Four Scandals Emerge During US Amateur Team Championship

During the US Amateur Team Championship held February 19-21, 2000, four scandals emerged and quickly circulated, none of which involved the event itself. Here are the four scandals:

1. Tom Dorsch and his wife Carolyn Withgitt were awarded the Senior Tournament Director title by USCF Acting Director Gerald Dullea during his last day in office. This has outraged the established TDs, because Tom Dorsch and his wife have refused to take the written examination required of all TDs. Consensus is that this award of the Senior TD title was illegal and null and void. Dorsch and Withgitt had tried to get Executive Director Mike Cavallo to award them the title, but Cavallo had referred the matter to the appropriate USCF committee, which refused to award the title. Almost everyone agrees that Dorsch and Withgitt would be able to pass the test if they took it, but that exceptions should not be made for those who refuse to take the test.

2. The American Chess Foundation, which only recently changed its name to "Chess in the Schools", is rumored to be about to change its name again to "Youth in the Schools" and to become involved in other activities besides chess. (Poker and backgammon have been suggested, which would at least teach the children a way to make a living). Also, the Samford Fellowships, which have long been awarded by the American Chess Foundation to the most promising junior chess player in the US, are rumored to be canceled. In addition, the Cramer Awards, based upon a bequeath of more than $250,000 left by USCF President Fred Cramer to the American Chess Foundation in his will, are reported to be in jeopardy. Furthermore, the Manhattan Chess Club, which has space in a building owned by the American Chess Foundation, is about to be evicted. All of these developments are due to the death of Fan Adams and the retirement of Alan Kaufman, which have caused control of the American Chess Foundation to pass to the hands of non-chess players. (The American Chess Foundation has denied this rumor, except that it admits that the Manhattan Chess Club is being evicted.)

3. It was revealed in a sworn deposition that Richard Peterson, a well known USCF Scholastic Chess Organizer, has difficulty remembering the names of all of his wives. Although the suits between Peterson and the USCF were rumored to have been settled, they have not been settled, as the lawyers have haggled over the details. (It was not yet known that Peterson has filed for bankruptcy, which both stays the USCF's suit against Peterson and prohibits Peterson from going ahead with his suit against the USCF without permission from the bankruptcy court.)

4. By far the most important, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has sent out a letter to all FIDE member nations proposing a massive reorganization and restructuring of FIDE. Among the many changes, all chess tournaments with players averaging in rating over 2500 will require advance approval by FIDE, including fees presumably payable to FIDE, any person organizing a chess tournament not so approved by FIDE will be blacklisted and member nations should have nothing to do with such persons, all players in the world over 1500 in chess strength will receive a FIDE rating and a Visa credit card issued through FIDE. Control over many FIDE activities will pass to FIDE Commerce PLC, which will earn big profits and which will eventually go public through an initial public offering in the stock market. (An IPO). FIDE Commerce PLC was created in May 1999 and is directed in London by Artiom Tarasov of Russia.

According to FIDE Executive Director Emmanuel Omuku, this proposal will be passed by the FIDE Presidential Board in Morocco next week, without waiting for the FIDE Congress in Istanbul later this year.

FIDE Executive Director Emmanuel Omuku came to the US Amateur Team Championship in New Jersey primarily to confer with Steve Doyle, who is a FIDE Vice-President and therefore has a vote on the FIDE Presidential Board. Doyle states that he is opposed to this proposal and that it will never pass, but that he will be unable to attend the FIDE meeting in Morocco next week.

Sam Sloan

UPDATE: I just spoke to Ayala Bonchin, the new director of Chess-in-the-Schools, who replaced Allan Kaufman.

She denied rumors which have been flying for at least a week that Chess-in-the-Schools is about to change its name and to go into other activities besides chess.

In fact, she said that she has never even heard these rumors and that they have no basis at all.

I asked her about the fact that almost everyone at the US Amateur Team Championship East last weekend had heard some version of these rumors.

I also asked her why, when I asked Marley Kaplan, second in charge at Chess-in-the-Schools, about this, she had said that she could not comment on tis matter and I needed to ask her superiors, Mr. Cullman and Miss Bonchin, instead.

She said that Marley Kaplan gave the right answer, which she is always supposed to give to all such questions.

I find it difficult to believe that a rumor could be so widespread and have no basis. It seems possible that they decided to make these changes and then backed down in face of the opposition of the chess community.

I do know that there was talk of instituting litigation if Chess-in-the-Schools moves away from chess, particularly by representatives of estates of persons who have willed money to the American Chess Foundation.

Ayala Bonchin acknowledged that the Manhattan Chess Club will be moving out of their building. Their least expires at the end of April, she said.

Sam Sloan

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