Sheraton Four Points, Milwaukee, September 1, 2002
Another exciting year has passed for Wisconsin chess. For the first time ever we hosted a national scholastic championship and with the help of numerous tournament directors and volunteers, the 2002 National Junior High School Championship was a huge success!
In all, 1458 kindergarteners through ninth graders competed Mother's Day Weekend at the Midwest Express Center in downtown Milwaukee. The two year-old facility is still in immaculate condition and all the players, coaches and parents respected the property well and were very well behaved.
The largest rated event in state history ran smoothly under the lead of Chief Tournament Director Al Losoff. The USCF is now the main organizer of the five national scholastic events as well as the US Open. They in turn contract with a local affiliate to arrange for volunteers and additional TD staff. My thanks to the numerous volunteers who came forward. In particular to Arlen Walker who was a great sounding board for pre-tournament ideas and put in tons of hours running all over the facility to insure the smooth running of the event. I'd also like to single out USCF life member Randy Bubolz of Milwaukee who also donated several days to the success of the event. Randy jumped in at Chess Control on Thursday taking entries, memberships and solving problems. Then during the tournament he kept Chess Control running smoothly. My sincere congratulations on a job well done to Arlen, Randy and all the volunteers and tournament directors!
At the end of the event coaches and parents were very complimentary. The best one I received was from a coach from Pittsburgh who told me that he'd "attended over a dozen of the spring nationals and this was by far and away the best he'd ever attended."
My personal goal has been to bring the National High School Championship to Wisconsin in order to reward the vast majority of our scholastic programs here in the state. Now, every chance I get I remind Tom Brownscombe, USCF Scholastic Director and Diane Reese, USCF Event Manager that we'd love to host that event. While we were packing up Sunday night, Diane told me "2004 National High School here in Milwaukee!" Since then I've talked with her and she has stated that the 2004 National High School may have to go west for rotational reasons but that 2004 or 2006 are still possible. (2005 will be Supernationals III in Nashville, TN.) I'll keep you informed about our chances but when we do get another event, please volunteer! Although we had plenty of volunteers this year, several were high school players and they will want to play in the event next time. So, plan to join in on the fun and volunteer!
One thing that didn't happen was press coverage. Unfortunately the USCF did not forward to me a pre-tournament press release. So, the press was largely unaware of the event. Arlen did get some play time on WTMJ radio leading up to the event but the only Journal-Sentinel coverage we had was on Sunday buried in the Metro section and then after the basic information about the tournament was given the reporter decided to explore the reasons for the lack of girls at the event. I only wish she was around on Sunday when US Woman's Champion Jennifer Shahade spoke to all the girls participating. In the future I will not be caught shorthanded and will have a press release of my own ready to go on short notice.
As the local affiliate the WCA grossed $7290! At the board meeting immediately following this meeting we will be discussing what we should do with this money. My recommendations to the board will be that we re-fund the CD's that Scott Kittsley donated to us, reconsider the vote denying a stipend to our 2002 Denker Tournament representative and to make a donation to the Milwaukee Chess Foundation in appreciation for all the hard work the people of the Milwaukee area did to make the tournament such a success. That will still leave us with a sizable treasury that we'll need to manage better than we have in the past. Watch for the upcoming article about the event in Chess Life!
Congratulations to first time state scholastic team champion Milwaukee School of Languages. They tied with Madison West who beat them in their head-to-head match but MSOL won on tiebreaks. In all 411 players participated in the March event.
Congratulations also go to Guy Hoffman for winning the 2001 Wisconsin Chess Tour.
Regarding upcoming WCA events, we're adding a membership not required section to the Wisconsin Junior Open to hopefully draw more beginners to the event. After holding the Senior Open as a separate event the last two years and not drawing very well, we're going to fold that event back into the Veteran's Tournament and award a separate Senior trophy. Due to rising site costs, we decided to move last year's Herman Schramm Memorial to UW-Madison. The tournament had a great draw so we've planned to hold it there again this year.
Good luck to Alex Betaneli who successfully bid to hold three national championship tournaments at this hotel the weekend between Christmas and New Year's. The events are the National G/30 Action Championship, the National G/15 Quick Chess Championship and the G/5 National Blitz Championship. Along with Arlen's venture into the 2000 Pan-American Intercollegiate Championships, the USCF is taking notice of Wisconsin and its organizers who put on high quality events.
Our condolences go out to the family and friends of Cedric Thompson who passed away a few weeks ago. Cedric was a pillar of the Milwaukee chess community. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Milwaukee Chess Foundation and a member of a number of clubs in the Milwaukee area. His assistance in organizing and directing a number of the big Milwaukee events will be sorely missed.
The USCF was actually making a bit of money this past year. That was until the new auditors started to look at past year's financials. Unfortunately they found over $320,000 that needed to be written off the books due to problems in "previous accounting periods" going all the way back to 1996. The USCF decided to take the hit last year and not re-state all of those past financials. Net assets for the Federation were down $733,000 last year alone.
With all of this financial information in front of the delegates along with the fact that a developer has given the USCF an offer on their land at just about fair market value, the delegates voted to give the authority to the executive director and the executive board to sell the property. This does not force them to sell, just gives them the authority.
What does this mean? The building, owned by the life members, is in sad shape. Several hundred thousand dollars are needed to re-furbish it. Moving is not a bad idea. Where would they move? They may move to another, as to yet unknown, location near New Windsor.
A second alternative is to move from the area. One possibility is Excalibur Electronics, home of the Chess Hall of Fame and Museum, south of Miami, which is building a new wing and has offered the USCF space. Of course this means that only a few of the current employees would move and the USCF would basically have to start over.
Also to stem the loss of funds and to rebuild the financial reserves of the federation, the delegates voted to raise dues in all categories effective January 1. We also voted to re-establish the affiliate commission. So, regular membership dues will be $49 per year but $4 will go to the affiliate if you renew at your club. (Many clubs often rebate the $4 back to the member. So, you may want to "shop" around.) Note that the last dues increase was in 1996. Youth dues will be $25 with a $2 commission.
The scholastic membership will be split. To keep dues as low as possible for our youngest members, the Scholastic Committee proposed and the delegates accepted a new scholastic membership category without a magazine. The scholastic membership without any publication will be $13 with a $1 commission. (The executive director stated that he'd still do a catalog mailing to this group during the holiday season and will incorporate reports on the past year's national scholastics and information on the coming year's events.) The savings here is that the USCF will not spend $90,000 on printing and mailing School Mates. The scholastic membership with a publication will be $19 with a $2 commission. The publication will be a bimonthly Chess Life with a few columns devoted to beginners. Please note that the executive director was going to ask the editor of Chess Life to add a few beginner columns anyway as he has received numerous requests for beginner friendly columns.
In the recent vote among all adult USCF members in each state for their state delegates, 494 votes were cast nation-wide from about 40,000 eligible voters. It should be noted that there were problems with the ballot. Namely, no peel and stick label on the July Chess Life as per the directions, the August magazine with the peel and stick label came out very late and the peel and stick label had a bar code on it thereby redirecting the envelope back to the sender. The problems have been identified and will be rectified for the next election.
There were nine ballots sent in for the Wisconsin delegate vote. One was rejected because too many votes were cast. The results were
I'd like to thank everyone that took the time and effort to vote! Hopefully we'll get a better turnout next time.
A new rules book will be coming out before next summer. It will be more TD friendly in that it will have cross-references and TD Tips on how to apply the rules. Significant changes are listed below:
- Draw claims will become draw offers
- Due color will be decided without using rank as a factor
- A standard penalties section will be added. Basically two minutes are added to the opponent's clock
- Insufficient losing changes has been clarified such that
- It should be decided by the two players and not the TD so slap a delay clock on the game
- You can't make a claim until less than two minutes are on your clock
The USCF plans on improving its computer systems. They will start with the ratings program. There will be web access to the progress of your rating reports as they work their way through the system then the final report will be available to all over the web. Electronic submission of reports is also planned.
Lastly, TLA fees have reverted back to what they were a couple of years ago.
My thanks to all the board members for their hard work this past year. Chris Krumenauer, Peter Webster and Andy Becker have their terms expire today. In addition, Errol Hartman has resigned his seat on the board. The person finishing fourth in today's vote will serve out the remainder of his term which expires in 2003.