Organizers of the US Amateur Team West in Los Angeles were surprised to learn today that there would be no playoff this year among the East, Midwest, South and West Champions for the national title.  This year's playoff had never been announced, but was probably expected by most players, as there also had been no announcement that it was off.  The four champions have played off for many years, usually by telephone but sometimes (with sponsorship) in person.

The Amateur Team tournaments will be held Feb 17-19 in Parsippany, NJ, Arlington Heights, IL, and Los Angeles, and Feb 16-18 or 17-18 in Gainesville, FL.

This is apparently another example of the current administration's "cancel everything" approach to USCF's financial problems, but is a puzzling move, because a playoff could be held inexpensively and would help promote attendance, and the US Amateur East in New Jersey, one of the largest tournaments in the nation, has long been profitable for USCF, both in its share of the profits and its sales.

In the 1970s, when I ran the National Chess League, the phone bill for each match averaged about $70.  Phone rates have dropped dramatically since then, so a match could probably be held for $20, or an entire round robin for $120.  Even better, one would think that U.S. Chess Live, the USCF online play site, could be used at no cost.  A Director and runners in each city are needed, but the NCL had little trouble getting runners to volunteer, and I think a qualified Director in each city could would have offered to help by charging a low fee, if any.  I would think the entire event could have been put on for about $500, or maybe $1000 tops, an expense well worth it to continue promoting a successful national event.

What will the Executive Board allow cuts in next?  It took much effort from Bob Smith and John McCrary to save the US Championship from efforts by the majority alliance to drive away the Seattle bidders, the same alliance succeded in killing a no-risk sponsorship offer by KasparovChess, the USCF office no longer has a receptionist, the majority has voted to cut back on book and equipment sales, the Grand Prix was cancelled with no effort to find sponsorship and later saved without help from the majority alliance, half our TLAs have been driven out of Chess Life by the large fee increase... what's next? Perhaps a productive savings would be to cancel the next EB meeting? homepage