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 PolgarĀ©

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Q&A about chess and the USCF

Q: How do you feel about college chess and tournament chess?

A: I strongly believe that college chess is a critical bridge between scholastic and adult chess. If we can successfully promote college chess, we will retain many more scholastic players and transition them to adult chess. Otherwise, our USCF adult membership will continue to decline and our sport will be in big trouble.

I have mixed feelings about the various types of tournaments. Many players of all levels enjoy the competition. However, if I were an amateur player, I am not sure that I would spend up to $400 for entry fees, plus another $1,000 in expenses, to play in a tournament with very little chances of recouping the money. I prefer other types of tournaments.

I think club, local and state tournaments are just as fun and very good for chess. If I want to have the feel of big time competition by playing alongside grandmasters, I believe an event like the annual National Open in Las Vegas would be ideal. This has the feel a big Swiss event. However, the entry fees, meals and hotel costs are very reasonable and there are plenty of free side events, such as lectures and game analysis, etc. There are also tons of other fun and exciting things done by the organizers.

Chess as a sport has plenty of room to grow. But all types of chess such as scholastic, college, adult, correspondence, Internet or military chess must co-exist. Therefore, it is vital that we must find the right formula to help our sport grow.

Q: What is going on with the USCF election?

I decided to run in this election because I owe it to my sport to make things better. The USCF is in bad shape. It has been run for years as an amateur hobby organization. We have board members who micro-manage and make political policies, instead of sound business policies in the best interest of the game.It is operated very inefficiently and there is too much waste. The problem is that many board members do not have the expertise or experience that is needed. The USCF has lost millions of dollars in recent years and it has lost money in nine of the last eleven years. In any normal company, every single board member would have been dismissed long ago.

I am hoping to make serious changes to help US chess and the USCF. I have some of the most qualified people willing to help me, including my husband, who is a premier chess marketing, promotion and PR person in the United States. Several other professionals such as Dr. Mikhail Korenman (an incredible chess organizer and promoter for scholastic, college, adult and professional players) and Randy Bauer (a very experienced and successful financial person) are also willing to help.

I am willing to work with every qualified person for the best interest of chess and the USCF. I welcome the cooperation of other chess leaders. But I am not willing to compromise my personal integrity and the welfare of this federation. The best interest of chess should always come first, before personal interests and accolades.

If I win, I expect to be able to help US chess and the USCF a great deal. But I need a strong team with the right experience and expertise and that is why I recommended Mikhail (Korenman), Paul (Truong) and Randy (Bauer).

Q: What are some of the changes that you would like to see within the USCF?

a) Improve its respectability, integrity, efficiency, professionalism, image and reputation.
b) Set up a state of the art marketing, promotion and PR system to help bring in additional revenues and sponsorships.
c) Establish a sound and balanced budget to ensure the viability of the entire federation.
d) Increase the cooperation and support for adult, scholastic, collegiate, correspondence and military chess, which in turn will raise the membership level and lead to more revenue.
e) End chess politics and make every decision based on what is in the best interest of chess and the federation and not for political reasons.

Q: What is your short and long term vision for the USCF if you are elected?

This is an excellent question. There must be short and long term goals for this federation to succeed. Here are the twelve critical areas that must be improved in order for the USCF to grow and prosper.

1. Building a strong membership base via grassroots marketing, promotion and strong structural support for the local clubs, affiliates, organizers, volunteers and supporters. We need to develop a high level of mutual respect and cooperation among these groups.

2. Building a strong membership recruitment plan with excellent incentives for organizations to partner with us. There are more active players who are not members of the USCF than there are USCF members. Many of these players do not see the benefits for joining the USCF. This has to change. We must get our message out much better. We must also work with our partners to offer our members and potential members more value and greater benefit for their money.

3. Building a strong support system for scholastic, college, adult, tournament, correspondence, Internet and professional players. As we have seen over the years, adult and college chess suffers from the lack of a cohesive plan to retain scholastic players. We must also recognize that there are many more Internet players than ever before, but we cannot ignore our correspondence or professional players. It is vital to the health of this federation that we have communication and joint effort between all of these membership groups.

4. Building a strong and respectable image and reputation for the USCF. Without this, we cannot get support from the private sector or local, state, or federal government. Any of these agencies and organizations can do a background check on the USCF and this is the chief reason why we keep losing one sponsor after another. We cannot have incompetent and unprofessional people leading this federation. We need to bring in people with proper experience, expertise, energy and passion for chess along with strong records of success.

5. Building a strong, sensible and cost sensitive marketing, promotion and PR project. It does not have to cost tens of thousands of dollars to be effective. I have proven that with the Susan Polgar Foundation. It can be done if we know how. Too many people are bickering about dollars and cents while throwing away opportunities to increase revenues through sponsorships, grants and other avenues.

6. Building a sound and fiscally responsible budget with minimal waste. The savings from the inefficiency alone can fund many additional projects to help the USCF. We must build the USCF into a viable organization. This federation is not running at an optimal level right now.

7. Building a strong relationship and partnership with countless other chess organizations nationwide and worldwide. We need to unite to win. Constant political wars and infighting will only harm chess and the USCF. As a leading federation in the world of chess, we should lead by example and work with everyone to better our sport.

8. Building a strong relationship and partnership with countless volunteers and supporters to help improve many current weaknesses of this federation. There are plenty of people who are willing, ready and able to help, but they are not being utilized properly because of chess politics.

9. Building a strong relationship and partnership with kindergarten, elementary, middle and high schools, as well as colleges and universities across the country to promote chess and education. We also have to work with parents of home-schooled students, in addition to organizations that represent them.

10. Building a strong relationship and partnership with countless companies around the world to promote chess and all its benefits. They want to promote their companies, products or services and we want their sponsorship. It is a win-win situation for both sides.

11. Building a strong communication channel with all members, volunteers, supporters and sponsors, etc. We need to get our strong and positive message out to the people.

12. Building a strong business vision and plan. We need to run this federation like any successful and reputable company. All business decisions must make sense financially or help this federation in one way or another. We cannot make business decisions as a way to reward our political supporters.

We have the numbers and strength to be a competitive and viable organization. All we need is to take advantage of the opportunities and change our approach to running this federation. Instead of saying why it cannot be done, we have to be willing to sit down and figure out what it would take to make things happen for the best interest of chess and the USCF. Just as in a chess game, we must be able to maximize every single advantage and improve every weakness.

But the most important thing is to vote! Let your voice be heard! Together, we can turn around this federation and build it into a strong and viable organization!

More questions and answers can be found here.
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  • At Thursday, July 05, 2007 8:33:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    $400 entry fees are rediculous. These entrants have no chance of winning. There are too many sandbaggers to have a chance. A friend estimates you have to be able to play 400 points above the level. thus an under 1600 group requires a 2000 player to win.

    Honest players with ratings of say 1590 think they have an excellent chance of winning when in reality they will be blown out of the water by the sandbaggers.

    Of course the tournament directors like Goichberg encourage everyone to put up $400 to try for the prize.

    Then what happens is the USCF dues are cut far too low so the uscf suffers losses. How can Goichberg claim that uscf dues are too expensive when he charges $400 for one tournament. It is a rip off of the finances of the uscf to encourage more money into his pocket through the world open and other tournaments he personally makes his substantial income from. He must make well over $100,000 profit from the one tournament. All that money comes out of those huge $400 entry fees from people with no chance of winning.

  • At Saturday, July 07, 2007 3:57:00 PM, Blogger tanstaafl said…

    There's nothing wrong with $400 entry fees that market forces couldn't correct. Personally, I don't see the problem. By the time you add up plane tickets, hotel rooms, meals, taxis (or rental cars), etc., the $400 isn't really that big a part of your expenses.

    I'm not sure I believe that sandbaggers are all that prevalent, either. Of COURSE, everybody that thinks they're under-rated will try to go to the World Open. But there are lots of reasons you might be under-rated without sandbagging. Try studying and improving your game, for example.

    Where you *might* have a legitimate point, you miss it. Bill Goichberg has (for some time now) promoted USCF memberships by offering a $10 discount to those that pay $49 to extend their membership at the same time they sign up for his tournaments. Thanks to the "dues sale" that $49 membership only costs Bill $41 -- though that still leaves him losing money when he gets somebody to renew their membership. And I really don't think that was a big part of his motive for the dues sale. After all, he was giving that $10 discount for a long time BEFORE the dues sale went into effect. He'll likely continue to offer it after the dues sale is over.

    Profit isn't a dirty word. He (and his paid staff) work very hard to put on nice tournaments. They are (by far) my favorite tournaments. He doesn't make money at every single tournament, either -- I'm pretty sure he lost a good bit of money at some of the side tournaments at the World Open, for example (just on the prize fund alone, not to mention his other expenses for TDs, ratings fees, overhead, etc.).


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