Tel: (718) 252-1534
December 16, 1997
Re: Ethics Complaint filed by Stan Vaughan
Dear Mr. Schlich,
Mr. Stan Vaughan has made a complaint with Tim Redman, Chairman of the Ethics Committee of the United States Chess Federation, concerning an e-mail I sent dated July 27, 1997 entitled "Reform Needed in Scholastic Chess." I am surprised that you forwarded to me this "ethics complaint" made by Stan Vaughan for my response, because his complaint, on its face, is entirely frivolous and without merit. You have given me until December 16, 1997, which is today, to respond. Here is my response:
I admit that I did send this e-mail. However, I did not send it to Mr. Vaughan, although I would have been willing to do so, for the simple reason that Mr. Vaughan, as far as I know, did not have an e-mail address. As the copy provided by Mr. Vaughan itself shows, I sent this e-mail to a Chess Discussion Group at the address CHESS-L@NIC.SURFNET.NL. Apparently, a member of that group provided a copy of this letter to Mr. Vaughan.
CHESS-L is an international chess discussion group, based in the Netherlands. It has about 600-700 members, most of whom are in Europe. I do not see how the USCF Ethics Committee would have jurisdiction to review statements made by me to this international forum. This is not a matter of ethics at all.
I do not believe that this is a matter for the ethics committee to consider. In essence, Mr. Vaughan claims that I said bad things about him. However, what he is really doing here is rehashing his long standing grievances against the USCF and its Policy Board. This is a matter for public opinion to decide.
For example, in item 4 of his complaint, Mr. Vaughan asserts that I stated in my letter that his "TD certification has been revoked. (Which it hasn't)." However, I have been told by at least two members of the USCF Policy Board that Stan Vaughan's TD certification has, in fact, been revoked. Apparently, Mr. Vaughan is really claiming that his TD certification was not revoked in a legally and properly valid and correct way. An ethics complaint against me is not a proper forum to air this grievance against the Policy Board. Rather, Mr. Vaughan should file a lawsuit against the Policy Board, and indeed he has done so.
Even more importantly, however, I have just reread my e-mail entitled "Reform Needed in Scholastic Chess" three times and I cannot find in it anywhere that I said that Stan Vaughan's TD certification has been revoked. Indeed, the whole theme of my letter had nothing to do with Stan Vaughan's TD certification. My letter had to do with problems which have arisen in scholastic chess on a nationwide basis. Even though I cite Mr. Vaughan's organization in Nevada as an example of the kind of problems which have arisen or are likely to arise in scholastic chess, my letter had little to do with Stan Vaughan's status as a Tournament Director, certified or not.
It is to be noted that during the time period which is the subject of Mr. Vaughan's complaint, he was the campaign manager for John Blackstone for USCF Policy Board. Mr. Vaughan sent about a dozen mass mailings in connection with this campaign and made himself a public figure thereby. It is well established that a person in Mr. Vaughan's position cannot complain about allegedly false statements, especially those made in the context of an election campaign. Indeed, your beloved President Don Schultz obviously recognizes this, because I regard Mr. Schultz to be an evil and despicable person without any redeeming social value whatever and as a man who has done tremendous harm to chess and to chess players around the world, and who has never done anybody but himself any good, and I have made my views publicly known, and yet President Schultz, who has shown no hesitancy in bringing frivolous lawsuits against chess personalities in the past, has not brought this one against me.
Next, it is important to note that Mr. Vaughan only complains about certain sentences in my letter. He does not complain, for example, about my statement that he has filed small claims lawsuits against Nevada chess officials and organizers, because indeed he has filed such suits. Moreover, the electorate in this election campaign certainly was entitled to receive this information about Stan Vaughan's proclivity for filing lawsuits against chess personalities.
Furthermore, Mr. Vaughan had the right and indeed did exercise his right to fully respond to my e-mail. He placed his response prominently on the chess newsgroups on the Internet, plus he mailed his response to all 464 voting members and delegates. On the other hand, my e-mail was received and read by probably less than 20 voting members and delegates. In short, far more people have read his reply than have read my original letter.
It does not seem that Mr. Vaughan suffered any damages from my e-mail letter. To the contrary, his virulent attacks on me, which, I understand, were mailed to all 464 voting members, may explain why I only received 6 votes and finished last among the candidates on the ballot in that election (not counting the write in candidate).
Please check the campaign mailings and note that several of Mr. Vaughan's campaign mailings said bad things about me. I have not complained about that. This is what happens when anybody runs for public office. However, certain chess personalities who were not candidates objected to the fact that Stan Vaughan used their name or in some way implied that they supported his candidate, when they did not. Eric Schiller was one person who complained about this. Also, note that Mr. Vaughan claimed in one of his campaign mailings that his candidate already had firm commitments for more than 150 votes and was virtually guaranteed to win the election. Mr. Vaughan made this statement when it was widely known that Mr. Vaughan's candidate would likely finish last and might not even receive any votes at all. (His candidate ultimately received only 7 votes, in spite of Stan Vaughan bombarding the electorate with more mailings than any other candidate. One of these seven votes came from Mike Goodall, the man who receives my USCF mail. Mike Goodall voted for Blackstone because he, Blackstone and I are friends from the early 1960s. Goodall does not know anything about Stan Vaughan and never read Stan Vaughan's mailings. Rather, Goodall forwarded the mailings to me, which is how I became aware of them.)
The primary crux of Stan Vaughan's complaint against me turns on his claim that his organization, the "Nevada State Chess Association, Inc.", is the official chess organization for the State of Nevada. This matter has already been decided by the USCF Policy Board and the decision is that Stan Vaughan's organization, regardless of the fact that it was incorporated in Nevada, is not the official organization there, and that Stan Vaughan is not entitled to send delegates to the USCF meetings. Item 2 of Stan Vaughan's complaint against me says: "2) Sloan fails to mention that the by-laws approved by the USCF delegates in August 1989 stated that all USCF members residing in Nevada were to be automatically members of the Nevada State Chess Association."
The fact is that Stan Vaughan did not form his organization until 1994 or 1995 (I believe) when he incorporated it in the State of Nevada. In doing this, Stan Vaughan essentially misappropriated the name of an existing unincorporated association called the Nevada State Chess Association (without the "Inc."). It is much as if I incorporated in the State of Delaware or the State of Wyoming a corporation called "General Motors Corporation" and then claimed that I had the right to make and sell Pontiacs. This sort of problem has happened to my own company, Ishi Press. A nefarious band of outlaws in both California and England, who have never published a book about the game of go and who do not even know how to play that game, are claiming that they are the real Ishi Press and that all of the more than 100 go go books which my company has published over the past 30 years belong to them. This is why I am especially interested in the legal issue which has been created by the fact that Stan Vaughan chose to take the name of an existing organization and incorporate it as his own name, and now he claims to be that other organization.
The Nevada State Chess Association whose by-laws were approved by the USCF delegates in 1989 was not Stan Vaughan's organization. That other organization was and still is the officially recognized state chess association representing Nevada. Jerry Weikel is their President, but the name of that unincorporated association has been changed, to avoid confusion with Stan Vaughan's group.
I must mention here that I have played in many chess events in Nevada over the years going back to at least the 1966 National Open in Las Vegas, where I scored 5 1/2 - 2 1/2. In 1996, I played in the Far West Open in Reno, directed by Jerry Weikel, and in the National Open in Las Vegas. I have never met or seen Stan Vaughan at any of these chess events. He apparently does not attend or participate in mainstream chess events. Instead, he apparently prefers to live in his own little world and to form his own chess organizations to compete against the main stream chess organizations.
In item 4, Stan Vaughan states: "[F]urther the suspension of the Meadows School from State Competition by NSCA was over sandbagging of ratings by a coach and never was an issue in the hearing regarding my TD certification in June 1966 nor in the allegations submitted by Conover or Jarecki."
Again, my e-mail, about which Stan Vaughan is making his ethics complaint, makes no mention of the Meadows School or of the hearing regarding his TD certification. Indeed, on this point, he seems to contradict himself, because now he admits that there was a hearing regarding his TD certification.
Here I must digress since Stan Vaughan has brought up this matter. I have spent many hours listening to complaints made against Stan Vaughan by a broad spectrum of chess players and organizers. In general, I feel that while the charges against him are serious, in mitigation he is an active and energetic chess organizer who has no doubt brought many players into chess. Moreover, since chess tends to attract weird, strange, combative and often downright paranoid personalities, we have to be tolerant of people like Stan Vaughan and let him do his thing. In general, I am opposed to anybody being banned or kicked out of chess in any way and for whatever reason. In short, we need more chess players, not less. I am still trying to bring back Raymond Weinstein. Perhaps he can help us with the Don Schultz problem.
As far as I am concerned, there is just about only one thing that a chess player or official can do which merits him being kicked out chess and that is if he kicks somebody else out of chess. The reason why I so strongly feel that Don Schultz should be kicked out of chess and that Don Schultz should never in his life be allowed to enter a chess playing hall again is that Don Schultz during the course of his nefarious career has banned so many other people from chess, and not just minor people but major important chess personalities. Internationally titled players like Miguel Quinteros, Ricardo Calvo, Roman Dzindzichasvili and Zsuzsa Polgar were at one time or another banned or blacklisted by Dirty Don Schultz, and for no valid reason other than to satisfy his own ego. This is the reason why Garry Kasparov, who, as everybody knows, is the World Chess Champion, refuses to meet or to speak with Don Schultz, in spite of the fact that Don Schultz is now the President of the United States Chess Federation.
For more than a decade, Dirty Don Schultz has conducted a virulent campaign against Grandmaster Larry Evans, even trying to get the chess column by Larry Evans kicked out of the local newspaper in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where Don Schultz lives, and yet Larry Evans has never said a bad word about Don Schultz. Some months back, when Don Schultz proposed that money be saved by cutting the number of pages in Chess Life, observant persons quickly realized that what Don Schultz really had in mind was to cut out the monthly feature column by Larry Evans in Chess Life. Fortunately, Larry Evans has his supporters, especially since his column is one of the most popular, and Schultz's motion did not pass.
Don Schultz has not changed, in spite of his claim that he had done so when he ran for USCF President in 1996. His recent article in the October, 1997 Chess Life (with Joel Benjamin on the cover) featured his usual blend of lies, misrepresentations, and veiled personal attacks on various individuals.
However, for all the terrible, despicable things which Don Schultz has done, they pale in comparison with what Stan Vaughan did, because what Stan Vaughan did was that he banned a bunch of little kids from the Meadows School in Las Vegas from playing chess.
Why did Stan Vaughan commit this heinous crime against humanity (which he admits to having done in his ethics complaint against me)?
The reason as I understand this long and complicated story is that Stan Vaughan has for a long time been manipulating the ratings of chess playing kids. As evidence of this, I enclose a letter dated January 12, 1996 by Sunil Weeramantry who for more than 20 years has been by far the most active and distinguished scholastic chess organizer in the US. (Too bad we could not grow our own scholastic chess organizers and had to import one from Sri Lanka.)
Sunil Weeramantry, in his fantastically restrained and understated letter, explained how Stan Vaughan had manipulated the rating of a 7 year old girl named Candice Lonardo from 958 up to 1552 solely on the strength of her losing 10 rated games in a row to Stan Vaughan. The way he did this involves the fact that, in the case of provisionally rated players, a loss for rating purposes counts as a performance rating of the opponent's rating minus 400 points. Stan Vaughan's own rating averaged 2272. (That is another story. I understand that his real strength is expert at best.) Therefore, every time the little girl lost a game of chess to Stan Vaughan, she got a performance rating of 1872. By losing 10 of these games in a row, and because she never played anybody other than Stan Vaughan during this period, her rating went up from 958 to 1552. Most importantly, this potentially gave her the right to be the US Representative to the World Youth Championships in Spain, thereby depriving somebody like Laura Ross, who really is a chess strong player and who has proven that by defeating innumerable adults in tournament competition, of that hard earned opportunity.
The case of Candice Lonardo was not unique. If one looks through the 1995 year-end lists of top 50 scholastic chess players in the US, one will see a disproportionate number of them as being from Las Vegas. It would be wonderful if this was all due to the active and energetic chess program of Stan Vaughan. However, his program is only one of many around the country. I refuse to believe that Stan Vaughan is a so vastly superior chess teacher and trainer than all of the other scholastic organizers in the US. Rather, it is readily apparent that he produces his wonderful results by cheating and manipulating the rating system. By the way, he also gets paid big bucks by gullible parents to teach their kiddies how to play chess based upon his supposedly fantastic results.
That is how the Meadows School came in. The coach at the Meadows School wanted to send his kids to a national chess competition, but this competition awarded prizes by rating class and not by school grade. The coach realized that, due to Stan Vaughan's rating manipulations, all of his kids were vastly overrated and therefore had no chance to win a prize. Therefore, he petitioned the USCF to reduce the ratings of his kids to more reasonable levels. The USCF complied with this request.
Nevertheless, even after the ratings of all the kids at the Meadows School had been reduced by 200 points or so, they still did not win any prizes. They bombed out. It became apparent that even their reduced ratings were much too high.
This incident proved that all of the ratings earned by kids in Stan Vaughan's scholastic tournaments were too high. When Stan Vaughan heard about this, he wrote a letter to the principal of the Meadows School informing him that all students at that school were hereafter banned from competition by the Nevada State Chess Association, Inc.
Of course, the Principal of the Meadows School understandably believed that Stan Vaughan was a person with the authority to impose such a ban. The principal could not possibly have known that Stan Vaughan was essentially running a bootleg operation and was not the official of the organization recognized by the USCF as representing Nevada.
This incident about the Meadows School is to my mind by far the most serious allegation against Stan Vaughan. The idea that he could ban a bunch of elementary school kids from playing chess, just because of his personal dispute with the adults involved, is so terrible that I feel that Stan Vaughan should be expelled entirely from the United States Chess Federation, and not just have his TD certification revoked. In short, what Stan Vaughan did is even worse than anything Don Schultz has done.
I would be interested in hearing a response from Stan Vaughan about this.
The only allegation made by Stan Vaughan which seems to have any merit is his statement that it is not true that when he signs up kids to join his organization and the USCF he uses his own address and not the kid's address. As a result of my e-mail, I confirmed the fact that many scholastic organizers do this. I even received a long letter from Allan Fifield, a scholastic organizer in California, explaining that he does this and the reason why. Fifield explained that the vast majority of kids who join the USCF simply enter one tournament and are never heard from again. Fifield feels that magazines sent to these kids are largely wasted and that he can make better use of them by distributing them to other more needy scholastic chess players. Of course, Fifield is not using these memberships to gain votes in an election, as contrasted to Stan Vaughan.
It is entirely possible that I was wrong and that Stan Vaughan does not do this. However, as Weeramantry's letter demonstrates, Stan Vaughan does manipulate the rating system. Also, the election results provided by Stan Vaughan look suspicious. I refuse to believe that, in a fairly conducted election, George Vaughan, the 10 year old son of Stan Vaughan, would receive 96 votes for a seat on the board, and that Carol Jarecki, who for more than 20 years has been one of the most popular chess personalities in the United States if not the World, would receive only 6 votes. Of course, Carol Jarecki did not declare herself to be a candidate and did not run for election on Stan Vaughan's board.
In short, even if I was mistaken on one point, that point was relatively minor and my view of the big picture was right. Moreover, these points about Stan Vaughan were only peripherally related to my main thesis which was that reform is needed in scholastic chess.
What really concerns me about this complaint to the ethics committee, and the only reason I am taking the time and the trouble to write this long response, is that I am concerned that Stan Vaughan, who is even less popular than I am among US Chess insiders, is now being used as a foil to get me. There is no doubt that Don Schultz has been trying for a long time to find a way to nail Sam Sloan (I wouldn't blame him) without appearing to be involved, and Stan Vaughan's complaint may provide the perfect tool for this purpose.
By the way, I must explain that I have nothing against Stan Vaughan. I have never met or spoken to the man. I have no idea what he looks like. I would not know him if I saw him on the street. My opinions are based on a welter of documents I have seen pertaining to Stan Vaughan, some of which were mailed to me by Stan Vaughan himself. I even gave Stan Vaughan a lot of favorable publicity. I was the person who first announced on the Internet that his man, John Blackstone, was a candidate for USCF Policy Board. I was the person who publicized Stan Vaughan's proposal to strip Carol Jarecki (of her TD certification). This last item drew dozens of responses in the Internet.
I know for a fact that the USCF has expended more than $30,000 in dues payer's money in attorney's fees alone dealing with the persistent Stan Vaughan problems. I do not agree with this. I believe that the ridiculous hearings which Hanon W. Russell keeps insisting than we give to Stan Vaughan and for which Hanon W. Russell has been paid more than $10,000 in legal fees that I know of plus two free trips to Las Vegas are an absurd waste of money. After the 1996 delegates meetings in Alexandria, Virginia, I saw the USCF Policy Board go into closed session for many hours, indeed for almost an entire day, just to discuss the Stan Vaughan matters, while 20 or 30 dues payers and chess organizers waited for hours outside the closed room just to get their chance to say something which was undoubtedly of pressing importance to them. Indeed, most of those who were waiting in line to address the Policy Board eventually gave up and went back to their respective states without being afforded their chance to speak, all entirely because of the Stan Vaughan matters.
Unfortunately, I find the USCF Policy Board to be too chicken to deal with Stan Vaughan and similar matters in an appropriate way. They seem to have this terrible fear that Stan Vaughan might sue them (which he already has).
I, like so many others, appreciate the fact that not everything Stan Vaughan has done for chess is bad. Stan Vaughan has signed up many new members. He publishes his own chess magazine. I just wish that he would keep doing the good things and stop the bad.
For example, during the election campaign, instead of attacking me, who was not even campaigning and had no chance, and instead of attacking Carol Jarecki, who was not even a candidate, Stan Vaughan could have accomplished some positive good by raising questions about the front runner, Garrett Scott. The 1997 election may well be remembered as having been the last chance to bring about meaningful reform in US Chess, especially since they cancelled the 1998 election thereafter. Because Stan Vaughan was preoccupied in his dozen mailings with attacking me plus others who were not even candidates, a completely normal nobody whom nobody outside of the insiders had heard of before the election and whom nobody has heard from since became the walkaway winner. (What ever happened to Garrett Scott, by the way? Just as I predicted, nobody has heard from him since he got elected.)
In short, Stan Vaughan's complaint against me is frivolous, for a number of reasons. This is not a matter for ethics. It does not belong before the Ethics Committee or before any other committee or body of the USCF. Moreover, on the merits, the statements in my e-mail were predominantly factually correct and, even if I was mistaken on some points, Stan Vaughan was afforded every opportunity and indeed did exercise every opportunity to correct these errors or inaccuracies.
Very Truly Yours,
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