Blackstone was born in 1944. He learned to play chess at the age of 9. He was a master by age 19. Blackstone won both the California Open Championship and the California Junior Championship at the age of 20. In 1964, Blackstone was the most active player and played more rated games than any other chess player in the United States. (Sam Sloan was second most active player that year).
Blackstone has been relatively inactive in recent years, although he still holds a master's rating. He works as a computer programmer. He recently moved to Las Vegas.
Although in the present hostile political climate the emergence of any candidate is welcome, some hard questions have to be asked to find out whether Blackstone is a serious candidate.
1. Blackstone has no experience in chess politics. This is not a negative and indeed is a plus. However, more importantly, Blackstone has never expressed any interest in even following chess politics or chess related issues. Is Blackstone prepared to get involved and does he really understand what he is getting into?
2. If Blackstone is elected in August, he will be taking the place of Robert Ferguson on the Policy Board. Ferguson, like all board members other than treasurer and secretary, cannot succeed himself. Ferguson is the representative of the scholastic coalition. Scholastic members constitute more than 50% of all dues paying USCF members. (Not counting life members). The kids by right should have several representatives on the policy board, not just one. Is Blackstone a suitable choice to replace Ferguson?
3. Most importantly, Blackstone has been put into the race by Stan Vaughn. Although Vaughn is an enthusiastic promoter of scholastic chess, his name has been associated with numerous scandals, including the manipulations of ratings of kids. The USCF has spent $15,000 so far this year on legal fees pertaining to challenges mounted by Stan Vaughn. This was the subject of a recent article in Chess Life.
Stan Vaughn has formed his own American Chess Federation, Inc., which intends to compete against the United States Chess Federation. It was this organization which mailed out the announcement that Blackstone is a candidate.
John Blackstone will have to explain whether he is merely a front man for Stan Vaughn (in which case he has no chance of being elected). If Blackstone wants to be taken seriously as a candidate, he will either have to distance himself from Stan Vaughn or better yet Stan Vaughn will have to explain away the numerous charges which have been brought against him.
Here is one of my early games against John Blackstone. Although not a great game, this came from one of the most important tournaments in my chess career, because in this tournament in which I defeated several experts, I shot from Class B to Expert strength in just one tournament. I mentioned this tournament in my campaign literature because at the conclusion of the tournament, 14-year-old George Kane was paid $17 to dump a game to Vitaley Radaikin so that Roy Hoppe instead of me would get into the finals of the California State Championship on tie-breaks.
[Event "Northern California Qualifier"]
[Site "Hamilton AFB Cal. (USA)"]
[White "Blackstone John"]
[Black "Sloan Sam"]
1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. Bb5+ Bd7 4. Bc4 Bg4 5. f3 Bf5 6. Nc3 Nbd7 7. d3 Nb6 8. Bb5+ Bd7 9. Bc4 Bf5 10. Bf4 Nbxd5 11. Nxd5 Nxd5 12. Bxd5 Qxd5 13. Bxc7 Rc8 14. Bg3 e6 15. Ne2 Be7 16. Qd2 O-O 17. O-O Qc5+ 18. Bf2 Qxc2 19. Qxc2 Rxc2 20. Nd4 Rxb2 21. Nxf5 exf5 22. Bxa7 Ra8 23. Bd4 Rbxa2 24. Rxa2 Rxa2 25. Rb1 Ra4 26. Rxb7 1/2-1/2
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