Honor the Intent

by Don Schultz

During the 1990s the direction of the American Chess Foundation changed from sponsoring a wide variety of chess projects to almost exclusively promoting their highly successful New York City inner city school programs.  In order to emphasize this redirection, the American Chess Foundation changed their name to Chess-in-the-Schools.  Although their inner school programs continue to be enormously successful, part of the funding of these programs comes from income from donations of patrons who intended other uses for their contributions.

Case in point, when former USCF President Fred Cramer died in April 1989 he bequeathed a quarter of a million dollars to the ACF. Throughout his life, Cramer was an avid advocate for better communication and improved chess journalism, particularly at the state level.  In order to partially satisfy Cramer’s wishes, Fan Adams, then President of the ACF, used a portion of the income from the Cramer bequest to sponsor the Cramer Awards for Excellence in Chess Journalism. Unfortunately Chess-in-the-Schools has now cancelled their financial support of the Cramer Awards Program.  They did this so they can redirect all of the income from the Cramer bequest to support their NYC inner city school programs.

The Cramer Awards for Excellence in Chess Journalism are not the only victim of the Chess-in-the-Schools new policy. An example is the income from over a million dollars of Thomas Emery donations.  Emery was a close friend of many of our finest players, including Frank Marshall and Al Horowitz.  He helped support master chess.  He also was a member of the Marine Corps during World War I and as a result had an enduring interest in armed forces chess.  He sponsored the first Armed Forces Championship in 1960, and continued to sponsor it during his lifetime.  He had every expectation that income from his donations would continue to be used for master and armed forces chess promotions.  But it is not.  All of it is now being used for the Chess-in-the Schools New York City inner city school programs.

Chess-in-the-Schools does continue to support a few projects unrelated to their inner school programs.  These include the Denker High School Invitational and the Paul Albert Awards.  But the patrons for these projects are still living and members of their Board.

However invaluable the Chess-in-the-School programs are, income from bequests and contributions such as those from Cramer and Emery should be used to pay for the intended programs of the patron.  If you agree with this assessment, please express your feelings to Members of the Board, Chess-in-the-Schools, 353 West 46th Street, New York, NY 10036, tel. 212 643-0225, fax 212 757-7704.