by Wick Deer


    There has been much outcry about the new TLA policy, and rightly so.  TLAs are vital for tournament attendance and as a means of attracting new members to attend tournaments.

    On the other hand, the argument for reducing the TLAs has two primary points.  Pages in Chess Life not used for TLAs can be used for other content, including advertisements.  Also, the production of TLAs is, by all reports, time consuming and labor intensive, especially when the TLAs are submitted by fax or US Mail.  Both of these factors impose costs on USCF.  Reducing these costs is a legitimate concern which should be addressed by any TLA policy.

    I would suggest that the office and board made a mistake in imposing the new TLA policy with minimal discussion and debate; however, to simply reinstate the old TLA policy would also be a mistake.

    What we need is a policy that encourages TLA's, but also addresses USCF's concern with page usage and labor costs.  In short, what we need are: more TLAs, concise TLA's and TLAs submitted in such a way as to minimize office labor costs.  More TLAs will promote more members playing in more tournaments.  Encouraging concise TLAs will help address USCF's concerns about page usage.  Finally, I am pleased to note that USCF is offering a discount for submissions sent by email and paid promptly by credit card.  However, I would suggest that TLA pricing should do even more to encourage submission by email and prompt payment by credit card.  I suspect that this would lead to serious labor savings.

    I would suggest that a template TLA should include certain basic information for a flat fee.  That information would include the information that the average chess player would want to know:

    Event. name.
    Site Address
    Tournament Format (i.e. 5 SS or quads)
    Times for registration and rounds
    Info on sections (i.e. open and reserve (U1700))
    Total Prize fund (i.e. $500 based on 40)
    Entry Fee
    Contact Info (phone and email)
    NC NS W

This TLA (which would probably run 4 lines or so) would be available for a flat rate.  If the organizer wishes to add additional information such as class prize breakdowns, descriptions of multiple schedules or entry fees, etc., then this information would be added on a line by line basis. 

    Pricing should strongly encourage submission by email and prompt payment by credit card.  (Hopefully, eventually, this process can be done by web submission.)  My initial thought would be that there should be a flat fee of $10 for a generic TLA if submitted by email and promptly paid by credit card.  Submissions by fax or snail mail should be priced at $20, to encourage submission in a form that requires less labor by the office.  Additional lines should be priced so as to encourage electronic submission, $3 per line if submitted by email, and $6 per line for other formats.

    Creating a TLA policy to make everyone happy is an impossibility; however, we should craft a policy to balance the concerns of the organizers and USCF.  We need a policy designed to produce more TLAs, concise TLAs, and TLAs submitted in a format that the office can handle efficiently.

    I would welcome suggestions, comments, debate and other reasoned response.

Editor's comment:  This subject is currently being discussed by the Affiliate Committee, chaired by Bruce Draney, and the Membership Growth Committee, which I chair, with the hope of making a joint committee proposal to the Executive Director.  If not approved by the ED, it would be presented to the Delegates at the Framingham annual meeting.

Wick's ideas make sense, and most are already under discussion by the committees.  Tom Martinak has suggested a method I think is even better than a template- an online form into which an organizer could type a composed TLA and see it with exactly the number of lines it will have when in Chess Life.  Sample TLAs would serve as reminders of the data to be included, and once finished the organizer would enter credit card info and click to submit.  Tom has also proposed that hard copy TLAs pay double, as Wick suggests.

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