LA Invitational Tournament
From 19-23 January Los Angelis hosted a GM norm tournament dedicated to the memory of one of the cities best chess promoters-Jimmy Quon.
Jimmy Quon was a beloved chess player from the Southern California Community who taught at La Jolla Country Day School for 14 years. At one time he was teaching 15% of the student body. In the end, he had coached over 1000 players.
This was the first GM norm event in Southern California since six years. The dream of our T. D. (tournament director) Michael Belcher was always to host an event like that. Since the times of the Spassky-Fischer match, Michael always admired to one of the people on the stage. But that person was neither Boris, nor Bobby. That person was the arbiter! And when he reached the mature age of twelve, he started to organize tournaments. Michael is originally an Indian from the Navaho tribe and experienced problems as the people did not know how to play chess. Therefore, he taught them, and then organized them tournaments. In L.A. he found support by both Jimmy Quon, and the current organizer of the event- Ankit Gupta. Ankit is a national master, who does his best to promote our sport in the enourmous city. Still, despite its seventeen million populations, L.A. is meager in chess events. These two men efforts though gave already two norm events to South California- an IM and GM norm invitationals, when the plan is that those events become regular. Metrochess L.A. is also organizing a strong open in August and have already participants’ confirmation by GMs like Adams and van Wely.
All the games were played in the California Market Center, which is the L.A. downtown. It is a fashion district, and many reviews took place while we played our games. The tournament itself appeared to be a triumph for the Philipini GM Marc Paragua, who started with remarkable 6/6. he took clear first, two points ahead of his closest pursuer GM Melik Khachiyan, former trainer of Levon Aronian. Third is Mackenzie Molner. None achieved the desired norm.
Unfortunately, this wonderful event was affected by a racist scandal, caused by a third party. In his regular information email Ankit Gupta recommended among others the events of a local club LACC (Los Angelis Chess Club) whose founder and director Mick Bighamian has an Iranian origin. Confused by the many emails in the list, the Israeli GM and student at Texas Tech University Anatoly Bykhovsky wrote an email to LACC, instead of Metropolitan Chess Club asking for conditions for the summer open. Despite the fact that LACC has nothing to do with this tournament, the Israeli received the following reply from Bighamian’s email: “We don’t allow players from terrorist countries in our tournaments! Good Chess! ”
Bykhovsky rushed in to complain to Susan Polgar, and the whole case soon reached Israel, where the President of the Chess Federation wrote an official letter of protest to Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.
In the meanwhile Bighamian’s explanations to what have happened vary to either a computer virus or the public usage of the club computer.
This is a very sad case in our sport, which should be used to unite the people, rather than segregate them. In an official letter of the participants we stand behind the organizer Gupta, and condemned any racist’s attitude. Ankit on his turn hurried up to invite Anatoly Bykhovsky for the summer tournament. I hope that he will understand, and accept the invitation.