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Old June 6th 05, 12:15 PM
Chess One
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Default Promoting Chess Development or Promoting USCF?

I repeat a conversation held with Rob Mitchell on 12/5/2004 on what promotes
chess in the US - which is the primarly element of USCF's Mission Statement
establishing it as a non-profit. Below is a contrast with its actual short
and long term activities.

This past weekend saw more than a dozen emails from current board members,
past presidents and current aspirants to the board, addressing nothing more
than each other's personalities, in very terse terms, but which could have
been a spat at the golf club's green's committee for all it had to do with

No-one addressed chess development, the prime reason for the organisation's
existance. Some board members actually resented in writing those who were
actively encouraging especially young people to become engaged in the game.

Possibily there is not enough time to discuss chess development because of
propagating endless personal spats with others, and propping up
hemi-semi-demi-truths and promises?

Phil Innes



Rob Mitchell (RM): Phil, My dear friend. I was shocked at the sheer number
of 501(c)3 organizations in the US promoting chess. As I see it, there
should be one coherent plan of action regarding these organizations. I do
not know if that is currently the case. Does the USCF communicate or attempt
to coordinate programs thorough the other organizations?

Phil Innes (PI): I would say that there is 'theory' and then there is
practice. The practice is 'no.'

RM: If not, perhaps this is what the Russians meant.

PI: Not only Russians, but others have commented on speed, issues of
competency, and a general aliveness and receptivity to ideas.

RM: If a strong central power were to act with vision to coordinate the
disparate actions of the various organizations; perhaps the "sleeping giant"
would awaken?

PI: And here begins a potential discussion of the role of USCF in America
and in World Chess.

For some time I have be writing with Kaarlo Shepel in the Netherlands who
has wished to reform Fide, and also with some chess players prominent in
world chess. Not simply to change the figurehead, but to examine the basis
of future needs. Perhaps this may be some sort of guide to domestic
arrangements of chess?

I think we have currently resolved that there are two large categories, one
is Chess Management, and another is Chess Development. In the world, as in
the US, these two categories are quite divorced from each other, and suffer
no cohesive organization at all.

USCF is squarely in the Chess Management arena; that is, it manages ratings,
certification of TDs, rule systems and arbitrations, and is the nominal
point-of-contact for domestic and international event management.

All the parties to the larger discussion do not dispute the need for good
management practices, however, all parties also agree that Chess Management
does very little to initiate big chess programs, to support professional
players, to financially sponsor chess, to support new initiatives, and in
general, promote it to the larger culture. These activities are undertaken
by Chess Development folks, who are more dispersed and form ad hoc groupings
to achieve these goals.

A significant weakness to any better integration of affairs is one of
'ownership'. In USCF's case there is very little coordination with Chess
Development, since USCF do not act to simply coordinate the management of an
event, but seek to take it over, and indeed, to own it. I believe the result
of this practice is that USCF currently have no sponsors at all, do not
initiate or even take part in new projects, and do not attain a level of
confidence by Chess Developers whereby useful conversations could take

That is actually something of an understatement.

Previously these sorts of comments have been met with 'send us a proposal'
which laugh does not quite appreciate the point that Chess Developers
prefer to development their own Management in preference to engaging USCF,
who hadn't even admitted any interest in the subject but who seek to take it
over, and who besides, think themselves to be the persons to whom others
should 'submit.'

RM: That is my hope. That is my vision. I would like to become a part of

PI: I would also welcome greater national cohesion with the national chess
managers. But it is no USCF policy nor practice to achieve it [!] and where
elsewhere, I have talked of a strategic plan, this would certainly be a
major element of any plan - some intelligent partnering.

As for Crossville as a future site, I have no objection whatever to moving
from a metropolitan to a rural location [although I understand that Larry
Parr and Sam Sloan do have reservations].

My objection is that the organisation seeks to make a major move, and
literally cement that move in a new building, without any open discussion of
what functions it will support for US chess in the future. I submit to you
that the current status-quo of partnering and generally relations which USCF
enjoys and practices, has almost killed it. To simply plow ahead, as if
there were nothing to discuss about its future role seems absurd, and the
people making these decisions are not more experienced nor 'immersed' in
chess than their critics.

The current legal proceedings are so much fiddle-faddle, and essentially a
red-herring. They mean nothing other than a current excitement about the
scandal of the month. What about the next 60 months? Where does the
organisation see itself supporting chess in America at that time, and
//how// will it partner with others?

Your note is encouraging the point that a real consequence is at stake here
for chess in the country, rather than a 'if you are not for us, you're
against us' attitude, which has successively marginalised over the years,
much of USCF's potential worth.

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