US Chess Discussion

Welcome! This blog has no connection with the USCF. It's a blog where I provide chess fans with general information about US Chess as well as the USCF. It's also a site where everyone can productively discuss or ask questions about various USCF issues! Your contributions and comments are welcome! PLEASE KEEP IT CIVIL & RESPECT OTHERS! Enjoy! All posts that do not meet this guideline will be deleted -- WIN WITH GRACE, LOSE WITH DIGNITY!(TM) --- 2006 Susan Polgar©

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A new direction

I heard the quote below earlier today from Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and it really touched me. I feel like it was written for me for the upcoming up USCF election. This is exactly how I approached this process!

"...before I committed myself and my family to this race, I wanted to be sure that this was right for us and, more importantly, right for the (country) USCF.

I certainly didn't expect to find myself in this position a year ago. But as I've spoken to many of you in my travels across the states these past (months) years; as I've read your emails and read your letters; I've been struck by how hungry we all are for a different kind of (chess) politics.

So I've spent some time thinking about how I could best advance the cause of change and progress that we so desperately need."

I am tired of the dirty and destructive politics as usual. So many chess politicians spend too much of their time throwing out dirt and focusing of all the negativities instead of actually doing something productive for US Chess and the USCF.

This federation has sunk to a new level of unprofessionalism and destruction. As a result of this, we lost countless supporters and sponsors including the AF4C, an organization that has invested millions of dollars to help US Chess and the USCF.

We have to stop the bleeding! It is time for a change! We need to immediately restore the credibility, integrity and respectability back to chess and the USCF! There are many areas we need to work hard to improve on. But most important of all, we need to work together for the common good of our sport!

This is why I am committed to this change. I am looking forward to a new and improved USCF! Together, we CAN end the typical "destructive politics as usual" and BEGIN a new positive direction.

I want to thank all of you for your time, suggestions, encouragement and support!

Best wishes,
Susan Polgar
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  • At Tuesday, January 16, 2007 10:06:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This suggestion pertains to cleaning up the USCF Forums.

    Can we do something to start to clean up the USCF right now?

    I have a modest suggestion on how we can help. I’m just putting this out to see what people think of it.

    One area we could do better at controlling is off topic posts. How about if we adopted among ourselves an informal but public understanding that the originator of a thread would take the responsibility to monitor the subsequent posts and call out posts that are off topic.

    Let’s say that Duncan was to start a thread on say “Children’s Chess”. But then I jumped on and posted something about financial statement audits. Duncan would then post, “jacklemoine your post is off topic. Please delete your post and place it elsewhere.”

    Now Duncan can’t make me do that but at least I’ve been called out. And being human, I would feel a little embarrassed. I suspect most of the rest of us would, too. As for me, embarrassment would be enough to motivate me to comply unless I felt really strongly about the matter for some reason.

    That wouldn’t solve all of the problems but it would be a start. It might put a little dent in them.

    Now, I know what you are all thinking and yes, I’ve got a suggestion for that, too. How about starting a thread called, “Responses to Sam Sloan”?

    The problem we have is that we’ve got to worry about the impact upon uniformed members who might drop in and see something from him that is unanswered. People feel they’ve got to respond to his statements just in the interest of truth, if nothing else. But then either him or artichoke responds to that, and pretty soon everybody piles in and the whole thread has been hijacked.

    If we were instead of doing that, post this: “I believe Sam Sloan’s post to be seriously wrong but since it is off topic as well, I refer the reader to the thread, 'Responses to Sam Sloan’." Then you could post your response to SS there.

    The advantages of the rest of us handling him and his supporters this way, is that the occasional reader is alerted that there is an answer to his latest attack while the integrity of the topic is maintained.

    There would have to be a sufficient number of us who would agree to do this and we would have to stick to our guns on doing this.

    This is our USCF, too. Even though the EB isn’t acting as they should, and Mike Nolan is over worked and under supported by the EB, that doesn’t mean that we can’t do something ourselves to clean up these forums.

    This is just a suggestion. What do you think?

  • At Tuesday, January 16, 2007 10:09:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    These two posts are on Susan’s other blog, too. I’m putting them here in case people look at this blog but not the other.

    There seems to be a widespread concern expressed out there that the finances of the USCF has not been handled as it should be. Otherwise intelligent people have opined that for all his faults we need Sam Sloan or somebody like him on the Executive Board to keep the rest of them honest.

    Our side’s repugnance of Sloan should not blind us to the fact that there is a feeling of support for him out there that is based upon this. We need to address this concern and not just dismiss it out of hand.

    Susan has stated elsewhere that she has detailed plans for the campaign. She can give her take on this concern when she’s ready. Here’s mine (reposted from the USCF Forums).

    I edited the below posts for brevity.


    One thing that really bugs me is that a number of members seem to want to invest Sam Sloan with a quasi role of the USCF’s auditor. One man even opined in his thread on Sam that this was why he is neutral on his election. Another opined that concerns in the financial area is a reason why he thinks SS will get re-elected.

    I submit that Sam Sloan is a bad repository of members’ desire to have financial defalcations and fraud exposed and corrected. We would do far better to look to professional auditors than to Sam Sloan to accomplish this task.

    That is why a little education of auditor’s responsibilities and limitations could do a lot of good.

  • At Tuesday, January 16, 2007 10:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Has the USCF leaders been managing their relationship with the auditors properly? If they have, we members should expect certain things from the audit fees the USCF has paid out. For example, the Board (or a committee thereof) should have met with the auditors. They should have had an Entrance Conference at the start of each audit where Members told the auditors their concerns and reached an understanding as what issues were going to be addressed and which were not. Many of these issues (examples: relating to insider deals and missing assets such as laptops) should have been addressed there. The auditors would have been alerted to pay attention to these areas.

    Then at the Exit Conference the Board Members would have had an opportunity to go over the audit with the auditors and what areas were addressed and what were not. What issues got resolved and how.

    That's the way Boards of non-profits handle auditors in my experience. I think that in the future at least, the Board needs to be more aggressive in managing its relations with the auditors. (And yes, cost/benefit considerations should play a role.) A whole lot of these controversies that trouble you and trouble us all would get handled.

    Also note that nothing precludes Board Members from communicating with the auditors DURING the audit, either. The Board should establish policies in this area. This would go much further to actually resolve stuff, than relying on Sam Sloan and all of this attacking and defending which presently occupies so much of our attention in these forums.

    If the Board HAS been properly managing it's relationship with the auditors, then, these controversies should be moot. Just refer to the auditors and what they found when they examined there various areas of concern.

    Summary: More reliance on professional auditors; less reliance on public controversies.

  • At Tuesday, January 16, 2007 11:21:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Dear Susan,

    I am new to USCF and don't know anything about the issues that are being discussed here. But I would like to nevertheless make some general comments about how things can be changed.

    First of all there should be more transparency about the conduct of the executive board. There is no reason for any secrecy here, unless we are investigating someone's conduct, chess player or otherwise. This should be reflected in the charter/constitution of the organization.

    One way the transparency can be encouraged is to allow members to attend EB meetings. One can restrict the number of such attendees, but as a member I should be able to attend such meetings. This will immediately make the EB meetings more transparent and hopefully honest.

    As a corollary, the EB meetings should be recorded (video if possible) and posted on the USCF website for everyone to see. Again, there is no need for secrecy.

    At least once or twice a year, EB should hold general meetings where people could attend, either in person, or via teleconference where the EB members make presentations on their performance and answer questions from the audience. This will bring EB members closer to the the common members and people will have a way to assess their performance. Currently I don't believe that's being done.

    On the whole, being an EB member should become a responsibility, not a privilege. They should be open to meet with other members and encourage new ideas to promote chess and accept criticism where it is due.


    Ravi Kulkarni

  • At Tuesday, January 16, 2007 11:25:00 PM, Blogger SusanPolgar said…

    Dear Ravi,

    Points taken. As you can see, I am as open as you can get through my website and blogs :) I will not change this part :)

    The USCF EB meetings are generally opened to the public and most of these sessions are recorded. Some have to be confidential because the law requires us to do so.

    Best wishes,
    Susan Polgar

  • At Wednesday, January 17, 2007 2:07:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    One thing I agree with GM Polgar for sure: reading the USCF forums daily is a massive waste of time. My students (age 9-16) are more mature than these purported adults. I wonder if the same people behave differently in real life?

  • At Wednesday, January 17, 2007 7:33:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    Just an "evil" thought came to my mind. What if you get elected, but the others you would like to get in won't. In this case you may find yourself to be one against the "old guard". That would pretty much prevent true effectiveness, wouldn't it?
    Another thought, not related to the above. If you get in and can have your way, how about organizing a true US Open? Like starting the competition on a county level, where the winners would compete on a state level, the winners of those would go to an interstate championship and finally the last 8,16,32, however-many, would play for the final championship. Wouldn't that be the optimal way to find new potential Bobby Fischers?

    Say, the 50 states would send 50 players into the "final", 14 spots would be held for the already highly rated players who wouldn't have to go through the county and state level matches, but would have to play among each other for the 14 spots. That would make 64 altogether, and there you go, down to 32,16,8,4,2 and finally the true US Champion. The selected 14 wouldn't have to play each other at the 64 level.


  • At Wednesday, January 17, 2007 10:33:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm totally disgusted with the USCF Forums right now. I'd like to see the candidates discuss issues in a civilized manner, but no matter how worthy the issue it seems to degenerate into a cat fight between various candidates' forum supporters. I'm even getting tired of the constant harping by certain individuals who feel the same as me on various issues. The constant sniping by the various factions detract from the original post. Talk about going off topic!

    I've been a member of USCF since 1972, and have been involved in the political process since 1976 when I attended my first Deelgates meeting as the delegate from Vermont. Over the years I have attended meetings and been a voting member in the pre-OMOV days. What I recall about those campaigns was the non-stop barrage of letters from the various candidates, and their various supporters. There were times I'd have about 5 letters arrive on one day with attacks and counter attacks against different candidates.

    I was hoping with OMOV that type of campaigning would stop since most candidates couldn't afford to be doing lots of 30,000+ piece mailings. Unfortunately the internet makes it too easy to get the same type of nasty messages out to a large audience.

    I look forward to seeing some sort of control in the USCF forums. I do feel it's important for all the candidates to participate in discussion there. I just wish it could be more like a debate without all the junk.

    Polly Wright
    USCF Life Member

  • At Wednesday, January 17, 2007 11:18:00 AM, Blogger SusanPolgar said…

    Dear Polly,

    I agree with you. I am sick and tired of it too. That is why I am running in this election. The USCF cannot continue like this. People like you and I love chess and we do not care for this kind of nonsense. That is also why I also created this forum for people to discuss important issues in a productive, professional and civilized manner.

    Best wishes,
    Susan Polgar

  • At Thursday, January 18, 2007 1:18:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Be careful accepting advice on politics from people from Illinois it might get you into trouble:)

    For many years now the American public has found itself under siege by a national leadership which has chosen to embrace the politics of person destruction. We are all bombarded not with what good can be done, but instead with wild allegations of wrong doings and corruption. The American people are weary of this and yearn for their voices to be heard and at long last it seems that the junior Senator from Illinois has heard this plea and strives to take things to higher ground. The question only remains, are the more cynical voices of the world correct? Is this the way we are as a people?

    When one casts an eye upon the chess world, it is not the romantic visions of this noble game that calls out to the unknowing soul, but instead the torturous grasp of ignoble politicians consumed by the pursuit of power. So much so that they have lost sight of what the game is there for, and they seem to be instead one more piece of evidence for the cynics case.

    Chess is such a wonderful game, whose beauty and artistry can rival the most eloquent phrases inspired by the muses themselves. It is through this simple yet noble game that people from all over the world have found the better angels of our nature. It for all to play and enjoy. Every man, woman, and child should be embraced, every game cherished, with none turned away. For through chess we can teach, learn, laugh, and love if we let ourselves.

    The people who play this game want to have fun. They want to find joy, and understanding. We have lost sight of this goal behind the current leadership, and though I can not bring myself to derive their efforts I must say for all concerned that it is time to change the course of this ship in a new direction. Let us instead find the place were the game itself dwells and the angels sing a chorus that causes the hart to swell with brotherhood. Let us bring an end to the politics of personal destruction and work together for the noble advancement our chess federation and the positive promotion of our game. The United States is in my opinion the great untapped natural resource of the chess world. Once unleashed it could only bring the chess world to new heights as of yet undreamed if only we can keep the words of Abraham Lincoln in mind. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break the bonds of affection. The mystic cords of memory that stretches from every hart and hearth stone to every patriot grave all over this great land with once more swell with the chorus of the union when they are again touched, as surely as they must be, by the better angels of our nature.


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