RICHARD VERBER IS DEAD

Senior Master Richard Verber, long one of the strongest players and most prominent chess organizers and teachers in the Chicago area, has died at the age of 57.  

A National Tournament Director, Verber organized many important events in Chicago, beginning with the record-breaking 1963 US Open and including additional US Opens, US Championships, international title tournaments, and simuls by the world's leading players. 

He also represented the United States three times in World Student Team competition, achieving probably the highlight of his career as a player at the 1970 Student Team event at Haifa, Israel, in which he won the gold medal for best fourth board score (5-1) while the U.S. Team captured the World Student title.

In 1974, Verber conducted a national campaign to obtain proxies for the annual meeting of the USCF Board of Delegates in New York.  This proved very successful, and Verber and another proxy holder, Leroy Dubeck, had far more votes between them than all the other Delegates combined. 

This was the last USCF Delegates meeting at which proxies were allowed, as Judge Lackland Bloom, a Delegate from St. Louis, delivered a speech in which he attacked Verber, Dubeck, and USCF President Frank Skoff, said proxies were illegal, and threatened to sue the federation if they were not abolished within a year.  USCF officers checked the law of Illinois, the federation's state of incorporation, found that Bloom was correct, and a new set of Bylaws enabling a quorum without the use of proxies was passed in 1975.

Verber ran for the USCF Policy Board in 1975 and was generally expected to win, but was defeated by Fred Townsend of Connecticut.  He was never a candidate again, but remained keenly interested in USCF governance and politics, and was often in touch with the federation's leaders.

Verber organized many tournaments of different types in Chicago, including some Swisses with large guaranteed prizes.  He was sometimes too enthusiastic about these, promoting them so widely and expensively that their entry fees fell short of covering prizes and other expenses.    At one large but heavily losing event, Verber was unable to pay much of the guaranteed prize fund, and player complaints resulted in the suspension of his Director certification.  He eventually was able to pay all the winners in full, and his certification was reinstated.

In his later years, Verber's health was poor and he was confined to a wheelchair.  He no longer played or organized, but was successful as a chess teacher.  We had been on opposite sides in the 1970s, but were in agreement on many issues in recent years.  His observations about USCF and the world of chess were always perceptive, and I will miss our discussions.  He was a controversial figure, but I can't think of anyone who did as much to promote Chicago chess.

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