Saturday, September 20, 2003

U.S. Chess in disarray

Go ahead, hang out around any of the chess newsgroups or mailing lists. One thing soon becomes clear. US Chess is a mess.

It doesn't have to be that way. Nearly everyone involved blames the previous management teams and their financial mismanagement.

I have another theory. It wouldn't be popular among the denizens of the major chess forums, many of whom are movers and shakers in the chess world.

The problem? Personality. Many of the people involved act like world-class, childish boobs. There is very little trust between individuals. Everyone thinks their idea is the best and cross-pollenation is spare at best. Those who try to be a little more mature are usually sucked into unpleasant exchanges and into a mode of defensiveness that quells open idea exchange. A couple of the worst of these are Sam Sloan and Larry Parr.

The pettiness, immaturity, mean-spiritedness, and downright perniciousness of many of the characters creates an atmosphere where all new ideas are immediately derided as pipe dreams or unworkable without any serious consideration, where conversations immediately descend into unpleasant exchanges, and where those exchanges that do have any positive direction to them are hijacked by selfish instigators such as the above-named who thrive on dissension and conflict.

One of the saddest distractions appears whenever two antagonists end up in the same thread. The conversation shifts from the topic at hand to an old hurt, real or imagined, suffered by one party at the hand of the other.

If chess is ever going to thrive again, and specifically the US Chess Federation, the instigators are going to have to hammer their swords into ploughshares. People are going to have to be bold and try new concepts. The US Chess Federation is going to have to adopt a policy of transparency and openness.

Unfortunately, some old dogs will never learn new tricks. Here's hoping that they find a way to fade out of the chess world and leave the job to a generation that looks out for the chess community as a whole and not just their own little corner.


It's about me, dummy!!!


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