US Chess Discussion

Welcome! This blog has no connection with the USCF. It's a blog where I provide chess fans with general information about US Chess as well as the USCF. It's also a site where everyone can productively discuss or ask questions about various USCF issues! Your contributions and comments are welcome! PLEASE KEEP IT CIVIL & RESPECT OTHERS! Enjoy! All posts that do not meet this guideline will be deleted -- WIN WITH GRACE, LOSE WITH DIGNITY!(TM) --- 2006 Susan Polgar©

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

L.A. chess club under investigation for anti-Semitic e-mail

February 8, 2011
L.A. chess club under investigation for anti-Semitic e-mail
By Ryan Torok

Mick Bighamian, founder and director of the Los Angeles Chess Club, denies writing an e-mail to 22-year-old Israeli grandmaster Anatoly Bykhovsky in mid-January that read, “We don’t allow players from terrorist countries to participate in our tournaments.”

Bykhovsky, a freshman at Texas Tech University, received the e-mail the day after sending a request to Bighamian to play in an upcoming tournament.

In a phone interview, Bighamian said that he usually leaves his e-mail app open on the club’s computer, and anybody there could have sent the e-mail, which included his name at the bottom. He denies being anti-Semitic or being prejudiced against Israelis, but he refused to discuss his feelings about Israel.

“I don’t think my views of any countries is anyone else’s business,” he said.

Bighamian said he has not found out who sent the e-mail, but added that he has placed new restrictions on the computer to limit who can send e-mails.

After The New York Times published an article about the e-mail on Jan. 24, people in the chess community dug up anti-Semitic and anti-Israel messages on Web bulletin boards from the late 1990s written by someone using the name Mansour Bighamian (Mansour is Bighamian’s real first name).

Bill Hall, executive director of United States Chess Federation (USCF), is currently investing a complaint about the e-mail and said Bighamian or his club could face sanctions, probation or expulsion.

Shortly after receiving the e-mail, Bykhovsky forwarded it to officials at the Susan Polgar Institute for Chess Excellence (SPICE) at Texas Tech.

“Basically he didn’t know how to deal with the situation,” said Paul Truong, director of marketing and public relations at SPICE.

“He was stunned…. [He] thought somebody was playing a prank or something,” Truong said.

Bykhovsky, who moved to the United States from Israel last year to study at Texas Tech and ranks in the top half percent of 80,000 USCF members, declined to discuss the incident with The Journal. In an e-mail, he said he wants the appropriate authorities to resolve the matter.

He also didn’t respond to the Los Angeles Chess Club e-mail. “He found this was something beneath him to respond to such remarks,” Truong said.

On Jan. 19, SPICE filed a complaint with the World Chess Federation. The World Chess Federation has 170 member federations, including the USCF; the Los Angeles Chess Club is an affiliate member. The USCF started the investigation after the complaint was filed.

A misunderstanding led to the initial e-mail exchange. While reading a chess newsletter, Bykhovsky came across an advertisement for the First Metropolitan International, a tournament in August that is being organized by Metropolitan Chess Club, another Los Angeles group. But Bykhovsky accidentally wrote to Bighamian, whose club was also advertising an event in the same issue.

Ankit Gupta, chief organizer for the Metropolitan Chess Club, denounced the e-mail, whether it was sent by Bighamian or not, and welcomed Bykhovsky to play in his club’s tournament.

— Ryan Torok, Staff Writer
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  • At Wednesday, February 16, 2011 12:14:00 AM, Blogger ascachess said…

    I have known Mick for nearly 30 years since his days in Houston and I cannot imagine him writing this. It is not in his character.

    The LACC has many Jewish members and we have attended over 40 events there. Mick bends over backwards to make everyone welcome.

  • At Thursday, February 17, 2011 9:31:00 AM, Anonymous Aviv said…

    I don't believe it. This man had over a month to apologize to the person he offended. He refused. He rambled about someone is out to make him look bad instead. People like him should be banned from chess. The problem is some of the EB members are bigger racists than this man.

  • At Thursday, February 24, 2011 7:26:00 PM, Blogger ascachess said…

    Aviv, this is beneath you.
    You don't believe it based on what?
    Do you even know Mick?
    Do you even know anyone who knows Mick?

    This isn't even a hard one to figure out. Mick has the LACC in a predominately Jewish area of Los Angeles. There is a large kosher market right next door.

    Mick has been running chess clubs for 25 years in Houston and LA without any such incident.

    Do you really believe Mick would kill his own business by posting antisemitic remarks? Anybody think you are going to make it as a chess business in LA without the Jewish Community?

    You don't know him. I do. He is a very welcoming person.

    By the way, the attempt to tie Mick to the emails in the 90s fails as that Mansour was Pak not Persian. Same name, different person.

  • At Monday, March 21, 2011 3:38:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Dear Board Members and Executive Director,

    All the children in our family will no longer participate in the 2011 Junior Grand Prix. We didn't register for this event and it is clear from your inaction that you do not have the best interests of the children at heart. This letter means USCF no longer has the permission of our family to list the names of our minor children on any Junior Grand Prix lists. Please remove their names and JGP numbers from your system.

    The names of the children are:

    XXXXXXXXXXX 14164178
    XXXXXXXXXXX 14164184
    XXXXXXXXXXX 14164190
    XXXXXXXXXXX 14164204

    There are three reasons for this withdrawal.

    1) Through inaction, this board has chosen to associate itself with the new "invitation to cheat" rule. 12.3.3 Players who are repeating a grade in school may have a second year of eligibility in that
    grade if they are still age eligible for that grade. You have chosen not to protect the other players in the tournaments from the beneficiaries of the invitation to cheat. That this rule also benefits certain members of the scholastic council cannot be ignored. It benefits the private/magnet schools at the cost to the public schools who do not hold back bright children for supposed curriculum differences.

    2) This board has refused to take any action on cheating which occurred before the rule was changed thus protecting the cheaters. 14026082: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX and his brother cheated. He was not held back for academic reasons. He won trophies two consecutive years as a first grader (2008, 2009) and defeated my kindergartner daughter Gia as a second time first grader in Atlanta. So a three year player was allowed to pretend to be a second year player. Do you understand the magnitude of difference at those ages. Under the rules existing at the time, he was ineligible to play. This is the textbook example of why this new rule cheats the opponents. Now you have codified the cheating.

    3) Through inaction, this board denied XXXXXXXXXXX the winner of the 2010 Junior Grand Prix in SOCAL his rightful title as state champion and named the third place finisher as state champion. March Chess Life page 49.

    Cheating in favor of the private/magnet schools speaks for itself.

    Your Junior Grand Prix system is a mess. Your promises are worthless. Have the prizes for 2010 even gone out after this board promised they would? I have been asking about this for over three months without response.

    Do you even have rules for the 2011 competition? The USCF website has said for a month, Note: The JGP rules for 2011 will use a different means of computing points. The updated rules document should be
    available soon. We are nearly three months through 2011. Incompetence is too kind a word. The office ignored my legitimate inquiries for three months and according to an email I received last Friday you still don't even have rules for this year's competition.

    Effective immediately, please withdraw my kids from the JGP. Other parents have a right to know how you are handling your their children's affairs. When USCF cleans up its affairs, acts on the past cheating, and levels the playing field, we will return.

    A few years ago, the New York Times was kind enough to print my letter when Dalton won the National High School Championship using the National Junior High School and National Elementary Champion on their high school roster cheating Stuyvesant High School out of the national championship. I wonder what they might do with this. This sounds like another Danny Almonte Little League scandal.
    I really do not understand you people.

    Richard Peterson


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