Chess Life campaign statements

APRIL 2009:

USCF Original Life Master, FIDE Master, professional chess organizer (founded Continental Chess Association 1968), National TD, International Arbiter, USCF Office Manager 11/03-1/04, USCF Executive Director 1/04-12/04. Graduated NYU (1963), USCF Rating Statistician 1964-67, co-editor Chess Life 1966-67, member Policy Board 1975-78, 1989-92, 1996-99, NYSCA President, USCF President 2005-09. First to run USCF-rated scholastics (1966), Quads (1969), non-smoking tournaments (1973). Originated National HS Championship (1969), National JHS (1973), World Open (1973), National Elementary (1976), USCF Grand Prix (1979), National K-12 Grade Championships (1991), Junior Grand Prix (2008), Tournament of College Champions (2008), organized tournaments in 27 states including many internationals. Captain, World Champion US Olympiad Team (1976). Co-editor Official Rules of Chess (1993); added much new material. While Office Manager and Executive Director, USCF improved from approximately $400,000 debt to $200,000 surplus, not counting building sale, with record profits in fiscal 2003-04 and 2004-05 after seven consecutive years of losses.

MAY 2009:

It has been my privilege to serve as USCF President since August 2005. The Executive Board will select a new President this August, as there is a four year term limit. 

USCF has seen many changes since 2005. Our website now has interesting chess news and games, not just ratings and technical info. Chess Life has been modernized and upgraded, and a scholastic magazine again offered (Chess Life for Kids, better than the old School Mates.) Adult dues have been lowered, new national events initiated, tournament memberships restored to encourage rated activity after a 15 year lapse, and low cost insurance offered to chess clubs.  We are fortunate to have outstanding sponsors including the Saint Louis Chess Club (U.S. Championship, U.S. Women’s), Kasparov Chess Foundation (Olympiads), and World Chess Live (Grand Prix, Junior Grand Prix, College Tournament of Champions). And we are the only nation to have both our overall and women’s Olympiad teams win medals in Dresden! 

For many years, USCF’s most persistent problem was declining Adult membership. Beginning with 1995 when dues rose from $30 to $40, we lost at least 400 Adult members each year, an average of over 1,000 per year, for 11 consecutive years. Senior membership also declined steadily. This type of deterioration tends to be a vicious spiral, as fewer members means fewer clubs and tournaments, which in turn hurts membership, etc. 

This trend was not unique to USCF, as similar organizations such as the American Contract Bridge League and Chess Federation of Canada also had large declines, the latter being even more severe than USCF and resulting in elimination of their printed magazine.

During the past three years, this destructive deterioration was finally halted, as our age 20 & older member total increased slightly. Under 20 numbers were not as good, as overall membership declined by 1,481, but this was still much better than the previous three years, in which we lost 13,145 members.

Financial losses were also once a persistent USCF problem, especially in fiscal 1997-2003 when money was lost each year and the Federation almost went bankrupt. 2004 and 2005 had surpluses, but since then, breaking even has been difficult as expected relocation savings did not materialize, though Executive Director Bill Hall has held expenses down. We are paying off an extra $100,000 of our mortgage this year. A new membership structure including online-only magazine options is off to a good start, but will be of far more benefit in fiscal 2010. The 2006-2009 fiscal period should end at roughly breakeven, with unusual negative and positive events approximately balancing each other out:

Negative: 1) High legal fees due to improper behavior by two board members and USCF being sued by a board member (see, 2) Auditing fees and funding issues regarding past handling of the 1999-2002 employee profit sharing plan, 3) 2006 began with over $100,000 in unrealistic accounts receivable which had to be written off. Positive: the $350,000 bequest from Phil LeCornu.

For further comment, please see my campaign website,