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Old March 9th 09, 04:55 PM posted to,,alt.chess,
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Default Prizewinner at 2008 Miami Open Complains: Still No action takenagainst Candidates who failed to pay Guaranteed Prizes

On Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 12:37 PM, Mikhail Sher
Hello Bill,

Even though a month has passed since my last letter, I still have not
heard back from you. Has this matter been forwarded to the Rules
Committee as you have promised?
I realize Lugo and Hecht are running for USCF Executive Board, but
does it mean the rules do not apply to them altogether? It is my
belief that if the determination is made that their affiliate should
be unable to run further tournaments until announced prizes are paid
out for 2008 Miami Open, that would be a strong motivation for them to
live up to the financial commitments they have undertaken when running
the tournament.


Mikhail Sher

On Thu, Feb 12, 2009 at 5:44 PM, Bill Hall wrote:

I apologize for not getting back to you sooner. I would like to take a
moment to clarify the matter and update you on the status. I am the person
that is appointed to give an initial ruling on such a situation, with
opportunity for appeal to the Executive Board, and beyond to the Delegates.
I, nor any other USCF body, can force an organizer to pay additional prizes.
We can only implement sanctions and the ending of such sanctions could be
conditional upon additional payment. So, it is whether there should be a
sanction issued that I am to rule on. The situation is now further
complicated now that two of the organizer/sponsor team have announced their
candidacy for the USCF Executive Board. This puts me in the unenviable
position of having to rule on sanctions for two people that may soon be on
the Board to which I report. Precedent exists that in such cases the
Executive Director would then pass this along to an appropriate committee
for ruling. In the event of an appeal, it also introduces the need that the
Executive Board itself be removed as a step in the appeals process. As such,
I am going to pass the matter to the Rules Committee for a ruling. I expect
to get this to them next week and will ask for them to get back with a
ruling within three weeks. I appreciate the patience that you have
demonstrated thus far, and I do understand your frustration at the length of
time that this is taking.

Bill Hall
Executive Director
United States Chess Federation
P.O. Box 3967
Crossville, TN 38557-3967
Phone: (931) 787-1234
Fax: (931) 787-1200
-----Original Message-----
From: Mikhail Sher ]
Sent: Thursday, February 12, 2009 12:11 PM
Subject: Miami Open Prize Fund

Hello Bill,

I wrote an appeal to you regarding the improper reduction of the
guaranteed prize fund in Miami in September, however I have not heard
back even though you initially stated that you expected to respond
within the next several weeks. Now, I have read on the USCF Issues
Forum that you can not rule on this issue, because Blas Lugo is
running for USCF Executive Board and is refusing to supply some form
of documentation you have requested from him. What it seems like to me
is that the organizer tries to simply delay the resolution of this
issue in order to stop any possible legal action by me and/or other
players who were defrauded.

I would appreciate a quick resolution of this issue. If you feel it is
not in your competence to rule on it, please refer it to the
appropriate committee of the USCF with a definitive timeline for


Mikhail Sher

Mikhail Sher
3034 Brighton 1st Street, Unit 2
Brooklyn NY 11235

Cell: (412)901-4312

September 18, 2008

Bill Hall
Executive Director
United States Chess Federation
P.O. Box 3967
Crossville, TN 38557-3967

Miami Open 2008 Prize Fund Reduction

Dear Mr. Hall,

I am writing to you about the reduction in the prize fund of the Miami
Open 2008 Chess Tournament. This tournament was announced with "Prizes
$100,000 based on 650 entries, $70,000 guaranteed". Subsequently, a
week before the tournament expecting low turnout the organizers put a
notice on the website that prizes may be reduced to up to 50% of
initial projected prize fund and finally on a last day of the
tournament an official announcement that such a change will take
effect was made. The prizes for all the players placing in the money
were cut below guaranteed amounts. I have received $1,666.67 (one
thousand six hundred sixty six dollars and 67/100 cents) for 1-3 place
finish in the U2100 section
( The amount I would
receive based on 70% guaranteed prize fund is $2,333.33 (two thousand
three hundred thirty three dollars and 33/100 cents). So, essentially
I was defrauded out of $666.67 (six hundred sixty six dollars and
67/100 cents) in prize money I won by the organizers of the Miami
Open. The organizers also offered participants an option not to accept
reduced prize money before filing a protest but said that since the
tournament produced financial loss those players would be paid later
than all other players and would risk not receiving prize money at all
as the Miami Chess Open account might "run empty".

I believe that such a violation of USCF rules regarding the guaranteed
prizes is unacceptable. My primary consideration for making decision
to attend this tournament and come to Miami Open from New York was the
guaranteed prize fund. Accordingly, I could not cancel my
participation when the possible reduction of prize fund was announced
only a week in advance as I had already booked a non-refundable

It is a standard for any business arrangement to honor the terms of
contract - in this case the tournament prize funds whether the event
produces a win or a loss on a balance sheet. For example 2005 Bradley
Open ( and many other Continental
Chess events produced financial loss, however all the guaranteed
prizes were paid. As this is an event approved by USCF and awarding
USCF Grand Prix points, such contract violation is not just an issue
of affiliate responsible but also reflects negatively on USCF itself,
as well as exposes USCF to potential legal/financial liability.
Therefore, USCF should enforce the affiliate's responsibility to
comply with their financial responsibilities.

Finally, I do not believe that the organizers claims that bad weather
conditions affected the attendance should hold much weight. First of
all, the hurricanes occurred in Texas and the Caribbean - not the
areas of the tournament. Secondly, the attendance of last years
tournament (
was less than half of the 650 entries projected prize fund was based
on. Therefore, I believe the single largest reason for tournament's
financial loss was incorrect attendance projection by organizers based
on prior data. This is not something the players should be penalized
for, nor would I make a decision to fly from New York to Miami for a
tournament with only a $2,500 first place prize in my section.

Based on the factors and reasoning above, I expect the organizer to
provide me with the owed monies in the amount of $666.67 (six hundred
sixty six dollars and 67/100 cents) and USCF to enforce the
affiliate's responsibility to comply with their financial

I look forward to hearing from you soon and thank you in advance for
your assistance in this matter.


Mikhail Sher

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