Wednesday, May 27

USCF Election and Endorsements

(From left to right: FM Bill Goichberg, WIM Ruth Haring and Jim Berry.)

Update on June 3.
I included my most relevant USCF forum posts in the comments section at the bottom of this item. They offer additional insight into the entire legal mess.

US Chess Federation faces a severe leadership crisis during which two elected members of the Executive Board have neglected their responsibilities to the Federation and, instead, filed a lawsuit against the USCF, other Board members and several third parties. In my opinion, the $25 million (later reduced to $10M) lawsuit by GM Susan Polgar is frivolous and without merit, especially as it pertains to the Federation.

To the contrary, I believe that Polgar and her husband FM Paul Truong engaged in a pattern of selfishness and deception dating back to the previous election two years ago. They hid the nature of their relationship from the voters and later Truong declined to cooperate with an investigation of allegedly slanderous internet posts. I deeply regret endorsing Polgar in 2007 and I am further disappointed that the electorate made the mistake of also electing her husband.

The lawsuits must end for the USCF to move forward and promote chess in a positive manner. Unfortunately, Polgar and Truong remain on the Board for another two years. If two candidates loyal to them get elected, then they have the potential to destroy the USCF as we know it. That makes the election so highly important.

All USCF adult members (age 16 and older) will receive a ballot in the June issue of Chess Life magazine, or through a separate mailing if they don't receive the periodical. Please vote! One contributing cause to this mess is that less than 15% of eligible voters do, in fact, vote, increasing the odds of a fringe candidate being elected (e.g. Sam Sloan in 2006).

Here are my endorsements for the 2009 USCF Executive Board election. You may vote for up to 4 candidates.
  • Bill Goichberg. A FIDE master and a veteran of chess politics, Goichberg owns the Continental Chess Association and organizes many of the largest tournaments around the country, including the World Open, Chicago Open and North American Open (plus lesser events such as Concord and Agoura Hills). He is the ultimate insider, but has the knowledge and leadership to guide the Federation in this time of need. While owning the CCA does present a conflict of interest on the Board, he has demonstrated the ability to manage both roles well over the years. Goichberg currently serves as USCF President, but term limits would prevent him from continuing in that role if reelected.
  • Ruth Haring. Living in Chico, Haring is the local candidate in this election. She holds the international title of WIM and recently returned to the chess community after a layoff of over 20 years. During this time off, she managed large projects for well-known corporations such as IBM, Lockheed and eBay, gaining skills that she seeks to apply to the USCF crisis. Her commitment to chess is also unquestioned; she played in the US women's championship many times in the 1970s and represented the USA at five Olympiads. Haring's husband is GM Peter Biyiasas and one son, Theodore Biyiasas, is an active 1600 level player.
  • Jim Berry. Hailing from Oklahoma, Berry came to national prominence when he and his brother Frank personally organized and financed the US Championship in 2007 and 2008. He is an easygoing man who loves chess, playing in about 10 tournaments a year. As the second incumbent in the race (Goichberg is the other), Berry has contributed his lifelong expertise in business and finance to the USCF.
I only endorsed three candidates. Readers may wish to vote for a fourth, choosing between Mike Atkins, Mike Nietman and Mikhail Korenman. However, I have modest reservations about each of these individuals and cannot give them my stamp of approval.

I strongly oppose the other candidates in the election: IM Blas Lugo, Eric Hecht, Brian Mottershead, Brian Lafferty (he withdrew recently) and Sam Sloan. I do not believe any have the skills or temperment needed to promote chess and get us out of the legal mess.


fpawn said...

After reading the entire Polgar report at, I still have no idea what she is suing the USCF about. I am quite disappointed by the report because it doesn't answer most of my questions.

Polgar starts out by talking about how memberships have decreased, how expenses are out of control and how the USCF can't fund certain high profile annual or semi-annual activities. That's all nice and dandy--and quite irrelevant to the legal issues at hand.

Next she makes comments about some people having a large financial stake in chess. No doubt she means Goichberg. Where do Bauer, Berry, the Brian's and others fit into this? And why did Polgar endorse Bauer and Berry in 2007 if they had such a big financial conflict of interest? AFAIK they don't...

The interview between Larry Evans and Lev Alburt is interesting, but has nothing to do with all of the lawsuits. I'm not surprised that she considers the world of chess politics to be disgusting; I knew that since the 1990s. Then again, are national politics any easier? I wonder how Polgar would feel if she was in Sotomayor's shoes right now? Or in Palin's shoes last October?

Polgar wrote: In the past two years, instead of working with me and helping me promote chess to benefit our entire sport, some of these chess politicians have spread the most outrageous and vicious rumors and lies, trying to destroy my reputation, my employment at Texas Tech University, and my family. They even stooped so low as to use my children (who are only 8 and 10) as one of their targets.

Now we're getting somewhere. Polgar accuses some of the politicians with whom she has been working of various actions. Specifically, she says one or more members of the Executive Board (Goichberg, Bauer, Berry or Hough) targeted her children. Woah!!! If proven, this sounds quite serious. I wonder why no police report was filed. Or was one? Where? On the other hand, if this paragraph is false, then it sounds like slander.

fpawn said...

Polgar makes a big deal about allegations involving her children being fed "hot sauce" and certain individuals using offensive language against her. I am guessing that much of this language occurred in online posts. I have little doubt that she experiences offensive conduct by certain minority members of the male-dominated chess community, especially because of her gender and high profile. Policing such language is not, however, the responsibility of the USCF or even its Board members (unless a Board member spoke those offensive words).

The article continues with a description of the lawsuits filed by the USCF against Polgar and Truong. She calls each of these lawsuits unauthorized, but does not even state what the cause of action is in each case. She doesn't even explain to her readers why the lawsuits are unauthorized, although some recent legal filings shed light on that topic.

At the end, Polgar talks about the escalating legal costs to the USCF and voices her support for Lugo, Korenman and Hecht in the current election.

Summary: From what I read, Polgar appears to possibly have a legitimate cause of action against one or more individuals who allegedly made threats against her and her family. On the other hand, the entire case against the USCF itself seems to be centered on the question of whether the Executive Director and Executive Board legal committee acted appropriately or not; if the lawsuits were properly authorized, then the USCF itself doesn't seem to have much to fear.

I am disappointed that the column does not address the Fake Sam Sloan issue or how the Mottershead report must inherently be flawed. Ultimately, I consider the lack of cooperation with the investigation by the membership and later by Kronenberger to be a core issue. Apparently, Polgar and Truong do not. However, they long stated that the facts explaining why Truong cannot be not the FSS would come out at a proper time and place. After two years, the USCF membership and I am still waiting... and this very delay casts serious credibility on both suspects.

Although I am not personally named in any case, I have been sued by Polgar as a USCF member. I will never forget that fact.

fpawn said...

Readers should not forget how all this began. In 2006, a fringe candidate by the name of Sam Sloan was surprisingly elected by the voters to sit on the Executive Board. Over the next year, one or more individuals who is/are commonly referred to as the Fake Sam Sloan began writing vulgar internet posts.

In 2007, a substantial report by Brian Mottershead tied Paul Truong, husband of Susan Polgar and also a member of the Executive Board, to these postings. Was he the Fake Sam Sloan? The report says yes. In the face of a mountain of evidence, verified by several outside experts, Truong denied the charges, saying that the proof would come out later.

When USCF was sued by the real Sam Sloan over these posts, Truong was, for reasons unknown to me, unwilling to assist in the USCF's defense despite being a sitting member of the Executive Board. Two years later, the proof allegedly exonerating him still has not been revealed. No doubt if Truong was indeed innocent of these terrible charges, then it would have been much cheaper for all sides to offer the rebuttal evidence to a neutral third party arbitrator. Most likely, the Sloan lawsuit would have been the first and last one in this entire saga.

In my opinion, the very fact that two years have passed without any rebuttal says a lot about guilt of the parties. Of course, I have no definitive proof, but I am entitled to my assessment based on the facts that I have observed. Moreover, I am shocked and deeply saddened that an extensive report this week titled "The Dirty Hidden Truth" would not even mention the root cause of the major lawsuits. I smell a cover-up.

All I can ask is for the adult members to take the current election seriously. Read what the candidates have to say and vote for whoever you think is best qualified to lead the USCF out of this mess. Get out the vote!

fpawn said...

I posted these three comments on the USCF website forums today.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

everything you say makes total sense to me