United States Chess Federation

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United States Chess Federation
USCF logo.png
Abbreviation USCF
Formation December 27, 1939; 74 years ago (1939-12-27)
Headquarters Crossville, Tennessee
Region served United States
Staff 30[1]
Website www.uschess.org

The United States Chess Federation (frequently abbreviated as USCF) is a non-profit organization, the governing chess organization within the United States, and one of the federations of the FIDE. The USCF was founded in 1939 from the merger of two regional chess organizations, and grew gradually until 1972, when membership doubled due to interest in Bobby Fischer's rise to the World Championship. USCF membership dipped after Fischer's withdrawal from public competition to just below 50,000, and did not surpass its 1974 peak until 1992. Strong membership growth in the past decade has been spurred by the increase in scholastic chess clubs and the spread of chess computers.

The USCF publishes two magazines, Chess Life, which is advertised as the "most widely read chess magazine in the world", and Chess Life for Kids, which is a new publication for scholastic members, which represents just over half of USCF membership.

The USCF was incorporated in Illinois on December 27, 1939. It later became a 501(c)(4) after it established a headquarters in New York City.



The president and the vice president are elected for a 3-year term.


USCF membership
Year Members
1940 1,000 (approx)
1955 2,408
1960 4,579
1965 8,625
1970 22,623
1975 51,842
1980 47,800
1985 54,599
1990 52,898
1995 81,808
2000 85,396
2005 82,846
2010 76,812
2012 77,254

USCF membership grew rapidly during the "Fischer Boom", starting around 1970, when Bobby Fischer was going after the World Championship. Membership nearly doubled in 1972 when Fischer became World Champion, reaching a peak that was not surpassed until 1992. Then membership declined when he did not defend his title in 1975.[2]

USCF membership almost doubled during the 1990s and early 2000s, due to a boom in scholastic chess players, from approximately 53,000 (in 1990) to almost 89,000 (in 2002).[3] This boom resulted in dramatic growth in scholastic chess throughout the country, as well as financial pressure on the organization, as the low dues charged to scholastic players did not cover the costs of servicing their memberships and the USCF could not grow sponsorship dollars quickly in response to the increased membership. As of 2014 membership is over 80,000, including over 50 Grandmasters, and USCF operations have recently returned to a break-even basis.


USCF rating classes
Category Rating range
Senior Master 2400 and up
National Master 2200–2399
Expert (Candidate Master) 2000–2199
Class A 1800–1999
Class B 1600–1799
Class C 1400–1599
Class D 1200–1399
Class E 1000–1199
Class F 800-999
Class G 600-799
Class H 400-599
Class I 200-399
Class J 100-199

The USCF provides the main rating system for tournament chess in the United States in conjunction with approximately 2,000 affiliates, mostly chess clubs and local chess organizations. Earlier, the USCF used a rating system that was invented by Arpad Elo, a college professor of physics who was a chess master. Elo worked with the USCF for many years, and the system is utilized in a variety of other games and sports, including USA Today's college football and basketball rankings. Recently, the USCF has transitioned to a rating system that was proposed by Mark Glickman. Glickman, currently the chairman of the USCF Ratings Committee, is a college statistics professor who plays chess and has written numerous papers related to rating systems. The current rating system as implemented by the USCF is still an Elo rating system, but with a sliding K-factor. There is an ongoing discussion within the USCF Ratings Committee of going to Glickman's Glicko-2 system in the future. The Glicko-2 system is an enhanced version of the Glicko system that would better allow for rapid jumps in ratings by young and upcoming scholastic players whose ratings might improve dramatically in a short period of time.


USCF organizes or sanctions over 20 national championships. The most significant, both required by the organization's Bylaws, are U.S. Championship, the U.S. Open. Others include the U.S. Junior Championship, the U.S. Senior Championship, and a wide range of scholastic events.

Its largest events are the three National Scholastic tournaments, held annually in different parts of the country. Every four years, the "Supernationals," an event combining all three Scholastics in one tournaments are held in one city. The last Supernationals drew over 5,000 players to Nashville, Tennessee and drew worldwide media attention. The Supernationals are signed to Nashville until 2021.[citation needed]

In 2005 and 2006 the USCF moved its operations from New Windsor, New York to Crossville, Tennessee. During the move, then USCF president Beatriz Marinello stated in the annual report that a key reason for the move was to make USCF "a national organization, not a New York organization."


In 2002, the USCF made a controversial decision to remove former world chess champion Bobby Fischer from its database and revoked[4] his membership, based on his anti-American political statements. In 2006, that decision was vacated[5] by a successor board, possibly due to concerns that the 2002 decision appeared to be retaliation against freedom of speech and counter to American ideals.[6]

In October 2007, a lawsuit was filed in federal court by former executive board member Samuel Sloan accusing USCF officers, Susan Polgar and Paul Truong, of misconduct which he alleged influenced the results of the July 2007 USCF Executive Board elections.[7] On August 28, 2008, US District Judge Denny Chin dismissed the suit with prejudice pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), 12(b)(2) and 12(b)(6).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "USCF Employee Contact Information". The United States Chess Federation. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  2. ^ Bobby Fischer for Beginners, by Renzo Verwer, 2010, New in Chess, p. 40
  3. ^ Chess Life yearbook
  4. ^ "Executive Board Actions (EB 02-40)". USCF. 2002. 
  5. ^ "2006 Yearbook". USCF. Dec 31, 2006. "references to Fischer restored" 
  6. ^ "Committee Reports". USCF. 2002. p. 46. "The Executive Board should stay away from this matter. If the USCF is asked for its views on his comments, the simplest possible response should be given: A great chessplayer who, as a U.S. citizen, has aright to his political opinions, which are purely his own" 
  7. ^ McClain, Dylan Loes (October 8, 2007). "Chess Group Officials Accused of Using Internet to Hurt Rivals". NY Times. 
  • Official data in the USCF Yearbook 2006 PDF

External links[edit]