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Explanation of Need to Oust Goichberg
1664 Davidson Ave., Apt. 1B
Bronx NY 10453-7877
July 31, 2008
To the USCF Delegates and Alternates:
Petition to Recall Bill Goichberg from the USCF Executive
Dear Delegates, Alternates and Members:
I am writing to you because of a grave crisis that confronts the
United States Chess Federation. Yes, I know that every year we have
another grave crisis, so what else is new? But this is the mother of
all grave crises, because this grave crisis THREATENS THE ENTIRE
EXISTENCE OF THE UNITED STATES CHESS FEDERATION.
The crisis has arisen because USCF President Bill Goichberg has
proposed and the entire board has passed 6-0 without discussion a plan
to turn Chess Life and Chess Life for Kids magazines into online
publications, so that the regular adult and regular scholastic members
will no longer receive either Chess Life or Chess Life for Kids in the
mail. The members will also no longer receive membership cards. Life
Memberships will no longer be sold. Instead, the regular members will
receive a brief quarterly bulletin directing them to a website where
they can read Chess Life and Chess Life for Kids on the Internet.
Here are the exact relevant words of the pending motion by Goichberg
to change the by-laws. This is found in ADM 08-25, Section 9, on page
21 of the 2008 Delegates' Call, which can be downloaded at
"Each Regular and Youth member shall be entitled to receive a
bimonthly paper bulletin, as well as (if providing an e-mail address)
a password enabling access to the online version of Chess Life
magazine. Each Scholastic member shall be entitled to a paper bulletin
issued each four months, as well as (if providing an e-mail address) a
password enabling access to the online version of Chess Life for Kids
These words make it clear that Regular USCF members will no longer
receive Chess Life magazine in the mail.
This proposed change has evoked outrage among those USCF members who
have heard about it. However, most members have not heard about this,
which is the reason why I am writing you.
When Bill Goichberg was elected USCF President in 2005, nobody
campaigned harder for him to be elected than I did. I thought that
Goichberg would be a good president. He had wanted to be president for
more than 30 years and I felt that he deserved the the chance. I
dismissed nay-sayers who complained that Goichberg had a conflict of
However, subsequent events have demonstrated that Bill Goichberg is
entirely unsuitable to be USCF President. His presidency has been a
disaster. His term of office will not expire until August 2009. With
Goichberg as president, the USCF will not survive that long. He must
be removed now!
Bill Goichberg is not entirely bad, not at all. There are many good
things about him, which is the reason why I supported him for more
than 40 years until just recently.
However, there is one thing that is really bad about Bill Goichberg,
which I did not fully realize until recently, which is:
GOICHBERG DOES NOT LISTEN TO ANYBODY
Goichberg is truly independent. He makes up his own mind about things.
This, by itself, is good. However, when you are the president of an
organization like the USCF with 86,000 members, you must listen and
pay attention to what the members want. Goichberg does not do that.
The worst part is:
GOICHBERG NEVER CHANGES HIS MIND.
This is the real problem. Just about everybody who has commented on
his plan to put Chess Life online has told Bill Goichberg that his
idea is bad, wrong, destructive, terrible, horrible and awful. Yet,
GOICHBERG WILL NOT LISTEN. Some have gone further, telling Goichberg
that his idea is “insane” and “suicidal”. Those saying these strong
words include some of the most distinguished, respected and well
known, long standing members of the USCF.
For example, Grandmaster Larry Evans has commented, “This will be the
death knell of the organization”.
Dr. Frank Brady, the founder of Chess Life magazine who is now
Chairman of the Department of Journalism of St. John's University, has
written a detailed letter explaining why the Goichberg “New Plan”, as
Goichberg calls, it will not work.
In response, Randy Bauer, a board member who strongly supports the
plan to turn Chess Life into an online publication, had written back
to Dr. Brady a highly insulting letter, dismissing Dr. Brady as an
“academic”, as opposed to Bauer who claims to have experience in the
business world. (Bauer once had a job working for a state government.
That is his claim to be an expert in business.)
On May 18, 2008, Bauer wrote about Chess Life: “IT IS A DINASOUR. GET
OVER IT. Time to move on. Randy Bauer.”
Here is what Dr. Frank Brady wrote on May 18, 2008:
As the founding Editor of Chess Life, and as someone who has been in
the magazine business for a number of years, I can say the following:
the reason that some magazines and newspapers are switching from print
to on-line versions is because of a lack of advertising (due to the
poor economy). Arthur Sulzberger, the publisher of The New York Times,
told me personally that he was “message agnostic” and that he didn't
care whether there would be a hard copy of the Times or whether it
would eventually be delivered totally online. However, the online
version has yet to make money...and the Times is hurting financially.
Since Chess Life is not an advertising-driven medium (although it has
some ads), it should be looked at from its promotional and “pride”
If I were still on the USCF Board I would definitely vote against
turning Chess Life into an online publication. And for what it is
worth, I have both an online and a home-delivery subscription to The
New York Times, and I rarely ever read the on-line version. I might
also point out that many marketers are giving up on e-mail and online
approaches because it's just not working. They are reverting to the
old tried and true direct mail efforts.
Dr. Frank Brady, President
Marshall Chess Club
In response, Randy Bauer dismissed Dr. Brady's comments in BINFO
200802983 on May 21, 2008, saying, “I'm sure a journalism department
is a great place to educate future journalists, and if this were a
question about how to educate future USCF journalists, Frank Brady
would definitely be a dispositive source.”
Here is what Former USCF President Tim Redman wrote on May 15, 2008:
I agree with the substance of these messages. On December 23 after
members of the LMA Committee reviewed the six-month financials, I sent
our analysis to President Goichberg and others. We predicted a fiscal
year loss in the $100,000-$200,000 and a serious cash crunch in the
summer. We recommended immediate cost-cutting measures in Crossville.
Bill chose to take the advice instead of two undoubted financial
experts in the Federation who projected a much rosier scenario.
Unfortunately weeds came in where the roses were supposed to be.
The new dues plan is fatally flawed for several reasons:
1) it is way too complicated and confusing.
2) It is not price-point sensitive.
3) It will lead to the demise of one important and tangible benefit,
Chess Life. I think something like half of our renewing regular
members don't play in rated tournaments in any given year.
4) It will lead to declining revenues.
Al Lawrence wrote to the board on May 20, 2008,
“In fact, I'm concerned that there's not a hint of self-doubt in your
email. I think that's a risky attitude. I'd resist circling the
wagons, and find some unbiased experts outside the Federation who can
help with this big decision. It would be worth spending some money on
before plunging into the deep end of a drained pool. . . . I’d suggest
that, before scuttling Chess Life, you and your colleagues do some
research. Perhaps contacting other organizations whose members have
something in common with us to see how sister organizations have
wrestled with this question could help.”
Bauer's response to all these objections is, “Please note that this is
NOT about eliminating Chess Life as a major marketing asset. This is
only about how it is delivered.”
In short, Bauer feels that the members and the delegates should not be
concerned about the fact that regular USCF members will no longer
receive Chess Life in the US mail, as they will still be able to read
it online on the Internet.
Mike Goodall, former President of the California Chess Association,
wrote on July 13, 2008:
Have you heard anything recently about Calchess? Neither have I.
They put their magazine on line a couple of years ago, and then went
out of business, more or less. Somebody still makes a fortune running
an annual scholastic tournament, but that's about it. The magazine
which used to bind the organization together, is no longer printed.
Now you want to do the same with Chess Life. This has to be the
dumbest idea to come down the pike is quite awhile. Don't you
understand that it takes membership dues to support the magazine? Too
many potential members will opt out of paying for the magazine if
given the choice. Anybody who has worked the registration desk at any
tournament will tell you that. After the magazine the only thing
included for the dues is a rating. Do you really think that players
will pay $29/yr for a rating? That's stretching it. Our Board
members don't have the sense they were born with. The sad part of
this whole thing is that even after the delegates reject the idea
Goichberg will wait a couple of months and do it anyway, knowing that
he won't have to account for the damage until next year
Goichberg points out that under his plan the regular USCF membership
dues will be reduced to $29, as opposed to the either $41 or $49 dues
today. Goichberg feels that the membership will go up with the lower
dues. Goichberg finds no problem with the fact that the regular
members will receive no magazine or even a membership card in the mail
in return for paying $29. Goichberg feels that since the printing and
mailing of Chess Life is the biggest expense the USCF has, the
federation's problems will be solved simply by cutting the magazine.
New members will flock to join the USCF because of the lower dues,
However, Goichberg has ignored four letters from Hanon Russell, owner
of USCF Sales, dated June 7 and 8, and July 18 and 30, 2008, which
strongly imply that Hanon Russell will stop paying the $150,000 per
year that he is currently paying to be the official vendor of USCF
Books and Equipment. The current issue of Chess Life has 16 pages of
ads from USCF Sales. That is what he is paying the $150,000 for. On
June 7, 2008, Hanon Russell wrote:
“It has come to my attention that there is a proposal that would
reduce the number of copies of Chess Life distributed to the
membership. Although I appreciate the board's desire to cut expenses
in these trying economic times, this idea is a bad one for several
Without the magazine arriving each month, any stimulus for members to
become more active, participate in chess events, follow the goings-on
in American chess, not to mention purchase chess books and equipment
from their national federation, will slowly but surely erode. The
identity of the USCF will be at risk, becoming only the custodian of a
chess rating system, not the face for the history and culture of
chess. A monthly publication encourages a sense of community, an
affiliation with others which a bare bones organization can never hope
From the point of view of retail sales to USCF members, this is
another discouraging development. We have already had to bring in
legal counsel as a result of what I considered an egregious material
breach of the agreement. Please re-think the proposed changes in Chess
Life. If implemented, these changes will be essentially irrevocable.
Consider hiring someone who has professional marketing and public
relations experience with other organizations.
Goichberg respond to these two letters with a letter essentially
saying that these changes will be good for Hanon Russell, implying
that Goichberg knows better than Hanon Russell knows about how he
should run his business. Hanon Russell responded on July 18, 2008 as
It is also my understanding that there may be a line item that will
purport to show a substantial amount owed to the USCF by CyberCafes.
Amounts that I have seen thrown about have been in the $40,000-$80,000
range. Finally, there are the matters of the possible claims related
to the House of Staunton and Chess Life (reduced circulation) matters.
None of these issues has been resolved, or is even close to being
resolved at this time. And we have not been contacted by the auditors
to confirm, deny or explain any of them. I reject any attempt or claim
to alter the agreement, an agreement under which I have already made
substantial payments. I expect that any representation in the audit of
any alleged amount owed by us to the USCF will conform with generally
accepted accounting principles, viz., that it will clearly state that
any amount over $14,000 shown is disputed - in its entirety.
These persistent problems with USCF Sales are a direct result of the
incompetence and mismanagement of Bill Goichberg. However, his is not
even the biggest problem with Bill Goichberg. A bigger problem is that
GOICHBERG DOES NOT TELL THE OTHER BOARD MEMBERS WHAT HE IS DOING.
During my one year on the board, we, the board members, were
constantly frustrated by this problem. Goichberg had two board members
in his hip pocket, who would never vote against Goichberg even when
they would admit privately that he was wrong. This left the three of
us who were independent of Goichberg and had different ideas. However,
on a six member board we could never overturn anything Goichberg did,
because the best we could ever get was 3-3 tie vote which means that
out motions failed. Thus, we were not participants in governance. We
were just spectators.
Even worse, Goichberg would do things without telling the rest of the
board about it at all. There are numerous examples of this. For
example, in November, 2006, an announcement appeared on the USCF
website that the 2007 US Championship and Zonal Qualifier would be a
32 player two-game knockout event played online over the Internet from
regional centers. Nobody else on the board had even heard of this
plan. We certainly had not approved of it. This was all done by
Goichberg. Later, this plan failed because no sponsor could be found
for this event. Goichberg should never have announced this event
without a signed contract from a sponsor. Goichberg implied that
Merrill Lynch was going to sponsor the event. This was a pure
fabrication. No executive of Merrill Lynch with decision making
authority had ever any expressed interest in putting up money for such
an event. Then Goichberg decided to make the US Championship into an
open tournament that anybody, including even rank beginners, could
enter upon payment of $20,000. Again, the board had never approved nor
even knew about this plan. As it turned out, no beginner paid $20,000
to play in the US Championship, but two players who had not qualified
bought their way in by paying $5,000 and $4,000 each.
Another thing, Goichberg decided that the US Championship should have
four women players in the tournament. When only two women with
reasonably high ratings accepted, Goichberg went down the line,
inviting lower and lower rated women players, who kept declining
because they did not want to be the “token women” in an event where
they had no chance, until finally two girl experts rated below 2200
accepted, whereas Grandmaster strength players like Ben Finegold rated
over 2600 who wanted very much to play was not allowed to get into the
tournament. Finegold had not “qualified” because he does not like
Goichberg tournaments, which many of the qualifiers were.
Again, Goichberg did all this without even telling the other board
members about it.
This debasing of the formerly prestigious US Championship has had long
range effects. This year only five players accepted invitations to the
US Junior Championship. More than 70 players were invited down the
list, as top players kept declining. Normally, the US Junior is among
the most prestigious chess events in the US and the competition is
fierce to get in. Normally, it requires a rating of about 2400 to be
invited. This year, the organizers were inviting players down to the
2000 level and getting few takers.
The reason, as one former US Junior Champion has explained, is that
the US Junior Championship has been debased. First prize is an
invitation to the US Championship, previously an all grandmaster event
where only the top 14 rated players in the US can play. Now that
Goichberg has opened the US Championship to qualifiers and to anyone
willing to pay money without regard to rating, there is little
interest among our top young players in trying to win an invitation as
Furthermore, thus far there are no sponsors for the 2009 US
Championship, as who wants to put up money for an event where the
primary way to get in is to qualify from a Goichberg tournament. Since
Goichberg is getting the entry fees, Goichberg should put up the
money, they say.
The important point here is the board never voted to do this. The USCF
Executive Board never voted to make the US Championship into a Super-
Goichberg Open Swiss Tournament. The board never voted on or even knew
about any of these things. Goichberg, using and abusing his position
as USCF President, did all of these things completely himself. The
board simply could not stop him, although we tried. Goichberg has Bill
Hall as his yes-man and that is a big part of the problem.
What was especially annoying to me, Sam Sloan, was that every time a
problem developed with the Goichberg self-serving schemes and plans,
he blamed me, Sam Sloan, for their failure. For example, the Goichberg
plan to hold the US Championship and Zonal Tournament as a 32 player
knock-out played over the Internet was ridiculous on its face plus, we
later found out, it violated FIDE rules. When no sponsor came forward
to sponsor the event, Goichberg said it was all the fault of Sam
Sloan. Every problem the USCF had was the all fault of Sam Sloan,
Goichberg said. Rather than attending to the business of the USCF,
Goichberg became obsessed with trying to get rid of me. He wrote five
letters to the USCF paid legal counsel asking how to get rid of Sam
Sloan and he made repeated motions to censure or reprimand me. All we
had to do is get rid of Sam Sloan and everything will be sweetness and
light again, said Goichberg, on 17,000 postcards he mailed to USCF
members. These acts by Bill Goichberg have had as a direct consequence
the massive, expensive litigation now in the courts including the need
of the USCF to file a new legal proceeding in Lubbock, Texas last
The fact is the USCF has been on a downward slope ever since Goichberg
first got elected as USCF Vice-President in 1996. Up until 1996, the
USCF had a healthy surplus every year. We were making money. As soon
as Goichberg came in, we started losing money. From 1996 to the
present, The USCF has lost more than two million dollars. The
accounting and bookkeeping has been so messed up that nobody knows how
much money we have really lost. However, in just the three years since
Goichberg became president in 2005, we have lost more than $500,000
In this fiscal year just completed, a member of the finance committee
has reported that the loss is $144,000. Bill Hall says that the loss
is “only” $73,000, but that is after removing the cap on “imaginary
money” that the delegates voted at the 2007 delegates meeting. It
appears that the loss for this year in real money is $258,000.
Goichberg wrote that the real loss will be “only” $50,000 “which is
good considering” he wrote Goichberg on July 17, 2008. Meanwhile, a
member of the USCF Finance Committee says that the loss of “only”
$50,000 is achieved because $85,000 due from Hanon Russell and USCF
Sales has been booked as an “account receivable” whereas Hanon Russell
is refusing to pay and is not going to pay. Also, the board is
bringing back $70,000 in “imaginary money” which the Delegates voted
in 2007 not to be counted as income, since it does not exist. This
imaginary money is bring brought back in on the pretext of “accrual
accounting”, although it should be written off as a total loss.
This is why Goichberg wants to abolish Chess Life and Chess Life for
Kids magazines. He claims that these losses of $500,000 are due to
“competition from the Internet”. So, according to Goichberg, all we
have to do is stop printing Chess Life and Chess Life for Kids and we
will be profitable again. Of course, if these magazines are no longer
printed and the 86,000 members keep sending in their membership dues
anyway, the losses will stop. But, wait a second! Did not he say last
year that all we have to do was get rid of Sam Sloan and all the
USCF's problems will be solved? By the way, during my one year on the
board, the USCF showed a profit, the only real profit the USCF has had
since 1996. Is it possible that Sam Sloan had something to do with
The Bottom Line is:
1. The USCF has lost more than $2 million since Bill Goichberg first
became USCF Vice-President in 1996. Goichberg has done nothing to stop
these losses. He even brags that the USCF has “only” lost $50,000 this
year, although in real money the USCF has lost more than $250,000.
2. Goicberg runs the USCF as a one-man dictatorship. He does things
without a vote and without even telling the other board members what
he is doing.
3. Goichberg is determined to go ahead with his plans to turn Chess
Life and Chess Life for Kids into online publications, even though
many USCF members have told him that his plans are “insane” and even
4. Goichberg refuses to make necessary changes to save the
organization. He refuses to fire Bill Hall even though Hall is utterly
worthless and the USCF has lost more than $500,000 in the three years
that Hall has been Executive Director. Goichberg refuses to cut staff
and expenses or to eliminate non-productive employees and consultants.
For all of these reasons, I ask you to come to the Delegates meeting
in Dallas, August 9-10, to vote against the Goichberg “New Plan”, ADM
08-25, and to sign and mail the petition to recall and remove Bill
Goichberg from the USCF Executive Board.
Starting today, a Petition to Recall Bill Goichberg from the USCF
Executive Board is being circulated. Signatures are requested. The
Petition is on the reverse side of this letter. Please copy it and
mail it or circulate it for signatures. The two letters explaining the
reasons for this petition and the petition itself are online he
The identity of anybody who signs this petition will be kept
confidential until enough signatures are collected to force a recall
Very Truly Yours,
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|To Delegates and Alternates: Petition to Recall Bill Goichberg||samsloan||rec.games.chess.politics (Chess Politics)||5||July 24th 08 02:33 PM|
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