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The United States Chess Federation a belated southward migration. It's been in a temporary (undisclosed?) location in Crossville, Tennesee for a week or two now. The US chess community is baffled, but the folks of Crossville seem happy, calling it a boon. From the Nashville City Paper:

"Last week the federation relocated its offices from New Windsor, N.Y., to temporary space in Crossville. That Tennessee presence, officials say, will bolster the Midstate economy with employee relocations, future events, ancillary businesses, etc.

“Our people will be buying houses, renting apartments, shopping — the impact will be in the millions,” said Grant Perks, USCF chief financial officer.

Perks said the federation eventually expects to have about 22-25 employees in Crossville. In addition, the group plans to build a permanent home for an estimated $525,000."

Events and ancillary businesses? I don't know of much or any of that good stuff happening in the USCF's old home of New Windsor, NY. They do have the power to schedule events there, and the've already done so with one big scholastic in April. Building a new office for half a million? Is office space that hard to find? Sounds like a promise made to sweeten the deal. One thing's for sure: for their employees to have an impact in the millions they're going to have to raise the salaries. (No mention of the employees in New Windsor being laid off; few will relocate. Relocation and employment are a zero-sum game unless you are profitable and expanding.)

The USCF has been in a "well, it can't get worse" situation for so long that we now know it's not true. But just maybe a new location can mark a new beginning with new practices of responsibility, accountability, and transparency. Judging from all the shenanigans that have surrounded the move that might be a bit much to hope for. Let's just cross (ahem) our fingers for "not horrible." [For more on this search the DD for Crossville.]


The USCF needs to be shut down. It's been obvious for many years that it's just been non-profit nonsense. An utter failure to pursue corporate sponsership and acheive a professional circuit demonstrates that the not-for-profit nitwits must step aside.

Yeah! Seirawan for USCF president!

I think that the bankruptcy/collapse of the USCF is becoming increasingly likely. Tough to imagine the organization surviving another three years (say) in anything like its current form.

The quote "In addition, the group plans to build a permanent home for an estimated $525,000" is funny. The operative word is "plans". I can't imagine that the USCF has the funds to actually break ground on this "project", or that any bank would lend them half a million dollars!

I think the USCF, and the chess world in general, suffers from a strange kind of megalomania. What is with the constant calls to expand membership and find corporate sponsorship? Why try to make the USCF anything more than an organization that rates games and sets the rules for tournament games?

As most of us, I have an on/off relationship with the uscf as others. I am a 44y.o. male who loves chess and have played it since I taught myself @ the age of 10. Currently, I am not a member(and haven't been for the last 3 years). Why is that? Basically,outside of taking my hard earned money for the privilege(uscf view),i.e. opportunity to play in tournaments and have a rating, I don't exist for the uscf. If there was another organization in place that would do the ratings(I could care less about the magazine), that organization would get my funds.

I am a USCF member, and I very much think that 30 some dollars a year seems like a lot just to rate games. Someone should really start a competing organization, run off with the rating list, and put them under for good.


Exactly - RIP USCF - the sooner, the better. The call for privatization is lunacy of course. (as If there was money in it!) Why not just an office with a computer (to rate games) and let the magazine stand or fall as a commercial venture (may be some money in that?) For professional purposes, why not just let the upper eschelon of players in the country form their own promotional body? Maybe if they could furnish names and faces with some bragging rights (international successes) they could attract sponsorship. Would Coke run an ad with Nakamura's face? He looks all-american to me!

For the rest of us, htownmmm is right, we just need the ratings calculated, so let us pay a fee to ensure that that happens and out of that I'm sure we could afford to hire 1 person to run the machine. Hell, I would be glad to pay a large enough fee so that those rated over say 2400 were exempt.

I do however feel sorry for the people involved in the current USCF situation. The move to Crossville is so insane it is hard to understand. I can't help wondering if Crossville as a city is trying to become the USCF's Grand Illusionist and envisions a future filled with buildings shaped like rooks, queens and kings flying flags of red-white-and-blue while God-fearing righteous families queue up at gates filligreed with knight's manes for entrance to the wonderland of chess.

New Crossville slogan: "The Elista of the West"

The truth of the matter is that the ratings function is all computerized and could be done by Joe X with a CP. All the big tournaments are Continental Chess, or some private organization such as Chessmaster or HB. Does anyone wish to explain exactly what the USCF does in addition to these things? I know they sell things,(which should be profitable!!) but what else? Bunch of jobless guys,no?

The USCF doesn't sell things any more. They "outsourced" merchandising to The Chess Cafe, after claiming to have lost huge sums in that business.

They *used* to run correspondence chess ratings and tournaments, but recently "outsourced" that to Alex Dunne, who presumably does it from his home.

I don't know what the heck the remaining employees do. Probably much of the labor has to do with the magazine.

The USCF exists to do more than just ratings. It also does certification for tournament directors and titles. Many adult members either fail to realize or just don't care that scholastic chess is a huge part of what the USCF does. Elementary, Junior and High School championships are big deals annually.

The USCF was doing fine until Al Lawrence resigned as Executive Director in 1996. A series of poor hires and bad boards followed. From 1996 to 1999 when Don Schultz was President and Bill Goichberg was Vice-President the members were systematically misled about operational losses. The organization was forced to finally admit how screwed up things were when they cancelled the US Championship in 2000. Thankfully, the Seattle foundation took the tournament over and it has never been better.

The keys to getting out from under the finacial difficulties were threefold: 1) Outsource book and equipment 2) Sell the building in New Windsor and relocate to a cheaper part of the country 3) Rightsize the organization in order to reign in expenses.

The current board (at least the board majority) has finally done what needed to be done. I congratulate them. The current President Beatriz Marinello demonstrated the leadership her predecessors lacked, and it now appears that the USCF is back on the road to financial stability.

Jim Eade wrote, "Many adult members either fail to realize or just don't care that scholastic chess is a huge part of what the USCF does. Elementary, Junior and High School championships are big deals annually."

I think it is really unfair to say this. I have never seen any of us bash scholastic chess; we all recognize its value. What some of us are saying, however, is that the USCF is not recognizing that by focusing almost solely on scholastic chess they are actually hurting it! By not doing anything to stem the outflow of adult players from chess they are in fact doing long term harm to chess as a whole. Probably the biggest problem comes from scholastic players getting pathetically low USCF ratings from scholastic events, ratings far lower than their actual playing strength, and then playing against adults and killing their ratings. This is not an attack on scholastic chess- it is an attempt to get the USCF to recognize a serious problem and rectify it. They need to force scholastic events to use only scholastic ratings. Kids need to get their USCF ratings strictly from true tournaments, where they can fact adults and get more realistic ratings. There are other problems too, but if you care you can read about them on the message boards.

Mr. Eade, much of what you say is true. But your statement by itself reveals the problem with USCF's political leadership. All of you fail to grasp the this is not a money problem, but a service problem. If you could solve the service problem the money problem would go away by itself. Here are some of the service problems:

1) transparency. If one does not know where to look in USCF important information (like finances) is impossible to find. USCF needs to be proactive about this.

2) scholastics. This is a colossal waste of resources, not because the program is bad in concept but bad in execution. It was noted in "Chess Life" that of 30,000 scholastic players in 1995, only 1,200 were still members in 2001. By probably all of them have quit. Take the hint, Mr. Eade: USCF has little to offer to new members. These kids, once they start spending their own money, decide that USCF is not worth the price.

3) Equality. USCF deliberately belittles and drives out members. If you like descriptive notation you are subject to sneering comments and your games and notation now never appear in "Chess Life." If you like analog clocks you suddenly find yourself a second-class citizen. If you like traditional chess--no sudden-death controls, adjournments, round-robins--you are told constantly that what you like is old hat, that you need to get with the program, that all the newfangled inventions are the inevitable wave of the future, and so on. Subject your members to this type of negative propaganda and people will quit. The leadership of USCF seems to consistently fail to grasp this.

4) "Chess Life" stinks. Pure and simple. It needs major overhaul by someone with some artistic vision. The leadership uses the magazine to propagandize the members (note the recent mass mailing of "School Mates" to EVERY member) while ignoring the members' wishes. Why should anyone want to pay $49 for such a thing?

I could go on. But I see no need. No one is listening in USCF because no one there cares. They do not care for the simple reason that are convinced beyond any doubt that they are right. If only the benighted membership would get with it the Utopia of Chess will be right around the corner.

Ed Yetman, III

Interesting comments. I certainly didn't mean to imply that ALL adult members fail to recognize the important role the USCF plays in scholastic events. Many don't, and I do not think that statement is unfair. I hear it all the time.

The whole issue of certification is similarly devalued by many. A national organization must exist to certify national titles. That is one reason that I still see a need for the USCF or something like it.

I found the tone of Mr. Yetman's comment puzzling. Perhaps, he doesn't realize that I have been one of the USCF's severest critics over the years. The insider's hate my guts, and that tells me I must be doing something right!

I certainly don't need to "take the hint" about the drop off from scholstic to adult membership. You're preaching to the choir.

I also agree that there is what my friend Tom Dorsch called the "little tent" thinking rampent in USCF insiderdom. Instead of casting the widest net possible, they seem to want only those whose interest is in OTB chess tournaments. I call this the CCA model, and I think its wrong.

If you got involved in USCF politics, and I wouldn't wish that on anyone, you would see that there are deep rifts. IMHO, there is a small group of insiders that manipulate the system to their personal advantage, a larger group of well meaning volunteers and yet a third group I call the scholastic "profiteers."

When people's incomes depend in part on USCF policies, USCF policies get distorted and its mission becomes forgotten. It's not that no one is listening. It's that it is extremely difficult to do anything about it.

Hello Mr. Eade,
I apologize for leaping to any conclusions about you personally. I was out of line. I in fact know little about your views on chess politics. I jumped to my conclusion because in reading your post it seemed to me to be more of the self-congratulating eyewash that USCF continually pumps out. In your earlier post there is no discussion of USCF's ongoing structural problems, so I assumed you were glossing them over.

I hope you will accept my apologies and join us down on the message boards, such as "USCF defeatism" or "Sorce of USCF's problems." I would welcome a chance to exchange views with you on this subject.

By the way, I have your book on the MacCutcheon French. Loved it!

Ed Yetman, III

No hard feelings. You made my day with your remark about my French book! I'll try to find the other threads you mention.

Hello Mr. Eade,
WHAT! NO HARD FEELINGS? You really AREN'T the typical USCF politico! You may find the threads I mentioned on the message boards titled "Hall of Flame."

Ed Yetman, III

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on February 24, 2005 8:21 PM.

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