Wednesday, August 20, 2008

No "Western Open" this year

Arlen Walker came by and gave the news. This event has a rich history.( Fischer played in the 1957 edition )


  1. This is sad. It's been long we had a tournament here (last being the Fide event). 2008 I think has least no of tournaments in recent years. Bad for players.

    But we must look for the reason and new blood must come forward to help old timers here.

  2. No Western Open, Cedric Thompson, Roman Levit.... the Badger Open which has eliminated the Open / Reserve sections to add a scholastic section instead... yeah that will draw the top players.

    Tough year in Milwaukee chess.

    But at least we got the North Central back with the same sections as the Badger.

    Great leadership from WCA. Thanks Mike and Guy

  3. If Arlen cannot run these tournaments, perhaps the WCA should look for someone who can run them. The WCA does not seem very interested in fixing this mess.

  4. The WI website is horrible.

    Out of date: The tour data is from last year.

    Navogation "Sucks"

    Look how simple the MI website is:
    MI Website

    Maybe Ivan can do it since he gives us timely updates?

  5. Does that mean you'll only have 2 events in the next 3 days?? It's amazing how many events you go to. :)

  6. Will someone please explain to me why it is the WCA's job to save organizers?
    When the Western was raking in the money from big events, who got it? MCF, not WCA. When Fred Cramer passed away and donated gobs of money, who received it? MCF not WCA.
    Why not have someone in Milwaukee step up and help Arlen instead of holding out your pitiful hand and begging for a handout.
    Reading these comments is the main reason why I will only direct two more events then permanently retire. Another senior tournament director out of the business. Selig is getting to the point of retiring after the Northeastern as well. You criticize Guy. All you have left for experienced TD's is Jim Nickell (also in semi-retirement) and Luke Ludwig.

  7. I guess I'm confused by what WCA's purpose is exactly.

    I had thought it was to support chess in the state and help create a positive environment for chess in the state. Obviously that's not happening as tournament directors are no longer willing to direct, and many of the "top" players seem to find WI, not the "place" for them to play, while IL seems to fit the bill.

    I'm not sure how we gotten to this place... nor do have have all the answers.

    It seems like we need to find some solutions soon, or we find that WI chess will be damaged for quite a while.

  8. To respond directly to Jerry's comments:

    No one said that it is WCA's job to "save" organizers. The facts are that at least 2 of the events referenced are WCA tour events. Having them being on the WCA tour "schedule", and having them cancelled 1 -3 days doesn't leave a chance for someone else to fill the void. It didn't seem to be that difficult to forsee that after 2 cancellations, a third was a strong possiblity. Communication is at least part of the problem.

    2nd - no one I've read had their "pitiful hand out begging for a handout".

    3rd - at least a couple of TD's did offer to help Arlen... Doesn't help that many tried to reach out to Arlen via phone and email, with no reply. So I'm not sure where your comment comes from.

    4th - as to your comments about TD's... it's unfortunate that you have become so bitter. On behalf of the chess community , thanks for your many years of service. I know that organizing a tournament is a thankless job.

  9. Just a note about tournament directors: The Southwest Chess Club (a Wisconsin Chess Club) currently has five experienced tournament directors, two of those being senior directors.

  10. you call gelbart an experienced td?

  11. I note that Southwest Chess Club had 27 tournaments total in 2007, is one of Wisconsin's most active clubs, and also sponsors two USCF Grand Prix events per year. There is some local energy serving the chess community. The active TDs are Fogec, Wright, Grochowski and Becker.

  12. Fogec, Grochowski and Becker are legit TD's. I am not sure what they did for that FIDE tournament in Milwaukee though. The pairings were all screwed up not allowing for people to get FIDE rating norms. I was told this was not spotted until the last round! Plus no one got a norm, because of some other problem with duplicating play ID's by accident. Overall WI chess is doing very well if you look at it carefully. The grass roots, which are scholastic chess are booming like never before. It is only a matter of time until this poors over into the adult tournaments. The stronger the kids become the more adult tournaments they will need to play in, which results in people like Greg Reese getting involved to help the situation. As more kids improve more parents will be involved in the problems at the adult level.

    Don't forget for the longest time WCA, Southwest chess club, and Waukesha were guilty of not doing anything to promote chess at the scholastic level, and what we had in 2000 was the result.Right now it has bottomed out and is back on the rise. I can remember specifically how uninviting the older people at southwest were when I was a kid. Other than Sheldon's students the club was not exactly giving the younger crowd a feeling that they were wanted there. I remember one example. There was a fridge with soda's in it and some members put their drinks into the fridge, when other members saw this, they thought free soda, great! So the older members at the club they think one person is stealing all the soda's. When in reality, I even saw it with my own eyes, more than 6 diffrent people were taking soda's from the fridge. What happen's? Cardenas the last person to see the free soda, gets caught and is blamed for ALL the soda being stolen and kicked out of the club. Later he wrote a letter of apology to get back in. I have had people in from that club ask me to not come back, including my friends. The question you all need to ask yourself before you try to blame someone if what has anyone done?
    (Note: I applaud South West CC for trying to promote scholastic chess in the past two years, with lectures and other things)

    It is not the job of WCA to bail out WI Chess, Arlen was a shady character as it was. If you meet Dave Sach's ask him what experience he has had with Arlen.

  13. Getting back to the main point, what reason if any was given by the sponsor as to why the Western Open was cancelled ?

  14. The official reason was. "The hotel canceled the reservations"

    But with absolutely no publicity, I don't see how the tournament would have attracted more than a few players even if the above reason is true.

    It wasn't even advertised on

  15. That is funny. Arlen the organizer of the Western Open is the person who updates the WCA chess website, lol!

  16. As some one mentioned before the website is pathetic. It is completely out of date.

    The WCA runs the WI chess tour but on their own site there is no list of tour tournaments. The tour points are from last year!!!

    How long does it take to update a website?

    WCA Pleae get some one to update your site. Arlen is not doing it.

  17. someone mentioned getting the North Central Open back. . i was wondering will this tournament be played this year? and if so when?

  18. God, first they give Arlen tour events after he cancels then they give Corky a tour event, what is WI chess coming too?

  19. Can you elaborete on what you mean by "Corky"

    Chess Guy

  20. What I meant was why the negativity towards "Corky"

    Chess Guy

  21. FWIW, Fischer also played the Western Open in 1963, beating IM Ben Finegold's father, Ron, in Rd 5:

    [Date "1963.07.06"]
    [Round "5"]
    [White "Fischer, Robert James"]
    [Black "Finegold, Ronald"]
    [Result "1-0"]
    [ECO "C15"]
    [PlyCount "107"]
    [EventDate "1963.07.04"]
    [EventType "swiss"]
    [EventRounds "8"]
    [EventCountry "USA"]
    [Source "ChessBase"]
    [SourceDate "1999.07.01"]

    1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. a3 Bxc3+ 5. bxc3 dxe4 6. Qg4 Nf6 7. Qxg7 Rg8 8. Qh6 Rg6 9. Qe3 b6 10. Bb2 Bb7 11. O-O-O Nbd7 12. h3 Qe7 13. Ne2 O-O-O 14. c4 e5 15. dxe5 Nxe5 16. Rxd8+ Kxd8 17. Nf4 Rg8 18. Be2 Kc8 19. Rd1 Rd8 20. Rxd8+ Kxd8 21. Qg3 Ng6 22. h4 Nxf4 23. Qxf4 Ne8 24. h5 Bc8 25. h6 Qd6 26. Qg5+ Qe7 27. Qd5+ Qd6 28. Qg5+ Qe7 29. Qg3 Bf5 30. Qf4 Qe6 31. g4 Bg6 32. Qg5+ Qe7 33. Qd5+ Qd6 34. Be5 Qxd5 35. cxd5 f6 36. Bg3 Ke7 37. Kd2 Nd6 38. Ke3 b5 39. Bxd6+ Kxd6 40. Kd4 a6 41. c4 bxc4 42. Bxc4 a5 43. Ba2 f5 44. gxf5 Bxf5 45. Bb3 Bg6 46. Ba4 Bf5 47. Be8 Ke7 48. Ke5 Bg4 49. Bg6 Bd7 50. Bxh7 c6 51. dxc6 Bxc6 52. Bxe4 Bxe4
    53. Kxe4 Kf6 54. f4 1-0

  22. Just a note to counter some of the misinformation from Jerry Noel. The MCF never once "raked in the money" from the Western. The WCA has made more running chess events than the MCF has, even amortized over the entire half-century of the MCF's existence (this is not an assertion that WCA has made buckets of cash, just that it made more than MCF). You'll find the WCA makes more in one year from scholastic chess than the MCF made in the last three decades from the Western.

    While Fred Cramer was alive, the Western rarely made money; Fred routinely wrote checks of up to $2000 to cover the losses from this event (a rather famous flop at the Olympia resort comes to mind -- with only 30-some-odd players directed by Pearle Mann). At his death, Fred gave his money to ACF (now "Chess In Schools") not MCF. The MCF received not one single dime from Fred's estate, though it did beg for and receive grants from the ACF for the first couple of years after Fred's death, which were also used to offset losses in the Western.

    That having been said, I agree completely with Jerry that it's not the WCA's responsibility to save WI organizers. The most that might be said is it's their repsonsibility to promote chess in WI, but organizers are on their own hook. WI chess is in the state it's in because while everyone wants to play, the sad fact is too few are willing to do the work to make that possible. The proof of that is in the number of people organizing tournaments here today. There's nothing stopping anyone from creating a tournament (obviously, names belong to various people/organizations, so no one but the WCA can organize an NCO, no one but Selig can organize an NEO, etc.) at any particular site on any particular weekend, yet who's stepping up to do it?

    That, in a nutshell, is what's ailing WI chess. Lots of critics but few actors. When that changes, the tournament landscape will change, but not before.

  23. Arlen,
    Can you please reomve the 2007 WI tour information from

    WI Chess players

  24. I'm sorry if I was misinformed to the fact that Fred helped out his club. As for the WCA making money off the Junior Open, that is true.
    What is also true is that the other events the WCA operates all lose money, events where juniors pull in a good share of the prize money while paying reduced entry fees.
    The WCA barely breaks even during the course of the year. In fact, if it were not for the two national events, it would have been bankrupt years ago. Those two events raised money for both the WCA and MCF (who assisted with local volunteers).

    "That, in a nutshell, is what's ailing WI chess. Lots of critics but few actors. When that changes, the tournament landscape will change, but not before."
    Like I always say, "he who complains gets nominated." Too bad, nobody steps up; instead they prefer to hide under the cover of anonimity.