Saturday, December 27, 2008

2008 USCF Highlights

2008 is over and it is a good time to look at the most important event in the USCF for the year: the failed recall of Paul Truong. According to the anti-Polgar crowd, the failure was due to bad tactics and strategy, not a bad case. So, let’s make like chess players, and do a post-mortem analysis on the event.

The first striking thing is this: My, what a difference one vote makes! Compare the anti’s comments about Delegates Meetings now to what they said last year on the 2007 thread The Delegates Meeting:

Then: The Delegates were well informed and dedicated as evidenced by their attending workshops for three days before the meeting.

Now: Here’s an example of the new party line:

(Quotes are from the USCF’s Forum)HT’s Post 119888

Yes, preparation of a written summary might have been a good idea, However, I would point out that Donna Alarie DID prepare a summary of the charges against Truong for her recall petition, which included numerous internet URLs to original source materials, such as the Mottershead Report. She mailed it to every single Delegate months before the annual meeting. Despite this, something like half the Delegates arrived at the meeting in August with not the slightest clue what the issues were.

From informed and dedicated to clueless in just one vote!

Regarding the Ethics Committee, consider this:

The preparation of such a report for the Delegates is beyond the normal scope of the Committee's duties. The Delegates could have assigned it such a task but not until they met in August. The Committee DID receive a complaint related to this matter but ruled that it did not have jurisdiction. So there was no possibility of involving the Committee further before August.

Wups! The Ethics Committee had gone defunct during the year. They had not done anything at all – about anything! And nobody noticed. Moreover, when the Committee did finally do something, after the Delegates Meeting, they “declined jurisdiction” – a very different ruling, indeed!

This whole matter (1) the Committee going defunct; (2) nobody noticing it; and (3) this declining jurisdiction thing reflects on the competence of the leadership qualities of the anti-Polgar crowd.

Yes, it might have been a good idea to send a mailing with a statement from the EB majority backing the summary of facts and supporting their recall ADM. However, as I noted above, when a previous summary was sent out by a private individual basically nobody bothered to read it. As far as a Forum discussion goes, most Delegates don't visit it. Maybe a personal mailed appeal from the EB would have increased that number, I don't know.

Yet another comment on how the rest of the chess world views the denizens of that forum. Moreover, this is another comment on the leadership and judgment of the anti-Polgar forces.

Are you kidding? Most of the Delegates don't even fly into town until Friday! It is possible that a special workshop could have been squeezed in on Thursday and might have drawn enough Delegates to be useful. I don't see that Friday would be possible though, as four hours on that day are already committed to the important Bylaws and Finance workshops.

Oh, well! So much for all that hoo-rah last time about all those days of workshops that the Delegates attended.

As they say, hindsight is 20/20. It is just a fact that none of those in charge of preparing the presentation for the Delegates Meeting expected, in their wildest nightmares, that fully half the Delegates would not even have heard of the FSS issue, much less be informed about it.

Okay. So, just how ignorant of the chess players of America is the leaders of the anti-Polgar crowd? Let’s examine the elements of the strategic position.

Total vote pool is around 400 people. The year is 2008. Cell phones, faxes, e-mails, wireless. Recall has support of President and majority of EB of the USCF. Also, the ED.

These elements add up to a formidable strategic position. If a position in “Reassess Your Chess” were equivalent to this political position, Mr. Silman would just dismiss it as a matter of technique.

The key fact that stands out is that over half of the Delegates attended the meeting WITHOUT EVEN BEING AWARE OF THE ISSUE (per above). Phone-calling 400-500 people would have been a job, but it is a doable job. Sales people make those kind of calls all the time. People in multi-level marketing do this on the side, while maintaining a full-time day job. (Side note: Federal do-not call lists do not apply to this. The USCF’s members are fully entitled to call their national Delegates.)

So, why weren’t these people called? All that yak about working night and day on the recall campaign – and this? They couldn’t even lift a telephone and make a call?

Once the Delegates arrived at the meeting, it was time for the anti-Polgar forces to make their case. Their presentation, to say no more, was bad. They blame the defeat on the lawyer. Okay but why didn’t they coordinate their motions with the lawyer – at least so they wouldn’t speak at cross purposes. Were the Delegates to not pass judgment on PT (the motion) or was PT guilty (lawyer and ED)? Who knew?

All of this raises the gravest questions about the basic competence of the USCF’s leadership. Failure to properly contact the Delegates; failure to properly organize the Delegates Meeting; failure to coordinate and present the case against PT at the meeting; and on and on.

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And in other news:

Almost none of the top players attended the US Junior Championship and the US Cadet Championship this year. The USCF failed to send invitations timely. Also, the USCF scheduled the Championships opposite the Kasparov Chess Camp in New York. Since, the players didn’t receive their invitations; they opted for the KCC instead.

In addition, almost no expense money was available and cash prizes were minimal (maybe because lawyers cost lots of dough). The result was that instead of the normal ten players, the US Junior had 6 and the US Cadet had 5. These were not the best players; only the best of what was left.

I asked the USCF’s leaders why the invitations were not issued in a timely manner and this was the reply: (post 118643)

Good golly, you're right! I must have missed that in the "Executive Board duties and responsibilities" chapter. I'll get right on that, as well as issuing the invitations for the US championship, US women's championship, US senior championship, US Armed Forces Championship, US left handed chess player's championship, and US blind squirrel's championship. Am I missing any? I do want to make sure the Executive Board is meeting your expectations.

- Randy Bauer, Vice-President, Finance

Normally, the US Junior Championship and the US Cadet Championship are two of the most prestigious tournaments held in the US, because that is where we see our future grandmasters. The U.S. Junior is a closed event, open by invitation only to the top players under the age of 21. The U.S. Cadet is a closed event, open by invitation only to those under the age of 16. At least, that’s what they used to be.