain in this letter, but it does not make it appropriate.
I imagine that the rules do not allow a change to the outcome.
However, the USCF should make sure that future Championships are not decided in this knockabout style. This was a most miserable way to end the event.
I think Irina was crucially disadvantaged in that she was moving her pieces and punching her clock with her right hand, whereas the clock was on her left.
To prevent a player moving on their opponents time, the board should switch the clocks when it senses that the 'other' side has made a move on the board. In fact, I would just have the clocks operated by the movement of the pieces and not by players punching clocks in that undignified way.

Anonymous said...

In our state championship, if two players tie for first, they are co-champions. They do a 2-game blitz match and, if tied, an Armegeddon, for the trophy, but that's all that's at stake. Most of the other issues people are talking about are somewhat debatable. That deciding the champion with an Armageddon playoff is not.

Anonymous said...

first of all deciding any championships on an armageddon game is sheer nonsense. If at all it must be done do it using computers. At least the clocks work automatically. In fact if computers were used Krush would have crushed fatty Anna.

Anonymous said...

Irina deserves to be co-champion. The USCF is a disgrace to allow such a result. I don't care what people say here, this blog is not that of IM Krush. she is and rightfully so, the co-champion of this tournamnet.

Anna did a great job. hence, she should be co-champion, also. It is a disgrace that Irina was treated so unfairly and, though not intended probably by Anna, was cheated.

A shame to chess, to U.S. chess, and IM Krush will come out more popular than ever.

This tragedy can still be aided because the USCF ultimately governs and could declare both co-champions,

Anna can take her "paper title" but Irina is the co-champ in the eyes of so many.

Keep fighting this injustice, IM Krush!

Anonymous said...

Krush has 25 more rating points than Anna. Why she needed to enter into play-off anyway? If Krush played well, she would win clear like Shulman. I am guessing that her "performance" was caused by a disastrous influence of her second David Pruess. In addition he misadvised her not to make an appeal immediately after the match, but a week later (which is useless and brings her only negative publicity). No doubt, any professional would get rid of such a poor second.

Anonymous said...

This is another letter from one of the people who was at the playoff:

Shanky on Fri May 30, 2008 6:14 pm

First of all, I apologize for misrepresenting my age-- I am 16 and technically not allowed to comment, and although I think that is ridiculous, that can be discussed later and in different places. Now, down to business. To begin with, Krush stating that "As the defending champion, I was told by the organizers that I had to choose how the time would be divided, and Anna would choose the color she wanted to play." is blatantly false-- As defending champion, Krush was assigned the heads side of the coin. I saw this game happen live, I was right next to camera that produced the video on youtube. I don't remember each exact time on the clock on every move, I do however remember that there was once a situation where Krush had 8 seconds to Zatonskih's 3. During the blitz game, neither player played particularly "fairly"-- Krush failed to pick up a rook that she knocked all the way off the edge of the board, and Zatonskih did start moving before Krush hit the clock. I think we can all agree that it is unfortunate that the championship should be decided in this fashion (personally I'm most against this because of the level of chess-- both players missed a rook hanging on e7), however Krush failed to say any of this before the tournament or even the blitz match started, and by signing the agreement she agreed to the rules put forward, which included stating that there would be an Armageddon game as a last resort in the event of a tie for first. Under these conditions, knocking her king halfway across the room and storming out without shaking Zatonskih's hand was completely uncalled for and unacceptable. Irina is now 25 (I think) and will have many more opportunities to play the US Womens Championship, and hopefully the procedures to break a tie will be much less random, however that does not change the fact that she signed off on the rules, lost (through a large degree of randomness and unfair play by both sides, but by these rules a loss nonetheless), and then barged out without consulting a tournament director. Personally for 2008, I believe Zatonskih should be declared champion (as she was) and not have her title attacked. It's not her fault that the rules are stupid, either.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Irina, since the show was taped. Give 'em BOTH a double forfeit for documenting their illegal completion attempts of moves, & declare 'em both to be "winners". I'll stick with the Canadian version of chess, which is at least somewhat more consistent with FIDE events, given the irregularities in the fine print rules to our neighbours down south. It's no wonder that chess'll never be as popular in America as it is in Europe, with GMs such as Short cracking jokes about the Canadian Open Zonal qualifier to the Closed as still being objectively decided by silly stunts as doubly accelerated swisses & the like. They do seem to have the players currently visiting Europe, but when was the last time that Spraggett & Lautier played a serious event in America?

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:21. I agree with you. Double forfeit both players, ban the organizer and arbiters and USCF President for an incompetent job. Get rid of all the idiots who ruin chess.

D4_EnEff6 said...

Folks, it's too late. I wish I could say otherwise because I have so much respect for Irina, but here it is:

A few years ago, Michelle Wie (golfer) did an illegal ball drop. A sports writer observed it and said nothing at the time, but finally reported the incident a day later. Had he said something immediately, the penalty would have been two strokes. Instead, the penalty was a disqualification and loss of pay.

I condemned that act then, and I must condemn this letter by Ms. Krush now. If you cannot say something right away, for whatever reason, don't protest later. The scoresheet is signed. It is too late. Go home.

Anonymous said...

First, America doesn't care what the idiot Canadians think nor do we care what Europe thinks of us. America is the greatest nation on Earth and you can suck on a rotten potato if you don't like it.

Comparing the U.S. championship with our "darling" neighbors up north is silly. Canada is...well, nothing on the world stage and the "EU" is worse than a "knock knock joke."

We don't need Canada nor Europe. We are, have been, and will be for many centuries...the most powerful nation on Earth and in the history of human civilization.

Jealous? You bet! You are all jealous. but, us Americans one favor...take all of our liberal/socialist/commie professors and let them brainwash your citizens.

Anonymous said...

your stupidity amazes me sir. let us all be thankful that most americans aren't so ignorant

Anonymous said...

Irina is the sexiest chess bitch, as Ms. Shahade would say, of all.

Anonymous said...

"Irina, despite what some people say on this blog you there are so many that agree with you and, though we were not there and cannot know precisely what happened "in person," you did nothing wrong."

Are you stupid, or what?

Anonymous said...

"I have met a lot of master who do not know the rules of chess. I find this absolutely amazing."

Are you stupid or what?

Anonymous said...

"I must condemn this letter by Ms. Krush now. If you cannot say something right away, for whatever reason, don't protest later. The scoresheet is signed. It is too late. Go home."

Are you stupid or what?

Anonymous said...

It's all the fault of their husbands who were not there to provide the necessary hugging.

Anthony (Los Angeles) said...

I sympathize with Irina, especially if, as she claims, Anna was (I think inadvertently) moving out of turn. Blitz and Armageddon games are simply no way to decide a serious championship. A co--championship would have been preferable.

However, I also do not believe the results should be changed now that they've been finalized. And we've not heard Anna's side. Like I said, my sympathies lie with Irina, but I wouldn't change the result.

Anonymous said...

Anna and Irina should kiss and make up. Love you both! Great stuff! You're the champs!

Anonymous said...

I think that it is completely legal to move once your opponent has taken her hand off the piece. The opponent does of course have the right to press her clock.

Anonymous said...

Even if you think that (which I disagree)- Anna broke the rules by moving before Irina took her hand off the piece. Her hand was hovering over her rook ready which is not allowed.

Also at the end she might not have allowed Irina to press the clock as she blocked it at the same time it looks like.

Anyway I think it is a joke if you allow moves to be made in opponent's time. I can not believe it is even being argued- it is just plain wrong.

Anonymous said...

I certainly hope this trajedy will never be repeated. However, the USCF is known for repeating mistakes.
A lot has been said about the final Armageddon game. I think it is a seriously flawed way to decide the U.S. Champion.
Irina finished undefeated with 7.5 points and in the final game the video clearly shows Anna moving while Irina's clock was ticking.

The USCF has the authority to declare her co-champion. It would be fair to both and end this.

But, the USCF will not act. Yet again another example of failed leadership within the USCF. It is truly sad.

Anonymous said...

Very well put by Irina Krush. I hope Anna has some thing truthful and logical to say in her defence, otherwise she should be willing to share the title with Irina or be open to the possibility of a re-match.

Anonymous said...

A side note.
ChessBase have a dvd called 'Chess for Scoundrels' which argues that chess is war and gives examples of gamesmanship as part and parcel of the contest.

A winner has been declared. For professionals second is first in a long line of losers. Get over it.

Anonymous said...


Let's suppose that during a (slow) tournament game:

(1) My opponent makes a move and forgets to press her clock;

(2) I don't notice that her clock is still running, and make my move, then press the button of my clock.

Okay, so I've moved "on her time." You're telling me I should be forfeited??

Anonymous said...

Armageddon blitz should be excluded by playing rapid until achieving an edge of 2 points. This would be almost in a spirit of Bobby's suggestions.

Anonymous said...

The game ended. The winner was declared. You can't go back and change the results when Irina didn't file a protest during the game. Too late. The blame goes to Goichberg and Berry. They did nothing at that time.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be a scene if say white moved, black moved before white had pressed the clock- then white presses the clock- black presses- but white- thinking black hasn't moved since he pressed the clock, pushes it back again, and a fight ensues!

Black 'I press my clock and you press yours with no move'
White 'Excuse me that's what you did, I was merely correcting the mistake'
Black 'No, see I did move BEFORE you pressed your clock'
White 'It is not registered as a move as I have to be allowed to press my clock by FIDE regulations and comoplete my move'
Black 'Yeah but some say I can play in opponent's time, as FIDE regulations are not completely clear on it.'
White 'Well I guess I can press my clock without moving too, as FIDE rules don't specifically mention it.'
Black 'But you must move first before pressing clock'
White 'Just as your opponent should press their clock first before you move'

So I say that is the best answer in such a situation- just restart your opponent's clock!

2crayons said...

Each player should be solicitous of her opponent's equipment, that would be true sportsmanship.

Irina, you should have cleaned Anna's clock!

mcdonal3 said...

I think many other top-level players have lost tournaments in this Armageddon format. It is a stupid way to decide a tournament. But remember the Kasparov Karpov tournament that lasted months -- and led to the rise of these faster formats.

On the other hand, I wonder if the loser would protest if she had been the one to win by one second?

Anonymous said...

Making moves before your opponent completes theirs is illegal.

So Irina should have been the winner. Follow the rules, please.

Anonymous said...

Armageddon blitz should be replaced by Rapid in deciding the winner.

Anonymous said...

In this post its mentioned the anna move before krush punch clock. I play many blitz events, and this is always a tricky issue. As fide rules not clear, they simply say opponent must be able to press clock, and when i check with dop he said fide rules, let opponent move before you press clock, as long as you get chance to press clock ?!

Please explain susan, is this dop wrong ?

regards from New Zealand

ebutaljib said...

You can twist the words back and forth and repeat what has already been said, but it all comes down to this:

1. There were iregularities by both sides.

2. Nobody complained.

3. Arbiter can't intervene on his own.

4. Once finished, it can't be reversed anymore.

And please learn the rules before talking. Blitz, rapid and classical chess are different and ther rules of play are different. Making an example that one of the players forgets to press the clock and the other one moves on his time in a (slow) tournament game only shows that you are talking about things you dojn't understand. It's perfectly OK to be quiet when people are talking about things you don't know anything about.

Anonymous said...

ebutajib said "It's perfectly OK to be quiet when people are talking about things you don't know anything about." Feel free to take your own advice. The USCF rules, including the section on blitz chess, are unclear as to whether a player may move after the opponent has released a moved piece but before pressing his clock. The example from slow chess can can be applied just as well to blitz, if you're capable of making that intellectual leap. The example shows that calls for forfeiture in this situation are not obviously the right decision.

ebutaljib said...

1) Number 15.) in the USCF blitz rules is very clear when the legal move is completed.

2) I didn't say that anyone must be forfeited if moving too early. The other person asked if he should be forfeited if moved on opponents time in tournament game (obviously the person doesn't know the rules if it ask those kinds of questions. Agree?) After the correct claim the arbiter should warn the player and add one minute to claimant's clock. If the player still moves on opponents time then it may be forfeited.

ebutaljib said...

Probably the best example how rules for blitz, rapid and classical chess are different is if the starting position of the pieces is not as it should be (for example the king and the queen are swapped)

a) Classical chess
When noticed the game should be restarted (this means that theoretically the game can be restarted one move before the mate.)

b) Rapid chess
If noticing that the starting position wasn't set up right in the first 10 moves, the game is restarted. If more than 10 moves have been played the games resumes "as is".

c) Blitz chess
Once a move have been played there is no posibility to claim anything. The game continues "as is".

Get it now? Don't mix classical, rapid and blitz and make sure you know what you are talking about.

Anonymous said...

If Irina wanted to get the title so badly, she should have done what Anna did it to her. Since she did not do that, it means the title did not mean that much to her.

Anonymous said...

I'd strongly advise Anna not to respond with an open letter. The decision is final and there is no reason to stir emotion further.

If people find Armageddon unacceptable, they should propose to get rid of it. The rules for this championship were known in advance and no one objected to it. As in many Armageddon playoffs, the result is unpredictable so both players should be prepared to accept the result. As it turned out, both played well to the very end and the split second determined the final outcome. It's time for Irina to accept the current outcome and tries to win the next championship.

I can't see anything illegal about moving on your "opponent's time" in blitz. If there were such a rule, it would result in even more chaos when TD's had nothing concrete except video to rule on.

Finally, if there is no playoff, people will find it unsatisfying to see multiple co-champions. Just look at the (ridiculous) number of co-champions in some of the national scholastic championship sections earlier this year.

It is difficult to make everyone happy, so please give the organizers a break! They did an excellent job. If you want to complain, put in your own money in the championship.

Anonymous said...

ebutaljib, Your discourse into the rule differences between classical, rapid and blitz is a complete non sequitur. The example from slow chess is there to underscore the ridiculousness of forfeiting a player for moving after an opponent has released a piece but not pressed his clock. It is not an argument based on interpretation of rules (and in fact, the rules are not entirely clear on this matter), but on a sense of basic fairness. You can, if you are sufficiently mentally adept, substitute blitz chess for slow chess in that example. If you don't have the mental firepower to keep up with the discussion, then please don't feel obliged to add to it.

ebutaljib said...

"The example from slow chess is there to underscore the ridiculousness of forfeiting a player for moving after an opponent has released a piece but not pressed his clock."

A player should not be forfeited for this - not in classical, not in rapid and not in blitz.


And no, you can't just substitute slow with blitz when discussing what is and what isn't against the rules because the rules are different.

ebutaljib said...

Besides almost every grandmaster who commented this video (including Susan Polgar) said that what they saw was a normal blitz game. Nothing unusual.

While her reaction imediatelly after the game was understandable and excusable (at least for me) this what she is doing now isn't. she is being a sore loser, unprofessional and unsporting.

Anonymous said...

I think that there is a big difference between that normal play example where the opponent forgot to press the clock and what we are talking about here.

It is clearly wrong to move so soon so as not to give a chance for you opponent to press the clock first- but if the opponent moves a piece and then moves his arm- and only then you move your arm to the board to move, giving the time for press of clock- this is clearly not so bad as it is the opponent's fault for not pressing it in this instance.

Basically even those who think that you can move before clock is pushed- say that your hand can still not be hovering over any piece(s) while your opponent moves. You can only move your hand towards the pieces once your opponent lets go off their piece. Now even this lenient rule was broken- Anna's hand was several times around the area she was planning to move while Irina hadn't even let go.

So the rules were broken even in the most lenient analysis. In reality, if your hand is not hovering, it is quite hard to move your hand to the board onto a piece faster than your opponent can reach the clock after letting go.

However I would not be so lenient on the rule. But just wanted to point out that it is indisputable that Anna did break rules.

Irina might have broken rules regarding dropping a piece too, but two wrongs don't make a right so it is a poor argument.

Anonymous said...

This seems like it would be a good opportunity to generate some good publicity to have a challenge match. Although Irina may protest it, she is technically the "challenger" so let Anna have draw odds. Make it a 8-game or 10-game match at classical controls.

Just need some sponsors to put up a decent prize fund.

Would love to see Anna and Irina settle this 'over the board'.

ebutaljib said...

What is it that you are arguing about?

Yes they both, broke the written rules, but since nobody complained during the game the result stands.

One of the opponent may as well be standing on the clock and not allowing the other to press it even once - even in this case the result would stand IF there would be no complains (from one of the players) WHILE IT HAPPENS.

Get it? If you see something against the rules make a complain imediatelly or be quiet for ever.

Anonymous said...

This was posted by Ilya Krasik on Sun Jun 01, 2008 2:43 am

Regardless what happened during the Armageddon game and both players could be faulted during the crazy time scramble, I still believe that it is important to maintain integrity and honor. Irina's outburst immediately following a heartbreaking game is understandable, he subsequent behavior, most notable writing this letter is certainly not. She needs to come to her senses and realize what an embarrassment this letter is causing. A lot of yes men on this forum like Alex Lenderman don't get the point it isn't about how loud you yell your support for Anna or Irina, it's pointless trying to reverse a score in the match a week afterwards. Yes, Armageddon sucks, yes it was so close, only 1 second apart, but that doesn't mean Krush deserves a better fortune as she seems to believe, and it doesn't mean she needs to tarnish her rival's title as well as he own reputation, which in my opinion is far more important and lasting the title itself.

Anonymous said...

I must admit, the first time I read the letter, I thought - too late, move on. But when I watched the video - I was appaled by the way Zatonskih desecrated the game of chess by disrespecting the rules and blatantly cheating to win. I was even more disappointed by the USCF reaction to Irina's letter. Instead of ackowledging the problem and sanctioning Anna's conduct, they offered poor excuses. One of the arguments was that Irina dropped a rook and did not pick it up in violation of the rules. So two wrongs make it right? What kind of logic is that? Is Braunlich suggesting that had Irina NOT knocked the rook off the board the result may have been different?

In the letter, Braunlich admits that Anna's conduct may have been questionable. It is more than questionable, it is cheating. In Olympic games a runner would be disqualified by starting before the gun fires. But somehow in blitz chess - moving before a player completes the move is okay. In the video Zatinskih makes moves on Irina's time - what's the point of having a clock then?

In the response letter, Braunlich admits that the rules are unclear. Well, I really hope that Irina's letter will serve as a wake-up call to USCF to revise the rules and establish concrete guidelines. Hiding behind the logic that "it happens all the time...others play like this" is not a good excuse. Just because other players violate the rules does not mean that what Zatonskih did was right.

"Top blitz players have to do this to survive." Let's all cheat to survive. This isn't about the game anymore. it's about winning. At all costs and at any price.

Anonymous said...

So what did she say when she ran off? I could not tell from the video.