I appreciate the comments. However, the ratings of the players before the competition starts should have no bearing on the results, because otherwise why play at all.
I find it rediculous that Mr. Suzuki actually won first prize in the tournament but received no prize at all, other than the title, whereas Mr. Bekele, who won 2 and lost 5 games, which was the worst result of any dan rated player in the event, won a trip to Japan.
As to the pronouncements of others as to how strong Mr. Bekele is, I know a 4-dan player who gives Mr. Bekele a handicap of bishop and beats him every game. Mr. Bekele is simply not a strong player.
I recognize that Douglas Dysart defeated Mr. Ono on an outright blunder of ni-fu by Mr. Ono, but that is how shogi is. On the other hand, Mr. Bekele lost two of his first three games and under the rules was eliminated from the competition. Yet, because of his friendships with Mr. Hayashi and Mr. Fernandez, Mr. Bekele was allowed to play in the finals and, again because of the same friendships, was declared winner of the trip to Japan even though he had lost almost all his games in the tournament.
This situation is so outrageous that I cannot understand how anyone could defend it. What would happen if a popular player were defeated in an early round of the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament and then the organizers decided to reinstate this favored player, who then went on to win top prize?
Please note that in his letter, Mr. Hayashi mentioned that he and Mr. Bekele flew from New York to the competition in Chicago on the same flight together. Mr. Hayashi also admits that it was he and George Fernandez who decided that Bekele would win the top prize, although it had previously been stated that Mr. Ishikawa, a professional player, had decided that Bekele got the prize. (This had been an obvious lie, because had the decision been up to Mr. Ishikawa, he clearly would have selected a strong player.)
As to the statement that I should have been prepared to bear the expense of a $70 taxi ride from the airport to the playing site, the fact is that I came to Chicago to compete with limited funds and had I known that the tournament was not being held in Chicago but in a remote area only reachable by taxi at a cost of $70, I would not have come at all.
I feel that I and the other competitors have been cheated. We should all be given our money back. (I spent more than $400 to play in this event.) This is the most outrageous thing I have ever seen or known to have happened in my more than 40 years of various tournament competitions. I will not be forgetting this.
Dear Mr. Bekele,
The person who told me that he gives you a handicap of bishop and beats you every game is none other than your friend Mr. Fernandez.
As to your shogi strength, even if you are right that you can defeat me 10 games in a row at shogi, that is not the point. The point is that I and 36 players traveled to the US Shogi Championship in Illinois thinking that we were entering a fair competition and may the best man win. We did not know that you would simply be awarded the prize based on your friendship with the organizers, while losing almost all of your games.
If you are sincerely interested in a fair competition, you should have no objection to a playoff between yourself, myself, Mr. Ray Kaufman and Mr. Douglas Dysart, with the winner receiving the free trip to Japan which was awarded to you.
Personally, I would never have been willing to accept a prize under the conditions which you accepted it because you clearly did not win the competition but were eliminated after the first three games.
I am not interested in getting involved in a gambling game with you. However, I think you should know that almost everybody agrees with me that you did not win the competition and are not entitled to receive the prize that you received.
There are differences with my view as to what should be done about this. Probably a majority are inclined just to forget about it and either not play again or else hope that conditions are better in the future.
It is obvious that what happened at the US Shogi Championship was not merely irregular but was actually illegal. Thirty-six players entered, each paying an entry fee of fifty dollars. Thus, a total of $1800 was collected by the organizers. This money was expended such as by paying an attractive young Japanese female to sit in a chair with her arms folded (although to her credit she did point out that she was being paid and she offered to do anything provided that she was given something to do) and for the food which we had no choice but to eat since there were no eating facilities for miles around.
After collecting one thousand eight hundred dollars in entry fees and causing players to travel from as far as Los Angeles and Seattle to compete, the organizers decided to award the top two prizes to you and Mr. Sato, Mr. Sato being a 4-dan player who was entered as a 1-dan so we all had to give him a handicap.
There is enough here that I could probably go to the local district attorney and have this matter prosecuted as a crime, except that all the perpetrators have long since fled the scene of Hoffman Estates where the crime was committed.
If you are really interested in justice and fair play you should agree to a playoff with the top competitors. I am confident that in a playoff between yourself, myself, Dysart and Kaufman you would not be the winner and would be more likely to finish last.
At 11:52 PM 8/1/99 -0400, Fassil Bekele wrote:
At 09:01 AM 7/31/99 -0400, you wrote:
As to the pronouncements of others as to how strong Mr. Bekele is, I know a
4-dan player who gives Mr. Bekele a handicap of bishop and beats him every
game. Mr. Bekele is simply not a strong player.
That's news to me, Sam. Who is this individual? How many games did I play
him with bishop handicap? When and where was that?
You seem fixated on the notion that I'm a weak player. I believe you even
mentioned some time ago that you and I have about the same strength. There
is a very simple way to settle that particular issue: let's have a match.
You've been bitching about the $400 your trip to Chicago cost you, and I'm
now giving you an opportunity to get it back. Let's have a 10-game match
with the odds tilted in your favor. If you win at least 4 out of the 10
games, I'll give you $400; and if you don't, you lose nothing. Draws won't
count. But I want the entire 10 games to be played, so that even if I were
leading 7-0, we would still play the final 3 games. I intend to crush you
10-0, but I think you will probably manage to get one or two wins. But at
the end, there should be no doubt in your mind as to who is stronger and
how much stronger.
I plan to attend the New York shogi club's meeting on August 4th and August
11th (at the Hamaya, as usual). Why don't you come on over? We obviously
won't finish all 10 games in two sessions, but we can continue in September.
Let's have someone from the shogi club as arbiter, say George Fernandez or Ogihara. I'll give the $400 to the arbiter from the outset if you want. Also, I think you should put up a small amount, say $30, to ensure that you do play all 10 games. The $30 will be returned to you once the 10 games are completed.
At 08:37 AM 8/2/99 -0400, Sam Sloan wrote:
It seems you're now embarking on another campaign of misinformation.
The person who told me that he gives you a handicap of bishop and beats you
every game is none other than your friend Mr. Fernandez.
You must be confused. I don't know how far back you're going with any
related comment I might have made, but I've never had a perfect record
against Fassil at Bishop handicap and therefore CANNOT have said that. It's
more likely that, you're twisting what I said to create more controversy,
more bad blood, and thrust yourself into the spotlight of the shogi world
without playing. Clearly, the amount of time you spend actually playing
shogi versus the amount of time you spend complaining about it suggests
that your focus in the latter.
Dozens of players from throughout the world have expressed their total
satisfaction with the answers you were given regarding this matter, and, if
anything, they thought I was unnecessarily nice to you in going as far as I
did. Furthermore, the general sentiment is that regardless of how much
energy is spent in trying to amicably resolve matters with you, in this OR
any other issue, it will be to no avail. I was honestly hoping that this
would not be the case but have now resigned myself to the fact that their
comments were true.
We did not know
that you would simply be awarded the prize based on your friendship with the
organizers, while losing almost all of your games.
You can keep saying this, and I'm sure that you will, but it's not true.
... but were eliminated after the first three games.
Here again you continue to repeat the same misinformation. The top three
highest rated non-qualifiers were allowed re-entry into the main draw
according to the rules set forth by the primary Tournament Director Mr.
Tsuruoka at the start. Mr. Bekele WAS the third highest rated player and
thus completely entitled to be re-entered into the main elimination
tournament. What part of this is so confusing to you that you refuse, or
are unable, to comprehend?? Do you just like the ring that the comment has
and, like a child, keep on pushing it long after you've been asked to "stop
There are differences with my view as to what should be done about this.
Probably a majority are inclined just to forget about it and either not play
again or else hope that conditions are better in the future.
My guess of the breakdown is as follows:
Forget about it- 99%
Not play again- Less than 5%
Hope conditions are better in the future- 100%
It is obvious that what happened at the US Shogi Championship was not merely
irregular but was actually illegal. Thirty-six players entered, each paying
an entry fee of fifty dollars. Thus, a total of $1800 was collected by the
organizers. This money was expended such as by paying an attractive young
Japanese female to sit in a chair with her arms folded (although to her
credit she did point out that she was being paid and she offered to do
anything provided that she was given something to do) and for the food which
we had no choice but to eat since there were no eating facilities for miles
The organizers actually spent money out of their pocket to pay for expenses
OVER the amount collected (less than $1800). The room charge, food, and
trophy costs ate up most of the money. Additionally, many of us spent a
considerable amount of money in long distance bills, FAXes, etc. during the
Mr. Sato being a 4-dan player who was entered as a 1-dan so we all had to
give him a handicap.
A separate issue that has already been addressed.
There is enough here that I could probably go to the local district attorney
and have this matter prosecuted as a crime, except that all the perpetrators
have long since fled the scene of Hoffman Estates where the crime was
You are making a strong case, but unfortunately it is on separate issues!
1) The proposal of a USSF provision to have the power to ban individuals
from future shogi events for just cause.
2) To force participants to sign a waiver stating that they understand the
rules of the tournament and will abide by them.
3) To appoint a poor soul [USSF Rules Committee volunteer] to write a 500
page manuscript with detailed rules and regulations covering EVERY SINGLE
POSSIBLE OCCURENCE in a shogi game or tournament, along with a multitude of
disclaimers. I'm certain that many people would prefer not to see you at
another shogi event until such time when the USSF is armed with such a
It's not too late to put your energy to better use Sam. Try not to be like
Darth Vader, in Star Wars, who only leaves the "dark side", and sees the
error in his ways, at the time of his death! ;-) .
Enough for now.
George I. Fernandez
United States Shogi Federation
28-30 34th Street, Apt.#6-O
Long Island City, NY 11103