Monday, June 1, 2009

Mike Nietman: so amazingly reasonable

I thought I'd give you my two cents on the upcoming USCF election.

My favorite candidate by far is Mike Nietman. I know him through his work on the Scholastic Council. I'm on the Scholastic Committee-- it's a large group (20-30) of people involved somehow in scholastics. The Committee elects the Council (5 members), and gets surveyed on issues of pressing concern. Mike does a lot of work, emailing updates to the committee frequently and moderating discussions.

Every time I read one of his emails, I think to myself, "Man, that guy is so amazingly reasonable. I agree with him about almost everything."

When issues are contentious, he presents both sides (!) of the argument carefully, then describes what he thinks and why. Sometimes (very often!), people on the Scholastic Committee suggest comically insane/ irrational ideas, but Mike never makes fun of them. He's diplomatic and inclusive, without being annoyingly wishy-washy. I hold him in very high regard, and he seems to me like exactly the sort of person the Executive Board needs.

Other people? Mike Atkins is a nice guy and a good TD. Bill Goichberg seems smart and sane. Jim Berry sponsors chess and was nice to me. I haven't have the experience of working with them, however, so I can't vouch for the high quality of their work they way I can Mike Nietman's.


Anonymous said...

Interesting, this makes me rethink Goichberg's comments regarding Nietman at
Goichberg has a favorable opinion, but he is concerned about the lack of a public statement from Nietman condemning the board members suing USCF. Given your post, I could believe that this is just not Nietman's style. He seems like a good candidate to add to the other decent choices: Haring, Berry, Atkins and of course Goichberg.

Anonymous said...

Any chance you'll do one of those great detailed entries about your game with Rochelle? Or is it worth writing up? And more on the whole event? Thanks,

Anonymous said...

I think it's sad that a nonprofit organization suffers from more corruption and freakish power-mongering than most businesses. All the power hungry weirdos should get real jobs; running the chess federation should be left to people whose first interest is the game and will act to benefit it and the players as a whole.

All the politics that surround the USCF just boggle my mind.... I would really love to see more players involved who aren't named Polgar, or anything else that rhymes with 'publicity stunt'.

Polly said...

I'm impressed with Nietman. He's done a lot of good things on the Scholastic Council. Last year in Dallas he started putting out his nominating petitions. I had no second thoughts about signing it. I think he'd be an excellent choice for the board. He very thoughtful, and in his June statement he does comment on the litigation.

Matan said...


This USCF clusterfuck is so confusing. Are you planning on endorsing anyone else? At this point I'm ready to defer to the judgement of reasonable people who keep up to date.

I wanted to vote for Eric Hecht and Blas Lugo; I believe both genuinely care about promoting chess and have done good things in Miami. I just can't stand the thought of voting for a "Polgar-approved" candidate. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

There seem to be a lot of people against Susan Polgar. Why is this?

This blog and Polgar's are the only ones I read that deal with USCF affairs so I probably missed something crucial.

Matan said...

She has a colossal lawsuit pending against the USCF, which is already in an awful financial situation. The USCF is consequently spending money on legal proceedings that would be better spent elsewhere.

It also appears that her husband was the "fake Sam Sloan" (too ridiculous to even begin explaining). He's also made all sorts of absurd unverifiable claims about his business exploits, although he recently filed for bankrupcy.

My very low opinion of Polgar notwithstanding, Eric Hecht and Blas Lugo are both good people who have done good things for chess. Blas's chess club and tournaments are a huge staple of Miami chess. It's also well known that he's good to kids, parents, etc. Eric helped sponsor the best tournament Miami has seen in ages.

Elizabeth, I'm sorry if this reads like some sort of endorsement. I'm just at pains to separate my low opinion of Polgar from my high opinion of Blas (who I know personally) and Eric.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

No, I'm with you completely, Matan. I like Blas personally a lot too, in fact, I like Susan personally, but I can't vote for her, and by extension I can't vote for people on her slate. Why? For the same reasons Matan gives, pretty much:
a) I'm against suing people, especially for stupid reasons like they sued you first.
b) Paul Truong is clearly guilty of being the (or at least a) Fake Sam Sloan.

I don't know the other candidates so well, I'm sure they're great. Nietman just seems so consistently rational and sane to me.

Anonymous said...

I like Blas Lugo and Eric Hecht as well, but they should have paid out the guaranteed prize fund at last year's Miami Open rather than shorting the players. Every other chess organizer hates them (rightfully so) for that. Would have been nice if they addressed that in their candidate statements or elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

I have known Mike Nietman well for many years here in Wisconsin. He is exactly as Elizabeth describes him: calm, deliberate and thoughtful. I am not a spokesperson for him, but let's say that I am certain he is on the correct side of the lawsuit issues. He is exactly the kind of person we need on the EB.

Bill Brock said...

I've heard nothing but good things about Mike Nietman.

Ruth Haring has an interesting résumé. If you can handle Bobby Fischer as a houseguest, you can handle USCF Board membership.

Bill Goichberg has done so much for US Chess, but he's been (with all due respect) an utter failure as USCF President. He could be a valuable Board member IF he steps back & lets others run USCF.

Polly said...

Bill: Goichberg can not be elected President again. There are term limits for that. Unless he tries to do a Mayor Bloomberg and get term limits eliminated.

Bill Brock said...

I was thinking more of Putin than Bloomberg, Polly.


While I'm sharply critical of BG's performance as USCF President, I'm also grateful for his contribution to US chess. The less Goichberg has to do with USCF governance, the stronger USCF can be.

None of the above should not be interpreted as endorsement of the Polgar/Truong slate (even though I have one good friend on said slate). Goichberg's cluelessness is certainly preferable to Truongesque malevolence.

Anonymous said...

"I think it's sad that a nonprofit organization suffers from more corruption and freakish power-mongering than most businesses."

As has been said about the politics in academia, it's so vicious and petty because the stakes are so low.