(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.
The 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 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.