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©

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The pattern of the USCF

Another thing I would like to add is if Bill Goichberg wants to spend thousands of dollars for a private lawyer to go after his political opponents, he should pay for it from his own pocket or from CCA, not the pockets of the USCF and USCF members.

The USCF used to organize and run the prestigious US and US Women's Championships. How is it that the USCF still continue to lose money when the AF4C and Mr. Frank K. Berry took over the US Championships for the past number of years?

Where does the money which we saved from the annual championships go? Who is responsible for the massive losses? I want to know the answer and I am sure so do many USCF members. This is why the board is not interested in my idea of creating a "quality control" system to pinpoint the problems. It is much easier to cover up bad decisions, corruption and dirty politics without it.

I asked for a full investigation of leaks of confidential and legal information to Jerry Hanken, Sam Sloan and other USCF insiders. This is a very serious issue because the info is then being used to harm their opponents personally and professionally. This is the same pattern described by GM Lev Alburt, GM Larry Evans and many others over the years.

I also asked for a full investigation of blatant violations of the NDAs. Everything can be proven by opening up the confidential binfo but the board refused while the wrong doers are being protected by some members of the board majority. The board majority refused to investigate or go after their own people. They continued to protect the wrongdoers because the outcome would clearly implicate their own wrong doings because the leaks CLEARLY came from them.

Instead of working to help or fix the many problems of the USCF, they choose to play dirty chess politics. Now they are asking for donations to help the US Olympiad teams. Why? The answer is because money for this and other important areas was frivolously spent elsewhere for political reasons and personal agenda.

Until the board majority apologize and end this pattern of unethical and illegal conduct, I will continue to speak out to ALL USCF members and let them know what these people are doing. If they continue down this path, there will no longer be a USCF. More and more people will continue to walk away from the USCF in disgust.

Our assets and revenues are shrinking. We already cut 8 pages of Chess Life. The federation will probably lose more than $100,000 this year. How far will this continue? The USCF simply cannot survive unless drastic changes are made to fix and improve this federation.

Welcome to the "real" USCF!

Best wishes,
Susan Polgar
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Friday, June 27, 2008

What board members do behind the scene

This was a post I made about the state of the USCF:

I believe the legal fees so far is $35,000 not counting representation provided by the insurance company. This is not counting additional legal fees (and potential financial damages) for 2-3 other serious legal matters which USCF board members publicly challenged the other side to: "put up or shut up" and "go ahead and sue". How professional!

In a few months, the USCF has to put up $35,000 minimum for the Olympiad. If Mr. Frank K. Berry does not sponsor the US and US Women's Championship in 2009, the USCF would have to come up with the money for that as well.

I am very busy now but I will post a few items (of dozens and dozens) of leaks by the board to Jerry Hanken (now that I have a written consent by the other side) and others as soon as I have a chance. Then all USCF members will see the pattern of conduct by the board majority.

This is just a sample:

The board knows full well that I have been promoting and sponsoring military chess for over 2 years. I am in constant contact with many people in military chess. In fact, I was asked by members of the military chess committee to be their liaison and no other board member is involved in military chess at all since Mr. Channing step down.

A few weeks ago, Bill Goichberg brought up the issue about finding a new liaison to the military chess committee. I said I would be happy to do it because I am currently working with them anyway while no one else really cares about it. This should be a no brainer.

Unfortunately, it is not as simple as it seems. This is what took place behind the scene. The item below will show the conduct of Bill Goichberg and other board members (this was copied / sent / forwarded to other USCF insiders and it floated around and even landed on one of the public forums and finally it got back to me). There was no discussion or debate, just an under the table deal instigated by the President himself:

"What should we do about military liaison? ...I see no evidence that she has done any work for USCF as a board member; she seems motivated entirely by self interest....

...Probably just as well, as if she did speak to him it's not likely she would have been working in the interests of USCF.

...I wish we could remove her as Scholastic liaison, but don't know who could replace her. At least, one of you should become military liaison. If you could discuss this with each other and one of you make a motion that the other be the liaison, that would be very good."

The next day, Randy Hough made a motion to have Jim Berry take over the military chess liaison just as stated / suggested by Bill Goichberg. Then Jim Berry accepted the nomination and others voted yes immediately. I have no problem if Jim Berry takes over this committee. He is a veteran and he is loves chess. I would be happy if he wants to help military chess.

The problem is how it was done behind the scene. This was the same way how things work for the Presidency back in last August. There was no discussion. There was no thinking about the best interest of chess, USCF members, or the USCF. Instead of doing what is good for our members, one person wanted to fulfill he personal dream and he convinced his friends to go along with it. How much money has the USCF lost since last August?

I wonder how Mr. Goichberg will justify his conduct and behavior. I personally asked him to step down from subcommittees or recuse himself due to conflict of interest. He refused. Perhaps he would like to publicly deny this the same way his friend Jerry Hanken did of wrong doing knowing that the evidence is there and I can prove it. Tons of it are located within the confidential binfo which the board wants to hide it from all the members. They do not want the members to know the truth. I would challenge Mr. Goichberg and the board majority to open everything up for all USCF members to see. But of course there is no chance they would accept.

I also wonder how Mr. Goichberg will explain to 84,000 members about other unethical behind the scene / under the table conduct and agreements to get what he wants. I said that I would run for the board to clean up the dirty and destructive politics. I will not back off to these people. They have gone too far to harm me and my family on many levels and everything will come out.

I asked for have peace and harmony among board members for the best interest of the USCF. Of course the other side would reject that. It is not enough that Mr. Goichberg got his life long dream of becoming the USCF President. He wants more. He wants others who oppose him out of the USCF.

If Bill Goichberg truly believes that I have done nothing for chess or the USCF and all I want to do is to promote myself then back it up. I would challenge Bill Goichberg to have a poll on the USCF website so ALL 84,000 USCF members can vote to see which board member has done the most to benefit chess in this country. I offered to help many times but the USCF is basically a one man show to control the federation. Even when the USCF is losing over $100,000 and desperately needs help, my offer was rejected. The idea is to block others to maintain power.

For something as silly as a committee liaison, board members behave like this behind the scene. What would they do with issues far more important, including serious legal issues? This is the same pattern as countless other issues.

As I said, dozens and dozens of confidential and legal documents and info were leaked out to Jerry Hanken and other USCF insiders the same way. Then these people go out and use this confidential info to attack and harm people who are against them. I told Mr. Goichberg and other board members that I know what took place and I have full proof to present in court.

My lawyer asked for three things to save the USCF from further legal problems for what they have done to me on a personal and professionally level. The other side basically insulted my lawyer and told me to go ahead and sue. Welcome to the USCF. More will come out soon.

Best wishes,
Susan Polgar
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Monday, June 23, 2008

Something is just the same

The part below was written by GM Larry Evans about an interview with GM Lev Alburt, one of the nicest GMs you can ever meet. GM Alburt ran for the board and won many years ago. He wanted to help the USCF. He told me it was the biggest mistake of his life and he would never do it again. GM Alburt and many others collaborated with what I said. This is not the USCF Executive Board. This is a small group of people doing unethical things under the table to harm anyone who stands in their way to protect the status quo. This is why so many supporters, members, and sponsors have walked away from the USCF.

With the written consent by Jerry Hanken, I will soon publish some of the facts regarding confidential information that some of the current board members leaked to him. I told the board numerous times that I have the absolute proof that they leaked the confidential information to Jerry Hanken to publicly attack and harm me and my family. I am confident that I can prove this in court. They also leaked information to other USCF insiders.

I sent numerous emails to the board about this issue. I told the board that I know for a fact that board members forwarded confidential information from me to the board and their attorney, my attorney's letter to the EB and ED, their lawyer's response, and much more to Jerry Hanken and others. The way it works is some board members forward the confidential info to him and he then forwarded to other USCF insiders. The problem is he does not remember who he forwarded the info to and cannot control what others will do with that information.

This is the pattern of conduct by some of the chess politicians for the last 30-40-50 years. When I brought this up, they basically laughed at my face and took what I said as a joke, including the letter from one of my attorneys. Instead of apologizing for what they have done, the USCF President and other board members challenged me to take them and the USCF to court because they do not believe that I can prove their misconduct. Some even insulted me.

They rather spend tens and thousands of dollars of members' money and perhaps even into the hundreds of thousands to defend in court something which they are caught red handed instead of apologizing and stopping this kind of unethical behavior.


ALBURT: I felt a great temptation to be more conciliatory. You see, after all, they are not evil people. Personally many of them are very nice. When you’re in the same room and spend a lot of time together, exchange jokes and try to solve problems, you develop a sort of camaraderie. It’s natural. But I had to remind myself that although we were friendly, the things they were doing in secret were plainly wrong. The system which existed, a system of secrecy, could be easily abused. It certainly invited corruption.

EVANS: Board member Harry Sabine said all that the reformers would accomplish by trying to open things up is to force the board into doing more things behind closed doors.

ALBURT: Okay. It just shows their type of mentality. A siege mentality.

EVANS: I was under the impression that the board only had the right to go into closed session to discuss things like sealed bids or legal and personnel matters.

ALBURT: They do many other things that should be discussed openly. For instance, they went into closed session to discuss candidates to replace Don Schultz as FIDE delegate. They argued it was necessary because otherwise they could not say nasty things about other candidates in public, like so-and-so is a drunk. My position was that if someone wanted to say something derogatory, they could stop briefly to go into closed session.

EVANS: But doesn’t much of this information get out anyway?

ALBURT: Of course. They leak information all the time to their friends. For instance, when executive director Gerard Dullea was given authority to fire Larry Parr as editor in closed session, it was supposed to be a deep dark secret. But when I came out of the meeting I was met by Jerry Hanken who told me how sorry he was, that if only he had been elected instead of Sabine such a dreadful thing never would have happened. Probably some board member broke the news to him on the way to the bathroom.

EVANS: Why should there be such a need to classify information? Chess is not the Pentagon.

ALBURT: The board is playing with its power. I can hardly ever recall when any justification was given for going into closed session. Often they just wanted to bad-mouth people not being considered for jobs. Especially people who were my friends, but even some I didn’t know. When I challenged them and asked for proof, they said they were merely speaking their piece and giving their opinion.

EVANS: But, Lev, you say these are decent people. Decent people don’t do these things.

ALBURT: I agree. But people are not all black and white. I think the problem is they created an artificial environment. It creates a bankrupt mentality. It creates a sense of belonging to an exclusive club. They feel they can do almost anything, and that others are beneath them—even grandmasters.

But when Ed Labate sued them, they immediately retreated. So what I am saying is that they are not evil people, they are not bad people. But the system is so bad that even normal people are encouraged to act wrongly.

THIS CRAZY WORLD OF CHESS (page 132) by GM Larry Evans
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Sunday, June 08, 2008

More unprofessional response


You can make all the claims you want about me and my supposed "untruths" but your son. You and I have had this discussion about what actually happened at the US Amatuer Team East, and you know for a fact it is true. You are an attorney - put up or shut up.

Randy Bauer
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Mr. Russell's last response

Here is the final response by Mr. Hanon Russell:


I appreciate your taking the time to reply. First, let me note that although a number of people have reacted to my initial message (and certainly more may in the following days and weeks), I have neither the time nor inclination (with one exception) to respond to each email and I will not do so. No one should mistake my choosing not to respond to any point that may have been raised as an admission, acceptance, waiver or anything else on my part. I shall deal with the one exception later in this message.

You raise an apparently valid point about the arrangement with the House of Staunton, to wit, it appears that we were offered the same "arrangement" and turned it down. Well, this is not exactly what happened, and the differences are critical and the reason why I have turned the matter over to our attorney.

I had been approached several years ago by Bill Hall to include some USCF Sales material in the mailings that the USCF made to new members. It was recognized then, as now, that the new member group did indeed purchase equipment, books and the like at a significantly higher rate than would normally be expected. I was offered the opportunity to have the back side of the introductory letter/card feature some products in return for splitting the cost of the printing. My recollection is that the cost to USCF Sales was a little less than $4,000 at the time. We elected to try it. It was not successful.

When the initial printing had been used up, Bill Hall contacted me and asked if I was ready to do it again. I declined, citing the minimal return for the dollars spent. He understood and that is the last I heard of it until Lev Alburt contacted me. He wanted to promote his books and asked what my position was. I told him I had no objection so long as USCF Sales was able to make the sales. Lev agreed and the flyer that was reviewed by the USCF and me and included in the new-member mailing specifically referenced USCF Sales - its address, toll-free 800 number, catalog numbers. Everything.

Apparently still seeking sponsors for the new-member mailing, the House of Staunton was contacted. I say "apparently" because I did not find out about the arrangement between the USCF and the House of Staunton until the beginning of April 2008. It is not insignificant that in stark contrast to the Alburt flyer, neither the USCF nor the House of Staunton ever informed me about what was going on. Not once, in spite of multiple contacts with both concerns. My understanding is that I did not find out about this arrangement for almost a year.

When I did discover what was taking place, I immediately confronted Bill Hall. His response was (1) USCF Sales had declined to be involved in this project and so the USCF was free to bring another firm into the arrangement; and (2) there really was no difference between what was going on with the House of Staunton and advertising by other companies in Chess Life. As far as the first point is concerned, had it been done properly, like the Alburt flyer, I would not only have had no objection, I would have welcomed it. However, it is difficult based on how this arrangement was carried out by both sides for me to believe that in fact everyone understood what was being done and what should and should not be disclosed.

In fact, USCF Sales has always offered chess sets from the House of Staunton. We would have been pleased to have the House of Staunton promote its products in the same manner as Alburt was promoting his books - by including a flyer promoting the sets and directing them to USCF Sales for purchase. Instead, the HOS material included (a full color flyer and a second "coupon" offering 10% off) had no mention of USCF Sales and encouraged the recipient to contact HOS directly. Sales by USCF Sales of HOS sets that may have been made as a result of this mailing were lost; we made none.

To take the position that a select, targeted mailing to a group known to spend a lot more easily in the first few months of a new membership is no different than advertising in Chess Life reflects either a complete unfamiliarity with marketing and sales or disingenuous spin. Or both. For God's sake, a new member is receiving the first contact from the U.S. Chess Federation and in it are flyers encouraging the member to buy fine chess sets, (the "official" USCF sets I believe is a term used more than once in the paperwork) directly from a vendor other than USCF Sales. Remember USCF Sales? We send you 12% off the top of every purchase. Even when we sell a HOS chess set. 12%. I am sorry if you cannot differentiate this from a paid ad in Chess Life. I see the difference very clearly. So do our attorneys.

Now for the "exception" to which I referred. A member of the Executive Board, Mr. Bauer, chose to respond to my initial message. You along with everyone else on the list received his message. I had put forth what I had thought was a legitimate concern, constructively questioning decisions I saw as bad for the USCF and bad for USCF Sales. Instead of replying in similar fashion, he chose to create untruths out of whole cloth, fashioning a personal attack against me and my son. One wonders what color the sky is in his world. Mr. Bauer's reputation for conducting himself in this disgraceful manner should not have come as a surprise to me, and I already know from private messages that it was not a surprise to others who saw what he wrote. However, that does not change the fact that these comments are beneath contempt.

Bill, I respect your different views on these matters but must also assert that I strongly disagree. As the HOS matter is currently being handled by our attorneys, and the Chess Life matter may soon be, I regret that I will not be responding any further to your or anyone else's remarks. Not even when Mr. Bauer again launches personal attacks...


Hanon W. Russell
Toll-free (orders only please) 1-800-388-5464 (KING)
General Offices: 203-783-9866
Fax: 203-783-9673
234 Depot Road
P.O. Box 5460
Milford, CT 06460 USA
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My response to Mr. Russell

This was what I responded to Mr. (Hanon) Russell:


I do not know about other board members but Paul and I were not told about the House of Staunton deal. We first heard about the (legal) problems at the latest board meeting.

Susan Polgar

I have to add that this is not the first time where important matters were hidden from other board members, at least to Paul and me, until serious problems occurred. There were instances in the past where the current USCF President and the current the USCF Executive Director made decisions in various critical matters without disclosing them to the other board members. Significant decisions which involve legal matters were made without the knowledge of anyone else. Some of these decisions have created serious legal problems for this federation, and money is being unnecessarily wasted.
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Unprofessional response by the USCF


As one who maintains a popular Internet website, I am surprised that you would suggest that the only viable method for maintaining a close connection with USCF members would be through a print magazine. The proposal suggested by Bill Goichberg would provide all the Chess Life content to all members - it would only vary the way they received it. As one who has printed lots of content from online Chess websites (including your own), I fail to see how this would lead to the negative consequences you claim.

As for your odd decision to mix a business issue with a USCF governance issue - needless to say, the USCF did not enter into an exclusive marketing agreement with you when you took over the books and equipment business. We accept advertising from lots of books and equipment vendors in Chess Life and elsewhere. That has been the case before and during the entirety of your contract.

Your wish to only view our relationship as a partnership is specious, given your past willingness to withhold funds that were rightly owed to the USCF to renegotiate a contact you freely entered. As for your legal threats, all I can say is so be it. It would make a great story in court. Maybe you can get the contract history excluded, but juries eat that stuff up. I would also love to tell the story in court about your ..... (I removed this because I feel that the text is quite unprofessional and completely inappropriate).

Sometimes it is not better to start airing your laundry in public.

Randy Bauer
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More USCF legal problems

Bill (Goichberg):

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 reasons.

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 to achieve.

It will also reinforce the perception, real or otherwise, that the weakened financial position of the USCF is only getting worse. This will hardly be a situation that will encourage more people to join or renew.

There are several ways to deal with declining revenues. Attempts may be made to cut expenses, increase revenues, or seek somehow to combine the two. It seems to me that the emphasis should be on increasing memberships, and therefore revenues. The real problem facing the USCF is that memberships are either declining or at best, remaining stagnant.

The decline or stagnation of core memberships should be the real concern, for regardless of any steps taken to cut expenses, such measures are bound to fail if the number of members continues to decline.

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 relating to a secret arrangement with the House of Staunton. For over a year, the USCF was paid by the House of Staunton to include promotional material to new members, including but not necessarily limited to discount coupons, which promoted and directed new members to patronize the House of Staunton.

Considering that the group of new members has historically and demographically been the highest spending group per capita for retail sales, this clandestine arrangement was particularly appalling. This strategy was short sighted, seeking quick gains in ad revenues and overlooking potential deep losses in sales revenues. This purchasing pattern of new members was known, or should have been known by the USCF when entering into this arrangement with the USCF, and it almost certainly was known by the House of Staunton.

When a letter from our attorney demanded that this cease and desist, not only did it continue (and my information is that it continues to this day), we did not even get the courtesy of a response. Nothing at all. Be advised that matter is still very much active, pending the results of legal research that is still ongoing.

Now it appears that one of the significant vehicles for USCF Sales to promote and market books and equipment is being reduced, perhaps even eventually eliminated. There seems to be no regard or even realization that this may have the effect of rendering the USCF brand worthless as USCF Sales tries to promote retail sales on behalf of the federation. USCF Sales relies on the ability to reach members with catalogs that are bound into Chess Life as well as monthly advertisements in Chess Life. Equally discouraging is the USCF's inability to understand and appreciate the value of Chess Life to the chess community.

To my knowledge, there is no member of the board, or any officer, who has any meaningful retail sales experience or marketing skills. Yet the board appears to take steps – intentionally or unintentionally, it hardly matters which – to undercut the efforts of USCF Sales to sell, promote and market on behalf of the USCF, while of course it simultaneously deplores the decreasing revenue sales generated and assumes that these actions should have no bearing on minimum guarantees or other indicia of performance. In fact, these actions have the effect of gutting some of the core provisions of an agreement that is already is under pressure.

As the discussions about what to do with Chess Life and memberships continue, I felt I should weigh in on the matter. It is distressing that after more than four years of handling the retail sales for the USCF the relationship seems more adversarial than one of partnership. I understand that there will be those who will genuinely disagree and there will be those who will want to simply "circle the wagons," rejecting any contrary views as they promote a personal agenda.

I am reminded of the one-liner that a camel is really a horse designed by committee. I fear the same is going on here with the redesign and restructure of the USCF, albeit by those who may mean well. 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. Focus on reversing membership trends. I have been a member of the USCF for over 45 years and have actively supported it at all times. I very much want to see it continue and flourish.


Hanon W. Russell
Toll-free (orders only please) 1-800-388-5464 (KING)
General Offices: 203-783-9866
Fax: 203-783-9673
234 Depot Road
P.O. Box 5460Milford, CT 06460 USA
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