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, April 24, 2007

Very contrasting view - Status quo vs Reform

Comments by Mr. Don Schultz:

My problem is that the USCF is not the terrible organization that you apparently are depicting it. Prophecies such as advanced by critics become self-fullfilling and none of us want that. We have good employees, dedicated Board members and thousands of helpful volunteers.

I consider the USCF the best national chess federation in the world. Unlike other countries we receive no government subsidies. Chess federations in many other countries are pawns of their governments. But back to reform/status quo point. How do you propose to bring about change. look at soccer, despite its worldwide popularity that great sport is moving forward at a snail's pace in the U.S.

How do I intend to cause change? I simply don't know, but am being pro-active in searching for the right answer. For example, FIDE, as you know, has just had a major reorganization with the esttablishment of FIDE Global headed up by Bessel Kok.

Bessel is a smart leader who has had enormous success in the business world. Therefore I have asked him to meet with our Board. We set September as the time frame which is good since the new Board will be installed then. My objective is for the USCF Board to learn the value of FIDE's organization change and investigate if there are there any parts of it that the USCF can benefit by adopting. This could lead to major changes in the USCF organization structure. Good organizations must evolve with a changing marketplace or perish. And USCF will evolve.

So what specific changes will you make if your team wins the election?

This is the response by FM Paul Truong

Don, Your response is precisely what I am talking about. You are great in what you do and I am extremely successful in what I do. It is always better if we focus on what we know best.

I did not say that the USCF is a terrible organization. I said that the USCF has many flaws in its structure and it is an inefficient organization. Any competent systems analyst can tell you this. I stand by my analysis.

You said: "How do I intend to cause change? I simply don't know, but am being pro-active in searching for the right answer. For example, FIDE, as you know, has just had a major reorganization with the establishment of FIDE Global headed up by Bessel Kok.

Bessel is a smart leader who has had enormous success in the business world. Therefore I have asked him to meet with our Board. We set September as the time frame which is good since the new Board will be installed then. My objective is for the USCF Board to learn the value of FIDE's organization change and investigate if there are there any parts of it that the USCF can benefit by adopting. "

You just admitted that you do not have the solutions. I do. You want to bring in FIDE. Why? Mr. Kok is a legend. He knows how to stage grand things. But that is not what the USCF needs. The USCF DOES NOT have the money or budget. We need to do things the grassroots way. We need to involve our local affiliates, volunteers and supporters. We need to stop gambling our money. We need to learn to take baby steps toward a sufficient, efficient and sound USCF instead. We cannot pay someone $1 million to play a match against the computer. But we can afford to utilize our existing resources more efficiently.

We need to focus on helping our teachers, coaches and volunteers so they can help our kids. We have tons of people who want to help but do not know how. We need to make sure that our kids do not drop out of chess after an event or two. We need to support and do more for college chess because this is the bridge between scholastic and adult chess. We need to do more for our military chess. We need to do more for correspondence chess. We need to partner up with ICC, WCN, FICS, etc. with Internet Chess. We can do all of this without costing us anything. We can do more with what we have by utilizing our website, CL and CL4K a lot more.

The next point you made is you invited Mr. Kok to meet the next board. This is the next problem. You do not know who will be elected to the board. Why would you set up something for the next board? I totally disagree with this. The next board should set their own course. It is up to the next board to set up the meeting with Mr. Kok if they choose to. It should not be up to you or this board. This is the long time problem with the USCF. The new board always has to undo things from the previous board. This is the status quo.

Again, I am not questioning the credentials of Mr. Kok. He is great. But his success has little relations to the USCF. It is apples and oranges. He has his event in a castle. We do our things in a Holidays Inn ball room or local YMCA. He deals with multimillion dollar projects for FIDE, an organization which pays millions for a chess match while our players play in weekend Swiss or Quads.

GM Polgar and I traveled to over 150 events in the US in the past 5+ years, from NY City to towns with 3,000 people or less. We spoke to tens and thousands of average chess players and supporters and not chess politicians. Do you think Mr. Kok would know what our local affiliates, supporters or volunteers would need more than people who are out there day in day out interacting with the actual members? FIDE and the USCF members look at chess from two different planets. I would ask GM Polgar to tell you about what she learns from all her appearances before I would ask Mr. Kok of how to save the USCF.

What would I change? For starter, the mentality of this federation! Don, there are tens and thousands of people out there who are willing, able and ready to help chess and the USCF and they are doing things on the local level. We need to do a lot more to ignite our base. We have not done anywhere close to the level that we should.

Next, I would sit down and go over each of our annual major chess events and activities to find out what we are doing wrong. I constantly hear that we do not know where the money goes. This is not acceptable. With the proper data, we can pinpoint the exact problem of each event in less than 15 minutes. How can we improve if we keep on making the same mistakes year after year?

Next, I would sit down to evaluate the spending efficiency. We have more than enough revenues with what we are doing right now. The problem is we are wasting our valuable resources. Please correct me if I am wrong since I do not know the full behind the scene numbers. But from what that has been made public, the USCF spent around $100,000 last year to revamp Chess Life, the website and add a CLO editor as well as a get together in Palm Beach.

As I asked earlier, was there any open bidding for the CL and website redesign and for the position of CLO editor? Can you please show me where were the ads placed? Were they in CL or other publications? Were they on the website? How could we spend this much money without reaching out to seek the absolute best candidate?

Efficiency! Mike Nolan is fantastic in what he does. He has made the USCF so much better in so many ways. But as an analyst, the first thing I would question is are we using Mike the most efficient way? I am afraid not. This is just one of the countless things that should be reviewed. The USCF has been ruled by chess lovers with good intentions but poor executions. This has been our demise. We lost money in 9 of the past 11 years. This federation almost went under just a few short years ago. We are in the red again this year and we have no solutions in site. If I have to sum up everything in one word, it would be INEFFICIENCY!

I do not blame the employees or staff. They are not the ones who are responsible for the USCF losing money in 9 of the last 11 years and again this year. Let’s not point fingers at innocent people to deflect the real problems.

As I said, if I am elected and I cannot help the USCF become a stronger, sounder and more successful, I will never run again. Isn’t time for all of our leaders to take responsibilities for their records? Isn’t time we do the right things for the USCF instead of politics as usual?

A board member needs to understand and deal with all membership categories and not just adult or scholastic. We are quite different in how we view things and I am glad that the members will have a chance to choose. This is healthy for the USCF.

Best regards,
Paul Truong
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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Statement by Randy Bauer

I'm growing increasingly concerned about basic financial processes within our organization. I spent nearly 20 years in organizations that regularly accounted for revenues and expenditures in ways that could be validated and verified, and I have lost confidence that this is the case at present with the USCF. I am going to be at the USCF headquarters with others in the next couple of weeks, and I hope that we will start charting a course to reverse this trend.

I've been responsible for a $5 billion budget with a AA+ credit rating, and current USCF practices must be improved should we hope to have similar financial credibility. That, and only that, would be my primary focus on the Board.

That said, we do not need, and cannot afford, Board members who are reckless, who make unsupportable statements that put the USCF at financial risk. We also cannot afford Board members who distract us from the significant work that needs to be done. Above all else, we MUST elect a Board that can work together, can restore financial integrity and will require operational accountability from the staff and Board alike. I am willing to accept that scrutiny.

My June Statement:

This election should not be about the past – please carefully review the candidates and support those with the qualifications and the ability to provide leadership and hope for the future of the USCF. I’m asking for your support and your vote.

It’s time to face up to the problems created by our current lack of focus. No Executive Board member is going to constructively change things based on our current circumstances -- we cannot make progress while our leadership is divided and divisive. We must focus on electing a Board that can collectively work to improve our organization.

Lately, the Board has been distracted from the work it needs to do. Important discussions and decisions have been sidetracked by internal dissension. We can no longer afford this politics as usual -- we need a change.

Change has to start with the people we elect. We must elect Board members who are honest, effective and accountable.

We must also elect a Board that can function as a team: I’m proud to say that I have worked productively with many of the members of the Executive Board and those running for the Board. For example, I worked with Bill Goichberg on the original draft of the bylaws revision to implement the One Member One Vote (OMOV) proposal. I worked with Joel Channing to secure a favorable construction loan and mortgage for our Crossville headquarters. Over the years, I’ve supported Susan Polgar’s efforts to increase chess activity and publicity. These are the sorts of individuals who can make a positive contribution to the USCF and deserve our support – support I am ready and able to provide.

I’ve spent much of my professional career leading teams dedicated to improving finances and services for large, complex organizations. These have included balancing a $5 billion state budget without raising taxes, creating strategies that improve results and reporting, and supporting award-winning initiatives that cut bureaucracy and create innovative change. We can do the same for the USCF.

Two years ago, I was elected to a one-year term on the Executive Board. I am proud that during that year we balanced the budget (only the second time in nine years). We also voted to move the USCF office and successfully implemented that change. While I didn’t originally support the vote to move, I did everything I could to make it successful, and it was implemented without negatively impacting member services.

That is the focus I will bring to the Board: I will approach each issue on its merits – as an independent voice. However, once the Board has decided, I will work with all members to successfully implement those policies. Together, we can make a difference. I ask for your vote for constructive, positive change.

Randy Bauer
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Friday, April 13, 2007

A very important question

mnibb wrote:

Would any candidates care to post or repost what they consider to be the 3 most important things they would like to achieve for the USCF and how they would attempt to achieve them? I'm pretty sure we have seen some of this and if you don't want to post again, that’s fine. Just an opportunity to keep your ideas fresh in your minds and ours.

Here is the answer from Paul Truong:

1. Fiscally Responsible, Sound and Balanced Budget as well as Effective Spending: It is ridiculous that the USCF keeps on losing money. This is not acceptable. We need results, not excuses. I have proven that we do not need to overspend to achieve results. We just need to pay attention to the details and be willing to self evaluate what works and what does not work and improve things immediately. The current system simply does not work. The left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. We need to stop wasteful spending. We cannot continue the tax and spend strategy. We need to be much more conservative with our budget and money.

2. Effective Marketing, PR and Promotion: This will potentially help increase memberships, revenues and sponsorships. It does not make sense to keep on fighting about a dollar here and there while there is a large untouched market out there. The big problem is not the dues. The big problem is many do not feel that they are getting their money's worth. While we do have many things to offer, how can everyone know if we don't tell them? Most people cannot even find information on the website.

3. Reach out to the Local Affiliates, State Chapters and Volunteer Base to create and maintain a strong support and relationship with membership groups such as adult, scholastic, collegiate, correspondence, military and internet chess. We are not utilizing and doing enough to maximize our support groups. Many want and can help. All these membership groups will affect each other in the future.

For example: Scholastic --> Youth --> College --> Adult {correspondence or military and many are interested in email or Internet chess regardless of the age, etc.) We need to partner up with others such as ICC, FICS, WCN, ChessGames, ChessMail, and PlayChess, etc. We can do non-exclusive co-promotional agreements which will not cost us a penny but will bring us incredible results. This way, the drop off rate will be minimized and the revenues will increase.

And in all three of the areas above, the board MUST MUST MUST conduct themselves with respectability, integrity, credibility and professionalism.
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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Important Election Question

I was asked this question in January 2007. It was published in my January 2007 column.

Why did you decide to run in the next USCF Executive Board election?

I love chess and I cannot stand by while US Chess and the USCF suffer from the unprofessional conduct of some of its officers. We have to do better and gain back lost sponsors and supporters. Drastic changes are in order for this federation to move in the right direction.

With four open seats, the future of the USCF depends on the upcoming Executive Board election. The USCF is one of the most important chess organizations in the United States. It is supposed to be a role model for other groups. For positive change to happen, the members must vote in the most qualified candidates with the highest level of professionalism.

We need strong leadership to rally the entire membership. That is why I decided to run and that is also why I asked some of the most qualified people to help. I cannot do it alone. It takes a team of people in order to be successful.I searched for people with specific talents and a passion for chess, who have the integrity, professionalism, and experience to do what is right for US Chess and the USCF.

Paul Truong: He is a very unique individual, with an incredibly inspiring life story. His ethics, integrity and passion for chess is second to none. He is also one of the most knowledgeable people in chess marketing and PR. Paul has been the mastermind behind many of the incredible projects for the Susan Polgar Foundation and he is my most trusted advisor. Without proper and professional marketing and PR, chess will go nowhere and no sponsorship will come. He will be instrumental in restoring the good reputation of the USCF in order to increase revenues through additional memberships, sponsorships and advertising, etc.

Dr. Mikhail Korenman: He is well-respected by many and he has certainly proven himself in many areas. He was the mastermind behind the Chess for Peace project and is a member of the USCF Scholastic Council. He has the experience, talent and passion to help the USCF. We need strong cooperation between adult, college and scholastic chess, and Dr. Korenman has the perfect personality and demeanor to succeed in this area.

NM Randy Bauer: He has been actively involved as a chess player, coach, director, writer, editor, and elected state and national representative for over thirty years. He is a life member of the USCF, a national master, former Iowa state champion and Minnesota junior, junior high and senior high champion. As a competitor, he has won over thirty Grand Prix tournaments. Randy has over twenty years professional experience in budget and finance, including nearly seven years as budget director for the State of Iowa. During that time, the State received multiple national awards for innovation and excellence in its budget processes and financial reporting.

As I mentioned last month, the new candidates must be able to:

* Restore the respectability and credibility of the USCF.
* Restore a balanced budget.
* Restore the strong cooperation between adult, collegiate, youth and scholastic chess. The USCF needs to support and promote all its membership categories.
* Recognize that the USCF is in need of Professional Marketing.

It is up to us to take back control of the USCF. The members have the power to elect the best people to fix the problems.
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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Final Chess Life Statement by Paul Truong

Dear friends and colleagues,

What has happened to the USCF in recent years? Well, it has not been good at all! There was little sense of pride. There was little sense of financial responsibility. There was little sense of professionalism. There was little sense of urgency. There was little attempt to positively promote chess or the USCF.

However, there were plenty of internal political wars. There were plenty of horrific business and financial blunders. There was plenty of frivolous spending. There was plenty of dishonesty and unprofessionalism. There were plenty of unethical conducts. There were plenty of violations of the Standards of Conduct for the USCF Executive Board.

Some believe that if it ain’t broken, why fix it? I would say something is broken when we keep on losing money and sponsors. The USCF lost money again last year! There’s hardly any room left for errors. As each day went by, this federation fell further behind. With massive overheads, shrinking revenues and lack of strong leadership, we’re doomed to fail again.

Every year is a new excuse. Every year is a new finger-pointing game. This federation wasted so much time, money and resources dealing with nonsense by chess politicians instead of focusing on improving many needed areas. If we keep on electing the same people, how can we expect different results?

What are some of my many areas of expertise? What can I bring to the USCF? I have twenty years of leadership experience in senior management, marketing and PR, specializing in branding, customer retention, and innovative promotion, areas that the USCF sorely needs immediately.

While others were busy playing politics, I spent the last 5+ years volunteering my full time to positively promote chess in the US. I was able to secure more publicity and media coverage for all the events that I was involved with than the entire USCF. I helped create countless headline news chess events.

The Susan Polgar Foundation awarded approximately $400,000 in scholarships and chess prizes in the last few years. It was done with a micro budget. I proved that we do not have to spend tens and thousands of dollars to positively and correctly promote chess. We just need to know how to do it and have the passion and diligence to follow through. I can help do the same for the USCF.

In electing me, you’re choosing a uniquely qualified and highly successful business professional with a passion for chess, who will relentlessly restore credibility, integrity, efficiency and professionalism to the USCF. I'll work diligently with other board members to achieve sound and balanced budgets, create innovative and effective marketing programs, increase revenues, promote memberships in all categories and build a positive chess image.

This is an absolutely critical election for the USCF. This federation cannot afford to fail again. You, the members, have the power to set this federation on the right course for the next 4 years! Together, we can fix the USCF! Thank you for your support!
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Monday, April 02, 2007

My June Election Statement

The current state of our federation is not healthy! The USCF lost money again! Many sponsors do not want to deal with us. Many supporters are tired of our internal political destruction. Some board members have repeatedly violated the code of ethics, standards of conduct, as well as the members’ trust. There is no end to this destruction in sight unless we demand big positive changes by putting the most capable people in place.

I would like to rebuild the USCF into a strong, successful and respectable organization. This is why I decided to run in this election. Here are some of the past major problems that need to be corrected in order for the USCF to prosper:

• Too many bad financial and business decisions
• Too many decisions made for political reasons instead of the best interests of US chess and the USCF
• Too much frivolous spending without long-term vision
• Too little effort to raise much-needed revenues to ensure the good health of this federation
• Too little focus on positive chess marketing and promotion
• Too little focus on many membership categories such as adult, scholastic, collegiate, correspondence, and military chess
• Too little effort to retain our memberships, especially the scholastic members
• Too little integrity, honesty, credibility and professionalism by some board members
• Too little accountability of our board members
• Too little respect for our members, affiliates, partners, supporters and sponsors
• Too little willingness to keep the USCF up with the times

Here are some of my areas of focus for the USCF if I’m elected:

• Restore respectability, integrity, credibility and professionalism to the USCF
• Reestablish a sound and balanced budget
• Develop strong cooperation and support for adult, scholastic, collegiate, correspondence, military and internet chess
• Establish a strong professional marketing and PR system
• End the petty and destructive politics

I highly recommend three other candidates who can work with me to help turn the USCF into a strong and viable organization:

• Paul Truong: He’s by far the most successful person in chess marketing, promotion, public relations, and management. Paul can bring something to this federation that no one could in the past. We badly need his expertise.

• Mikhail Korenman: He has a strong record in promoting and organizing chess events. He’s a member of the USCF Scholastic Council. He’s well respected by many people, including former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev and many others.

• Randy Bauer: He has had tremendous success as the budget director of the state of Iowa, dealing with a multibillion dollar budget. We need his financial expertise.

I cannot fix the USCF alone. Please join Paul, Mikhail, Randy and me in this mission to reform the USCF. The future of the USCF is in our hands. We cannot continue the status quo. It is not working. It is sinking this federation. I will continue to discuss many more important issues in detail at

Thanks for your support!
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