Tom Dorsch new scandals

A new scandal has emerged about Tom Dorsch:

Tom Dorsch and his wife Carolyn Withgitt were awarded the Senior Tournament Director title by USCF Acting Executive 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.

Everyone, including even long time supporters of Dorsch, agrees that the award of the TD Title to Dorsch and his wife was illegal. For example, Tim Redman, a traditional Dorsch supporter, told me during the US Amateur Team Championship East in New Jersey that the award of the TD title to Dorsch and his wife "didn't happen".
Tom Dorsch, a heavyweight in chess politics

The reason it "didn't happen" is that the Executive Director does not have the authority to award TD titles. A question is whether the award by Dullea of the TD title was "null and void" or whether it needs to be rescinded.

Everybody agrees that both Tom Dorsch and his wife are eminently well qualified to work as TDs, whether they be Local TDs, Senior TDs or National TDs (or any of the various other ranks and levels of TD status).

I have played in tournaments where Tom Dorsch and his wife were directing and I can testify that the tournaments were well run and that both he and his wife are obviously well qualified. (I say this in spite of the fact that Tom Dorsch has recently chosen to become my enemy and has been attacking me every day on the Internet since November, 1998).

There are many Dorsch supporters in this matter. For example, Eric Schiller wrote me (in a private e-mail, but I do not believe that he minds being quoted on this one):

"I agree with Tom and Carolyn, they are overqualified for that trivial title. I'm an IA and don't bother with such crap. The USCF test is a joke, I looked at it and laughed for hours."

However, another commentator wrote me:

"Are you sure about this Sam?

"I mean that the Senior Director's title was awarded and not the National Director's title?

"The Senior Director's title is relatively easy to get. The National is much harder.

"The Senior test is easy I am told and simply consists of a series of multiple choice questions.

"The National test is very difficult and consists of an rigorous essay exam judged by at least one other NTD.

"By the way I just passed the Local Director test. It was very easy and I scored 93%."

The answer to the above question is: No, I am not sure it was the Senior TD title. Redman told me that it was the Senior TD title, and that is my source. Nobody else seemed to know for sure.

There are several ranks of TD titles. I was present at the 1999 Delegate's Meeting in Reno when Cavallo was asked privately to award the title National TD Title (not the Senior TD Title) to Carolyn (but not to Tom). The person who made this request of Cavallo asked me not to post it on the Internet and I have not done so.

Cavallo listened to this request and spent at least a half hour on it. Cavallo asked why she objected to taking the test. The reply was that she believed that the test scorers would be biased against her for political reasons. (Tom Dorsch, but not his wife, was an outspoken opponent of Cavallo. Tom and his wife are legally married, but she does not use the Dorsch name, because she was adopted.)

The end result was that Cavallo said he would ask Tim Just about this. The answer by Tim Just was obviously that Dorsch and his wife must take the test just as everybody else does. (Tim Just is in general a supporter of Tom Dorsch.)

This entire incident raises a variety of other questions:

1. Did Dullea know that it would be a violation of the rules for him to award the TD title to Dorsch and his wife?

2. Did Dorsch and his wife inform Dullea that already the same or a very similar request had been made of Cavallo, and that Cavallo had turned down the request?

3. One of the persistent claims by Dorsch is that Cavallo as Executive Director did not follow the 4% vs. 6% resolution which had been passed by the USCF delegates in 1995 and that therefore Cavallo "falsified" the financial reports.

Cavallo says that he did not know about the 4% vs. 6% resolution, because it had been passed before his time. However, Dorsch definitely did know that Dullea lacked legal authority to award him the TD title, because this subject has been hotly debated for the last several years, especially by Tom Dorsch.

4. Since Dorsch definitely did know (and Dullea perhaps did not know) that Dullea was being asked to violate the rules, has Dorsch committed an Ethics Committee violation?

5. Dorsch has vehemently attacked the last several Executive Directors while in office. He attacked Cavallo, Filippone and Lawrence. (Surprisingly, Lawrence is now an ally of Dorsch, even though they were vehement enemies while Lawrence was in office.) However, Dorsch has never attacked Dullea, making Dullea the first Executive Director in well over a decade who was not attacked by Dorsch. Did Dorsch essentially buy-off Dullea by not attacking him and was the award to Dorsch and his wife of the TD tiles by Dullea on his last day in office the pay-off of a bribe?

Regarding the refusal by Tom Dorsch and his wife to take the TD test, Eric Johnson, who worked for the USCF while this controversy was pending, posted the following:

"Yes...the same kind of "self-defeating" rule that exists in other professions. Other groups have review boards and standards...and individuals in those professions don't get to pick and choose which rules to follow. If they do, they quickly get the boot.

"Would you be comfortable with a doctor who "refused" to take the test, claiming he "knew what he was doing so the test was silly"?

"Would you be comfortable with a lawyer who "refused" to take the test, claiming he "knew what he was doing so the test was silly"?

"Would you be comfortable with a teacher who "refused" to take the test, claiming he "knew what he was doing so the test was silly"?

"It is not the test that is at issue is the REFUSAL to take the test...the REFUSAL to follow the rules.

"It is sheer hubris.

"It is ALSO the reason why USCF has hundreds of directors who use THEIR OWN RULES instead of following the standard USCF rules."

On one point everybody agrees: The award of the TD title by Dullea is null and void. Even Jim Eade, a strong Dorsch supporter, admits this. Eade wrote:

"Tom and Carolyn decided to stop organizing tournaments rather than take a meaningless test to prove what was obvious to all: they were excellent organizers and TDs. I don't think this has ever been challenged.

"The petty pols misunderstood that their decision to retire didn't hurt Tom and Carolyn, it hurt the USCF and the players who enjoyed playing in those, now lost, events. Instead of encouraging them to continue, they got into a pissing contest over a dumb rule.

"Since neither they nor the office showed any willingness to budge from their positions, I tried to forge a compromise. I sponsored and got a Delegate's Motion passed (with invaluable help from Tim Just) which allowed the ED to upgrade a TDs certification level after consultation with the TDCC.

"The idea is that, if the ED has a good business case for waiving specific requirements, and the TDCC concurs that competency is not in question, the ED can simply certify the individual(s) in question, even if one or more "requirements" have not been met. The ED can give credit for field work, for example, which would dispense with formal test taking, for example.

"This would've been a simple matter, and we'd have more tournaments in NCAL this year, except poor Gerry Dullea didn't know about the specifics in the DM. He should've checked with the TDCC before issuing the upgrade.

"I can hardly fault him, since he had other things occupying his time, and he was obviously acting in the best interest of the organization. His honest misunderstanding of the motion got the petty pols all bent out of shape, and politics once again trumped common sense."

Probably the real reason why Tom and Carolyn decided to stop organizing tournaments is that the last tournament they held, which was the Universe Open, lost $5,000. This was Carolyn's money. Tom has no job and no money, while Carolyn works as a lawyer.

Just to make one point clear: Carolyn Withgitt is a lawyer who practices law in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has directed many chess tournaments. She is an active tournament player and her current USCF rating is 1806. See:

Tom Dorsch is a rated chess master. He has been playing tournament chess for more than 40 years. He has a law degree but failed the California Bar Examination four times and gave up. He also substantially wrote the USCF by-laws.

Thus, there is no doubt that Carolyn could pass even the hardest test and Tom could probably pass it too.

Still, almost everyone agrees that exceptions should not be made for those who refuse to take the test.

This incident will probably become the defining moment in the brief administration of Gerald Dullea, which lasted only four months. The fact that he did this on his very last day in office raises suspicions. Just as President Gerald Ford is remembered for his pardon of Nixon exactly while Evil Knevil was in the middle of his jump over the Snake River Canyon, and nobody remembers much else about the Ford Presidency, Gerald Dullea will probably be primarily remembered for awarding the TD titles to Dorsch and his wife during his last day in office.

Sam Sloan

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