Phil Chase: Chess Criminal

By Timothy Taylor, IM


Phil Chase was hiding under the sink. A Deputy Sherriff was pounding on his door! It was the morning of February 29, 2016, and Phil was quivering. But he didn’t make a sound.

It was still the same day, February 29, 2016, but evening now. The Deputy Sherriff was pounding on his door again! Phil was hiding under the bed! All Phil could think of was he had to come up with something, or next time they’d get him for sure.

Let’s go back a little bit.

The Illegal 2015 Southern California Championship

Part One: The Candidates Tournament

The US Chess Federation considers California to be two states, so Northern California has its own championship, and Southern California, where I live, also has its own championship. Since these are “state championship” titles, they are quite prestigious. While I have in the past won the Southern California Open Championship, the Closed version that I am talking about here, usually run as a round robin, is the more prestigious of the two—and that, the Closed, I have not yet won.

The rules for the 2015 Southern California Championship, held July 9-12, 2015, were simple. The event was to be an eight person round robin and the rules for participation were as follows—let me mention here that all rules and results in this blog are taken from the Southern California Chess Federation website.

So again, here are the rules as given by the SCCF—exact quote follows.

Format: Eight player single round robin.

Participants: Selection for event is as follows: three highest rated players that accept invitations (based on April supplement), three from Candidates Tournament, and last year’s winner. Additionally, the top finisher in the SuperStates K-12 Championship (SoCal resident) is seeded into the event. In the event the top SuperStates player declines, then seeding is by top four rated players who accept, three from Candidates, and last year’s winner.

Phil Chase, as President of the SCCF Board Steven Morford said, “was appointed by the SCCF board to organize the event.” But Phil felt that the rules were too confining. He decided to run a completely illegal tournament! In the Phil Chase version, instead of the mandated “eight player single round robin” he only had seven! The odd number meant that, in such a short tournament, every player had some sort of bye, creating a chaotic and unfair schedule. But as far as Phil was concerned, eight, schmate, who cares? The way Phil worked it out, most played games would count—but some played games would not! Hey, that works for me …….. not! The fact that this arbitrarily affected the places and prize money didn’t bother Phil at all. Finally, there was that pesky rule above that there had to be “three from Candidates Tournament.” Note that the rules emphasize “three from Candidates” by repeating this line twice. Phil? Rules schmules! In Phil’s version, there were only two from the Candidates tournament.

Seriously, people, the tournament was completely illegal. So why did Phil Chase run a completely illegal event, that was supposed to be the prestigious Southern California Championship, and actually turned out to be a ridiculous farce, where all involved tried really hard to ignore the elephant in the room, the fact that only seven players (not eight!) played legal games. Vanessa West, who wrote the article on the event for Chesslife Online, did not even once mention said elephant in her article!

Consider this: the player who scored the second highest number of points (John Bryant) was given third place, while the player who scored the third highest number of points (Kieton Kiewra) was given second! That was a $400 difference! Fair, right?

Again, why would Phil Chase do such a crazy, stupid thing? There’s always the good old line, “Evil is Stupid” which is the title of one of my previous blogs, and is evidently completely correct! Could there be any other reason? Maybe this: I was the eighth man.

To run the tournament legally, he would have had to call me as he had personally promised to do, and inform me that I had qualified as a result of a dropout. This was something that he was in fact required to do by the rules of the event—this was something that he had stated he would do, via email, on the very day of the event—but instead he ran an illegal tournament, in the dark, in secrecy, and I only found out about it two weeks later on the SCCF web site!

There I found that Michael Brown had won the tournament! Michael Brown, in chess terms, is one of my “clients.” Simply put, I beat him like a gong. I have a 7-1 score against him, and in six of those eight games I was black. I’ve beaten him with all my favorite openings, the Bird, the Budapest Gambit, the Dutch and … OMG! Yes, I also beat him with the King’s Gambit (see page 618 in The Fischer King’s Gambit for the full score). Now what kind of tournament would it be if you had to run it legally—then that Taylor guy might beat the promising but boring young player with the King’s Gambit! Better run an illegal tournament before letting something like that happen!

Here’s the cross table and game results as supplied by the SCCF, but note that, following my investigation, all this info has now been taken down. Fortunately, I saved all of this on my PC!

27th Southern California Championship July 9-12, 2015

Welcome to the official site of the 27th annual SCCF state invitational championship. Thank you to all of our donors whose generous contributions made this year’s event possible.


Pairings & Results





No. Player USCF Rtg 1 KK 2 JB 3 MB 4 KK 5 JP 6 AK 7 TA 8 IS Total Place
1 Keaton Kiewra 2502 X 1 0 ½ ½ 1 1 4 2nd place, $$1200
2 John Bryant 2493 0 X 0 ½ 1 1 1 3rd place, $$800
3 Michael Brown 2449 1 1 X 1 0 1 1 5 1st place, $$1800
4 Konstantin Kavutskiy 2434 ½ ½ 0 X 0 0 ½ 6th place, $$200
5 Jack Peters 2427 ½ 0 1 1 X 0 ½ 3 4-5th place, $$500
6 Alexander Kretchetov 2424 X
7 Tatev Abrahamyan 2417 0 0 0 1 1 X 1 3 4-5th place, $$500
8 Ilya Serpik 2380 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 X 1 7th place, $$200

Pairings & Results

Round 1: Thursday July 9, 4 p.m.

Board White Result Black
1 Peters ½-½ Serpik
2 Kretchetov Canceled Abrahamyan
3 Kiewra 0-1 Brown
4 Kavutskiy ½-½ Bryant

Round 2: Friday July 10, 10 a.m.

Board White Result Black
1 Kretchetov Canceled Kiewra
2 Serpik 0-1 Brown
3 Abrahamyan 0-1 Bryant
4 Peters 1-0 Kavutskiy

Round 3: Friday July 10, 4 p.m.

Board White Result Black
1 Bryant 1-0 Peters
2 Brown 1-0 Abrahamyan
3 Kiewra 1-0 Serpik
4 Kavutskiy Canceled Kretchetov

Round 4: Saturday July 11, 10 a.m.

Board White Result Black
1 Brown 1-0 Kavutskiy
2 Abrahamyan 0-1 Kiewra
3 Peters 1-0 Kretchetov
4 Bryant 1-0 Serpik

Round 5: Saturday July 11, 4 p.m.

Board White Result Black
1 Serpik ½-½ Kretchetov
2 Kiewra ½-½ Peters
3 Kavutskiy 0-1 Abrahamyan
4 Bryant 0-1 Brown

Round 6: Sunday July 12, 10 a.m.

Board White Result Black
1 Kiewra ½-½ Kavutskiy
2 Abrahamyan 1-0 Serpik
3 Peters 1-0 Brown
4 Kretchetov 0-1 Bryant

Round 7: Sunday July 12, 4 p.m.

Board White Result Black
1 Brown Canceled Kretchetov
2 Abrahamyan 1-0 Peters
3 Serpik ½-½ Kavutskiy
4 Bryant 0-1 Kiewra


Here’s the first thing I noticed: Alexandre Kretchetov did not play a single legal game. Look at the line of dashes at number 6, next to his name. Not one legal game.

So the event was a seven player (not eight) round robin.


So the event had only two players from the Candidates Tournament (Tatev Abrahamyan and Ilya Serpik) not three.


Then when I took a thorough look at the game results under the crosstable, I noticed John Bryant scored 4 ½ points but was only given credit for 3 ½!


Let’s go back in time again.

Before the Championship

        In January of 2015 I came back from New York after what turned out to be an unsuccessful attempt to get medical care for my (now) ex-wife, Liz Taylor. After the failure of this quest Liz unilaterally ended our marriage, left me and brought our sons back to Los Angeles. Not willing to allow my boys to grow up without a father, I came back to LA as soon as I could. At this point I was living in poor circumstances, pretty much day to day on finances.

I rejoined the SCCF and won the California Senior Championship (tie with Bruce Baker) and despite my other problems, felt ready to play. I thought I had excellent chances to win the Southern California Championship, and it would also be a big payday—$1800! But first I had to qualify from the Candidates tournament.

Playing at all in this event was quite difficult. Instead of being held in the major population center of Los Angeles, it was held in Laguna Hills. It was nearly impossible to get there by public transportation, and if you could somehow get there in the morning, there was no way back at night. I would not have been able to play at all except for a chess student who lived in that locality, and very kindly put me up during the tournament.

So I played in the tournament, and after three rounds had an even score and faced a must win situation in the last round.

Here is the US Chess rating account of the tournament.

Southern California Candidates Tournament June 6-7, 2015


Pair | Player Name                     |Total|Round|Round|Round|Round|

Num | USCF ID / Rtg (Pre->Post)       | Pts | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |


1 | TATEV ABRAHAMYAN               |3.5 |W   6|W   5|W   4|D   3|

CA | 12851435 / R: 2398   ->2417     |N:S |     |     |     |     |


2 | ILIA SERPIK                     |3.0 |W   8|D   4|D   3|W   6|

CA | 12602181 / R: 2368   ->2380     |N:M |     |     |     |     |


3 | ALEXANDRE KRETCHETOV           |2.5 |D 10|W 11|D   2|D   1|

CA | 12833623 / R: 2424   ->2424     |N:M |     |     |     |     |


4 | TIMOTHY W TAYLOR               |2.5 |W   7|D   2|L   1|W   9|

CA | 10153557 / R: 2398   ->2397     |N:C |     |     |     |     |


5 | EUGENE YANAYT                   |2.0 |W   9|L   1|L   6|W   8|

CA | 12598805 / R: 2344   ->2338     |N:C |     |     |     |     |


6 | DANIEL YOUSEFF MOUSSERI         |2.0 |L   1|W 10|W   5|L   2|

CA | 13425010 / R: 2280   ->2288     |N:C |     |     |     |    |


7 | CRAIG CLAWITTER                 |2.0 |L   4|D   8|D   9|X   |

CA | 12800135 / R: 2225   ->2218     |     |     |     |     |     |


8 | VADIM KUDRYAVTSEV               |1.5 |L   2|D   7|W 11|L   5|

CA | 13315303 / R: 2214   ->2212     |N:1 |     |     |     |     |


9 | LEONID FURMAN                   |1.5 |L   5|X   |D   7|L   4|

CA | 12734520 / R: 2166   ->2158     |     |     |     |     |     |


10 | MICHAEL CASELLA                 |0.5 |D   3|L   6|U   |U   |

CA | 12440626 / R: 2328   ->2322     |     |     |     |     |     |


11 | ALAA-ADDIN MOUSSA               |0.5 |H   |L   3|L   8|U   |

MI | 12641188 / R: 2238   ->2224     |   |     |     |     |     |

Take a look at the crosstable and consider the situation before the last round. Abrahamyan is leading with 3 points. Serpik and Kretchetov have 2 points, and Taylor has 1 ½ .

Note that this is not a money tournament. There are no cash prizes. The only—but very important—prizes are the three qualifying spots for the State Championship. Let me quote from the rules again: “three from Candidates Tournament.”

So who has a shot at the top three? Serpik is playing down and will probably win (and he does) and so will reach 3 points. Taylor is playing down and will probably win (and I do) and so will end up with 2 ½ points.

And the remaining two potential Candidates, Abrahamyan and Kretchetov, are playing each other! Again, she has 3 points and he has 2. This will obviously be the crucial game. If Serpik wins as expected, and Kretchetov wins, then that means a three way tie for first at 3 points. Then those three, Abrahamyan, Kretchetov and Serpik, qualify for the State Championship. Yours truly, with 2 ½ points, will not qualify. No tie breaks, no playoffs, no fuss, no muss.

In fact the only way that Kretchetov can clearly qualify is if he wins.

Now in his place I would have gone off somewhere and worked on my mental and chess preparation, and I would have gone all out for the win.

Kretchetov did exactly the opposite. He and Tatev Abrahamyan spent all the time before the crucial game laughing and chatting together—in Russian! I should note at this point that Kretchetov, though playing for the Southern California Championship, represents the Russian Chess Federation.

Watching this love fest and hearing all the Russian gabbing, I—like Fischer in Curacao—smelled a very large rat. The stink was especially pungent in view of Kretchetov’s history. In the Metrochess International tournaments that used to be held in Los Angeles, every player had to sign a contract that stipulated no draws in under 20 moves. This is how Kretchetov honored that contract.

Sharma, Arun (2371) – Kretchetov, Alexandre (2276) [D10]

Los Angeles Metropolitan 24th Los Angeles (9), 24.02.2013

1.d4                 d5

2.c4         c6




A three move draw, not the contractually mandated 20, not to mention nothing even in the ballpark of fighting chess!

Did I say three moves? Actually, Kretchetov only made two.

Was Kretchetov arranging a similar exploit in the coming crucial game of the Candidates? But why? Doing so would severely reduce his chances of qualification in that he would tie with me (assuming I won) and I believed I had better tie breaks. At this point it would good to note that I had played in several Candidates tournaments before, and ties were always broken on the spot with some tie break system rather than a playoff.

Obviously I was very interested as Kretchetov and Abrahamyan sat down opposite each other. My view was somewhat blocked by Kretchetov’s back, but it appeared that Abrahamyan moved her right hand forward, probably playing her normal 1.e4—but then the two players erupted into laughter! They both stood up and immediately knocked their pieces over, laughing all the while.

A one second draw. A one half move draw—or maybe not. A spectator told me later that he thought Tatev hadn’t even moved the e-pawn, but had in fact just moved her hand forward straight into a handshake with Kretchetov, and so the game was drawn without any moves at all!

That’s certainly possible, or she could have pushed the pawn and then gone into the handshake—and then the laughter, don’t forget that: cheating is fun!

What was absolutely clear was that Kretchetov did not make a single move, thus breaking his previous record by two! What a player!

The TD took no action, and Krechetov, exhausted by his labor, exited the building.

The prearranged draw was strange enough, since it sharply lessened Kretchetov’s chance of qualifying for the championship, as now—if I won, which I could be expected to do—he would then be in a tie with me for the last qualifying spot. And remember that in all previous Candidates tournament that I had played in, ties like this were always broken by some tie break system, right on the spot, as soon as the last game was finished. Note that by “tie break system” I mean something like the FIDE recommended tie breaks (“head to head results” and then, “most wins”); or the Neustadtl Sonneborn–Berger (weighted scores of opponents you defeated or drew with); or perhaps the Median-Buchholz System (scores of the opponents, taking off the highest and lowest) or finally even the more rarely used Solkoff system (scores of all opponents). I don’t know which kind was used exactly, but the point is, all previous Candidates used this kind of tie break system, rather than a tie break playoff. When I had tied in the past, I was always intensely interested in the results—because I always played in the Candidates with the serious intent of playing in the Championship—and thus always stayed until the last game was over to get the final word as to whether I got into the Championship or not.

But Kretchetov had no such concern, and like Elvis, left the building. This lack of concern for whether he played in the Championship or not—as we already know, he did not play a single legal game there—is very important as our narrative continues.

Which tie break system was traditionally used in the Candidates is not so important here; surely it was one of the four above, and as I discovered when I did the calculations for this article, I won on every tie break system!

None of the results were even close. I will attach a full table of tie break calculations at the end of this article.

But let’s go back to the playing hall in this crucial last round. The one half or zero move draw has just concluded with gales of laughter and knocked over pieces.

I hate to see this kind of blatant cheating. It shows a complete lack of respect for the game. Spectators are turned off, seeing top players showing contempt for the rules and spirit of chess. Expect a great battle that will decide first place and that will affect all three qualifying spots? Maybe you get half a move, and then they run for the hills.

I had to take a moment to calm myself, and then I took a second look at the situation. The fact is, the unexpected draw favored me. Had Kretchetov fought for the win, and succeeded, I would have been shut out entirely. Now all I had to do was win, and I would tie for the last qualifying spot. Also, I would then have two wins to Kretchetov’s one, and more wins are often favored in tie break systems. Feeling confident, I regained my composure and played my best game of the tournament!

Taylor, Timothy – Furman, Leonid

SCCF Candidates Laguna Hills, 09.06.2015

1.d4 Nf6

2.c4 e6

3.Nc3 Bb4

4.Bg5 c5

5.d5 h6

6.Bh4 g5

7.Bg3 Ne4

8.Qc2 Qf6

9.Rc1 Bxc3+

10.bxc3 Nxg3

11.hxg3 e5

12.e3 d6


        White has an attacking position characteristic of the Leningrad Nimzo-Indian.

13… Nd7

14.Nf3 Qe7

15.Rb1 b6

16.Bf5 Bb7

17.Qa4 f6

18.Nd2 Kd8

19.Ne4 Nf8

20.g4 Kc7

21.f3 Qg7

22.Kf2 Ng6

23.g3! Rhd8

24.Rh2 Ne7

25.Be6 Bc8


        White sacrifices a whole rook and wins in all variations, as analysis (or your computer!) will tell you.

26… Bxe6

27.Ra6 Nc8

28.dxe6 Kb8

29.Qb5+ Qb7

30.Rxh6 Nb6

31.Rxf6 d5

32.e7! Qxe7

33.Rfxb6+ axb6


It’s mate in six at the most.



Now let’s compare the sharp brilliancy above with the crucial game of the round.


Abrahamyan, Tatev – Kretchetov, Alexandre

SCCF Candidates Laguna Hills, 09.06.2015


We’ll give Tatev the benefit of the doubt on the first move.



½ – ½




Now I had to wait until all the games were over for the tie break results. I talked to a few people who knew tie breaks better than I, and they all agreed that I had better tie breaks. Still, I waited for the official verdict.

Finally, all games were finished.

What was the tie break result?

As noted above, I won in all conceivable tie break systems, though I was not 100% sure at that moment.

But no tie break results were announced! Instead, a long series of phone calls ensued. Clearly the TD was speaking to someone at the SCCF.

This went on for some time, and then I was finally informed that, contrary to past tradition, there would be a tie break playoff instead of a tiebreak system.

Note the rules of the tournament, quoted earlier, say nothing about a change away from the tie break system, and I assumed that tradition would be followed.

I am sure Kretchetov thought the same thing. And if one was going to have a playoff, the TD should have announced earlier that any player who might tie should stay until all games were finished—but he made no such announcement.

Now the conspiracy theorist may interject here that the reason for the switch—and all those phone calls!—was that I had the better tie breaks, and thus, the playoff had to be arranged to give a chance to a blatant cheater, a zero move game player, to somehow keep an honest professional (that one’s me!) out of the State Championship.

When you look at the facts, it’s not really a theory. I had qualified cleanly, my tie breaks were much better than Kretchetov’s—I had two wins to his one, and I won against stronger opposition.

So it appears that someone at the SCCF decided to change the rules of the event for no other reason than that I had qualified.

In other words, keep me out of the State Championship.

Why would they do that? Your guess is as good as mine.

In any case, the last minute decision caused chaos, as now the qualifiers were not known on the day of the event, as had always been the case before.

Later on we’ll run into a much harder to prove, and much more violent conspiracy theory, but for right now, we’re in the playing hall, all games are over, and I am being informed by the TD that I have to play a rapid match to decide the last qualifying spot.

Tradition be damned!

And then, not counting the sudden change from “system” to “playoff” there was one rather huge problem.

While I was there, ready to play and eager to finalize the results—Kretchetov, not eager for either, had left the building hours before.

The Illegal 2015 Southern California Championship

Part Two: The Playoff

        I had been told that an SCCF board member, Phil Chase, whom I had never met, would contact me about the match to come with Kretchetov.

I had no reason to suspect that Phil Chase—who, again, I had never met before—would do everything in his power to keep me out of the State Championship. He would only succeed by running a completely illegal tournament.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

First, I got an email from Phil. And it seemed nice enough.

This was on June 8, 2015. I presume he wrote Kretchetov at the same time. The subject of the email was finding a venue for the match.

Phil Chase and I exchanged no less than eight emails that day. I answered each one as rapidly as possible. Phil wanted the match set up quickly. In his email of June 8 (still the same day) he wrote “Anywhere or time you want to play let me know—I will have a TD there—but it should really be by June 19 at the latest.” I agreed to set something up. We ended the day’s emails with a tentative agreement that I would try to secure a playing site at my home club, the Santa Monica Bay Chess Club. I would then take a bye from the tournament I was already playing in there, and then Kretchetov and I could play the match, with good conditions, lighting, etc. We would have a director on site, Pete Sevino, and Phil Chase could come himself or send a director.

In fact I did set this up, Pete Sevino agreed, I told him I would be taking a bye in the current tournament, and so an excellent playing site was set up and available on Monday, June 15, well ahead of the June 19 deadline.

This is a good time to take stock. Although I should have just won my spot in the Championship simply by the traditional tie break, I have nonetheless complied with the changed rules for a playoff. I have answered every email from Phil Chase over the two days June 8 and 9. I have arranged a playoff site with excellent conditions, even though it cost me a half a point by forcing me to take a bye. In every respect I have been helpful and cooperative. Again, I have complied with every word of Phil Chase’s line, “Anywhere or time you want to play let me know—I will have a TD there—but it should really be by June 19 at the latest.”

So now, in just two days, I have done so. The site is set up, a TD is there and all is ready to play on June 15, before the June 19 deadline. I even have an increment clock for the FIDE style rapid! I have qualified for the Championship by winning two games and fighting in all four. Kretchetov qualified by not making a single move in an illegal draw.

So what about Kretchetov? Has he been answering the flurry of emails on June 8 and 9?

Let’s let Phil Chase tell us—from his emails:

June 9: “I have contacted Kretchetov and as soon as I hear back will let you know!”

June 9 (later in the day): “I have not heard back from Alexandre yet.”

And if you think that’s bad—I mean, practically everyone has email now, definitely Alexandre Kretchetov does, the State Championship is at stake and most people check their email at least once a day, often much more frequently—and with apologies to Bernie Sanders, if you want to play in the State Championship, answer your damn emails!!

Of course if you don’t want to play in the State Championship …

June 11—email from Phil Chase to me: “Still waiting to hear from Kretchetov.”

One thing was absolutely clear by this point in the strange saga of The Illegal 2015 Southern California Championship: Alexandre Kretchetov had absolutely no interest in playing in the event. When he made the deal with Tatev to prearrange a draw without making a single move—a deal he was so happy about he laughed out loud—he no doubt thought that I would win via the tie break system, as in past practice, and he would have nothing more to do with the State Championship. And he was fine with that!

But now, four days have gone by, four days of emails and arrangements: June 8, June 9, June 10 and now June 11. Not a word from Kretchetov. Nothing. No interest in the State Championship. No interest in the playoff to enter the State Championship.

So I asked Phil Chase this simple question, via email, on June 11: “If Kretchetov does not respond, should I not just be seeded into the Championship?”

Now the only sane answer at this point is “Yes” and so end the nonsense. First of all I won on tie breaks. Second of all, Kretchetov obviously does not want to play.

Put me in, and the Championship reaches its lawful number of eight contestants, including the all important “three from Candidates” and this final player, yours truly, is sure to bring active, fighting chess to the event.

The reader knows by now that didn’t happen.

But something else of interest did: up to this point, Phil had been answering my emails right away, just as I had been answering his right away. But after my simple, logical request, he did not reply for a full day.

Why did he pause? I don’t know the answer precisely, but I can make two logical guesses. One, he simply waited another day for Kretchetov to reply—but obviously he didn’t, as we will see as the story unfolds. The second reason might be this: in retrospect, looking over all the evidence, I have a funny feeling that Phil was being operated, as Dick Cheney might have operated a CIA agent. Maybe there was someone behind Phil, pulling his strings. It would have to be someone on the SCCF board, which narrows things down, but there is no concrete proof.

In any case, like Judith Sheindlin, I believe in personal responsibility. If someone asked, or told Phil Chase to do something of a chess criminal nature, then he should “just say NO!”

By the way, we’ll have more on Judith Sheindlin later, better known as Judge Judy, as this bizarre case meanders onward.

Note that all this meandering—ending with an illegal State Championship—could have been easily stopped at various points. The SCCF could have stuck to the traditional tie breaks at the tournament site. Or now, for example, Phil could have just said “Yes” to my simple, logical question, and the Championship would have gone on, legally, as scheduled.

At this point it goes without saying that logic went out the window, the June 15th playoff that I had set up went out the window, the June 19th “deadline” that Phil Chase had previously stated went out the window—

Yes, defenestrate all!

Now what did Phil say when he finally replied? This: “We’re having an SCCF Board meeting on Sunday.” He concluded by saying “the Board will discuss your suggestion.”

        Except, according to the minutes of said Board meeting, they didn’t.

The minutes, that I came upon later, (again, all of this is from the SCCF web site) say the following about the Championship. I have copied and here paste the only two relevant lines:

“Waiting on Taylor / Kretchetov playoff match

Phil Chase will improve timing and tie break so that ties can be solved same day.”

Pretty bizarre “minutes” wouldn’t you say? At this point, Kretchetov has made no response, has shown no interest whatsoever in the playoff. I have great interest, and given there has been no response, I have made a simple suggestion: just put me in instead of the uninterested zero move game player.

Is this suggestion discussed, per Phil Chase? No, it’s not even mentioned. Just “Waiting on Taylor / Kretchetov playoff match.” Not one word about what’s been going on with Kretchetov, or not been going on.

And the weirdness doesn’t stop there. Consider the other line: “Phil Chase will improve timing and tie break so that ties can be solved same day.” But they already had a system to solve ties the same day. They had used this in every past Candidates I am aware of since I arrived in CA in 2002—they used a tie break system and the qualifiers were always known that day! But this tried and true system was changed for this event. The only reason that I can see is that I won in every tie break system—so the change in rules was specifically directed against me. Which brings up this: what about that flurry of phone calls to the TD after the tournament was finished?

None of that was discussed.

Instead, I got an ultimatum from Phil. Kretchetov had apparently deigned to play at a certain time. Therefore I had to play at that time (everything must be suited to the zero move man.)

I wrote back to Phil as follows:

“I just want to say I’m not too happy about this, as I made myself available all week, and evidently Kretchetov did not . I could have easily played this Saturday and Sunday, but you did not give me this option. I offered Monday, and that was declined. Now you want me to play next weekend, where I already have plans. On Saturday I have a long time student, and on Sunday I have court ordered visitation. Is this fair?  I think not!”

But, since my name was not Alexandre Kretchetov, since I had qualified by winning a brilliant game with a rook sacrifice instead of a prearranged draw, since I answered every email the same day, since I had set up a good place to play (I wouldn’t get to play there), since I would have brought fighting spirit to the State Championship, I had to play when and where Phil Chase decided.

To quote myself: is this fair? I think not!

Nonetheless, I moved heaven and earth so that I could attend the playoff.

The day before the event I found out where I would have to go to play (love the notice!) in this email from Phil: “Playoff will be tomorrow at 11 AM at Science Building, Beverly Hills HS, at the corner of Moreno and Durant.”

I didn’t think it would be that hard to find but I was so wrong!

I did not know that the Beverly Hills High School has such a large campus that it exceeds in size many small universities. I had never been there before, and got such short notice there was no time to check out the playing site beforehand. So I just told my friend Joe Cepiel where and when I was playing—he said he would come to watch—and left very early the next day.

I took the bus and got off at Wilshire and Linden, which according to Google maps was one half a mile from the playing site. I looked for Moreno and Durant. I looked for Durant and Moreno. I looked for either Durant or Moreno!

Nothing. Lots of small campus roads with no signs on them. No vehicular traffic. Burning hot Los Angeles summer sun. I wandered around for about a half hour. Finally I saw Joe, doing the same thing. He had come from the other direction, also by bus, and despite being a very experienced walker in L.A., he hadn’t been able to find any signs either in the maze of unmarked campus roads. I was supposed to play in 15 minutes now—fortunately I had arrived very early. Suddenly we saw a car! We flagged it down and explained our problem. The very kind lady driver smiled when told we were looking for the Science Building. She said, “That is almost impossible to find! I know, since I wandered around here for an hour trying to find it once!”

She then gave us extremely precise directions, and we made it there, just minutes before 11 AM.

There was someone outside the building. Joe and I came up to him. I said, “Phil Chase?” He nodded. I was tired and upset by the 45 minutes spent wandering around the campus.

I said, “This was amazingly hard to find! It would have been a lot easier if I had your cell phone so I could have called for directions.”

Now note that I had never met Phil Chase before—our only contact had been emails.

The first sentence he ever said to me was a stunning lie.

He said, “I gave you my cell phone number,” in a very arrogant, harsh voice.

I was simply stunned. Could I have forgotten that? No, like all good chessplayers, I have an excellent memory.

“No, you didn’t. I would definitely have called you if I had it.”

And Phil doubled down on the lie, in a voice that Joe would later describe as “vehement”—“No, I gave you my number! It’s in your email!”

Now one doesn’t expect that a person one has never met, and in my case, a person from the chess world, to lie on first meeting! Again, I was stunned, doubting myself (I shouldn’t have!), wondering if I failed to notice his phone number among the numerous emails (of course I hadn’t failed to notice, I checked each one later and he never sent his number) and this, on top of the 45 minutes wandering in the sun, was disturbance I didn’t need, right before the match.

That was exactly the point. Phil Chase deliberately lied to me in vehement tones, just to upset me. He already had his mission: keep me out of the championship by any means necessary. How do I know he deliberately lied to me? By this: after the match, I checked all my emails from Phil and saw he had never mentioned his cell number. So I wrote, “I read the last five or six emails and didn’t see your phone number—please point it out.” Now a person who had made a mistake would say, “Hey Tim, I thought I had put it in there, but you’re right, I didn’t. Sorry about that.”

But if you’re Phil Chase, the deliberate liar, you won’t answer at all—and he didn’t.

I know I sound pretty dumb here, but I still didn’t realize how hard he was working to keep me out of the championship.

Going back to Phil’s first big lie, I’m standing there in front of him, wondering, ‘Did this guy I’ve never met just lie to me?’ And also, doubting myself, and at that moment Kretchetov breezed in—one imagines he drove and had cell phone guidance.

The match—two rapids, G/25, then an Armageddon if necessary—began while I was not in my best spirits. Conditions were bad, lighting was poor, nothing like the Santa Monica club that I had offered, which has excellent conditions.

Nonetheless, I won the first game easily. I should also have won the second game easily—I won a piece and then started working out how to win in the best way, didn’t pay enough attention to the rapid time control, slipped into time pressure, blundered and lost.

And I simply couldn’t control my emotions in the Armageddon, lost the game and the match.

I could make a pretty fair case for bad treatment and bad conditions—not to mention that damn big lie about the cell phone!—but I didn’t. My feeling was that while I was right about the cell phone lie, I still blamed myself for not keeping my emotions under control. I should have won the piece up second game!

In short, I held to personal responsibility!

So I didn’t complain, but there was one thing I wanted to make absolutely clear. I knew Kretchetov didn’t want to play in the State Championship, from his arranged draw with Tatev, to his lack of response during the email exchanges, and even the match itself—he played without fire in the first two games and only showed something in the third.

I thought it would be very possible he would not show up for the Championship. I also knew by now that he was the “favorite son” of Phil Chase, so when I wrote the following email to Phil I didn’t mention Kretchetov’s name. “I suppose, while unlikely, it is possible that someone will drop out. I trust I would then get into the championship.” And I gave Phil my phone number.

Phil Chase wrote back on June 15, 2015. He entered “Chess Criminal” status with the following words: “Yes, I will call you if anyone drops out.”

The only problem with that answer was that Phil Chase was lying through his teeth.

        Call me dumb, call me too trustful, call me naïve for thinking that an honest professional International Master of chess like myself could be excluded from an important event for no reason at all—you can call me all those things.

I really thought Phil Chase would call me if anyone dropped out.

Dumb me.

I should have given more weight to the cell phone lie, which in retrospect looms big as a glacier—why would someone lie to another person he has never met before? Again, one wonders, was Phil ordered to lie? But even if so, who would obey such an “order?” Or was Phil the “lone gunman” gunning for me because … uh … he didn’t like my favorite King’s Gambit??

Anyway, Kretchetov dropped out and Phil didn’t call me—but I didn’t find that out until 12 days after the tournament was over.

The Illegal 2015 Southern California Championship

Part Three: The Seven Person Championship

        When the day of the first round of the Championship, July 9, rolled around, I sent another email to Phil. I wanted him to know that I was ready to play, just in case.

The complete email and Phil Chase’s complete reply, both on this critical day, July 9, 2015, are given below.

Tim Taylor to Phil Chase:

“I guess no dropouts! I will still stand by though if someone doesn’t show up.”

Phil Chase to Tim Taylor:

“No dropouts! I do have your number if anything changes!”

Let’s go back and look at the crosstable again, and the list of pairings below it. Of course at this point we are only interested in Kretchetov’s pairings, as the other seven all played!

Round One: Kretchetov vs. Abrahamyan (that’s a laugh right there!)

But no fun stuff with knocked over pieces this time, as Kretchetov did not show up.

That’s a dropout, Phil!

Round Two: Kretchetov vs. Kiewra

Kretchetov did not show up.

That’s a dropout, Phil!!

Round Three: Kavutskiy vs. Kretchetov

Kretchetov did not show up.

That’s a dropout, Phil!!!

Somehow Phil (and perhaps his pals) dragooned Kretchetov into playing Rounds 4, 5 and 6. The round 6 result is particularly interesting.

Round Four: Peter vs. Kretchetov

Peters wins

Round Five: Serpik vs. Kretchetov


Round Six: Kretchetov vs. Bryant

Bryant wins: we’ll see the significance of this win shortly.

As for Kretchetov, he has now played three games, drawing one and losing two, for a powerful half point! Do you get the feeling the guy really, really didn’t want to play?

Now what? It’s the seventh and last round. This is where champions show what they are made of!

The standings at the top were:

Brown – 5

Bryant – 4 ½

Kiewra – 3

And the pairings were Brown vs. Kretchetov and Bryant vs. Kiewra.

To win the tournament cleanly, Brown would have to win. If he drew, Bryant could tie with him; if he lost, Bryant could win and surpass him.

In short, a situation full of drama—would we get a hard fought last round?

Of course not.

Kretchetov didn’t play the last round. This had staggering consequences. First, Brown won the tournament without even having to play the last round.

But the real victim was Bryant. Going into the round, he was only a half point back and had good chances to at least tie or possibly get clear first.

But Kretchetov—who, let us remind the reader, was there at the playing site, having played (and lost) his morning game against Bryant—suddenly drops out for the fourth time! This means that he has played three games, less than half of the total of seven which should have been played.

Which further means that none of his games are counted for scoring purposes since he has played less than 50%. Therefore, with that simple walkout, Bryant loses the point that he won fairly by playing—and now, instead of contending with 4 ½, he now has 3 ½ and has no chance for first place at all, while Brown wins the tournament without showing what he’s made of—he wins by sitting down and waiting for his check.

In Bryant’s place, I would have been pretty upset, and he probably was too—he lost the game to Kiewra. But wait! Bryant still has 4 ½ points, and Kiewra only 4, even after the win, so doesn’t Bryant at least get 2nd and Kiewra third—O—not so. Remember, Bryant had the point he won against Kretchetov taken away from him.

So the final “result” reads Kiewra in second place with 4 points, Bryant in third place with 3 ½, and thus Kiewra got $1200 and Bryant got $800. A four hundred dollar swing!

I can just imagine Phil Chase explaining the situation to Bryant: “You see, I had to do every illegal thing in my power to keep Taylor out of the tournament, and if that means costing you a shot at the title and taking $400 out of your pocket, I can only say two words: collateral damage!”

Or something like that.

Why didn’t Kretchetov play the last round? I’ll offer two possibilities, and then I’ll quote Phil Chase’s “explanation.”

A.Kretchetov says, ‘I never wanted to play in this tournament anyway and now I’ve made a half point out of three games and I won’t play another one, and there’s nothing you can do to stop me!’ And off he goes, exiting the building.

B.Phil Chase says to Kretchetov, ‘Alexandre, you’ve been great at helping me screw up this tournament, and if you leave now, we can make this tournament completely illegal!’ ‘Da,’ says Kretchetov, and off he goes, exiting the building.

C.Here’s how Phil Chase explained it, email of July 25, 2016 (two weeks after the tournament): “Kretchetov played 3 games, but had a passport issue and had to miss the other games because of meetings at the Russian consulate.”

We’re going to get a cornucopia of lies from Phil Chase as we move on with this story, but for sheer foulness this early one takes the stinking prize. Let’s review this raw piece of beef jerky and take it apart, back to front.

Phil Chase says Kretchetov “had to miss the other games because of meetings at the Russian consulate.” He had to?? Let’s take the crucial last round first. It’s Sunday, people! There are no “meetings at the Russian consulate” or at any other government office on a Sunday! Furthermore, Kretchetov has already played and lost to Bryant on Sunday morning. Kretchetov is already at the playing site. He is most definitely not having “meetings at the Russian consulate.” He is playing, and losing. He is about to play Round 7, when he will have played four games, so the tournament will be at least quasi-legal. But he quits right there, not because of mythical “meetings at the Russian consulate.” He skips the last game because of either A or B.

C is not possible. C is a lie.

        Let’s take C from the front. The schedule tells us there is one game Thursday evening, and two games Friday, taking up the whole day. There are also two games Saturday and two games Sunday, but they don’t count for the “Russian Consulate” excuse because government offices aren’t open on weekends—OK, maybe the FBI, but not a passport division!

Since Thursday’s game is in the evening, the only possible conflict are the two games on Friday. But Kretchetov misses all three!

Now what if Kretchetov really wanted to play in the tournament—which we have seen, with excruciating clarity, that he does not want to do. But let’s, for the purpose of argument, assume he really wants to play. The Russian Consulate calls and says he has a “passport issue” and should come in on Friday. But Kretchetov is Russian! He has a readymade excuse: “I’m playing in a really important chess tournament, the Southern California Championship, and I really want to play in it and win the title for Russia! Let me come in Monday.”

For a nation of chess players, this is a no brainer: permission granted.

But the key line above is “really want to play in it”—that’s the part that was missing. If Kretchetov had really wanted to play in the State Championship, he would have fought for a win in the last round of the Candidates and done his best to qualify cleanly. Instead he drew without making a move and laughed about it. The evidence shows that he expected to lose on tie break and didn’t care.

If Kretchetov had really wanted to play in the State Championship, he would have answered his emails the first day, not … actually one doesn’t know if he ever answered his emails. Maybe Phil went to his house?

So the “Russian passport” issue has no substantive weight. Kretchetov was right there and could easily have played the last round, which would at least have meant that Bryant would have kept the critical point he won in round 6. Kretchetov could certainly have postponed what sounds like a minor issue to Monday—if, and this is a really big if, he really wanted to play.

The evidence is overwhelming that he did not.

Back to Phil Chase, who “was appointed by the SCCF board to organize the event.”

Two players have tied for the last spot. Phil has got one player who really really doesn’t want to play. He’s got another player who really does want to play.

The second player won on tie break; the first player “qualified” by an illegal game.

The first player won’t answer his emails; the second player does.

The first player can’t bother to show up for the first three games of the Championship; the second player is standing by ready to play all seven.

Phil Chase, despite his personal promise, written in email the first day of the tournament, refuses to call the second player, me, and put me in to make a legal tournament.

Instead Phil Chase makes tremendous efforts to somehow drag the first player, Alexandre Kretchetov, into the tournament, causing enormous confusion, and finally, a completely illegal tournament when Kretchetov fails to play the last game.

Played games aren’t counted, results are skewed, the twice written “three from Candidates” rule is ignored, the “champion” is crowned after not even playing the final round.

This is how Phil Chase ran the Southern California Championship: illegal from top to bottom.

From the first lie to the last (and we are nowhere near the last) one can see that Phil Chase’s actions had no other basis than to keep a qualified International Master—yours truly, Timothy Taylor—out of the tournament.

The aftermath is only going to get worse.

The Illegal 2015 Southern California Championship

Part Four: Phil Chase’s Cornucopia of Lies

        Phil Chase didn’t call me on the day of the tournament, though I stayed close to my computer and phone all day, ready to go to Beverly Hills at a moment’s notice.

4:00 came and went—starting time for the first round. “I guess no dropouts,” I said to myself, blissfully unaware that one of the four boards at the championship was vacant.

My life went on.

About two weeks after the Championship ended, it occurred to me that I didn’t know who won. So I took a look at the SCCF web site.

And all that stuff hit the fan.

Illegal tournament! Kretchetov a dropout! Michael Brown wins?? Damn sure not possible if I had been there.

And Phil Chase had promised to call me.

Kretchetov was a dropout in rounds one, two and three! And seven!!

In any normal tournament the organizer would have called me after Kretchetov failed to play round one.

        But Phil Chase broke his word and stayed dead silent.

So I emailed Phil Chase.

He responded with the stinking lie noted above, that Kretchetov “had to miss the other games because of meetings at the Russian consulate.”

On a Sunday. When no government office was open. When Kretchetov was already at the tournament site.

I said it above, I’ll say it again: in any normal, honest tournament, I would have been called after the Round One dropout. This is the State Championship with a mandated eight players and a mandated “three from Candidates.” You have the third Candidate, me, waiting, ready to play. You have a missing chair in the tournament room. Call me. I’ll come immediately. The game starts an hour late, OK, but the tournament is legal.

Anyone who knows me absolutely knows this: I will be there for all seven games.

But Phil Chase twisted everything to the point of having a completely illegal tournament with skewed results, just to keep me from playing.

There is no explanation of why he made such tremendous efforts, told such startling lies, just to keep me out.

It’s interesting that a little down the road, Phil complained to then SCCF president Steve Morford about me calling him a liar. What’s interesting is that Phil doesn’t say a word about my accusations being false. Phil knows he’s lying, the evidence is incontrovertible that he is lying—but the lying itself doesn’t bother him. All that bothers him is that I point out that he is lying.

Well, I pressed Phil a little bit, trying to get some kind of honest response from him.

And he responded by completely leaving Planet Earth, sending an email so full of non-logic and incredible lies that we’re going to need a great detective just to wend our way through the trackless forest of his prevarications!

I reproduce the email in full below, but let me make one note now: at the time this email was written, Ankit Gupta was president of the SCCF; he was succeeded by Steve Morford, who is now president.

OK: ready for prevarications? Here we go!


Jul 26 at 9:28 AM

Phil Chase To Tim Taylor


The event is over.  I won’t respond to any more communication.  I have given you the facts.  You did not qualify by rating.  You did not qualify in the Qualifier event.  You did not qualify by being the incumbent champion. You did not qualify by being the Superstates champion.  If there were an opening (which there was not) the appropriate replacement would have been the next highest rated  player (Julian Landaw). And one more time, Mr. Kretchetov did participate in the event, but did not complete half his games, so his results count for rating but not for standing.  Please send any further concerns to the President of the SCCF, Ankit Gupta.


  1. Take a deep breath. Take three, or ten, whatever you need. All right?

In a minute we’ll go through this line by line, lie by lie, but first, as I mention above, we need a great detective on our side—and fortunately, we have one: Dashiell Hammett. Before he became a celebrated crime novelist and author of The Maltese Falcon, Hammett was himself a detective. It’s clear that he brought his hard won real life knowledge to his fiction—and he must have met a hell of a lot of liars!

Following are two brilliant examples where Hammett’s (fictional) detectives are confronted with the human capacity to lie.

In “The Golden Horseshoe” Hammett’s hero, the Continental Op, notices a sign in a dive bar in Tijuana, and muses on its relation to reality:


I was trying to count how many lies could be found in those nine words, and had reached four, with promise of more, when one of my confederates …”

Called to duty, the Op never works out exactly how many lies are in the sign, but four in a nine word sentence is pretty impressive!

In Hammett’s final novel, “The Thin Man” his hero is detective Nick Charles, who is explaining how difficult it will be to get any kind of a straight answer out of the prime suspect, Mimi, in a murder case.

“When you catch her in a lie, she admits it and gives you another lie to take its place and, when you catch her in that one, admits it and gives you still another, and so on. Most people—even women—get discouraged after you’ve caught them in the third or fourth straight lie, but not Mimi.”

So the kind of lying Phil Chase does is nothing new: criminals have been doing it for years. But Phil does have his own style: he intersperses his outright lies with distracting illogic, and unlike Mimi, he never admits a lie, just goes on contradicting his own lies and adding new ones to the end! Admirable, yes? No!

Here we go:

Jul 26 at 9:28 AM

Phil Chase To Tim Taylor


The event is over.  I won’t respond to any more communication.  I have given you the facts.

Ah, the facts—let’s go over Phil’s relation to “facts.” Consider his statement when Joe and I arrived for the playoff. “I gave you my number! It’s in your email!” A straight up lie, of course. In other words, not a fact. And when I confronted him on it, Phil didn’t reply, just moved on to the next lie. More “facts”: ““Yes, I will call you if anyone drops out.” Now we know Kretchetov dropped out by not playing in the first round. Any truly qualified organizer would have called me right then to maintain the integrity of the event. But even if said organizer wanted to give Kretchetov the benefit of the doubt, and thought he would come in the next day … come on! Kretchetov misses rounds two and three. That is a drop out. Phil’s relation to facts? He didn’t call me. Need more? Oh, there are always more with Phil—more “facts”: Let’s try this one: Kretchetov “had to miss the other games because of meetings at the Russian consulate.” How about that Sunday night? We’ve gone through this already: there is no meeting at the consulate on a Sunday night. Kretchetov did not have to miss Game 7. He was already at the tournament hall, not at the Russian Consulate. So the “facts” line is at the very least a triple lie (in one sentence!) and the Continental Op could probably find more! But let’s move on.

You did not qualify by rating. 

        Illogic! I never said I qualified by rating.

You did not qualify in the Qualifier event. 

Except that I did. I qualified by tying for third in the Candidates, and I clearly won on tie breaks as were used in all previous Candidates tournaments. The only reason I didn’t qualify then and there was that the rules were changed from tie breaks to playoff—evidently only due to the fact that I had qualified. Kretchetov, when he made the deal to draw without making a move, certainly knew that I would win on tie breaks, and so left the building immediately! But then we got the mysterious phone calls (from Phil Chase? Someone else on the SCCF Board?) to the TD, and the tradition of establishing the qualifiers that day went out the window. So the evidence demonstrates that I did qualify directly from the Candidates.

Furthermore, if Kretchetov had been forfeited, as he should have been, for the prearranged illegal zero move draw, I would also have qualified again directly from the Candidates, as then I would have secured clear third place, no arguments. Thus I qualify for the second time. Next, Kretchetov did not respond to requests for a match date before the deadline of June 19. Therefore he should have been forfeited once again, and for the third time I qualify straight up from the Candidates! Finally, even after I lost the “no cell phone number” match, I was still promised a spot, as first runner up, if there was a dropout. There was in fact a dropout, so I qualified for the fourth time! Four lies in an eight word sentence! And Hammett thought four lies in nine words was bad!

Looking back, you can see how much work Phil Chase (and his buddy or buddies?) had to do to keep one honest player out of the championship.

You did not qualify by being the incumbent champion.

        Illogic! I never claimed that I was.

You did not qualify by being the Superstates champion. 

        The Superstates concerns grades K-12. I am 63, Phil.


If there were an opening (which there was not)

        Dashiell Hammett is spinning in his grave! You’ve got to stop this, Phil! No opening?? I draw your attention to the crosstable again. Look at Player 6, Alexandre Kretchetov. See the row of dashes next to his name? See that there is no final score? See the great big hole in the tournament? Note that he did not play a single legal game. Alexander Kretchetov was a dropout. The rules specified an 8 player round robin. There were 7 players who played legal games. The rules specified that there had to be 3 players from the Candidates. Only 2 played legal games. Your statement is a lie, Phil. There was an opening, and oh people, we’re not even through the whole sentence yet!

the appropriate replacement would have been the next highest rated  player (Julian Landaw).

I think I’ll call this half sentence the “asteroid lie” since, one, it’s millions of miles from earthly reality, and two, there’s no telling how many asteroids there are!

Let’s try reason and logic and work our way through.

When I asked Phil if there was a dropout, would I qualify, he answered “Yes.” But he is clearly not going to do so, and he doesn’t, so he is lying already.

The rules state there have to be three players from the Candidates: the rules in fact state this twice. Julian Landaw, as I noticed from the US Chess “rating look up”, did not play a single rated game from Jan. 1, 2015 through the State Championship. The most important tournament that he did not play in was the Candidates tournament. Therefore, putting Julian Landaw in the State Championship would have been a violation of the rules. I, however, did play in the Candidates. I was the legal replacement, and there was an opening. Logically, therefore it is false to say that Julian Landaw would have been an “appropriate” replacement. He would have been an illegal replacement.

And one more time, Mr. Kretchetov did participate in the event

        Like Hammett’s Mimi, Phil Chase just won’t give up. Once again, I draw his, and the readers, attention to the crosstable. Alexandre Kretchetov played no legal games in the event. Therefore he did not “participate” in the event in any legal way. His “participation” was limited to playing three uncounted games in the middle of the event, the only effect of those games being to skew the results, as players who defeated him and counted on those points were deprived of them because of his lack of legal participation.

Whew! That’s enough for now. Those who are extra diligent can count how many lies Phil Chase stated in that short email—and no doubt, find some more—but I want to move on.

And if you think this case cannot possibly get any weirder, you’re wrong.

The Illegal 2015 Southern California Championship

Part Five: Enter Judge Judy

        What could I do after that infamous email? It was clear that continued emails would do no good. Phil would forget his past lies and say that “if” there was a dropout, then Batman would be the “appropriate replacement.”

Could a courtroom bring Phil to his senses? I decided to sue Phil Chase in Small Claims Court. From a strictly legal standpoint, he had cost me money. I could prove my 7-1 score against Michael Brown, and Michael Brown had won the tournament! I could prove each and every one of Phil’s lies—that would be long testimony—and I prepared to take legal action.

Phil refused to give me his address, so I found him on Google. Phil refused a certified letter from me, where I offered him a deal.

So I filed the case.

And I soon got a response—a letter from Judge Judy! Well, actually from her producer, Kurstin Haynes. The letter starts like this:

“Dear Timothy,

I am a producer for the nationally syndicated top rated court television program “Judge Judy.” On “Judge Judy” small claims cases are arbitrated, and the decisions rendered are final and legally binding. Our field researchers have selected and brought to my attention the small claims case that you have filed in the Los Angeles district small claims court against Philip Chase.”

That was interesting!

Not having a TV, I had never seen the Judge Judy show, but I had heard of her of course. So I did my research. I saw her real name was Judith Sheindlin and that she was a retired Family Court judge. I liked her doctrine of individual responsibility. And I loved the title of the book she wrote: “Don’t Pee on My Leg and Tell Me It’s Raining.”

My kind of woman! So I called her producer, Kurstin, and we had a convivial conversation. Kurstin told me some interesting things: both of us (Phil Chase and me) would get appearance fees just for being on the show. And if Phil lost, he wouldn’t have to pay a dime! The show would pay right away—a second benefit of which would be that I wouldn’t have to worry about collecting from Phil.

I enthusiastically agreed to appear on the show.

I watched a few videos of Judge Judy on You Tube. I saw how she cut through the bs and nailed the liars.

I started fantasizing …

PHIL CHASE: Kretchetov participated in the tournament—

JUDGE JUDY: I’m confused here, Mr. Chase. I’m looking at this crosstable, and I see this line of dashes next to Mr. Kretchetov’s name. I see no results.

PHIL CHASE: (whining) But he did play—

JUDGE JUDY: This is a courtroom, Mr. Chase. We are dealing with the law. Did Mr. Kretchetov play any legal games?

PHIL CHASE: He played—

JUDGE JUDY: Don’t pee on my leg, Mr. Chase. For the last time, did Alexandre Kretchetov play even one legal game in this tournament?

Camera zooms in on Phil’s face—he’s sweating and twitching

PHIL CHASE: No, Your Honor.

Great fantasy, great TV. There was only one problem with it. Phil Chase also had to agree to be on the show, and he didn’t.

It’s worth examining why he refused to appear on the show, which seems completely illogical. After all, Phil Chase had no case. His lies were on his emails, my tie break win could be demonstrated (again, the calculations will appear at the end of this blog), the whole history of malfeasance where Phil used every trick to keep me out of the tournament could be demonstrated. And I was suing him for $1800, the amount of the first prize, and Phil doesn’t give the appearance of being rich. Furthermore Phil is not arguing on principle: he switches his lies as he goes along (Julian Landaw!) so he’s not defending any moral issue. It would be impossible to believe that he could come up with any evidence that would change the mind of an honest judge. So why not go on the show, take the appearance money, and also avoid any financial loss to himself? But Phil puts himself at financial risk to defend whatever lie he’s currently spouting?

Maybe there was no risk.

Once again, one has the feeling that Phil is being operated. Someone behind him, someone with deep pockets, someone on the SCCF Board is telling him, ‘take no deals, don’t go on the show, I’ll cover your losses if it comes to that.’

I guess we will never find out who, unless Phil starts telling the truth, and that possibility seems remote.

So now Phil had to be served with the legal papers to go to court. Which means we are back to the beginning of this story: Phil Chase is hiding under the bed, and Deputy Sheriff L. Avila is on the job.

Looking over the Deputy’s reports, I see that Phil never answered the knock on his door—he stayed under the bed! (or was he under the sink?). Deputy Avila was really quite persistent: I can see by the reports that he tried all different times to approach, coming as early as 6 AM, but Phil, who had no case, kept hiding.

Finally the deadline passed for that court date, and I had to refile.

While all this was going on, I had fallen on hard times, partly due to being unable to practice my profession as an International Master of Chess. Losing my chance at the State Championship due to Phil’s prevarications was a heavy financial blow to me, and other areas of my life weren’t going well either. Anyway, I ended up homeless on the street for ten days, staying awake on cold nights, trying to grab a little sleep on all night buses, got pneumonia (for the third time in my life!), almost died, (yes, lies have real world consequences!) was saved by the wonderful Dr. Jessica Park at the Olympic Medical Group, was saved again by my church, the Los Angeles Quaker Meeting, who took me in—and I survived, and gradually, gradually got back on my feet,

But even while all this was going on, I kept the court case alive. I had to keep refiling, because Phil Chase kept dodging. But even Phil Chase (as I mentioned in the beginning of all this) knew that he couldn’t keep dodging forever. Does that mean he was going to be a man and face the consequences of his actions—accept, as Judge Judy would say, “personal responsibility?” Of course not! Phil found a new dodge. Deputy Avila was put back on the case, and reported that Phil’s apartment was now “vacant.”

What happened? Again, one wonders if there was or is a deep pocketed backer: did someone help Phil move out temporarily? Or did Phil just make his place look uninhabited?

At this point the question is moot, for the Sheriff’s department declined to pursue Phil any more.

The case was getting to be close to a year old by this point, and no progress had been made.

But I had made personal progress. I had my own place, even if I could just barely barely pay the rent, I did pay it.

I risked some money I couldn’t really afford, but I felt sure that if I got an honest judge (ha!) I could certainly win my case. So I hired Process Server Express to track Phil down—cost me $120, but they nailed him!

Which meant that, almost exactly one year after all this mess started at the Candidates tournament—after I qualified on tie breaks at the Candidates tournament—I would finally get my day in court.

But I didn’t get Judge Judy.

I didn’t get an honest judge.

The Illegal 2015 Southern California Championship

Part Six: The Court Case

        The court date was June 1, 2016: the Candidates tournament had been all the way back at June 6-7, 2015!

But that first day in June I would go to court. I would have liked to dress up, but I didn’t, and still don’t, own a suit. I used to have a sports jacket and a tie, but all that had been lost during the assorted tough times of my recent history. All I had were three utilitarian outfits, Jack Reacher style—well, that would have to do.

I saw that Phil Chase wore a suit.

But before we saw the judge, Phil Chase and I had to go to Mediation. Could a solution be found without going to trial?

There were two mediators, one male, one female: I’ll call them Mr. M and Ms. M. They were completely different. Mr. M was cheerful, shook hands, spoke freely—I got a good impression of him. He seemed to be, and I believe he was, an honest man trying to do a good job. Ms. M, on the other hand, did not interact at all. As far as I can recall, she never spoke a single word—maybe she said something in private to Phil Chase (that’s getting ahead of the story!) but she said no word to me. She just looked at me with a hard to read expression—the best way I can describe it is ‘I know something you don’t.’ Rather disconcerting, and very out of character for a mediator.

Mr. M got the ball rolling. He said that we could speak freely, that nothing we said here would go to the judge. He just wanted to see if a settlement was possible. He asked some questions about the case.

Things immediately went south. I answered the questions honestly, Phil lied and lied in a droning voice like a defective robot. He kept insisting that Kretchetov had played in the State Championship, refusing to acknowledge the fact that he had played no legal games! Ms. M watched, enjoying her hidden thoughts, never speaking. I got frustrated. Phil wouldn’t accept reality. Mr. M saw we were getting nowhere.

Mr. M sent Ms. M off with Phil to talk separately (I presume she actually talked there, but I wouldn’t know).

Mr. M sat down with me, and we had a frank discussion. I kept returning to my basic theme: I qualified, and all I wanted to do was play in the Championship, as was my right.

Suddenly Mr. M saw the solution, as sometimes a stranger can cut through the clutter when the combatants are too close to see the issue clearly. I would say the Mr. M was really quite a good mediator—he zeroed in on the key point, and he found a solution that I could live with.

Mr. M asked: “Are they holding the State Championship again this year?” I immediately saw where he was going with this, and answered, “Yes, in another month or so.”

Mr. M smiled. “Would you drop the case if you were put into this year’s Championship?”

I hesitated for a second, and then I realized, he was right. This case had never been about the money for me. The burning issue was that I had not been allowed to play. I didn’t need anyone to give me money—I could make it myself, by playing and winning! I hesitated no longer. “Yes, I would.”

Mr. M shook hands with me on the deal, and confidently got up and went to pass it on to Ms. M and Phil Chase. I could see he was sure of success. After all, Phil Chase gets off scot free—he wouldn’t have to pay a dime. But as an SCCF Board member who had the power to keep me out of last year’s tournament, he could damn sure put me in this year’s tournament! And I could get what I wanted—the chance to play.

Just a minute later, all three came back. Ms. M was smiling a little bit. Phil Chase was still in his robotic mode. And Mr. M’s face was a mess, like he had been blindsided by a two by four. I knew what it was before he spoke.

You see, Phil Chase had a mission. His own mission, or his master’s mission, it doesn’t matter. What matters was the mission itself, and that mission was to keep me out of the Southern California Championship, not just last year, but forever.

In a disgusted voice, Mr. M turned to me and said, “He turned it down flat. You’re going to have to go to court.”

Ms. M smiled a little more, and still remained silent. Phil Chase remained robotic.

Finally Mr. M said, “This is one of the strangest and most interesting cases I’ve ever seen—I’m going to the courtroom to watch.

He led Phil and me to the courtroom. Ms. M chose not to come in; my impression was that she already knew the verdict.

Phil sat down on the left side of the courtroom, while I sat down on the right—both of us in the back. Mr. M went right up front, and sat down as close as he could get to the judge’s bench.

We waited a little bit, then the judge came in, “all rise,” all of that. A large and heavily armed bailiff came around and got whatever evidence Phil Chase wanted the judge to see. Phil gave him a notebook which I had already seen (we had had to exchange evidence earlier). All that was in Phil’s notebook were the emails we had exchanged, that is, the record of his innumerable lies.

The judge took the notebook from the bailiff and opened it. He turned a few pages and stared at them reverently, as though he were looking at his first Bible. The bailiff came around and got my evidence: I had a manila folder with the same emails that Phil had, but also the crosstable of the Championship, with Kretchetov’s empty line of dashes. I also had a copy of my book, The Fischer King’s Gambit, which I thought might help to establish that I was a notable player in Southern California.

The bailiff gave my evidence to the judge. He didn’t open the folder, just moved it aside. I thought he might look at my impressive book, but he shoved it aside roughly, putting it on top of the folder.

This was not a good sign.

Phil and I were called forward. As I came forward, I saw the judge staring at me with an expression of smirking hatred—he didn’t say a word as I came forward to stand behind a table, as the bailiff directed me. By this time, Phil had come forward as well, standing before the other end of the table.

With a decisive jerk of his head, the judge turned to Phil and said in this sickly sweet, syrupy voice, “Ah, Mr. Chase, yes, you’re the defendant, you stand there”—jerk of the head back to me, complete change in voice, now harsh and violent, “And You, the plaintiff, stand there and You start.”

The judge never missed a chance to refer to “Mr. Chase” saying his name in sickeningly sweet, obsequious tones—but he never spoke my name at all.

For the very short length of the trial, my name was “You.”

I knew, already, not having said one word yet, that the case was lost.

Nonetheless I started. I thought it would be a good idea to point out how Phil had dodged the Deputy Sheriff for six months; my idea was that this would demonstrate that Phil had no faith in his own case, and was just trying to escape by hiding. Not such a bad idea, establishing character, but the only problem was the judge wouldn’t let me say it. Before I got very far, the judge sharply ordered “You”—that would be me—to get directly to the case.

I didn’t get very far there either. I said, “Your Honor, as you can see by the crosstable I have presented in evidence (judge didn’t move) which is in the file folder I gave you (judge didn’t move) Alexandre Kretchetov did not play a single”—but the judge cut me off.

“You’ve had enough time. (harsh voice). Turns to Phil (syrupy voice) “Mr. Chase, can you explain this to the court.”

“Kretchetov did play in the event”—enough was enough! I interrupted. “As I was about to say, Kretchetov did not play any legal games!”

“You be quiet!”ordered the judge in a rage. “Bailiff!”

The bailiff moved in behind me. You know the expression, ‘so close I could feel his breath on the back of my neck.’ But this wasn’t just an expression. I could feel it. My body could sense his bulk right behind me I mean close behind me. My neck prickled with his breathing. I was expecting a night stick to the side of my head any second.

It’s virtually impossible to argue a case when the judge calls one person “Mr.” and the other person “You.” It is worse than impossible when a heavily armed bailiff is literally breathing down your neck.

The rest of the “trial” went by quickly. I made such points as I could, which were duly ignored, or I was interrupted by the judge, who then transferred fawning attention to “Mr. Chase.”

Finally, it seemed the judge had had enough fun, and ordered me to sum up. This is what I said, “Alexandre Kretchetov dropped out of the tournament when he failed to show up for the first round. Phil Chase broke his word”—

The “broke his word” phrase seemed to really incense the judge. He sharply interrupted by saying, “Whatever” in this fake-bored, nasty voice. I don’t know which shocked me more—the interruption or a judge using the word “whatever” like a slangy teenager. I don’t believe I have ever heard a judge say “whatever” in court before.

While I goggled in shock, the judge continued, as if speaking for me, “And he was supposed to call you if something happened, but I don’t know what that was—”

The judge paused for a second, then concluded:

“Judgment for the defendant.”

The bailiff slithered out from behind me and went up to the judge to retrieve my book and unopened folder. I got them and turned to Mr. M, whose face was just as shell shocked as I’m sure mine was. We exchanged a long look—if looks were words, the conversation would have gone like this:

Tim: WTF just happened??

Mr. M: I have no f…ing idea!

Then we both shook our heads and I left.

I had enough presence of mind to stop at the first bench I came to and write down as much of the “trial” dialog as I could remember, and my account above is based on those notes.

But I couldn’t think beyond that.

A year’s search for justice had let to “whatever” and a sound legal case thrown out.

Later—much later, after the violent physical assault to come—I tried to make sense of the “trial.” It was clear that the case was decided before I even said one word.

I searched for some kind of understanding, but could only come up with three possible explanations, all of which were unsatisfactory or illegal. But they were all possible.

A.The suit: as mentioned before, Phil had a suit on, I had a normal, non-dressy shirt and pants. Many of the people in Small Claims Court wore clothes similar to mine. But it is possible that when the judge saw Phil had a suit and I did not, he (in his mind) ruled right then and there that Phil would win and I would lose, and everything that followed flowed from that decision.

B.The freemasonry of liars: I noticed this years ago, when I worked for Blockbuster (when there was a Blockbuster!). Liars rose in the corporate hierarchy, while telling the truth was a serious handicap. Everyone is now familiar with this syndrome, liars have risen to the top in many fields. So despite Mr. M’s statement during Mediation that “none of this will go to the judge” there was an opportunity. Maybe Ms. M, when we were put in separate rooms, did not talk to Phil at all, or at least not at first—maybe she dashed over to the judge! Then they had some weird conversation reminiscent of Mark Bicknell and Byron Jacobs, and decided together that I must be punished for telling the truth, while Phil would be rewarded for lying!

C.Bribe: If Phil did have a backer, a deep pocketed backer, maybe said backer just bribed the judge.

At this point, I still don’t know what happened. All I know, and I am absolutely certain of this point, is that the case was decided against me before I said one word.

Does that wrap up the case on a suitably depressing note? Maybe—maybe not.

I still haven’t had my arm broken yet, but that’s coming up in two days.

The Illegal 2015 Southern California Championship

Part Seven: Conspiracy Theory

        The “trial” was June 1, 2016.

On June 3, 2016, I was going to pay my rent when a woman I had never seen before tried to kill me with her car. She hit me twice, deliberately, then sped off. I recounted all this in my blog “Broken Arm” which you can find by scrolling back a couple of posts from the one you are reading.


My arm was broken in two places, leaving my humerus bone in three pieces. I just saw my Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Brian Solberg, in December, and he pronounced me as healed as I’m ever going to be. The important thing is the humerus bone is now solid and in one piece. I can’t throw a baseball as hard as I used to be able—but I can throw one! Most importantly, I can move chess pieces with my right hand (it was strange having to move them with my left for a while).

I had six months of physical therapy for something that occurred in a matter of seconds.

Should you read the “Broken Arm” blog, you might wonder: after hitting me the second time, why didn’t she back up and run me over while I was helpless on the street, thus finishing the job?

I don’t know—maybe you just can’t get good help these days!

At the time of the hit and run attack, I didn’t think there could be a connection to the whole Phil Chase episode. I just saw the woman as a random crazy, and the fact that the police failed to investigate was just another indication of the general incompetence of the LAPD.

But there are some connections with which one could make a decent conspiracy theory. The Phil Chase case seems to involve a wealthy backer. Note that Phil twice refused to get out of the case without financial loss—via Judge Judy or the male mediator’s proposal. He didn’t seem to be worried by money at all. So I presume the deep pocketed backer could have hired a hit woman. That made damn sure I wouldn’t play in the 2016 event!

Furthermore, as John le Carré has pointed out, actions can be suspicious simply by being consecutive. The attack occurred just two days after the “trial.”

Thus the full conspiracy theory would go like this: Deep Pockets bribes the judge, but is concerned by the Mediator’s excellent suggestion that the lawsuit be dropped in return for me playing in the 2016 championship. Deep Pockets is afraid that I will publicize this (I was going to!) and so hires this woman I’d never seen before—with what looked like dealer plates, no numbers!—to put me out of action, temporarily or permanently.

Is that what happened? A year ago, I might have dismissed it out of hand, but the world is different now. Consider this news item from last month: “Dec 1, 2016 – Police are hoping surveillance video will capture the vandal who spray-painted swastikas on several buildings in downtown Los Angeles.”

Who could have imagined swastikas in L.A. even a year ago? Indeed, the Nazi symbol has been noted all over the US.

In that kind of world, trying to have someone killed for wanting to play in a chess tournament is at least possible.

        But I think it’s low percentage.

Wrapping up, I know that Phil Chase did everything in his power to make sure I did not play in the 2015 State Championship. I know I qualified legitimately. I know Phil Chase lied repeatedly. I know that in the end he only kept me out of the event by running an illegal tournament. I know that when I got to court the case was decided against me before I said a single word.

Other things that I have mentioned are possible but unproven.


The End—but if you are interested, see the following addendum for the mathematical Tie Break Calculations


Addendum: Tie Breaks

As noted previously, I had played in the SCCF Candidates before, and had been involved in tie breaks before. In all cases, the issue was solved that day with a tie break system, not a playoff.

There was no indication that 2015 would be any different: no mention in the rules, no announcement to the players.

The top four tie break systems, as given in the Wikipedia, are as follows—and note that I win cleanly in all four.

First, here is the crosstable of the Candidates once again.

Southern California Candidates Tournament June 6-7, 2015


Pair | Player Name                     |Total|Round|Round|Round|Round|

Num | USCF ID / Rtg (Pre->Post)       | Pts | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |


1 | TATEV ABRAHAMYAN               |3.5 |W   6|W   5|W   4|D   3|

CA | 12851435 / R: 2398   ->2417     |N:S |     |     |     |     |


2 | ILIA SERPIK                     |3.0 |W   8|D   4|D   3|W   6|

CA | 12602181 / R: 2368   ->2380     |N:M |     |     |     |     |


3 | ALEXANDRE KRETCHETOV           |2.5 |D 10|W 11|D   2|D   1|

CA | 12833623 / R: 2424   ->2424     |N:M |     |     |     |     |


4 | TIMOTHY W TAYLOR               |2.5 |W   7|D   2|L   1|W   9|

CA | 10153557 / R: 2398   ->2397     |N:C |     |     |     |     |


5 | EUGENE YANAYT                   |2.0 |W   9|L   1|L   6|W   8|

CA | 12598805 / R: 2344   ->2338     |N:C |    |     |     |     |


6 | DANIEL YOUSEFF MOUSSERI         |2.0 |L   1|W 10|W   5|L   2|

CA | 13425010 / R: 2280   ->2288     |N:C |     |     |     |     |


7 | CRAIG CLAWITTER                 |2.0 |L   4|D   8|D   9|X   |

CA | 12800135 / R: 2225   ->2218     |     |     |     |     |     |


8 | VADIM KUDRYAVTSEV               |1.5 |L   2|D   7|W 11|L   5|

CA | 13315303 / R: 2214   ->2212     |N:1 |     |     |     |     |


9 | LEONID FURMAN                   |1.5 |L   5|X   |D   7|L   4|

CA | 12734520 / R: 2166   ->2158     |     |     |     |     |     |


10 | MICHAEL CASELLA                 |0.5 |D   3|L   6|U   |U   |

CA | 12440626 / R: 2328   ->2322     |     |     |     |     |     |


11 | ALAA-ADDIN MOUSSA               |0.5 |H   |L   3|L   8|U   |

MI | 12641188 / R: 2238   ->2224     |     |     |     |     |     |


Note that Kretchetov and I both scored 2.5 points. I achieved that with two wins, a draw and a loss. Kretchetov had one win and three draws.

Let’s start with the current FIDE tie break recommendation, and then give three more traditional tie break systems in order of popularity. (source for systems below is Wikipedia)

  1. FIDE recommends – in an Annex to the FIDE Tournament Regulations regarding tie breaks:

1.The result of the direct encounter(s) between the players (if any)

Kretchetov and I did not play, so we move on to number 2.

2.The greater number of wins

I won two games, Kretchetov won one.

Therefore I qualify according to FIDE’s recommended system

  1. Neustadtl Sonneborn–Berger score (the most popular of the traditional tie break systems)

A player’s Neustadtl Sonneborn–Berger score is calculated by adding the sum of the conventional scores of the players he/she has defeated to half the sum of the conventional scores of those he/she has drawn against.

I defeated Clawitter and Furman, who scored 2.0 and 1.5 respectively, thus I get 3.5 points.

I drew Serpik who scored 3.0; therefore I get half that total, which is 1.5.

Add the two totals together, 3.5 + 1.5, and I end up with 5 points.

Kretchetov defeated Moussa, who scored 0.5 points.

Kretchetov drew with Casella (0.5 points), Serpik (3.0 points) and Abrahamyan (3.5 points). Therefore he gets half of the drawn players scores: 0.5 + 3 + 3.5 = 7, divide that by 2 and so reaches 3.5.

Add the totals together, 0.5 + 3.5 = 4 and Kretchetov ends up with 4 points.

Therefore I win the Neustadtl Sonneborn–Berger tie break by 5 to 4.

  1. The Median system is also known as the Harkness System, after its inventor Kenneth Harkness. For each player, this system sums the number of points earned by the player’s opponents, but discarding the highest and lowest. If there are nine or more rounds, the top two and bottom two scores are discarded. Unplayed games by the opponents count ½ point. Unplayed games by the player count zero points. This is also known as the Median Buchholz System

My highest and lowest opponents are Abrahamyan and Furman, so their scores are discarded. I get 3 points from Serpik and 2 points from Clawitter, so I end up with 5 points.

Kretchetov’s high and low opponents are Abrahamyan and Moussa, so he gets 3 points from Serpik and 1.5 points from Casella. The reason he gets 1.5 from Casella is that even though his final score was 0.5, he had two unplayed games, which according to the Median system, count as half points. Therefore Kretchetov gets 3 + 1.5 for a total of 4.5 points.

I win according to the Median System, by 5 points to 4.5

  1. Solkoff

This system is the same as the Median system, except that no scores are discarded

I played Clawitter (2.0), Serpik (3.0), Abrahamyan (3.5) and Furman (1.5). Therefore 2.0 + 3.0 + 3.5 + 1.5 = 10

Kretchetov played Casella (0.5), Moussa (0.5), Serpik (3) and Abrahamyan (3.5). Therefore 0.5 + 0.5 + 3 + 3.5 = 7.5

It is unclear (the Wikipedia entry makes no mention of this) but if, as in the Median, unplayed games count as 0.5, then Kretchetov’s score is a little higher though the result is unchanged. Note that Casella played two games, a draw and a loss for .5 points, and then he had two unplayed games. Count them as 0.5 points each and he ends up with (for tie break purposes) a score of 1.5. Moussa gained his 0.5 score on the crosstable from a bye, lost his two played games, then did not play the last round. Therefore his score is (for tie break purposes) 0 from played games and 0.5 + 0.5 = 1.0 for his unplayed games.

Applying this to Kretchetov, he then gets Casella (1.5), Moussa (1.0), Serpik (3) and Abrahamyan (3.5). Adding these together, Kretchetov gets 1.5 + 1 + 3 + 3.5 = 9

Therefore, according to the Solkoff system, I defeat Kretchetov by, according to how you count unplayed games, by either 10 to 7.5 or 10 to 9.


Summing up this Addendum, I won on every commonly used tie break system, and should have qualified directly from the Candidates tournament.




2 thoughts on “Phil Chase: Chess Criminal

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