Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Response to MorfeoKnight's Website Litigation Summary

MorfeoKnight has posted a page describing the USCF litigation. I have some comments on his site, which I will make. I invite him, or anyone else to contribute to the discussion.

USCF Belongs to the Members
We Deserve and Should Demand the Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth, so Help the USCF

The inappropriate use of Chess Life and the USCF website to provide a one-sided account of the lawsuits, USCF v. Polgar, and vice-versa, has troubled me. Yesterday, when checking on the progress of the Chicago Open I noticed that site also being used to give an inaccurate and incomplete account of the facts.

Accordingly, I will use this space to provide as accurate and complete account of the facts. I trust and expect all visitors will review the complete record before drawing any conclusions.

In the words of the late Paul Harvey..."and now, for the rest of the story".

I must say that I found the invective regarding Bill Hall's litigation summaries in Chess Life to be puzzling. While Chess Life's publication schedule does not allow these updates to be as timely as one would like, I have thought Mr. Hall's statements in the magazine to be remarkably measured.

Obviously, the fine folks at chess discussion.com disagree with me, feeling that the account is somehow one sided and unfair. Unfortunately, my requests for the fine folks at Chess Discussion to explain specifically why the statements by Mr. Hall were unfair or misleading were ignored.

Mr. Hall's statements are still available on the web, and can be found here and here.  Can someone, anyone, explain to me what specific language in this statement is inaccurtate, incomplete, or unfair?  I just don't see it.  I am willing to have my mind changed, but I just don't see it.

As far as the publicity on the Chicago Open website, the Chicago tournament is a CCA tournament, not USCF's tournament, and Bill can put whatever he wants to on his website.  While his writing was obviously advocacy, not a dispassionate summary, I did not see anything that was inaccurate.  

Incidently, I visited the Chicago Open on Sunday afternoon.  Bill also included campaign statements regarding the litigation on flyers distributed at the event.  Mike Nietman was also in attendance and had flyers available in the tournament hall.  Despite being a Chicago resident, Korenman had no presence at the event, which I found surprising, although consistent with the lack of energy which has permeated his last two campaigns.

Back to MorfeoKnight's website.

The following is a short list of allegations and corresponding facts.

It is alleged Susan Polgar "sued" the USCF.

Fact: The USCF first filed suit against Polgar on June 25, 2008, alleging hacking into email accounts and impersonating someone (see Pleading 1). Polgar filed suit on August 7, 2008 (see Pleading 2) and later amended her complaint on March 16, 2009 (see Pleading 3 ).

Unfortunately, this summary is neither complete nor accurate. What actually happened was:

1. On June 25, 2008, USCF filed a lawsuit against 10 John Does alleging that persons unknown had hacked into the email of Berry, Hough and/or Goichberg.

2. On August 7, 2008, Susan Polgar sues USCF.

3. On October 24, 2008, USCF amends its complaint in the California action to claim that Gregory Alexander and Susan Polgar conspired together to break into Randy Hough's email account.  Until this time, USCF had not sued Ms. Polgar, therefore, Ms. Polgar did, in fact, sue USCF, before USCF sued Ms. Polgar.

Now, in order to present the complete picture, it should be noted that Ms. Polgar has alleged, in response to the Amended Complaint in California that the John Doe action was a pretext and that USCF filed the lawsuit intending to sue Ms. Polgar the entire time.  I haven't found the evidence cited by her attorneys thus far to be particularly convincing; however, the litigation is still in its early stages.

Finally, and most importantly, it should be noted that it really doesn't matter a rat's ass who sued who first.  What matters is whether the underlying actions have merit.  

Returning now to MorfeoKnight's website, his next comment is as follows:

It is alleged Polgar wishes to bankrupt the USCF.

Fact: Polgar offered to settle for One ($1.00) Dollar even though she suffered personally and professionally from her opponents vicious attacks. She did so, with the best interest of the USCF and its members at heart, however, the settlement proposal was rejected. (I am unable to find the pleading for the proposed settlement so I am linking a copy of the announcement posted on Chess Discussion Blog [see 4].)

This is accurate as far as it goes, but is so incomplete that it would be misleading to one that reads it. To be fair, the incompleteness of the statements is not at all obvious to someone without legal training or a lawyer's advice, so I don't wish to indicate in anyway that MorfeoKnight intended to be misleading.

First of all it should be noted that I am sure that Ms. Polgar does not "want" to bankrupt USCF. Nonetheless, she has sued USCF and its ED and board members for absurd sums of money, and, in the unlikely event she is awarded what she is asking for, then USCF would be driven to bankruptcy.

GM Polgar offered to release USCF for $1 and an apology and a promise not to slander her in the future. That sounds nice until you think through the implications of the offer.

The major problem with the offer from USCF's perspective is that the offer is only to USCF, not it's board members or executive director. Because the USCF has a duty to defend and indemnify Goichberg, Berry, Bauer, Hough and Hall, the USCF could accept this offer and still go broke if a jury were to award a large judgment against Goichberg, Berry, Bauer, Hough or Hall. As such the settlement offer to USCF only is illusory.

Actually, it is worse than that. With the demand of an apology, USCF, by apology, would probably implicate the other defendants that USCF has the duty to indemnify. In short, while superficially attractive, accepting the offer would probably cost USCF in the long run.

Turning to MorfeoKnight's next point:

It is alleged Gregory Alexander hacked and impersonated others.

Fact: Alexander's pleading filed on January 12, 2009, implicate the USCF attorney, Karl Kronenberger, of concealing crucial exculpatory evidence and misleading the court (see Pleading 5 , page 4). On page 3 of said pleading, it asserts: "Exhibit G has been electronically doctored by Kronenberger to intentionally conceal crucial exculpatory evidence and to mislead the court. Exhibit G contains two large black boxes that obscure language hidden beneath. Mr. Kronenberger forgot to flatten the file, and anyone who uses Adobe Acrobat Professional can remove the black box which he wanted to hide from the court, and read what is underneath".

Sorry, but this is half-assed and sloppy.

In the first place, the describing the evidence as "exculpatory" is a bit of a stretch. The redacted evidence indicates that Ms. Polgar does not have an anonymizer account, although Mr. Alexander does. I will fall back on an earlier Chess Discussion post I made back in March:

With all due respect, I think the claim that the redacted material "clears the name of Ms. Polgar" is overstated.

The redacted material shows that Ms. Polgar does not have an anonymizer account. While that is useful information, it does not exonerate her.

1. Per USCF's complaint, not all the attempts to hack the email went through the anonymizer.
2. It does not eliminate the possibility that Ms. Polgar used an anonymizer account registered to another person.
3. It does not eliminate the possibility that another person did the hacking at Ms. Polgar's request or direction. USCF's attorney apparently claimed in open court that they have direct evidence to that effect. As yet, we do not have any knowledge what this purported direct evidence may be.

As fun as it is to comment on the internet, no one commenting on the web has access to all the evidence.

Secondly, the person allegedly exonerated by the redacted document was Ms. Polgar, not Mr. Alexander. Nothing in the redacted material helped Mr. Alexander's case in any way.

MorfeoKnight's Final point, although he promises more at a later date:

It is alleged Paul Truong was the "FSS" and the August 2008 Annual Delegates Meeting was used to try to remove him from the Executive Board.
Fact: Truong's "USCF trial" not only caught him and Polgar by surprise but they were not informed of Kronenberger's presentation. The four motions brought against Truong failed to remove him from the EB despite an alleged bribery. Pleading 3, pages 14 and 15, assert arrangements and other offers were made for two individuals in exchange for their vote to remove Troung. Page 15 reads, "Despite attending the meeting with the purpose of voting for Truong's removal, they changed their votes after hearing facts Truong presented in his defense and which facts were suppressed by Defendants Kronenberger, Goichberg, Hall, Hough, Hanken, and Berry." Internet discussion groups have reported a well respected individual in chess, and others, can testify and provide documentation to substantiate this assertion.

The allegation and the response don't really go together real well.

Whether Paul Troung was the FSS will be established by the technical evidence, which includes, but is by no means limited to, the Mottershead report. (Frankly, if I were representing USCF, I would be handing the data, but not Mottershead's analysis, to an expert and seeing if he draws the same conclusions that Mottershead does.) What happened at the August 2008 director's meeting has any real bearing on the core issue as to whether Mr. Truong was the FSS.

Some delegates tried to remove Mr. Truong at the 2008 meeting. The attempt failed. I'm not sure it's useful to try and divine why the delegates voted the way they did.

As far as the bribery allegation, the allegation seems to lack the essential element of bribery, the quid pro quo. Essentially bribery is offering inducement X to Y so that Y will do act Z. Because the alleged recipients of the bribe did not, in fact, vote the way that the Hanken allegedly wanted them to vote, tends to prove that there was no bribe. Furthermore, an allegedly incriminating email was posted on chessdiscussion, which said.

"If Bill says "yes", you wouldn't owe anything to him." If you don't owe anything to him, then there would be no quid pro quo.

Please note, this is a snippet of a snippet from an email exchange. Seeing the whole exchange in context would be more helpful.

Well those are my thoughts on MorfeoKnight's post. I think when it comes to presenting the whole truth, I think MorfeoKnight has a bit of work to do.


  1. Well nice bit of work mate. I have been following all of this for quite some time and i agree with you on 1 very important fact...We need to get out more! :)

  2. Definitely. At the very least, we need to spend more time playing chess and less time dealing with this nonsense.