Tuesday, September 23, 2008

USCF Goverance

I want you to take this idea seriously. I know that there are not many historical examples of people abandoning democracy,* although there was a funny case a year or two ago in Bhutan of their king talking his reluctant people into accepting it.

But here's the idea, and it was mentioned to me by Brad Bournival while I was talking to him on AIM and simultaneously marvelling over the clarity of the rules section on the USCL website. Really, take a look at it, it's so intentionally clear. Also sometimes it will explain the rule and then explain why the rule is a good and just rule that the reader should support. Now, I've had this idea before, of course, numerous times, but I couldn't seem like I was ripping it off Brad and not giving credit. Here it is:

Let's do away with the colossally retarded USCF structure, delegates, election, etc. and make Greg the Leader.


The space is there because I figured you needed a minute to think about it.

Democracy is pointless when the people voting generally either don't know the essential issues or don't have the technical expertise** to understand them. And the delegates seem like a nice bunch of people, but, cmon, those meetings are completely absurd. It's like the blind talking about electric circuitry.

Greg has the three essential qualities in a Leader: he's scrupulously honest, highly competant and doesn't piss people off. He's got lots of experience in creative chess organization/ management: the New York Masters, the US Chess League, the US Chess School.
He knows everyone in the chess world and has no enemies. Total strangers buy him chocolate.

I know it would be really hard to get the idea approved and might raise legal questions and questions of how to find a successor. But it's so obviously the best thing to do. We should try.****

* Although this makes certain big assumptions about agency, in that people are perhaps inclined to read history as dictators taking or stealing power, rather than people giving it away.
** I'm referring to issues of USCF finance and web stuff.

*** Greg's shirt says "Haikus are easy. But sometimes they don't make sense. Refrigerator."

**** Unfortunately, I don't think I know how to try.


Arun Sharma said...

Interesting post Liz, and I can't deny that I think having Greg involved (or running) USCF would probably be a good thing for chess (but at the same time that may simply be because it's impossible for the USCF to go any further down). But nevertheless, I feel there are some issues in your post that I disagree with and must address.

(1) "simultaneously marvelling over the clarity of the rules section on the USCL website. Really, take a look at it, it's so intentionally clear." You do remember, as I mentioned when you interviewed me, that I 100% rewrote all the rules this summer? Giving credit to Greg given that, seems a little off :)

(2) "he's scrupulously honest" Once again, need I remind you of that Bonin incident from last year which I mentioned in my interview?

(3) "doesn't piss people off" Given that he does piss me off on basically a daily basis (and is creative enough to do find a different way of doing so pretty much every day!), that also seems a bit wrong. This also is pertinent to the "no enemy" situation you make a note of!

But hey, other than that, great post, good idea!

Anonymous said...

Your points are well taken. But Greg being made King of Chess by popular acclaim isn't likely. Unfortunately while one can lament the state of the USCF, nearby sister organizations are not much better - talk with people who live up in the Great White North about the Canadian Chess Fed or over the Pond in Britain, and become really depresed. Look at FIDE and marvel at the abyss of corruption...so is the answer making someone King of Chess or Chancellor or Chess Dictator Extraordinary?

I don't think we'll see a savior of US chess anytime soon. The best thing we can hope for is to have some combination of a law suit, poor business acumen, general decline in membership, and sheer apathy to bankrupt the current USCF - force it into receivership - have the various parts carved up. The ratings list and magazine could then be acquired by some new group which could run US chess better.

Anonymous said...

I would love to install Greg as USCF dictator for life. There's only one slight problem...
Greg would never accept the post in a million years. It would be like too much of a day job. :)

Greg Shahade said...

Actually I would jump at the chance to be USCF dictator and king!!

Anonymous said...

The thing about democracy, beloveds, is that it is not neat, orderly, or quiet. It requires a certain relish for confusion.--Molly Ivins
Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.--Diderot

Make mine democracy. Actually, Greg was on the USCF board and resigned because his sister became a USCF employee, IIRC. So when Jen moves on Greg should bring his honesty and judgment to the USCF board by running again for a seat. And speaking of seats....

On the most exalted throne in the world, we are still seated on nothing but our arse.-Montaigne

Greg Shahade said...

I won't be running for the USCF board again. Sometimes you find a structure where there is simply very little you can do to exact change.

Note that at the time I don't think I was very smart about such things anyway, but there are too many people, egos and roadblocks to doing anything major in the USCF. Way too much time was totally wasted IMO. Just so annoying to have to spend so much time yet have so little power.

Anonymous said...

The USCL will just have to grow and grOW, and GROW, until it can swallow the USCF like a whale swallows a tiny fish. Then Greg can become Leader.

Take over the USCF rating system, and you take over the whole organization. What else do they have?

--Howard Goldowsky

ed g. said...

"Take over the USCF rating system, and you take over the whole organization. What else do they have?"

Tournament director certification, appeals, etc. This is actually the main service the USCF provides. Any bozo can run a rating system. Making players believe that the tournaments are fairly run--that's the trick.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I suggested myself for this role a while ago. My platform:

1. Merge US and FIDE rules.

2. Merge US and FIDE ratings, and then we run the world's ratings from then on.

3. Hold one big uber-Championship festival (Open, Closed, Junior, etc.) a year, at a single location, to keep costs down and prizes up.

That's it.


Anonymous said...

Greg, I agree that the problem(s) with the USCF are structural. There are some who hope for bankruptcy as a means of obtaining reform. I vacillate between that and attempted reform via the Delegates. The basic problem is a lack of complete transparency. If members actually knew what was going on, they would be up in arms. As it is, not much can change until the litigation mess is resolved and that will hopefully shake out down the road very soon.

Anonymous said...

Sure Greg Shahade looks like a wonderful fellow now...but suppose a miracle happened and he were made King or say Chancellor of Chess, then his true Dark Side nature will come out...haven't we learned anything from the first 3 Star Wars movies?

Anonymous said...

Waitaminute...Greg actually WANTS TO BE USCF dictator & king??
Then what are we waiting for?? Let's stage a coup and install Greg with absolute power! :)

Anonymous said...

Good idea, let's support Greg!

A Beneficent Dictator form of governance is much better than a Democracy in which the people are too ignorant or too distracted and irresponsible to intelligently participate in the process.

This also goes for the USA. Let's eliminate 500+ Congress people and 100 Senators being paid by Lobbyists and Wall Street, and put someone in charge who will have the interest of the country in mind. How about Sarah Palin. {LOL}

Anonymous said...

Can Greg see Russia from his house?


Anonymous said...

I totally support the idea put forward by this post.

Anonymous said...

You can find plenty of examples of people abandoning democracy in the comments on your political posts. Cripes, these people are scary.

Anonymous said...

Queen Polgar would object,decreeing the man who would be king, Truong. Consolation prize, 2 kings and a queen? But then of course, they would have the majority of votes:)