Mostly what you are talking about here concerns the sensory chess board which Phil Innes tried to demonstrate at the May 1, 1999 Policy Board meeting. The problem was the board did not work. Mr. Innes says the board was working fine but the motel telephone system kept interfering. This may be true and it may be unfortunate that Mr. Yeshan came all the way from St. Petersburg only to be fouled up by the telephone system of the cheap motel the Policy Board decided to hold its meeting in, but the fact is that nobody is going to take Mr. Innes and Mr. Yeshan seriously until they can demonstrate a working system.
The proposals by Mr. Innes for a World Internet Chess League were all based on the use of these sensory chess boards.
On another topic, the statement by Tom Dorsch that a policy board member not a member of the USCF FIDE delegation had been sent to a FIDE meeting at USCF expense was made on this newsgroup in March, 1999. The "Fun in the Sun" episode you wrote about where Don and Carol romped on the beaches of Rio at USCF expense occurred in the mid-1980s, more than a decade ago. If Dorsch was talking about such ancient history, he should have said so.
It has been pointed out to me by several persons that the USCF did not get a profit of $20,000 in fiscal 1998 but rather a loss of $20,000. I regret the error.
I remember the day when I first experienced the felt knowledge that chess could be promoted successfully to a mass audience. It was the day when Mikhail Tal won the world blitz championship ahead of Gary Kasparov and dozens of other grandmasters. The year was 1988, and the scene was the World Chess Festival in Saint John, New Brunswick. If I do say so myself, I told the story brilliantly in the pages of Chess Life.
The blitz championship took place in a large auditorium with several huge screens showing the players and the moves. The prize fund was huge. Hundreds of local citizens, many of whom evidently did not know the moves of chess, packed the site. Kevin O'Connell was on the scene with sensory chess boards, and they worked beautifully. We could all follow the action, and when a dispute arose over whether a player's fingers had quitted a piece in a very tense semi-final match between Rafael Vaganian and, if memory serves, Kiril Georgiev, the audience gasped and were on their seats screaming. The split-second dispute was decided by a slow-motion replay, and Georgiev's chest then caved in as if someone had slugged him in the solar plexus.
I was astonished. People who did not even know the moves and many others who could not tell you the difference between a Benoni and pepperoni were shouting themselves hoarse.
That's when I knew we have a saleable game or art and that the failure to sell it in a rich, technologically developed country such as the United States lay with the salesman rather than the product.
In a posting of June 17, Phil Innes discusses the shape of a possible "international non-profit" that would serve the world -- meaning the whole world -- of chess. Boris Yeshan, a Russian from St. Petersburg, and Mr. Innes presented their ideas to the USCF Policy Board at its meeting of May 1. They did not drop a finished plan on the table, providing instead "conversational documents at a strategic level" which constituted an "invitation to discussion."
The Messrs. Innes and Yeshan suggested that the USCF take the lead in creating an entity that would have worldwide reach and utilize digital and other technologies. There would be a news service and a broadcast GM team league integrated with Web-OTB strategies. Presumably, there would eventually be a good deal more.
One can quibble. Mr. Innes talked about my interest in the "possibilities for chess in the USA," whereas my theme all along has been that the best and only way for the USCF to serve the players of America well is to shout for joy that a world chess market is in the making and that it will be knit together by somebody. The Cold War is over not merely in the shallow political sense that some have invoked on this forum; it is over in the profound sense that a battle between competing sets of economic ideas has been settled in favor of free markets and that the workaday world is no longer so deeply divided by
ideological and national boundaries. Capital, both financial and intellectual, sloshes around the world with a fluidity that puts the ocean tides to shame.
For the sake of argument let's assume that at the May Policy Board meeting Phil Innes showed up with a maple leaf taped to his beak and that Boris Yeshan had a two-inch bore-hole stretching from his forehead right through the back of his skull. Even if they made the worst presentation imaginable (which I am told they absolutely did not) but even if they did, their underlying assumption strikes me as indisputable. Their assumption is that for the USCF to fulfill its mission of promoting chess in the United States, it must treat the world chess market as being indivisible. For example, would the USCF be promoting chess better in the United States if it had a Spanish-language edition of Chess Life that could serve not only Mexicans but Spanish readers in such countries as Argentina and Brazil? Would the USCF be promoting chess better in the United States if it had a worldwide news service that features twice- or thrice-daily updates as well as interviews with leading players? Would the USCF be promoting chess better in the United States if it had an international sales program? Would the USCF be promoting chess better in the United States if it tapped executive and organizational talent from such countries as Holland, France and England? Would the USCF be promoting chess better in the United States if it benefited from as yet unknown synergies that will develop from an internationalized operation?
The answer to all of the above is yes.
In economics the national paradigm is rapidly being replaced by globalization. The computer revolution is at its START right now, and the silicon chip is the first crude step. Sam Sloan has mentioned the name of computer whiz K. K. Chan with whom I often eat lunch here in Malaysia. K. K. tells me technology already exists to run virtual OTB tournaments with miniaturized video cameras integrated into computer systems to prevent computer cheating. There is little doubt that within a few years we will begin to have Swiss events in which players never leave their homes.
On the subject of Sam Sloan, the posting by Phil Innes reminds me why I support him for the Policy Board. Mr. Sloan is someone who could do a lot of valuable work in preparing the USCF for the computer age.
On the other hand, Mr. Sloan should probably be kept away from the Federation balance sheets. His recent exchange with Tom Dorsch on the financials was not his brightest moment. First, contrary to Mr. Sloan's claim, the Federation LOST $20,000 in 1998 -- that is what the audited financials say. As for Mr. Sloan imagining that Tom Dorsch lied about non-essential personnel having their FIDE vacations paid for by the USCF, he has evidently forgotten about the famous "Fun in the Sun" junket involving Don Schultz and Carol Jarecki in Brazil at USCF expense.
Here are questions to ponder. Is the ratio of assets to Federation liabilities less than 1.0? Does the USCF owe a half million bucks to the banks? Have some suppliers stopped shipping products because of late payments? Will the 1998-99 operations deficit be about a quarter
million dollars? Has the Federation cut pages from Chess Life? Has the Federation lost staffers and doubled up duties for others? Does the computer system, which has gobbled so much money, work? Has the USCF lost almost all of its sponsors, including those for the Grand Prix and the U.S. Championship? Will regular membership decline in 1998-99 for the fourth straight time?
The answer to all of the is -- ah -- YES.
Mr. Deer objects to my having written that the anonymous toad who mailed out the Ethics Committee finding from Birmingham, Alabama, got the decision "directly or indirectly from Mr. Smith." What I wrote is self-evidently true. Period.
Readers will recall that Mr. Deer is the guy who chided this writer for making certain assumptions about the motives of such worthies as Frank Camaratta, Bob Smith and Martin Merado. How, for example, can we be sure that the Committee majority deliberately omitted in its official finding the sections of the Code of Ethics allegedly violated by Mr. Dorsch? Perhaps these seasoned veterans of Delegates meetings merely forgot to include the citations? Perhaps, too, the Messrs. Camaratta and Smith forgot they were running against Mr. Dorsch in the current election when they voted to reprimand him in a written decision that was then issued in the middle of a heated campaign? Perhaps, further, Slobodan Milosevic is actually a Kosovar in cunning Serb disguise?
To be sure, Mr. Deer has a point in formal logic. That's why people love lawyers. So long as our leading "ethicists" such as Andrew Thall and Bob Smith keep the deliberations of the Committee top secret, we cannot be sure there was not a plague of total forgetfulness that ravaged the right frontal lobes of the Committee majority. Readers will have to decide for themselves the likelihood of this prospect.
-- Larry Parr
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