The facts are that going into the last round of the 2002 US Open Chess Championship, Olga Sagalchik had 5.5 points and Laura Ross had 5 points. Olga Sagalchik was rated 2169 by the USCF and Laura Ross was rated 2109. Laura Ross is only 13 years old and is the top rated player in America in her age group, male or female. http://www.uschess.org/ratings/top50/aug02/Aug02_13.html
In the last round, Olga Sagalchik was paired against Igor Khmelnitsky, a player rated 2550, whereas Laura Ross was paired against a player rated 1809. Laura Ross had played a stronger field and had superior tie-breaking points. Therefore, the only chance for Olga Sagalchik to qualify to the US Championship was to defeat a player rated 381 points higher than herself, and the chance of that happening is about 100 to 1.
Unfortunately, the answers provided by Igor Khmelnitsky to questions about this matter do not hold water, on any point:
1. Igor says that he told the TD taking the last results of the 8th round that he was out. However, that person was Joan Schlich and she can remember no such request, plus she says that anybody who makes such a request is given a withdrawal sheet to sign. Igor Khmelnitsky did not sign the withdrawal sheet. Also, Joan Schlich has a good record. Nobody can remember her making a mistake on such a matter.
2. Igor says that he wrote on the result charts after posting the score 0:1 that he was withdrawing. However, all of the results charts for this tournament have been preserved by the tournament director. They have been checked and examined and no such thing was written on the results chart. It is unusual for the tournament director to keep the results charts and Igor probably did not realize that this would be done.
3. Although Igor says that he called the directors room at 7:00 PM, there were several witnesses in the room who say that he called at 7:15 PM, which was definitely too late to change the pairings, since the round was scheduled to start at 7:30 PM. Therefore, by withdrawing only 15 minutes before the round started, he knew for certain that Olga Sagalchik would qualify for the US Championship and that Laura Ross would not qualify.
4. Igor says "why would I worry about Olga score or anyone else". However, everybody knew that the top woman in this tournament would qualify for the US Championship. Igor himself was trying to qualify for the US Championship. He had paid the $30 fee. He was obviously well aware of the situation and knew that by forfeiting to Olga Sagalchik in round 9, he guaranteed that she would qualify to the US Championship.
5. Igor expresses concern for his reputation. However, he lives in the Philadelphia area, near to where the tournament was played. Therefore, once he found out that he was paired against Olga Sagalchik and that by forfeiting his last round game against her he guaranteed her a spot in the US Championship and deprived 13-year-old Laura Ross of the opportunity to play in the US Championship, he should have come in and played the game. There was nothing stopping him from playing the chess game and that was certainly the honorable thing to do under the circumstances. Most players in those circumstances would have played the game. The obvious point is that Igor is rated 2550, whereas Olga is only rated 2169. The chance of a 2169 player defeating a 2550 player is close to absolute zero plus Olga had to win the game to qualify for the US Championship. A draw would not be good enough, because Laura Ross had superior tie breaking points.
The case is obvious and the evidence is overwhelming that Igor Khmelnitsky lost on purpose by forfeit to Olga Sagalchik to guarantee her a place in the US Championship. We must say that it is proven beyond reasonable doubt. I believe that a strong letter of censure should be issued by the USCF to Igor Khmelnitsky and that Olga Sagalchik should be kicked out of the US Championship and that Laura Ross should be allowed to play in the US Championship.
Anything less than that will just encourage the fixing of chess games, which has long been a serious problem in major chess tournaments where money is involved.
On 12 Aug 2002 12:18:55 -0700, in rec.games.chess.politics email@example.com (Igor K) wrote:
I am shocked to see that some one is trying to accuse me. While, I would love to get personal and call the accuser a few names, I have decided not to lower myself to his level. Mentioning of anonymous GM, if exists, is especially annoying, but again, why would I care?
I do appreciate others however, who show their better judgment and offered their support. I have decided to summarize below is a brief chronology of events. This is done specifically for the benefit of my friends.
Playing in the US Open was a last minute decision and proved to be wrong. Commuting from west Phila suburb as well a working between the two weekends took way too much energy. Thus not surprisingly, after the excellent start of 5/5, which included victory over GM Rohde, I have run out of gas versus promising juniors Lopez and Hoekstra (scoring 0.5 out of 2). With 5.5 out of 7, I was still hopeful to score a solid 7.5 or at least 7 points, enough to qualify to the US Champ. (which I was not sure I would attend due to work and family obligations)
However, my 8th round game was just disaster, I made several blunders and ended up loosing after 6 hrs of play just after 2AM. I was extremely disappointed, and immediately decided of not coming back on Sunday for meaningless trip. Even that late, there was a Tournament Director (TD) at the result table a woman, but not Carol Jarecky (who I know), taking the last results of the 8th round. I told the TD that I was out, and also WRITTEN the same thing on the result charts after posting the score 0:1.
The above should be enough to explain what happened, but wait, there is more; I knew that with such a large number of participants there was a way even for best organizers and TDs to screw up, so I have decided to double check on Sunday that I was not paired. I think it was around 7PM, about 1/2 hr before the game when I checked the US Open web site. To my surprise, indeed I was paired. I did call immediately to the hotel and was connected to the TDs room. I did explain what happened last night and they said OK. I felt that I did all I could, but never imagined that such an accusation would come up, as had no idea about the tournament situation. And why would I worry about Olga score or anyone else, other than my score and scores of other would be qualifiers to the US Champ?
This is it, now you know the whole story and make your own conclusions. For the record, I have known Olga and Gennady for many years of chess tournaments. They are very nice people, but I would not call them friends as I do not believe we ever met or talked outside of the chess events.
IM Igor Khmelnitsky http://www.IamCoach.com
A grandmaster I know has privately expressed the view that it was not an accident or an oversight that IM Igor Khmelnitsky, rated 2550, failed to show up and lost by forfeit in the last round to Olga Sagalchik, rated 2169, thereby enabling Sagalchik to finish with 7 as the top woman player in the US Open and thereby to qualify to the US Championship, instead of 13-year-old Laura Ross, rated 2109, who won her last round game and finished with 6.5.
This grandmaster points out that Igor Khmelnitsky and Olga Sagalchik are both Russians and Russians are always cheating like that, he says.
Had Igor Khmelnitsky shown up, played the game and lost on the board to Olga Sagalchik, everyone would have been suspicious, so instead he simply did not come to the game, allowing Olga to win by forfeit.
Take a look at http://www.64.com/chess/02usopen/?page=STANDINGS&xsection=O9
How many agree with this?
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