Cheating/Sandbagging at Nationals
Here is a valuable lesson for everyone. Always play your best.
Elizabeth Spiegel's blog
intermittent thoughts on my life and work as the chess coach at IS 318, a public middle school in Brooklyn
THURSDAY, APRIL 12, 2018
Cheating at the National Junior High
Last weekend, at the National Junior High School Chess
Championship, Henderson Middle School from El Paso Texas "won" the under 750 and Under 1000 sections
with teams of obviously sandbagged players. This
was brought to the attention of Chief TD David Hater
by many coaches, but he felt it was not his
responsibility to act.
Let's examine the evidence.
The Under 1000 team members are
Ra***ez, Saul (7.0, 899)
Ra***ez, Juan (6.5, 867)
Pal***no, Carlos (6.0, 760)
Ar**jo, Carlos (4.5, 884)
Why are their ratings under 900, you are thinking?
Because that allowed them to play in and win the
Texas Under 900 championship.
To get their ratings under 900 for these events,
they claim to have played a two round match in
Las Cruces, NM, where they lost 26-0, most of
which were 400+ point upsets.
This was rated as a tournament, rather than a match;
perhaps accidentally or perhaps because there's an
anti-sandbagging rule that says you can only lose 50
points in a match.
My assistant principal, John Galvin, reported this at
7 pm Saturday. At the 2:30 meeting the next day, there
was some disagreement about whether these results
were spectacularly unlikely or actually impossible
A parent from my team who is also a mathematician
was kind enough to run some numbers for me (results
have been reviewed by a few of his colleagues and
detailed discussion is in the comments. )
His analysis showed the odds of losing 26-0 with the
rating differentials is 1 in 3x 10^21
Without considering ratings, it's 1 in 263,000,000.
When asked, the Henderson coach attributed his team's
poor performance to "being kids" and coming from
The Under 750 team is
R**z, Alessandra (7.0, 734)
Arga***na, Aime (6.0, 585)
Ag***re, Devante (5.0, 632)
Ji***ez, Jose Luis (5.0, 654)
Valadez, Angelica (5.0, 683)
On Jan 19, 2019, they held another tournmanent /
match in New Mexico in which the Texas players
again did very very poorly. This time their under
750 team goes under. Notice how the MSA report lists
the players' states in the left hand corner so you can
easily see how badly Texas fared.
The TD supervising these tournaments, Will Barela,
is also the President of the New Mexico Chess Association.
Looking through his directing history reveals some,
lets' say ... "purposeful" events. Between Dec 28 and
Jan 5 of 2017/2018, he rated a series of 15 multi
section tournaments, in which a master who was
dropping dangerously close to 2200, beat kids rated
100-1000 in hundreds of games, thereby obtaining
his life master title.
Congratulations to Life Master Benjamin Corarreti,
I have never seen more obvious evident of sandbagging.
There is no attempt to hide the thrown games, not a
USCF officials could have moved their sections and saved
the integrity and reputation of their tournament; they
were told at the beginning of round 5. Instead, they
insist it needs to be handled by the Ethics Committee.
Handing it off to the Ethics Committee has enormous
costs. The entire credibility of the tournament
experience is ruined for everyone. A confidential
committee decision six months later does nothing
to fix this. The cheated teams will never get to walk
across the stage; they'll never get the newspaper
articles, or the homecoming celebration, or the
exhilaration of that night.
I know there will be cases where the evidence is not
clear and the TDs can't, in good conscience, act. But
this is not that situation. This is the clearest, most
unambiguous case of cheating POSSIBLE.
If you aren't going to act on this, you can't claim to
be enforcing the rules.
It's unfortunate it wasn't handled well at the time,
and more unfortunate (see next post) that the
USCF is doubling down on their new stated policy of
not interfering in cheating in progress.
The USCF ought now to announce the cheating
publicly and congratulate Metcalf and Thomas
Edison on their wins in the U750 and U1000
sections, and Scotty Gordon and Sameris Desvignes
on the individual triumphs.
In future, under sections should use peak rating.
Posted by Elizabeth Vicary at 10:51 AM
US Chess Statement on Cheating Allegations
By US Chess|April 13, 2018|News
Recent social media posts reference cheating allegations involving a team that participated in the 2018 National Junior High Championship in Atlanta, Georgia, from April 6-8. The US Chess Federation makes the following clear:
No cheating happened, nor is alleged to have happened, at the 2018 National Junior High Championship; the alleged incident took place prior to our event.
US Chess was notified late during the fifth round of the seven-round event that a team was possibly ineligible to be in the section in which they were competing due to illegal ratings manipulations at a prior event. Because the presented evidence was circumstantial, the Chief Tournament Director on the scene made the decision to allow the team to continue to play. This decision was presented to US Chess for review prior to its communication. The US Chess Director of Events, as the organizer of record, concurred with the Chief Tournament Director’s ruling.
US Chess has a well-established procedure to handle accusations of cheating or other unethical behaviors. The US Chess Federation has not received a written complaint to initiate our procedures for factual inquiry and ruling on any allegation of cheating pertaining to this event. US Chess is committed to fair play and the integrity of the game of chess. We are concerned that accusations of cheating be handled properly and with sensitivity with respect to the age of these minor players.
Carol B. Meyer
US Chess Executive Director