US Chess Annual Meeting

US Chess Annual Meeting

Sep 7, 2015, 7:36 PM |

The massive, gaping hole called the Grand Canyon headlined our family's summer RV trip. We left the park on August 1st and only six days later I was back within a stone's throw of the Grand Canyon (Phoenix this time) to attend my first US Chess Annual Meeting as a delegate for the State of Illinois.

I've been a member of the USCF (now known as US Chess) for 20 years and things just, well, happen. Sometimes well, sometimes not so well. I love playing in over-the-board tournaments and thank God there are people out there who organize them. I don't really know why they do. It doesn't look fun nor profitable from where I'm sitting but then sitting at a board for ten hours a day probably doesn't look so fun from where they're sitting.

We all know that US Chess organizes OTB chess in the US and we've all seen those lame candidate's statements published in Chess Life every few years by people who are running for the Board of Directors. Maybe some of us have even sent in a ballot or two.

But I found out the weekend of August 7-9 who really makes the decisions about chess in the US--I mean about the rules of chess and and how chess tournaments are run. They're made by the state delegates during the Annual Meeting. This year there were about 80 delegates in attendance from most all the states. The number of delegates from each is apparently based on either the size of the state's US Chess membership or its population, sort of like the US House of Representatives. Illinois, for instance, was awared six slots but we only had three delegates in attendance (which seemed about the average attendance rate across the board).

So what did we do all weekend? We sat in a big room with the Board of Directors up on a stage and the delegates in the audience and we went through about 50-60 motions, voting on each one. The motions primarily dealt with either changes to the rules of chess or some US Chess organizational matter (governance).

After each motion was brought to the floor, delegates who had opinions on the motion would line up and wait their turn to address the group, either pro or against or to ask clarifying questions.

And who knew people could get so passionate about the minutiae of the chess rule book! Wow, we had some discussions and arguments about some motions that seemed on the verge of flying fists (ok, well, I'm hamming it up a bit).

Some representative motions:

  • An annual dues increase was heatedly debated.
  • The Ethics commit now must supply a rationale to the Board of Directors when it rules on a potential ethics violation (such as a cheating accusation). The Board can then decide whether it wants to overturn the ruling.
  • There were chess rule ADMs such as whether one should be allowed to castle by moving the rook first and if insufficient winning chances should be banished.
  • The three year membership was eliminated.

I look forward to attending the next Annual Meeting in Indianapolis during the 2016 US Open and learning more about the inner workings of this organization that keeps tournament chess humming along in the US.