Riverside Days Inn, Racine, September 2, 2001
It was an exciting year for Wisconsin chess and in particular for two individuals. Even better news is that the next year holds great promise on many fronts!
First, congratulations to Josh Zillmer of Columbus who tied for first in the 2000 Arnold Denker Tournament of High School Champions at the U.S. Open in St. Paul and to Morgan Feeney of Racine who tied for first at the Pan-Am Intercollegiate Scholastic Tournament last December in Milwaukee. For their efforts both were awarded a full tuition and fees college scholarship to the University of Texas at Dallas! Morgan went on to apply for a more prestigious scholarship from UTD and she won that one too! Together Josh and Morgan's scholarships amount to over $100,000!! Congratulations to them both!
I want to congratulate and say thanks to Arlen Walker, President of the Milwaukee Chess Foundation. With help from his board of directors, he spear-headed an effort to land the Pan-Am Intercollegiate Team Tournament in Milwaukee. This was the first major national championship to be held in Wisconsin in quite some time and he and his staff did a superb job!
Congratulations to Glendale Nicolet High School for capturing the 2001 State Scholastic team title. They captured the title when three time defending champion Madison West finally succumbed to the graduation bug and could only muster a 3-2 score.
Speaking of Madison West, congratulations to their coach Neil Gleason for winning the 2000 Wisconsin Chess Tour.
I'd like to thank Joe Hitselberger for directing the Wisconsin Postal Chess Championships over the past few years. Joe asks that we find another person to lead the event next year. If you are interested, please contact Joe or me and we'll get you started.
It is with a heavy heart that I have to announce the passing of Dr. Scott Kittsley this past June. Scott was a benefactor of chess at all levels: national, state and local. He'll be missed and we hope that Alex Betaneli is able to keep the Kittsley Chess Festival going in remembrance of Scott.
Last November the WCA started a new tournament, the Wisconsin Senior Open. While open to anyone age 50 and over, only eight players participated. We're running the event again this November in hopes that the attendance will pick up. Although we do a mailing to all 'senior' USCF members, I'm sure there are many more people eligible who could play. So, please pass the word about this event to your clubmates and friends.
Does anyone in the Milwaukee area need a few more college credits? UW-Milwaukee is offering two for credit beginning chess courses this semester. The first class will start soon and be taught by Sheldon Gelbart. The second starts in October and the teacher is to be decided.
On the outreach side, I was approached by USCF Scholastic Director Tom Brownscombe at the Pan-Am last December about an opportunity involving AmericInn motels across the country. The idea was to hold a series of local and regional qualifiers to a national championship. Specifically, there are over eighty AmericInn's across Wisconsin (second in number to only Minnesota) and around twenty of them provided a room for two (open and scholastic), unrated, chess tournaments if we could provide tournament directors for these events. As compensation to the TD, the USCF was willing to provide a $25 gift certificate and the motel was willing to give a free room night. When I told USCF Executive Director George DeFeis about the difficulty of finding anyone on such short notice to TD the events which were to be held in late January, he threw in a year's USCF membership to boot. For those of us with life memberships, USCF added $40 to the gift certificate for each event ran. At the US Open I heard that some in other states were able to transfer the membership to cover their local club's affiliate dues. I'd like to thank all of the volunteer TD's and especially Dave Granik for going above and beyond the call and volunteering to direct three local events and a regional event. But we could have used more TD's!
While I firmly believe this is a great way to reach new members and new tournament players for our events and to reach new players in non-traditional chess areas of the state, the USCF realized that the tournament was put together too fast. Executive Director DeFeis is currently contacting AmericInn marketing officials to see if they are willing to try again and then to get the ball rolling earlier. If so, we'll need a large number of volunteers to run these events. Please note that since the events are not rated, non-certified TD's who are familiar with the Swiss pairing process can run an event. Remember, a day's work may pay for your USCF membership or your club's USCF affiliation! It should be noted to help drum up support for the three events I directed, I personally sent out postcards to USCF members and letters to media outlets in the Eau Claire to Hudson area.
An additional outreach activity that I'll be attending is the 2002 Wisconsin Association of School Boards convention in Milwaukee in January. The show hosts school board members, district superintendents and principals from around the state. Hopefully exposure at that level will lead to more contacts for participation in our events and to opening a door to get chess in the curriculum in our school districts. I'd like to thank the US Chess Trust and the USCF for providing funding to cover the costs of the booth and for promotional copies of the national magazines for dispersal to the crowd.
Riding on Arlen's coattails, the MCF and WCA made the USCF aware that Wisconsin wanted more. Last spring Tom Brownscombe notified me that the USCF was working with the Milwaukee Convention and Visitors Bureau to land the 2002 National Junior High School Tournament at the Midwest Express Center in downtown Milwaukee. The event is scheduled for next May 9-12.
Since Wisconsin is top heavy in high school players, I gave the USCF notice that if we do a good job on this event that we wanted to host the national high school championship soon thereafter. And a U.S. Open would be the next logical step.
But how do we accomplish this? We need your help! TD's will be needed, both floor and back room pairing TD's. Volunteers will be needed for such things as crowd control, airport greeters, tournament room set-up and tear down specialists, results' verifiers, demo board operators, PR people, opening ceremony coordinators, award ceremony coordinators and the list goes on. You're help is needed!! I'll be writing job descriptions soon but if you know you can help, please let me know as soon as possible. Also, note that not all jobs need a knowledge of chess. So, family members and friends can help too. Also, if you can only volunteer for a day or two, that would still be great. We expect over 1200 participants and many more coaches and parents.
The best part of this is that the WCA will receive a flat fee per participant. It is expected that our treasury will grow next year.
Another exciting bit of news is the arrival of a new independent Wisconsin chess magazine. Good luck to Dave Penkalski, Tom Mertins and Rich Lambrecht in starting WIz Chess. We hope they have a long run.
There were a number of delegate motions passed at the US Open in Framingham last month that will affect all USCF members. For a more detailed list I'd like to refer you to my report that I e-mailed to clubs and TD's in the state last month. I've posted a copy in the playing room for your inspection. But I'd like to take a moment to talk to you about five of the major initiatives from that meeting.
First, after several years of debate, the delegates voted to allow full one member, one vote. By this I mean that starting in 2003 each USCF adult member will be able to vote directly for three seats on the Executive Board and then in 2005 to vote for the other four. I urge voters to vote but to make it an informed vote by listening to the people who are knowledgeable about the candidates. Resist the temptation and even pressure to vote for the big name candidates.
Secondly, FIDE is seeking to have chess become part of the Olympics. The IOC has already recognized FIDE as the official governing body for world chess. Next, the USOC needs to recognize the USCF as the official body for chess in the US. This application is being made.
A requirement for Olympic participation in any Olympic competition is drug testing of athletes. GM Joel Benjamin offered a motion that will allow the drug testing of participants of the US Championship or the event designated to select Olympic participants. While the subject of drug testing elicits strong emotions from both sides, the publicity benefits of chess being played in the Olympics may earn us more respect in many different areas. No, you wont be drug tested when you play in any event unless you are playing in the US Championship.
Thirdly, the office heard the cry of the delegates loud and clear on the subject of skyrocketing TLA fees. The delegates deferred all motions regarding TLA fees to the Executive Board for action.
Next, last spring the office heard loud and clear the outcry of players and organizers in not getting their events rated in a timely fashion. As of the beginning of August, all rating reports received through the prior week had been input and are ready for rating. This is a great improvement over last fall and winter when it was taking six weeks to rate an event.
Lastly, after posting a $435,000 loss in fiscal 2000, the USCF posted a modest $14,000 profit in fiscal 2001, almost a half million dollar turnaround. One of the ways they did this was to reduce their overhead of books. Instead of carrying nearly every title related to chess, they now carry around 200 titles. This has adversely effected cash flow during the slow periods but interestingly has increased the gross margin on the books they do sell. Also, backorders have been almost eliminated.
I'd also like to remind you that next June, you will be asked to vote for Wisconsin's two delegates and six alternate delegates (at current count) to the 2003 Delegate's Meeting. The WCA board will submit a slate for the ballot. If any other individual wishes to have their name appear on the ballot, they will need the signatures of ten other USCF members on a nomination form sent to the USCF. The rules for the ballot are still being formulated but they may include special marks for those nominated by the state affiliate and another special mark for those nominees desiring to be delegates who are able to attend the annual meeting. Please read the ballot instructions carefully and I urge you to vote for the WCA nominees.
I urge all TD's and organizers to read my December 10 letter (posted in the playing room) that describes WCA policy and procedures. In addition all TD's and organizers should familiarize themselves with new USCF policies that are listed on page ten of the August Rating Supplement. Failure to follow these new USCF policies may cost you additional money.
A great deal of thanks go to all the Board members for their hard work and many hours of time spent on chess projects this past year. Special thanks to Guy Hoffman and Jason Delpire who along with myself have our terms of office expire today.