Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Every now and then it is time to stir up the hornet's nest. It always makes 1-2 people feel squeamish or uncomfortable and that is the point.

When I was in H.S. my senior year we had this nun at Cardinal Stritch who was big on tests, tests of all kinds, day in and out. I don't know if she got to see the results and find out whether we knew anything or not but besides the SATs, PSATs, ACTs, and whatever else was out there we also had the Air Force Entrance Exam!

What I discovered is that I had a flair for "pattern recognition." Guess what else that is good for? Okay, no bonus points for getting that one.

But I was thinking recently about when I make a bulk e-mailing about the Chess Clinic or a catalog invariably I get one or two "please unsubscribe mes." They are usually polite and short. I have notes besides the email addresses of many I email to in case they ask me where I got their email address, etc.

Guess who is the biggest group of "please unsubscribe mes?" It is our chess politicians! You know, those people who "organize" events, or direct tournaments, or just love being in the limelight.

I know one guy who moved from one state to another and when I was at a banquet in honor of Anatoly Karpov I heard someone say, "That loser (the announcer of Karpov, in a long drawn out speech) moved from one state they wanted him to leave to this one!" Yes, the voters are watching you! This is not uncommon.

In 1975 I was at the US Open in Lincoln and walked into a journalists meeting after most of the people there had received some several sheets of announcements. But some were asked to share because there weren't enough. At that time I was reporting on a variety of stuff and this guy lunged a copy of HIS announcements to me lest I "vote against him for USCF president." I overheard other scuttlebutt years later about another person running for that office (and I think, got it) who felt they had put in THEIR time as a state organizer, etc. and NOW they wanted to be president of the USCF. Over the years we have had some pretty strange officials in that office. I never wanted to run for anything in that capacity lest I be treated as a "guilt by association" type of individual.

I remember being at another US Open where the late Jerry Hanken was holding forth about this and that (he was a delegate from CA) and people wanted to lynch him for not saying his piece and sitting down. I was told he always did this. I remember sitting in one "back room meeting" many years ago where money deals were trying to be worked out. Finally, a solution came about (??) and it would be implemented at next year's event! It never happened, the guy with the $$$ changed his mind. If there was a bidding process for some venue I found out that it leaked like a sieve, with insiders telling outsiders what the current bids were. The reason for that is that someone had a reason for wanting their man in place, so other bidders ALWAYS lost unless there was ONLY one bidder.

What is amazing is that of all these people I knew, in some capacity, none ever bought a book, a set, a dvd, or anything from me. Some of them even expected things to be given to them! You might've guessed how far that got. But except for a small percentage, maybe 20%, most of these people did not play chess, nor talk about chess. I've even been told this was common practice in USCF Policy Board meetings!

I will give these people credit for one thing (sort of), for some reason, known only to God, they "love" something about chess enough to continue having tournaments, scholastic events, and so forth. Maybe they like seeing their name in the State Newsletter, I don't know, but the average chess player, in many instances, wants to play chess and not run chess or organize chess. Practically speaking, they are both selfish.

Well citizens, any thoughts? (In the interests of boring disclosure, I have run 30-40 events in the last century but never held a state or national office, nor did I seek one.) No I am doing Festivals and Clinics and those don't seem to be political at all.


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