Who was the Worst President the United States Chess Federation has ever had?

This is a subject which has often been hotly debated, but in private circles. Everyone seems to have his own favorite choice for this honor. Sperling gets my vote. Others have suggested Redman, Dlugy and Barry.

On the Internet, it is often said that Don Schultz will go down as the worst president the USCF ever had. While I am not a fan of Mr. Schultz, I disagree. Several presidents of the USCF were vastly worse than Don Schultz. Don does not even make the honor roll of "Best of the Worst". (Poor Don can't be good at anything.)

The reasons I believe that Don Schultz is regarded as such a bad president include the fact that he is the first to be president under the full glare of the Internet. In the past, there was almost total secrecy. Most members never knew that the USCF nearly went under when Sperling was president, for example.

Furthermore, Don Schultz had a terrible reputation even before he became president, due to the numerous misdeeds he committed while he was US Delegate to FIDE. Most presidents when they come into office bring a certain amount of goodwill with them, and there is a honeymoon period when they can do no wrong. However, Don Schultz was already widely regarded as a bad guy even before he became president, and therefore he did not get his honeymoon.

Finally, Schultz is only the most recent in a string of bad or ineffective presidents. Many members were fed up with the entire crew already before he got in. The presidents since I have been a member are George Tiers, Jerry Spann, Fred Cramer, Major Edmundson, Marshall Roland, Leroy Dubeck, Frank Skoff, George Koltanowski, Gary Sperling, Tim Redman, Steve Doyle, Harold Winston, Max Dlugy, and Denis Barry.

Prior to Sperling, none of them were especially bad, but, then again, I wouldn't know because little is known about what they did or failed to do. Jerry Spann was highly regarded and was probably the best.

However, Sperling ushered in an era of bad presidents. Within the first few weeks after Sperling became President in 1978, the top five members of the USCF staff starting with the executive director all quit or were fired. There was nobody to take their place. Chess Life magazine did not come out for months. There were no ratings. There was nobody running the office. A bunch of high school kids were hired on a temporary basis from a local high school and they ran the USCF for several months. Finally, George Cunningham came out of retirement and came down from New England and ran the show on a volunteer basis. Most agree that had it not been for the rescue by Cunningham, the USCF would have ceased to exist.

However, Cunningham was not without his faults. He introduced what he aptly called "fiddle points" into the chess rating system. Under his fiddle points system, some players gained as much as 200 rating points in just one tournament. This destroyed the integrity of the rating system and made the USCF rating system a world laughing stock. This is the reason why USCF ratings ran wildly out of control in the early 1980s.

Fortunately, Sperling eventually got tired and lost interest in being USCF President and essentially dropped out for the last two years of his office. As a result, the USCF was able to right its rudder and managed to survive.

I would like others to express their views: Who do you think was the worst president the USCF ever had?

Sam Sloan

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