by Bill Goichberg

In recent months, I have been reporting USCF news on ChessNews.Org, and in mailed printouts of our web posts.  Like many electors, I am concerned that our federation is heading in the wrong direction, and believe that reversal of many current policies is essential.  Successful programs must be restored, failed experiments no longer promoted at great cost, and the "alliance" mentality in which part of the Board incessantly plots to harass and disgrace other EB members must end.  If you agree, you should vote for Frank Brady, Frank Camaratta, John McCrary and Steve Shutt, who will work constructively with the Board and our affiliates to promote chess and the federation.  

When the Board of Delegates met at St. Paul last August, the office had already made the decision to enormously increase TLA fees, which was announced in the October Chess Life.  But the Delegates were neither consulted nor notified.  A 3 line TLA went from $6 to $50, later reduced to $35 due to the resulting protests.  Candidate Jim Pechac and his Executive Board majority continue to support the current high fees, which have driven the majority of TLAs out of Chess Life.

The federation's long profitable book and equipment sales program has been severely damaged by the EB majority, again without consulting the Delegates.  The Executive Director has recently announced that USCF now carries about 40 books rather than the 300-400 titles offered in the past, and that the number of other items offered for sale has also been greatly reduced.  Sales have long, along with membership dues, been USCF's most important revenue sources.

And also without Delegate consultation, the Board majority has decided that USCF must offer free online play to its members, almost regardless of the cost.  US ChessLive was first presented as a free service to USCF, but no EB members now dispute that the cost to the federation is in six figures.  Such an expenditure makes little sense since free online play is offered by many other sites, and indeed, after 11 months of USCL, no benefit to USCF's membership totals is apparent.  The EB should have terminated the Games Parlor contract and returned to the wise previous policy of using online play as a revenue source rather than an expense, but incredibly, they renewed the contract instead, under much less favorable terms for USCF!

Probably as a result of the above actions, USCF has just suffered what may be its worst three month period in history.  The TLA fee increase did not take full effect until March, as many memberships collected in February were from tournaments that had a first insertion in the December issue and paid the old rates.  From March through May, adult membership declined by 586- a whopping 2.2% decrease.  USCF also lost 530 youth members and 1197 scholastic members during this period.

The annual gross margin on sales was off 5.8% for the year, and the new "basic items only" policy is only now beginning to have an impact.  The May gross margin was $31,578, the lowest figure for any month in years.   Hopefully, the Delegates will rescind "basic items only" before too many loyal USCF customers, seeking one-stop shopping, develop the habit of buying elsewhere and never return.

You have recently received at least three letters, from Steve Doyle, Leroy Dubeck and Jim Eade, presenting quite another view of recent USCF developments.  These defenders of the Board majority are obviously very concerned about what I have posted and mailed.  But rather than respond on the issues, they have tried to make me the issue instead.

Mr. Doyle says, "Mr. Goichberg doesn't want online chess," but I have never said anything of the sort.  Opposing wasteful Games Parlor spending is not opposing online chess.  I supported the profitable ICC agreement while on the Board, and believe USCF should seek non-exclusive agreements with all online play providers.  Online play must be a revenue source for USCF, not an expense!

Mr. Dubeck says, "Please remember that the Goichberg/Schultz Board lost $265,000 and $412,000 in its last two years."  This is an astonishing statement, which deceptively fails to mention that the year of the $412,000 reported loss, the Schultz Board was in office for only the first two and a half months!  The performance of past boards is not a currently relevant issue, and if you don't wish to read about it, please skip the next four paragraphs.  

After the new Board took office in August 1999, there were two changes in the position of Executive Director, Xmas sales collapsed, the new Board foolishly declined risk-free sponsorship offered by Club Kasparov, and the great majority of the annual loss occurred in the calendar year 2000! 

Mr. Dubeck may claim that some of the later losses should be blamed on the Schultz Board, but he will also no doubt object when I point out that this Board deserves to credited with over $300,000 more profit during its term when we consider factors not the fault of that Board's leadership: Lawrence and Filippone severance pay, obsolete and overvalued inherited inventory, the revised method of accounting for vacation pay, the recognition of the "credit slip book" liability, etc. 

The Schultz Board also took over an office that was technologically defunct after years of neglect, and began its term with the Executive Director having just departed and employee morale very low-   hardly a situation likely to lead to quick profits.

Mr. Eade says, "The fact is that operations lost money every year of the Schultz administration."  The fact is that this is another attempt to mislead the voters.  During fiscal 1996-7, operations lost $128,773, but the Schultz Board took office in the latter part of August, and from September to the end of the fiscal year, there was a $31,777 profit, despite severance pay, obsolete inventory, etc.  If Mr. Eade is thinking of a 12 month period, there was still a profit for the first full year ending 8/97.

One thing that Messrs. Doyle, Dubeck and Eade all have in common is that they ignore the serious issues raised on ChessNews.Org, and say instead, "Don't listen to him, he was on a Board that lost money."  Mr. Dubeck even goes so far as to make it sound like I was the President, by saying "Goichberg/Schultz Board."  And Mr. Eade says, "The people who dug this hole for the federation should have the good grace to at least hold their tongues, while others try to dig us out."  We differ over who is mainly responsible for USCF's financial problems, but whoever they are, they certainly have a right to be heard, and to have their views considered.

On 10/31/96, Mr. Doyle posted something similar about Tim Redman's first USCF Presidency, from 1981 to 1984.  He wrote, "Tim Redman had the highest loss of $180,000 with two other years also losing money."  However, three years later, Mr. Doyle endorsed Mr. Redman for the Executive Board!  Obviously he did not believe that those blamed for financial loss should "hold their tongues."

It is interesting to examine some major questions recently discussed on ChessNews.Org, and see how this trio of Board supporters have addressed them.  My comments are in parentheses.

1.  Why has the Board driven out of Chess Life more than half the TLAs, one of the most popular features of the magazine and a membership promoter?

Doyle:  "This one went too far in fixing a problem."  (What was the problem, too much activity?) Dubeck: silence.  Eade: silence.

2.  Why has the Board damaged USCF's long profitable book & equipment sales program?

Doyle:  "We can't afford to stock every title in the catalog. Much of our loss in the past years is because of a poorly run sales program.  Maybe we need to find a more competent leadership group in the office..."  (OK, but why the drastic cutback?)  Dubeck: silence.  Eade: silence.

3.  Why was the Games Parlor contract renewed, when USCF has spent six figures with no apparent resulting membership growth?

Doyle:  "Nonsense-they are tripling the highest number I came up with.  This program does not cost USCF that kind of money."  (Even Tim Redman doesn't agree with this bizarre claim.)  Dubeck: silence.  Eade: silence.

4.  Why is US ChessLive a significant membership benefit, considering that ICC is vastly more popular, and free online play is offered by Chess.net, Yahoo, FICS, KasparovChess, OnlineChess.com, It'sYourTurn.com, GameColony.com, InstantChess.com, Chess247, GameKnot, and Achess?

Doyle: silence.  Dubeck: silence.  Eade: silence.

5.  Why does the new contract give Games Parlor substantial commissions on members they have nothing to do with bringing in?  Affiliates no longer receive commissions for members that they do sign up!

Doyle: silence.  Dubeck: silence.  Eade: silence.

6.  Why does the new contract allow Games Parlor to receive 25% commissions on the January 2001 dues increases?

Doyle: silence.  Dubeck: silence.  Eade: silence.

7.  Why does the new contract give Games Parlor control over USCF advertising of online play providers?

Doyle: silence.  Dubeck: silence.  Eade: silence.

8.  Why were the Delegates not consulted about any of the above issues?

Doyle: silence.  Dubeck: silence.  Eade: silence.

9.  Why did USCF lose 586 adult members, 530 youth members, and 1197 scholastic members in March through May 2001?

Doyle:  "Regular members have started to tick up very slightly.  I think this is a good trend."  Dubeck: silence.  Eade: silence.

We must turn USCF around before it is too late.  The situation is not yet hopeless, but we cannot afford to risk electing any more Executive Board members who may support the negative policies of our current EB majority.  Please join me in voting for Brady, Camaratta, McCrary and Shutt. 

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