Radisson Inn, Green Bay, May 30, 2004
USCF membership numbers in Wisconsin continue to decline. Since July overall numbers have declined from 1013 members to 926 in April. 716 of the 926 remained members from July. Another 71 were in my list from prior years but not members in July. There were 210 new players on the April list but 379 members who were members in July are not members any longer. This represents a 37% loss from last years membership. 54 of the 927 records were affiliates. 617 of the members had a rating but only 258 had a rating different than their rating last July. These are our tournament players! In the larger membership categories: there were 281 regular members, 224 life members, 168 youth members and 100 scholastic members. All were down except life members.
But some things are looking up!
As a reward to all of the scholastic programs in Wisconsin, it is with great pride that I am able to announce that the USCF has selected Milwaukee to host the 2006 National High School Championship! The setup will be the same as the 2002 National Junior High School Championship with the playing hall in the Midwest Airlines Center and the Hilton serving as the host hotel. The USCF was very impressed with the facilities and the volunteers and, with my prodding, negotiated the deal. Upside down from the rest of the nation, Wisconsins scholastic strength resides in its high school programs. 2006 will also be the 30th anniversary of Two Rivers High School winning Wisconsins only national high school team championship. I anticipate another record participation of 1400+ including a large turnout from the state for the April 21-23, 2006 event.
What is needed to make the event work? Volunteers! Volunteers! Volunteers! And several Tournament Directors. For volunteers, well need volunteers to help set-up before the event, volunteers to pick-up and take results from the TDs, volunteers to help at Chess Control, volunteers to assist at the airport, volunteers to help coordinate the media, volunteers to monitor the halls, volunteers to man the demo boards, volunteers to assist at the awards ceremony and volunteers to help tear down the room after the event. Note that many of these tasks do not require chess knowledge and that several could easily be handled by coaches, spouses, parents and friends of the chess community. At the 2002 National Junior High several high school players volunteered their time. But remember also that since this is a high school event open to all students in grades K-12, most of our youth will want to play. So, abundant opportunities are available to you to assist the WCA and the Milwaukee chess community.
Tournament Directors, this is a wonderful opportunity to work a national scholastic event and to get credit towards upgrading to your next certification level. Both floor and backroom TDs are needed. Backroom TDs need to have experience with WinTD. Both groups will work with some of the most experienced tournament directors in the country so ample opportunities exist to gain valuable knowledge!
If anyone is interested in volunteering or TDing at the event, please dont hesitate to let me know and Ill put you on my list.
Last year I reported that the USCF was nearly bankrupt. For the ten months ended March 31 the USCF was ahead $45,000 with the profitable National Scholastics still to come. So, barring auditor adjustments, the year should end with a profit. For the next fiscal year the working budget is to show a profit in the $250,000 range.
The office has completed the outsourcing of the books and equipment business to ChessCafe. This has resulted in savings in inventory and in sales and shipping personnel.
Another cost savings is that Executive Director Bill Goichberg has been working without pay since he started in early winter. The Executive Board has been very pleased with Bills efforts in this difficult time while maintaining his aggressive nation-wide tournament schedule.
A permanent move has been put on hold. But since a buyer is once again interested in the building, the USCF is looking at temporarily relocating. The current plan is to renovate part of the lower level of the current building and place a few workers there. Then move the rest of the employees into the building next door currently occupied by the Chess Life staff with possibly having some of the Chess Life staff working from home.
The long term solution that is still being investigated is to either find alternate facilities in the New Windsor area or to move to Tennessee or elsewhere.
The USCF continues to improve its website. Late last year a new service went on-line. The Member Services Area has greatly improved the visit for members. You may scan your rating history and review any crosstable for events back to 1991. Tournament Directors may view crosstables to all events they directed since that time.
The USCF is currently working on an on-line tournament submission system. Although promised earlier this year, the system is hoped to be up and running by the fall.
Inside the June Chess Life will be two ballots. One will be for two seats on the seven member USCF Executive Board necessitated when a second EB member resigned last fall. Most of the candidates are newcomers. Only one attended the EB meeting last weekend in New Windsor.
The second ballot will be for two Wisconsin delegates to the Delegates Meetings for the next two years. (2005 will be in Phoenix, AZ. I havent heard a site yet for 2006.) The WCA board has placed into nomination the names of four of its members: Guy Hoffman, Mike Nietman, Arlen Walker and Andrew Becker. The WCA Board nominees should be marked as such on the ballot. Please vote for at least two of these people to be our delegates to the US Open Delegates Meetings.
I urge all of you who are eligible to vote to please do so. Eligibility is anyone 16 years of age or older. Please read the directions printed on the ballot carefully. Be advised it will cost a first class stamp. If you are eligible but did not receive a ballot, please notify the office.
Wisconsin is entering an interesting time as new clubs are popping up all over and new and old organizers are running more events. Wausau and La Crosse have seen city clubs begin this year and thanks to Bob Patterson-Sumwalt and Randy Bubolz so have many Milwaukee area and suburban elementary schools. This trend is continuing as I know of other schools looking for coaches.
Congratulations to Madison West for repeating as State Scholastic Team Champion. Last March a record 529 students participated. It was the first year that I was able to split the K-8 group into a K-5 and a K-8 section. The K-8 team champion was Marion while the University School of Milwaukee won the inaugural K-5 team championship.
Some of the ideas that the board is throwing around for new events are a Junior Closed and a Wisconsin Closed which would both be round robin invitationals. Bob Patterson-Sumwalt has proposed a Wisconsin Grade Level State Championship in which each grade is a separate tournament. Bob has a new site lined up in St. Francis and has booked it for Friday evening, January 28 and Saturday, January 29, 2005. Numerous volunteers and TDs are needed for this event. Contact Bob or me if you are interested in volunteering.
Congratulations to Neil Gleason for winning the 2003 Wisconsin Chess Tour.
Without a state magazine I encourage everyone to submit event and game material to the WCA website.
Arlen Walker and I each maintain an e-mail list of Wisconsin chess players. We try to keep the list private to reduce the chance of spamming. If you are not on my list, please give me your e-mail address.
The AmericInn motel chain will once again organize several regional and a national scholastic chess championship. Current plans are to hold the regional events in the months of November and December. They are currently soliciting AmericInn properties that are interested in hosting a local event. Then they will be interested in finding TDs around the state to direct the events. Let me know if you are interested in the paid position and Ill get you in contact with the marketing firm that is organizing the events. If the regional events are once again not USCF rated, then anyone, even those without TD certification but with enough tournament experience, may direct an event.
At last after three years they are starting earlier in the year with their planning and I hope that that will increase attendance.
My thanks to all the board members for their hard work this past year. Guy Hoffman, Dave Granik and myself have our terms of office expire today.