Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mediation with a hint of Spice

One thing bothers me about this whole PT is to busy with the SPICE tournament to give a deposition in Lubbock discussion.

If he doesn't have time to give a deposition in Lubbock, how are we supposed to believe that he and his wife ever intended to, in the middle of the SPICE tournament, fly to California and participate in a mediation?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What is Forum Moderation Bias?

Bias is defined as a particular tendency or inclination, esp. one that prevents unprejudiced consideration of a question. Such bias can cause partiality (positive or negative) towards a particular person. Such a preference or an inclination can inhibit impartial judgment.

We see this displayed in forum moderation through the closing or pulling of threads for no stated or obvious reason. Posts can also be deleted for no stated or obvious reason. This can be against a person or an idea. In the worst case sanctions can be applied to certain individuals in an arbitrary or inconsistent manner. We rarely see traditional bias demonstrated against race, disability, or affiliation but it is often demonstrated through the provision of much greater scrutiny of the posts of those we dislike while allowing the benefit of the doubt for those in their own group or in positions of authority. This type of inconsistency is what we most often refer to as moderator bias.

When I was on the USCF FOC other than regulating SPAM, moderation bias was of great concern and in my opinion regularly permitted. I took great pains to not post on the forums while also on the FOC to preclude the appearance of bias in that I was debating issues with those I had the power to suggest sanctions against. In reviewing the forum archives one could see the generation of this bias from the earliest days of the forum where the team saw something they did not like an then parsed the AUG to try to find a reason to remove the post or sanction the involved individual. Sanctions were often stacked up or parts of the same posts were used as a justification to pile on certain individuals. Topics on the issue of moderation practices were particularly scrutinized as there appeared to be too much concern that members might defy the FOC’s authority (which the FOC considered disrespectful of themselves) rather than making efforts to improve respectful speech between individual members.

Below is a current example of an ongoing struggle against inconsistent USCF Forum moderation practices. I will leave it up to the readers to determine if any bias is involved with this endeavor.

please explain #2

Sent at: Sun Sep 20, 2009 11:25 am
From: hmb
To: Ron Suarez WPraeder tsawmiller Brian Mottershead BrianLafferty rharing Moderator Committee

Tim - As you were kind enough to answer my previous question about Ron's offer, perhaps you could explain what was inappropriate about Ron's post, which follows. Suggested changes to bring it into conformance with the law of the AUG in your opinion would be appreciated, too.

Thank you.

----[Start Ron Suarez post]

First off, I need to remind the moderators that this forum is part of the USCF and its operation is certainly an USCF Issue.

Secondly, I need to remind the moderators that I am not writing anything in this post about any one particular person or groups of persons. Therefore, I am not attacking, disparaging, etc. anyone or any group of people.

Therefore you must allow this post and thread to remain, by the law of the AUG.

OK, so I am writing to all of the forum members that feel they have either personally been wronged or know of anyone that has been wronged by the system that administers and moderates this forum.

Please do not post your complaints of the system on the forum as you will then be exposed to the moderative wrath of this forum.

I repeat, do not post your complaints here.

What you need to do is send me a PM with your complaint and any and all details of the complaint you can provide.

I am now compiling a file that I will present to Bill Hall at a future time. My presentation will show problems and of course solutions to those problems. Understand that when I speak of problems I am talking of structural and strategic problems. By improving the structure of this forum operation, we can and will have a better discussion forum for the USCF and all its matters.

Thank you all.[End Ron Suarez post]
Please note: Although I am a partner in Chess Magnet School and perform consulting for USCF and others, nothing I post here represents the opinions of my clients or partners unless stated otherwise.

SPICE Craziness at USCF

Will somebody please explain to those poor opinionators at the USCF that more goes on behind the scenes at a FIDE tournament than just playing and directing? They're saying that since the tournament has started, Paul has nothing to do, since he's only the organizer so he should be working on the lawsuits instead.

What do organizers do behind the scenes (non-TD work) while an international chess tournament is in progress? Will someone help list some of these things to those folks at the USCF?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Lord of the King

Rush to your nearest chess tournament and experience the adventure!

Spice Cup 2009

Just for perspective, note that the SPICE Cup Tournament is now in progress. Section A is FIDE Category 16, while Section B is FIDE Category 11.

(SPICE = Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence.)

To compare, how many other international tournaments have been held in the USA in 2008 or 2009 and what was their FIDE strengths?

For more info:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

USCF Expert Report

I mentioned at one point, USCF should get it's own expert to independently confirm Mottershead's report. Thankfully, they did so. (I'm sure they didn't need me to come up with the idea.) The expert went well beyond Mottershead's work. Brian Lafferty just posted the Executive Summary portion of the expert's report. Of particular interest, is the following passage:

At least 100 unauthorized access attempts to Mr. Hough's email account, some or all of which were apparently successful, including those related to the two specific emails identified above, came from IP addresses that:

(1) were used in comparable time frames to post to the USCF online forum under Alexander's user name, and/or
(2) were used in comparable time frames to post to the usenet forums under Alexander's identity, and/or
(3) were used from an Anonymizer account that identified Alexander as the account holder and that was used from IP addresses (a) assigned to Alexander by Comcast, (b) used to make postings to the USCF online forum from Alexander's USCF account, and/or (c) used to make newsgroup postings under Alexander's identity.

Ouch. That's going to leave a mark!

The report also gives opinions that many of the FSS postings can be linked to Truong:

*I found that the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses recorded as the sources of identified FSS postings were used at the times of those postings by a user logged in as "", whose registration data indicated Truong and whose account was paid for over the period in question by Polgar. The terms of service indicate that Truong is responsible, and the same IP addresses and account were used for other business purposes by Polgar and Truong, including a posting to RGCP by Truong under his own name and from his user account at America Online.

*Within 64 out of the more than 200,000 postings to RGCP and RGCM, I found sequences regularly and contemporaneously recorded by servers not in the control or custody of parties to this case that normally record characteristics of computers used to make postings. These sequences were common only to one posting made by Truong from his AOL account and 63 postings identified as part of the FSS postings. This header is consistent with a computer using a Mozilla version 4.0 Web browser on a computer with a Windows NT 6.0 operating system, using AOL 9.0, Microsoft Internet Explorer version 7.0, and with several other specific versions of specific software packages present, and that were only recorded for Truong's posting and FSS postings. This same information was indicated in 80 records of postings made by Truong's identity at the
USCF online forum.

*I found that the same IP addresses recorded as the sources for FSS postings contemporaneously and independently by Web servers not under the control or in the possession of parties to this case, were also recorded in the USCF records, indicating that those same IP addresses were used in postings to the USCF internal forums under the identity used by Truong.

*I found that 9 different "posting account" identifiers were used in the postings identified with FSS. These identifiers are apparently used to indicate a particular login credential, and are recorded by systems not under the control or in the possession of parties to this action. All except one of these posting accounts were used exclusively for postings identified as FSS postings, the same IP addresses used for posting under three of these accounts was also used by Truong for postings from his AOL account, and they were all used from IP addresses also used by Truong's identity at the USCF site contemporaneously.

Finally, the expert gives the opinion that GM Polgar had possession of several of the stolen emails before they were published on the net, which is consistent with Bill Hall's remarks at the end of the litigation forum this August.

*After the time at which the emails in question existed, and before they were otherwise publicly released, Alexander, who worked for Polgar on a voluntary basis and operated her Web site, appears to have accessed an email account containing those emails.

*Those emails or portions quoted therefrom were subsequently released to parties not authorized to have them, via emails sent from Susan Polgar's email account, and she has not disputed having sent those emails.

Lafferty reports that the full report will be available for download. No word on what experts, if any, were designated by Ms. Polgar

Update: The full report can be downloaded here. Polgar did miss her deadline to disclose experts in the Texas action. Since her primary claim in the Texas action was that the Mottershead report defamed her, she will be completely unable to prove that allegation. (Although given that the Mottershead report barely mentioned GM Polgar, that dog wasn't going to hunt anyway.)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Susan's Girls Tournament

I see in the USCF's Forums that they may stop supporting Susan's annual tournament for girls. Since this is the 5th. year of a 5 year contract, they may not want to renew it.

If so, then this leaves 2 options for the USCF: 1) they run one on their own or 2) they drop the tournament entirely.

Susan has the same 2 options.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

About Susan Polgar's Chess Discussion Forum

While I’ve lost interest in chess temporarily, I am still the Moderator at Susan Polgar’s Chess Discussion Blog (along with Paul Truong and Susan herself), so I think I ought to draw attention to this exchange.


I really can't comment on your own experiences with forum moderations. I will say that my experience with chess-discussion-moderators-not-named-Jack has occasionally been frustrating. See

Unfortunately, Chess Discussion has turned into Alt.rants.Zarathustra.silly, so I haven't had much cause to post there recently.

- From the USCF Politics Blog

Wick, I believe that you describe a problem that is all to frequent in discussion forums throughout the internet, not just chess forums, either. One, or a small group of very frequent individuals post lots of posts and give the impression that they “own” the site. Because of the frequency and ubiquitiousness of their posts, everybody else ends up dancing to their tune.

A specific problem is that you may begin a new topic on something and the next thing you know, they’ve posted a response. Due to the provocative nature of their response, you feel you must response to their response and then you’re off.

So, what is the rest of the public to do?

One solution is to abandon the field. The trouble is that the quality of discussion is lowered overall and the bad elements take over choice pieces of internet real-estate.

Another solution is to continue to post on topics that interest you and ignore them. I believe this to be a better solution to the problem.

As for moderator problems: Yes, the lawsuits have poisoned everything – and not just at Susan’s sites, either. For example, the USCF’s Moderators and their amen corner continually congratulate themselves on the great job they’re doing. I could offer stories that are every bit as bad as the one you offer above.

Unfortunately, I don’t see much improvement in this area – either at Susan’s site, the USCF’s site, or some of the rest. I have two suggestions:

  1. For USCF politics, how about people looking more towards Wick’s Blog? Also, contact Chessvine, too.

  2. There’s more to chess that USCF politics. The main thrust of Susan’s site as well as her main interest is pure chess: things like tournament news, strategy, tactics, openings – things like that. The source of problems and complaints have been near 100% on the USCF Politics section. How about people using Susan’s site more for those other things.

Finally, don’t forget the Chess Discussion Viewer – easily the best tool for chess discussion on the internet today. You can input games, positions, puzzles, together with variations and comments thereon and have that all visible from within the site. All that is needed for people to see the moves is to click the mouse – much as they maneuver through positions in ChessBase or Chess Assistant. They can then comment on it on the forum just like they can comment on politics. - Chess over politics – what a heresy!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Note to Mark Weeks

I sent this message to Mark Weeks on Facebook tonight and I thought I would share it here.

Mark, thanks for connecting to me. I really like your blog. You should put a link to it here. I am just sick about what happened at the USCF Delegate's meeting last month. I don't think that Paul and Susan were treated right at all. I ...especially dislike not being able to talk about it. - And poor Gregory Alexander! I just don't know what to think about that! I bet when the facts come out - and someday they will - history will take a dim view about what happened.

Even though I've become active in blogging again, is difficult for me to think of chess. It will take time for me to get over this.
Of course, Mark has nothing to do with the events I'm complaining about. I'm sharing this venting, because it summarizes my feelings and may help explain why I'm not so active in chess as before.

Mark is one of the premier chess bloggers out there. You should check out his blog, Chess for All Ages. Tell him Jack sent you!

P.S. Yes, that's the guy who is pictured under followers to the right.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Q & A & A

Susan Polgar posted some comments under her blog in a Q & A format. I can't resist posting my own answers to the questions:

Jackson (Denver, CO): I read on the USCF website about the revocation of your USCF memberships. Is it true and why?

PT: It is true. The Executive Board’s action is deplorable. Instead of doing what is best for chess and the USCF, these people appear to put their personal and political interests first. They are doing everything they can to hide their misconduct from the USCF members and delegates, even if this costs jobs for USCF employees and perhaps even cause the collapse of the entire federation. They used Chess Life and Chess Life Online to spread false information to hide the truth. But the facts will come out eventually.

Wick's Answer:

The irony of a (now ex) board member suing the federation for millions of dollars and then whining that others are putting their personal and professional interests first is readily apparent.

Again the allegations that false statements were made in Chess Life. At risk of being repetitive myself, can anyone quote a specific statement in Chess Life that was false? In response to this allegation, I have repeatedly requested here and at Chess Discussion that anyone point to a specific statement of fact that is false. The silence has been deafening.

JS (Los Angeles, CA): I have read only the USCF side of the story. Could you please summarize the cause of these lawsuits?

PT: Our position is that the USCF Executive Board and the USCF Executive Director continuously violated the USCF bylaws. I believe they abused their authority and used USCF members’ money for their own political agenda. I believe the legal cost so far exceeds $1 million for both sides, not counting what the USCF insurance has paid separately on behalf of the USCF. These people claim that the USCF has no money to support scholastic chess, college chess, women’s chess, professional chess, or chess promotion, etc. But they have no problem spending over $600,000 of members’ money for their own political agenda. It is inconceivable that these people are doing this in the middle of the worst economy in decades, and where countless USCF members have lost their jobs. These people could not care less about the welfare of chess or the USCF. They tried to blame this on us, while this has been their pattern of conduct for years.

These individuals can try to hide the facts, but the truth will come out in court. We have received tremendous support from countless USCF members encouraging us to stand tall and fight against these corrupt chess politicians.

The USCF has to cut their operating schedule to a four-day work week. The position of USCF Scholastic Director and FIDE Director had to be cut because of a serious financial meltdown. We offered to drop the lawsuit against the USCF for $1. The Executive Board rejected the offer because if the lawsuit against the USCF is dropped, they can not longer hide behind our federation to conceal their misconduct.

It also appears that they are also hiding from USCF members that Susan’s lawsuit against the USCF and its board members is covered by the insurance company. Mr. Jeff Jones is representing the USCF, and individual members of the Executive Board. These same people spent over $500,000 of members’ money to file frivolous lawsuits and to defend the misconduct of their political supporters from the lawsuit. They simply conveniently forgot to tell the USCF members this.

Wick's Answer:

Well, I would certainly agree that the money spent on legal fees in this matter could have been better spent on chess; however, the implication that this is solely the board's political agenda is, pardon my French, bullshit.

This is a complicated situation, and a lot of people made a lot of decisions that gave rise to the situation. To claim that the whole matter is a political witch hunt is asking the reader to believe that the Mottershead report was a frame job. Not content with that frame job, the conspirators then came up with a second frame job to implicate Ms. Polgar's webmaster for stealing Randy Hough's emails. This second frame was so nefariously convincing that the U.S. Attorney was actually suckered into indicting Mr. Alexander. Furthermore, despite the fact that these frames were intended to discredit Ms. Polgar, the conspirators did not frame Ms. Polgar, but rather her husband and her webmaster.

I'm sorry, but I find this conspiracy theory less convincing than the Illuminatus Trilogy.

Furthermore, it is pretty obvious from even a casual observation that Polgar's legal strategy has not been designed to simplify the litigation or lower USCF's legal expenses.

Also, the fact that some defendants have been defended by USCF's insurance company in the Texas action is anything but a secret.

Chess Mom (Detroit, MI): Is it legal for the Executive Board to revoke
your USCF Life Memberships and Executive Board status?

PT: We don’t think so. But it is up to the court to decide. But we do believe their actions directly violated the USCF bylaws.

Wick's Answer:

I'm not sure what what the claim of a violation of the by-laws is refering to.

As far as expelled from the board, it's not as if they were like, showing up or participating in the meetings or anything like that.

Albert (Henderson, NV): What is your future plan with chess?

SP: We will continue to promote chess in multiple aspects. Nothing has changed. The SPICE Cup is the next big event on our calendar. You can follow our activities by checking out

Wick's Answer:

More power to you. I would gently suggest that these activities to promote chess are much more productive than the litigation.

Jim (Des Moines, IA): Can you still compete in chess tournaments?

SP: No. The Executive Board revoked our USCF memberships. They claimed that we can still play. But there is no such thing as being able to play rated chess and not being a member. They are just making things up as they go along and this is clearly against the USCF rules. In addition, I cannot play in world championships or Olympiads unless I am a member of a national federation. So basically what the Executive Board did is to destroy what is left of my playing career.

Wick's Answer:

(Rolls eyes.)

First of all, the expulsion specifically states that they can still play chess. Secondly, GM Polgar has played a grand total of one rated game since 2006. FM Truong played one rated game in 2009. He played 8 rated games in 2008.

RR: Paul, a few newspapers published some articles about problems with the chess federation. Can you explain? What does this mean? There are people out there writing things in papers and online that don’t do your good work justice.

PT: As the saying goes, you can either lead, follow, or get out of the way. We’re trying to lead, and they’re trying to make us get out of the way. Susan has worked very hard to get to where she is, and when you’re at the top of the game there will always be people who are jealous. The U.S. Chess Federation (USCF) is very political and extremely ineffective.

The bad PR we’ve received, yes, has been very unfortunate, and it came from people who want to see Susan and SPICE fail. It is a concerted effort on their part to try to stop our success. This is hurting our entire sport. Unfortunately, there is little we can do when people are not telling the truth. Things people claim are highly misleading and even slanderous. But, we’re doing good work, and it shows.

Wick's comment:

SSDD. See above on the "This is all a conspiracy because everyone is jealous of GM Polgar.

The simple fact of the matter is that the Mottershead report put USCF in a perilous legal situation. They took steps to minimize that exposure, but every step has resulted in actions from GM Polgar and FM Truong that escalated the situation.