CHESSDON by Don Schultz is out

CHESSDON, the much awaited book by now former USCF President Don Schultz, was released simultaneously with the expiration of his three year term of office on August 15. It is probably the first book on chess politics ever written. It can be said for certain that this book will be devoured by chess politicians, organizers and administrators around the world. It covers materials and events which are not dealt with in any other book.

Orders can be sent to CHESSDON Publishing, P.O. Box 417, Boca Raton, FL 33429-0417. The cost is $23.95 plus $3.50 for shipping and handling. You can also Order "CHESSDON" from Amazon Books. The USCF is also selling it. There are 356 pages.

I have read every word of CHESSDON, from cover to cover. I have been one of the sharpest critics of Don Schultz, and I still am. However, I strongly agree with his decision to write this book. In the years to come, I am sure that I will be citing this book again and again. Not only does the book provide much information of historical significance, but it also provides fodder for his enemies, which no doubt is one reason why he waited until the moment his term of office was finished before releasing this book.

My view of his book is very favorable. Although I disagree with many of his actions, I most definitely agree with his decision to write this book, which provides information not available anywhere else.

Although I disagree with many of the actions Don Schultz has taken over the years, I could not find even one factual error in his book. My differences with Don are in the interpretation of the events, not in the events themselves. I did find one mistake, however. On the tenth photo page, in the center of the book, there is a photo which it says was taken in Dubai in 1986. Actually, that photo was taken on the occasion of the Executive Council meeting in Abu Dhabi in 1988. I was present when that photo was taken. I could have gotten in the group photo myself, but I decided that I did not belong there.

Don Schultz became a chess organizer in the late 1950s. In 1966, he ran for president of the United States Chess Federation, but was defeated by Marshall Rohland. Over the next 30 years, he held positions in the chess organization of several states. He became the United States delegate to the World Chess Federation, FIDE, in 1983. It was in this capacity that Don Schultz became famous or infamous, depending on how one looks at it.

I started tournament chess in the mid-1950s, at about the same time that Don Schultz did. I was primarily a player and he was primarily a politician. Over the past 40 years, our paths have crossed many times. There are several events described in his book in which I was directly involved.

For example, in the section of his book dealing with the 1972 Fischer -Spassky match, on page 51 he writes: "Soviet Accusations: 'Americans can be found in the playing hall at night'."

I have told almost nobody about this, but I was one of the three Americans in the chess playing hall on that fateful night. (I will leave it to others to figure out who the other two were.)

Nobody knew that I was involved in this, because I had flown in from New York and had stayed in Iceland only three days and two nights. I had intended to stay only one night, but I was captured by an Icelandic doctor named Skuli Thoroddsen, who killed himself two weeks later, and then I was captivated by an Icelandic girl named Laufey Gu­mundsdˇttir, which compelled me to return to Iceland 12 more times.

Although I admit that I was one of the culprits, the fact is that I did not place any substance in Spassky's chair which might have had an alcoholic effect on him or would have made him more prone to blunder. Nevertheless, the Icelanders authorized a gaseous chromatograph test of the micro-impurities on both Spassky's and Fischer's chair. Eventually, they x-rayed and then disassembled both chairs and only found a dead fly. Meanwhile, I was safely in my office in New York, watching news of this saga on TV. Nobody suspected me.

Another incident in which I was directly involved concerned the awarding of 100 free rating points to every woman in the world except for Zsuzsa Polgar. Here, I am happy to say that Don Schultz finally and for the first time admits that he was wrong in doing this. He says that he was convinced of the error of his ways by Zsuzsa's book, "Queen of the King's Game", which was published in 1997. However, the pertinent part of that book dealing with the 100 free rating points was actually written by me and was published in 1987, half in New in Chess magazine and the other half in Larry Evans' column in chess Life. Of course, my words took an added dimension when included in Zsuzsa's own book.

Regarding the lawsuit by Schultz against chess columnist Larry Evans, Schultz says "It took a long time to heal the wounds caused by the Internet posting and subsequent lawsuit. Indeed, they will never be completely healed." Actually, I believe that the suit by Schultz against journalist Larry Evans has been largely forgotten, but I am sure that the Polgar family will never forget or forgive Don Schultz for what he did to Zsuzsa Polgar. It must be remembered that for years Zsuzsa had been the victim of terrible discrimination at the hands of a hard line Stalinist named Sandur Serenyi, who had spent 17 years in prison in the Soviet Union under Stalin and, when released from jail upon the death of Stalin, had been made president of the Hungarian Chess Federation. Serenyi had tried to stop Zsuzsa Polgar from reaching the top by even banishing her from chess competition and punishing her for playing without his permission. For several years, Zsuzsa was effectively prohibited from playing chess in any country of the world except for Bulgaria. When, in the face of these horrible problems, including efforts by Serenyi to put her father in jail, Zsuzsa clawed her way to the top, raising her FIDE rating from 1900 to 2495 in the space of less than four years, here comes Don Schultz who decided that every woman in the world except for Zsuzsa Polgar should be awarded 100 free rating points.

Because, during this time, Schultz so consistently took the side of hard line and acknowledged Communists such as Serenyi, Krogius and Bibuld in their efforts to crush the democratic aspirations of freedom seeking chess players around the world, I believed for a time that Schultz must be a closet Communist himself. From reading his book, I now realize that he was not an actual Communist, but that he sided with the Communists in order to advance his own chess political career.

Although as I have stated I have not found even one factual untruth in his book, there are many instances I have found where Don Schultz has omitted a fact which many readers might consider to be important. For example, on pages 198-202, he complains bitterly about the fact that in connection with the 1994 FIDE Congress in Moscow, the USCF Policy Board ordered Fan Adams, the US Delegate, to support Campomanes for re-election. Schultz says that this was illegal because it was a clear violation of FIDE's regulations and statutes, since the deadline for nominations had passed.

However, perhaps the reader would have liked to know that the reason the Policy Board had been quick to overrule Fan Adams, even though Adams was on the scene in Moscow, was that several times in the past the US delegation to FIDE led by Don Schultz had committed misdeeds which had brought disgrace and disrepute on American chess, including the 100 free rating points for every woman but Zsuzsa Polgar, the three year ban against Grandmaster Quinteros of Argentina and the "persona non grata" declaration against International Master Calvo of Spain because of a letter Calvo wrote which was published in "New in Chess" magazine. In each of these three cases, no resolution had been placed on the advance FIDE agenda. In the case of the resolution against Polgar, almost none of the delegates even knew of it until it was quickly read by Campomanes to the General Assembly, following which Campomanes said: "Objections? None? Thank you", and read the next item.

Since the USCF Policy Board was never notified in advance of the actions Don Schultz intended to take against Polgar, Quinteros and Calvo and did not learn of them until long after the meetings had concluded and the dirty deeds had been done, and since these actions offended the American way of life, they were inclined to interfere when they received a call from Garry Kasparov asking them to overrule Adams and to order him to vote for Campomanes.

As it turns out, on this one occasion, Adams and Schultz were right and the Policy Board was wrong. Campomanes, who previously had been seriously injured and nearly killed in a car accident in Uganda, was no longer effective as FIDE President and had to be forced out of office one year later.

The main point is that all of these events are described and discussed in the book CHESSDON. As Voltaire said, "I disagree with what he says but will defend to the death his right to say it." It is easy to see why Don Schultz waited until his term as USCF President expired before releasing the book, because this book will provide much ammunition to his many enemies, except for the fact that he says that he will never run for political office again.

I hope that everyone buys and reads this book by Don Schultz, as it constitutes a valuable contribution.

By the way, Sandur Serenyi, the old line Stalinist who along with Don Schultz tried to crush the chess career of Woman's World Champion Zsuzsa Polgar, is now about 90 years old, has written his memoirs and is looking for a publisher. I hope to see his book in print as well.

Sam Sloan


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