Caveman (Kevin Bachler) and the USCF Gang-of-Four

On Sun, 28 May 2000 14:46:41 GMT, "Cavemanchess" wrote:

Although there are many issues, the primary ones come from an exceptionally bad management team over the past few years. Major projects (such as an upgrade of computer systems) were vastly overspent and left uncompleted -- perhaps even unstarted for all practical purposes. Sponsorship was lost and not replaced. Membership was not recruited or retained. There were also numerous problems in dealing with organizers and with office personnel that led to court cases and judgments against the USCF.

The denial of financial or project problems by the prior administration, failure to provide or even maintain building and computer infrastructure, and a "Don't worry be happy" management approach has all contributed. Office personnel consequently end up focusing on what has become urgent, as opposed to what is important. This has stagnated the organization, and made it significantly less efficient.

The current EB has realized there are problems, and has taken action, but like a car hurtling toward the cliff, one wonders if the brakes have been put on too late.

Generally, there are 4 board members that are working diligently toward improvements, 1 that doesn't have the right background for this situation and has become an albatross for the board, 1 that is often paralyzed by potential conflicts of interest or that votes against 1 of the 4 simply because they are often on different sides of the political fence, and 2 that seem somewhat inept in this situation although they appear to mean well. The last 2 were supported strongly by the prior administration in the most recent election, and as an observer one often has the impression that they are trying to figure out how to solve tough issues without alienating the support that got them elected.

A good example is the recent US Championship. Poor finances forced cancellation of the event, led by the 4 "tough" board members. The past president lambasted this, attacking the cancellation -- although with no suggestions of where to raise $100K-$125K for the event. A potential sponsor came along, with a first offer to sponsor the event -- and the two "inept" EB'ers jumped at it, although there were numerous shortfalls in the proposal (although it was basically very interesting). Some of the 4 put the brakes on, and 2 of these 4 were publicly lambasted for turning down a wonderful deal, hating GM chess, etc. An e-mail was sent by some EB member(s) to numerous people to this effect.

Subsequently, a deal was negotiated with this sponsor. USCF received roughly 5 times the compensation, merchandising rights, and various assurances and procedures for quality control and to insure the ongoing sponsorship of the event. Fortunately, smart business practices practiced by members of the "gang of 4" prevailed over the "willi-nilly-how-will-we-fix-this-and-look-good-approach".

It is interesting that Caveman (Kevin Bachler) divides the USCF Executive Board into two groups: The good guys (obviously Redman, Barry, Warren and Pechac) and the "Gang of Four" (obviously Smith, McCrary, Ippolito and Scott).

However, what Caveman says about the US Championship is completely wrong.

At the final meeting on May 21, Barry voiced her continued opposition to the deal which had already been made to hold the US Championship in Seattle. Barry said that the games from the US Championship should be broadcast from the USCF website, not from the website of the sponsor.

Such a change would obviously have been a deal killer, since the main reason the sponsor was willing to put up $125,000 to hold the event was the advertisements it hoped to gain from its website. Also, since the games will be blasted around the world by "The Week in Chess" and other online chess publications as soon as they are played, it does not matter whether the games are on the USCF website or not.

It is inappropriate to give Barry credit for a deal that she was and still is opposed to.

Warren did not make clear her views on the final deal, but she did say that she has "no problem" with the games being broadcast from the sponsor's website. Therefore, it seemed that she was not in agreement with Barry on this point.

Scott did not participate in the discussion at all. He was not in on the conference call in which the Executive Board voted 5-2 to give DeFeis the authority to negotiate the deal. Therefore it is wrong to include Scott in either the "Gang of Four" or in the "good guys".

Redman waffled and wavered, but in the end he did vote with Smith, McCrary, and Ippolito to give DeFeis the authority to negotiate the deal.

I have no information about the views of Pechac, but in the end he did vote in favor of the deal.

Finally, Caveman makes no mention of Sam Sloan at all. Remember that it was I who blasted all over the Internet newsgroups, on my web sites and on my e-mail lists with more than one thousand addresses in all that "USCF Executive Board blocks efforts to hold US Chess Championship". Had it not been for my Internet postings, this entire matter would probably never have become public and the deal might never have gone through.

Sam Sloan

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