Would Goichberg and the real chess players be better off leaving the federation?

This is just a hypothetical question, because Goichberg does not want to leave, but had Tom Dorsch won the last election, it would not have been hypothetical because Dorsch had already announced on the Internet that he had won the election and that he would be the next president. The top item on his agenda was obviously to force Goichberg out of the United States Chess Federation.

As the voters obviously recognized because Dorsch finished second from last, the result would have been the ruination of the federation. The USCF cannot survive except in a greatly scaled down form without Goichberg, for the simple reason that Goichberg and his associated tournament organizers bring in most of the money to the federation.
Bill Goichberg

My question is: Would us chess players be better off if Goichberg left and formed his own federation?

First, there is no doubt that the USCF could not survive. Goichberg and his allies organize almost all the big chess tournaments in America. Thousands of players join the USCF every year just so that they can play in Goichberg tournaments. The USCF is already in difficult financial straits. Without the thousands of dollars the USCF receives from Goichberg every year, it could not make it.

Those who joined Goichberg's alternative federation would not have to be burdened with supporting the life members. Right now, there are about 30,000 dues paying members supporting about 10,000 life members who joined or were given free memberships a long time ago and who pay nothing. Not only are the life members living off of the dues paying members, but they demand that more and more money from the dues payers be shoveled every year into their LMA fund, which was set up "to protect the rights of the life members."

There are also about 40,000 youth and scholastic members. They are considered a wash financially, in that their dues just about cover the cost of servicing them. There are several scholastic organizers (Peterson comes to mind) who are disenchanted with the USCF and might be interested in organizing scholastic tournaments in the Goichberg federation. Also, it was Goichberg himself who originally established scholastic chess. When I started playing, there was no such thing as scholastic chess. Goichberg started scholastic chess in 1964. Until he was bought out or forced out by the USCF in 1981, all the scholastic chess tournaments in the USA were Goichberg tournaments.

What the USCF provides is a magazine and a rating system. Goichberg could not only provide these; he could do a better job. Most members have not been around long enough to realize that it was Goichberg who set up the USCF rating system. The USCF adopted the Elo rating system at the 1960 meeting in St. Louis. (I was the Virginia delegate at that meeting.) However, to call it the Elo system is a misnomer. It should properly be called the Goichberg-Elo system.

Elo had just developed a theoretical formula. Elo had no data. Elo provided no numbers. Elo only provided a formula.

It was Goichberg who took the Elo formula, made many modifications, and then calculated by hand the rating of every chess player in America.

I knew Goichberg in 1964 in New York and he knew the rating of every chess player in America. I used to test him on this. I would provide the name of some obscure player who had played in only one or two tournaments in California for example. Goichberg would know not only the rating of that player but every tournament he had played in and his scores in those tournament.

Of course, back then, there were only about 5000 (five thousand) players with chess ratings, but this was still a remarkable feat.

Right now, the USCF has a rating system sitting on the sidelines which has been approved by the delegates but has not been implemented because of computer problems. Goichberg could adopt that new and unused system.

As far as the magazine is concerned, not only could Goichberg do a better job, but Chess Life magazine is filled with stuff which must be put in for political reasons and with tournament life announcements for tournaments with less than a dozen players. All of this could be eliminated and Goichberg, who is a FIDE rated chess master, could produce a magazine devoted primarily to chess.

There would be a few problems. If a player in a Goichberg tournament made a GM norm, would that norm be recognized by FIDE? I believe that there would be a way around this problem, because in many countries of the world there are competing organizations and their players nevertheless get ratings and titles from FIDE.

Also, it has become clear that if the recent memo by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov regarding Commercialization of FIDE is implemented and enforced, then the USCF will without doubt withdraw from FIDE, as will many other nations of the so-called "free world", and FIDE will become a dead letter anyway.

So, it seems to me that both Goichberg and those of us who actually play chess might be better off if Goichberg pulled out and set up his own federation. Tom Dorsch and his dearly beloved life members would be left to twist slowly in the wind, having only themselves to blame for the demise of the United States Chess Federation.

Sam Sloan

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