They say bickering intensifies as stakes diminish; this helps explain the enmity engulfing the U.S. Chess Federation. A struggle over board seats turned into a flurry of lawsuits, all rooted in the following obscene and allegedly faked internet postings.

The federation last weekend voted to eject two board members, sometime women's chess champion Susan Polgar and her husband, Paul Truong, according to an overview of the fracas in the New York Times. Polgar's lawyer has promised to try and block the decision, via the same court hearings where his client stands accused by the federation of stealing board members' email messages.

Those messages, in turn, concerned another court case alleging computer fraud by Polgar, in which she and her husband allegedly impersonated former board member Samuel Sloan on internet chess newsgroups. The federation has also sued to remove Polgar and Truong from its board; the couple in turn has sued the federation for libel, slander and business disparagement.

Sloan has presented evidence in his New York suit that Polgar and Truong created messages in his name and in the names of others, designed to undermine his bid to get re-elected to the federation board. Their purported motive was to consolidate their power over the federation and its $3.3 million annual budget.

Low stakes indeed, but the online campaign was ruthless. Again, Sam Sloan has said he did not write these posts, drawn from his lawsuit in New York and the federation suit in Illinois:

Polgar and Truong are also accused of posting under the names of other federation members:


(Top pic via Cayusa on Flickr, not involved in any of this)