While USCF achieved a record surplus in its 2003-04 fiscal year, our obligation to Life and Sustaining Members at the close of this period was $1,094,000.  Largely as a result of this obligation, we still finished with a negative net worth, minus $876,000.  This figure improved by $285,000 during the year that ended 5/31/04, and bankruptcy was no longer a concern after that point, but we have a long way to go before the Federation is truly prosperous.

A critical need for USCF, both to promote membership and to recover our old financial prosperity, is sponsorship.  And there are corporations out there with big bucks available to sponsor chess projects, but the Federation's record of success in finding and working with them is dismal.  In late 1999, the Executive Board announced cancellation of the 2000 US Championship, an event that had been losing $100,000 per year, for financial reasons.  This would have been quite a blow to USCF's prestige, as the Championship is part of our mission statement, and the Delegates have called for it to be held annually.  But GM Yasser Seirawan was not satisfied with the cancellation of the premier chess event in the United States; he contacted some wealthy Seattle business leaders and this resulted not only in sponsorship for the 2000 Championship, but the creation of a new organization, now called America's Foundation for Chess (AF4C), that has sponsored the event ever since, finding sponsors and steadily raising the prize fund from $100,000 to over $250,000.  Without question, AF4C is the most valuable sponsor in USCF history.

The current Board majority and "slate" has been hostile to AF4C, and in general has shown little interest in obtaining sponsorship.  They have even gone so far as to support Stan Booz remaining as co-chair of the Finance Committee despite numerous Booz attacks on AF4C President Erik Anderson, such as calling him a "trough feeder."  While Joel Channing, Robert Tanner, Greg Shahade, and myself have all discussed sponsorship in our Chess Life campaign statements, and have specifically lauded AF4C, the other candidates have said literally not one word about sponsorship or AF4C in their Chess Life statements! 

Executive Board candidate Joel Channing, himself a prominent business leader, described the situation eloquently in the June Chess Life:

"In the dynamic business world the most successful companies have turned from vertical integration to strategic alliances on a situation-by-situation basis with various partners whose core competencies complement theirs in ways best suited to the challenge at hand.  USCF, on the other hand, has been cautious to the point of paranoia, rebuffing successful businessmen like Erik Anderson of the American Foundation for Chess (AF4C) who could infuse significant money and energy into worthwhile projects.  Instead, USCF appears to obsess over the idea that somehow the other party will 'take over' our organization.  The fact is that large and small joint ventures are done every day in the business world, and by wise selection of covertures and careful drafting of agreements, everyone benefits."

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