April Chess Life:
I am running for the Executive Board because I have seen firsthand how chess makes a difference in people's lives. I taught three summer chess camps with David MacEnulty in the South Bronx. One of the fifth grade students whom I taught, Steadroy Lloyd, now attends St. John's University on scholarship. Every other boy from that class is now in prison.
I am an active OTB player since 1969, and a Life Member. A National TD since 1979, I currently serve on the Federation's TD Certification Committee. I am a former President of the New York State Chess Association and a current member of the Board of Directors of the New Jersey State Chess Federation. During the last fourteen years I have taught, coached, directed, and organized scholastic chess for a living.
I hope that my experience can help the USCF continue to add value to people's lives. I need your vote.
Editor's comment: Joe also directed tournaments for me (Continental Chess Association) in the 1970s and 1980s and did a fine job.
May Chess Life:
About ten years ago, the Federation had a $1.7 million cash reserve, and owned its office building and land free and clear. In the summer of 2003, our Executive Director, Frank Niro, supposedly left for the annual business meetings. He never arrived in Los Angeles or returned to the office. When Beatriz Marinello became President in Los Angeles, it was finally discovered that USCF did not have sufficient funds to even make payroll. Seventeen USCF employees were laid off. Money was borrowed from other chess organizations to meet payroll and othe essential services.
We now have about a $417,000 cash reserve. Most of those funds are labeled to cover the future costs of over 10,000 Life Members. There is no cash reserve for the many multiple-year memberships from our recent sale. We have a mortgage on the new building in Crossville. The land has a technical value of one dollar. Zoning requirements insist that we can only sell the building and land to another national non-profit organization.
The days when USCF can squander money with annual deficits are over. It must be the highest priority of every board member, not just the Vice-President of Finance, to make sure the Federation lives within its annual budget. The survival of the USCF depends upon it.
Our most successful adult national tournament, the Unites State Amateur Team East, did not happen overnight. Under the stewardship of Steve Doyle and the New Jersey State Chess Federation, it developed over three decades where it now attracts over 1,100 players.
Many of our adult national tournaments are left with overdue bids and are regularly orphaned. We must seek out state associations that can best share the development of some of these adult national tournaments over the long-term with the national office.
Stronger national tournaments, spread across the country and held regularly will help maintain our adult membership. The activity of our affiliates and state associations is what keeps chess players members of the Federation.
It was the USCF Rules Committee that got me started to investigate the Federation closely. As a National Tournament Director, I wondered why a thirty-year rule would be changed, so that you now must make your move on the board before writing it down. Last June, the USCF website gave the chairman's report, which read like a commercial advertisement for an electronic scorekeeping device.
I was offended that commercial interest mandated a behavioral change of tens of thousands of members, both young and old, who are just trying to enjoy playing in chess tournaments. I went to the annual meeting in Chicago, and found various actions where personal financial interest took precedent over the concerns of the membership.
You, the member, have legal rights to get involved in the Federation. I am not part of any political allegiance, or "slate". I will serve on the Executive Board without political debt to any Board member.
Please, I need your vote.
comment: I agree with Joe that the change in Rule 15a went too far. I
voted against this change at Oak Brook, don't use the new rule in my
tournaments, and hope it is rescinded this year at Cherry Hill. The rule
should state that writing the move prior to making it is allowed, except when
using an electronic scoresheet. However, I disagree with Joe that
"commercial interest mandated" the change made at Oak Brook; the Rules Committee
simply overreacted and took the position that as long as we must make a change
anyway, we should make our rule the same as that of FIDE. I also disagree
with the latter position; it's more important to retain rules that players are
comfortable with than it is to copy FIDE.
June Chess Life:
In my May statement, I discussed the
$1.7 million the Federation lost in the last ten years. We have to stop this
trend in a positive way. I pledge to establish the U.S. Championship as a budget
item, starting at $100,000. With an annual budget of about $3.25 million, any
reasonably managed business should be able to generate a "profit" needed to
offer a decent prize fund for the U.S. Championship. After all, our mission
statement includes encouraging excellence in chess.
On the Executive Board, I can watch where every nickel is spent. I pledge to end spending for "political" purposes. I will be an independent voice, willing to work with whomever gets elected.
Brief History of the U.S. Championship Origins and Funding:
The U.S. Championship was a major purpose for starting the U.S. Chess Federation in 1939. It is a requirement of our Charter.
Yet funding for the U.S. Championship for decades was dependent on the American Chess Foundation in New York City. With changes in leadership and new funding, ACF became Chess-in-the-Schools. CIS became a very positive scholastic program, no longer interested in the Championship.
The American Foundation for Chess organized and funded the last five Championships with record prize funds and opportunities for America's best players. Now AF4C is focused on scholastic chess also, and has little if any interest in the Championship.
Thanks to Frank Berry, USCF managed to do this year's Championship on very little notice. It is about time for USCF to accept and to plan for its responsibility to hold the Championship.
The U.S. Championship as a Promotional Tool:
With a base of a $100,000 prize fund, the U.S. Championship can go almost anywhere in the country. It is much easier for local and state affiliates to find a free playing hall with free or inexpensive accomodations to host the U.S. Championship, than it is to find a $100,000 cash prize fund.
Major media markets like New York or Chicago would have little interest in the Championship. Smaller cities in less populated states could be prepared for major coverage of the event. This could stimulate a local chess boom with the proper groundwork by hosting chess groups.
...for reading this and all of the candidates' statements for the last three months. This is a membership organization. Your involvement in this major election will determine the future of the Federation.
Thanks to all of the many supporters I have talked to these long months. Special thanks must be given to four friends. I welcome their endorsements:
Past Presidents of the U.S. Chess Federation
Dr. Leroy Dubeck
Dr. Tim Redman
E. Steven Doyle
Please give me a chance to serve the Federation. I need your vote.
Editor's comment: Joe has good knowledge of tournament direction and of USCF generally, is not part of any political clique or slate, and I support his candidacy. It tells you something about his independence that he is supported by me as well as Dubeck and Redman; you can go back many years and you will find very few candidates endorsed by both me and either of these two past Presidents.