June 7, 2002
I am a candidate for the special election which is being held for two seats on the Executive Board of the United States Chess Federation. It is for terms of only one year. This election became necessary when two board members resigned.
The good news is that for the first time in years, it will not make much difference who wins this election. In the last election, a solid board was elected. All of the members of the new board are working hard for the development and progress of chess.
I have great confidence in Frank Niro, our new executive director. He is doing a marvelous job of extricating us from the messes that were left by previous administrations. (More on that later.)
While relaxing in the luxury of knowing that the results of the current election, regardless of who wins, will not make or break the USCF, we much never forget that this has not always been the case. For example, had the 2001 election had a different result, we might not be having a federation much longer.
Here are the major issues, as I see it:
At the 2001 delegates meeting, I presented a strong anti-drug testing resolution. My motion failed by a 2-1 margin. The reason it failed was that the delegates adopted the Benjamin-Goodall resolution which instructed our "FIDE team" to campaign actively against drug testing.
This resolution, while well-intended, has been a total failure, and predictably so. Unfortunately, our FIDE team is in favor of drug testing, although they deny it. Indeed, almost all of the chess bureaucrats are in favor of drug testing, although they will tell you otherwise. It is only us chess players who are against drug testing.
In my view, we need to send a clear message to FIDE: The United States Chess Federation will not in any way participate in, be involved in, cooperate with or have anything to do with any program of drug testing. No US chess player shall ever be required to submit to any drug test. Let me make this perfectly clear. NO DRUG TESTING, PERIOD. END OF STORY.
Last year, under the gang which then ruled the USCF, the FIDE Drug Czar, "Dr." Press, was paid expenses to attend the USCF Delegates meeting in Framingham. His message was: If we do not submit to drug testing, our players will not be allowed to play in the World Chess Championship, and we might be kicked out of FIDE.
My answer is: GO SHOVE IT. GET LOST. WE DO NOT NEED YOU. WE DO NOT WANT YOU AT OUR MEETINGS. WE WILL NOT PAY YOU ANY MORE MONEY, EITHER. GET OUT. END OF STORY. Tell your boss that we are not participating in your diabolical drug testing schemes.
Have I made myself clear? Should I perhaps explain this better?
Please note, most of the chess politicians have not made this clear. They will tell you that they are opposed to drug testing, but they do not tell you how they plan to respond to the demands by FIDE that our players submit to drug tests. The fact is that almost all of the chess politicians are not opposed to drug testing, although they will tell you that they are. Their typical response to questions about drug testing is that it should be limited to that which is required by IOC directives. Since the IOC has unlimited drug testing, that response is a non sequitur.
For as long as I can remember, chess players in the US have been complaining about FIDE. However, we keep sending representatives to FIDE meetings who support the very FIDE policies that a majority of us oppose. Drug testing is a good example. There is only one solution to this problem: Throw out the entire FIDE team and send a new team of chess politicians or, better yet, send just one person to represent us all.
At the Istanbul Olympiad, one possible reason why our FIDE team matches in lock-step to the dictates of FIDE became apparent. All FIDE delegates were invited to play in a special tournament. FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov contributed $10,000 for prizes in this tournament. Unlike most chess tournaments in which only the top players win prizes, in these events, almost everybody wins a prize. Steve Doyle, a 1500 chess player, won a substantial cash prize in one of these events. Jim Eade and Bill Kelleher have won cash prizes at these events. There are reports that at other FIDE meetings watches valued at $3,000 or more were given to US members of the FIDE Presidential Board. This may explain why they support such nefarious schemes such as FIDE Drug Testing and FIDE Commerce. They should be asked by the USCF delegates to reveal how much in prizes they have won and what gifts they have received. We need to send a new team, one that is not susceptible to bribes, payoffs and "prizes" from FIDE.
Our "FIDE team" has done a poor job. They came back from Istanbul with nothing to show for the thousands of dollars in expense money they were paid to go there. For example, USCF President Tim Redman received $1,000 for entertainment expenses, but never did any entertaining.
More than that, our "FIDE team" refuses to obey the directives of our delegates. At the U. S. Open in Framingham last year, the Delegates passed a motion, ADM-64, that reads: "USCF's FIDE representatives are instructed to actively campaign at all FIDE meetings against the practice of requiring drug testing at any chess tournament or match."
At the subsequent FIDE meeting in Greece, our FIDE team did not obey this directive. Instead, they told the other FIDE delegates that they were in favor of "limited drug testing". This was a clear act of disobedience. They not only should be removed, but the USCF should demand that they reimburse the expense money they were paid to attend the meeting in Greece.
The show down on drug testing will likely come at the 2002 World Chess Olympiad in Bled this November. Drug tests will be required at this Olympiad and several of the world's top rated players have indicated that they will refuse to submit to drug tests. They are prepared to face expulsion from the Olympiad. We need to have a new FIDE political team in place by the time of that Olympiad, to support those players, including our own players, who refuse to agree to drug testing. In my view, any such players should be seated at their chess boards. Let the FIDE officials call the police to forcibly eject them from the playing hall. Needless to say, our present FIDE team, which favors "limited drug testing", must be removed from office prior to that time.
Fortunately, the Redman Gang was defeated in the 2001 election and their last two members resigned on January 1, 2002, which is why this special election is being held.
Under the Redman Gang, the USCF stock of books and equipment was in the process of being sold off. Also, suppliers were not being paid, which meant that many were not willing to supply more unless cash was paid in advance. The USCF had no money to pay. Even after the new board came into office, it seemed for a time that the USCF was doomed. There was no Christmas Season this 2001 year for the USCF, because the USCF had nothing left to sell. The cupboard was bare.
Fortunately, the white knight, Frank Niro, rode in on his white horse and saved us all. At least we think so. Frank Niro had applied for the job of Executive Director back in early 2000, but had been turned down. We are most fortunate that he became available again in late 2001.
This close call is one reason why I keep saying that we must never forget how close the wolf came to the door.
Tim Just formed an informal advisory committee to help him compile and edit the USCF Rulebook. Several members of this committee have since expressed anger at the fact that they thought that they were volunteering their rime to help chess and the USCF, only to discover later that their efforts were for the personal benefit of Tim Just.
In case you think I am exaggerating the seriousness of the problem, I have posted the rulebook contract on my website at http://www.samsloan.com/rulecont.htm and at http://www.shamema.com/rulecont.htm . Please read the rulebook contract yourself and formulate your own opinion of it.
Fortunately, the contract has an implied bail out provision, which is that if we just pay $12,000 to Tim Just, we do not have to publish his rulebook. This $12,000 has either been paid within the past few weeks or is about to be paid.
I realize that you will all be relieved to learn that the USCF has gotten back the copyright to publish our own rules of chess, merely upon payment of $12,000, but please never forget that your dues money at $40 per year is being used to pay this $12,000 to Tim Just and Dan Burg.
We should never forget that previous managements have repeatedly landed the USCF into hot water. In 1996, Al Lawrence resigned, but only after signing a secret contract appointing George Filippone as his successor. We had to pay $60,000 to Filippone to get out of that contract. In early 2000, a consulting contract was made through Doris Barry with Gerald Dullea, the outgoing temporary Executive Director. Dullea sued and won a small money judgment under that contract, even though he had never provided any consulting services.
We need to place limits on the authority of the USCF Executive Director to sign contracts without board approval. We need to do this now, while we have a good executive director like Frank Niro in charge, who I am certain will not object. His predecessor, George De Feis, did vehemently object to any limits being placed on his authority, and look at the messes he landed us in.
This is another problem which Frank Niro is handling. Games Parlor is reported to be almost out of business. While it might seem to be of great benefit to the USCF for this to happen, we must not forget that Games Parlor, which was never a substantial organization, might decide to fight like a cornered rat. The litigation costs could be substantial. We just have to pray and hope that Frank Niro will be successful in negotiating our way out of this. Meanwhile, we should not pay any more money to Games Parlor under any circumstances and we should politely but firmly request that Games Parlor start providing us with the "income stream" that they said that they were going to provide to us.
Several chess politicos have proposed that we raise adult dues from $40 to $45, which they say will raise Scholastic dues from $13 to $15, because Scholastic Dues are supposed to be one-third of adult dues.
I disagree. It would be crazy to raise adult dues at a time when the USCF has been rocked by scandal after scandal, of which the Rulebook Contract and the Games Parlor Contract are only two. We cannot ask the adult members to give us more money, until we can prove that we can behave appropriately with the money they have already given us. More importantly, adult membership has been steadily dropping for many years. It would be illogical to increase adult dues when more and more adults are unwilling to pay the dues we are already charging them.
Scholastic dues are another matter. There is a strong and active lobby in chess that has been militant about keeping scholastic dues unreasonably low. In 1998 in Hawaii, scholastic dues were reduced to $7, after a $5 rebate to the scholastic organizer. This was just crazy. The following year, it was agreed to raise scholastic dues to $13 in return for a "promise" that scholastic dues would be set to one-third of adult dues.
I was not there and I did not make this promise. The idea of kids getting in for one-third of adults is crazy. Go anywhere else and you will see that if kids get a discount, it is for half price, not one-third.
I propose to raise scholastic dues to $20 per year, or one-half of adults. The amount of money involved is considerable. With nearly 40,000 scholastic members, raising scholastic dues from one-third to one-half of adult dues will bring in nearly $280,000, money which we need. I also propose that a two year scholastic membership will cost $30 and a three year membership will cost $40. Since most scholastic members do not renew after one year, this will encourage them to sign up for a longer membership when they first join.
In compensation, we should beef up and improve School Mates magazine, which scholastic members receive. It was another foolish decision of the Redman Gang to reduce School Mates magazine from six times a year to four times per year. We should go back to at least six times per year, possibly more. I would like to see School Mates as a monthly publication, with advertisements. The cost of producing School Mates should be low, since we do not need to pay grandmasters to write it. We need to bring it out often enough to remind our scholastic members that we still exist and to advertise our books and equipment products. PLEASE NOTE: Many who want to keep scholastic dues low also want to reduce or eliminate School Mates magazine.
During the 2001 Election Campaign, the Redman Gang told us that they had "turned around" the USCF and that the Federation was now profitable, having earned a profit of $14,000. Fortunately, all of the gang members were defeated in the 2001 election. When the new board took office, they discovered that De Feis & Co. had hidden hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses, and that the supposed "profit" of $14,000 did not exist.
Did I mention that it is only because Frank Niro rode up on his white bishop that we still have some chance to survive?
One thing which I learned from incidents of the recent past was to gain appreciation for Arnold Denker. Mr. Denker was one of the few who were willing to stand up and fight against the Redman Gang, while others cowered in fear. I also came to appreciate the importance of the contribution of Mr. Denker towards youth chess. Two of our most promising and talented young players were denied the opportunity to play in the US Championship, to which they had qualified, because they had been in the USA for less than three years, even though they both had a green card. These were US Junior Champion Marcel Martinez and World Champion for Girls Under-18 Rusudan Goletiani. If elected, I will demand a change in the rules to allow such promising young players to compete in the US Championship.
I do have one criticism of the new board, however: They have supplied us with very little information about what is going on inside of the USCF. This is not entirely a bad thing. Sometimes it is best not to provide our friends (and our enemies) with news about what is going on, especially when the news is bad.
I promise that if elected I will keep you informed about what is going on. Those who know me know that I will keep this promise. One current Executive Board member recently remarked that he gets most of his news about what is going on inside the USCF from Sam Sloan. I only hope that he was just joking.
I hope that you will vote for me for Executive Board of the United States Chess Federation. I promise to work diligently and hard for the interests of the USCF members.
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