United States Chess Federation

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United States Chess Federation
Uschess-logo.svg
Abbreviation US Chess or USCF[1]
Formation December 27, 1939; 76 years ago (1939-12-27)
Headquarters Crossville, Tennessee
Region served
United States
President
Gary Walters
Vice President
Randy Bauer
Executive Director
Jean Hoffman
Staff
30[2]
Website www.uschess.org

The United States Chess Federation (US Chess or USCF[1]) is the governing body for chess competition in the United States and represents the U.S. in FIDE, the World Chess Federation. USCF administers the official national rating system, awards national titles, sanctions over twenty national championships annually, and publishes two magazines: Chess Life and Chess Life for Kids. USCF was founded and incorporated in Illinois in 1939, from the merger of two older chess organizations. It is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization headquartered in Crossville, Tennessee. Its membership as of 2016 is over 85,000.[3]

History[edit]

In 1939, the United States of America Chess Federation was created in Illinois through the merger of the American Chess Federation and National Chess Federation. The American Chess Federation, formerly the Western Chess Association, had held an annual open championship since 1900; that tournament, after the merger, became the U.S. Open. The National Chess Federation, founded in 1927 to organize U.S. participation in the Olympiads, had held the prestigious invitational U.S. Championship since 1936.[4]

The combined membership at the time was around 1,000.[5] Membership experienced consistent, modest growth until 1958, when Bobby Fischer won the U.S. Championship at the age of 14. This began the "Fischer era", during which USCF membership grew thirty-fold, to approximately 60,000 in 1974, when Fischer won the World Chess Championship.

The Fischer era did not last long, but the USCF has grown substantially since then, largely because of the explosive growth of scholastic chess. Annual national championship tournaments are now held at different grade and age levels; none of these tournaments, which now attract thousands of players, even existed prior to 1969.

At its founding, the USCF had no employees and no headquarters, but in 1952, the USCF hired a Business Manager (the position eventually became Executive Director), headquartered in New York. In 1967, headquarters moved to Newburgh, New York;[6] in 1976, New Windsor, New York;[7] and in 2006, Crossville, Tennessee.[8]

Governance[edit]

USCF is a federation of state affiliates. Each state has an affiliate which selects delegates to represent that state affiliate in the governance of the organization. This Board of Delegates was the board of directors until changes to the USCF Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws were approved by the Delegates in 2012. The 2012 governance changes made the seven member Executive Board the corporate board of directors while reserving specific powers to the Board of Delegates. The Delegates retained control over the corporate bylaws, the USCF Official Rules of Chess, the sale, exchange or other transfer of real estate, the code of ethics, the appointment of selected committees, and approval of the budget. At the same time, the Delegates made the Articles of Incorporation much more difficult to change as a way to protect the reservation of those powers to the Delegates.

The election of what is now called the Executive Board has evolved over time. The changes have generally been to expand the number of voters. At one time this board was elected by the Board of Delegates, then the election base was expanded to some 500 voters. A significant change in the early 2000s was to adopt changes which allow any member age 16 and over to vote for the Executive Board. Members who wish to vote are required to register with the USCF office.

Ratings[edit]

USCF rating classes
Category Rating range
Senior Master 2400 and up
Master 2200–2399
Expert 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

USCF implements rating systems for chess players. In each system, a player's rating is a calculated numerical estimate of his strength, based on his results in tournament play against other rated players. Tournament organizers submit results to the USCF, which carries out the calculations and publishes the results.

A player can have up to six ratings: for correspondence games, for over-the-board games at regular (slow), quick, or blitz time controls, and for online games at quick or blitz time controls. Ratings are posted online on the USCF Player Search web page.[9] Ratings for over-the-board play range from 100 to nearly 3000, with a higher rating indicating a stronger player. Ratings are often used by tournament organizers to determine eligibility for "class" prizes, and eligibility to enter "class" sections, in tournaments.

USCF first instituted a rating system for over-the-board play in 1950, using a calculation formula devised by Kenneth Harkness. In 1960, the USCF adopted a more reliable rating system invented by Arpad Elo, a college professor of physics who was a chess master. Elo worked with USCF for many years. The system he invented, or a variant of it, was later adopted by FIDE, and is utilized in other games and sports, including USA Today's college football and basketball rankings.[10] USCF has made further adjustments to the rating calculation over the years; the present calculation[11] was influenced by the "Glicko rating system"[12] developed by Prof. Mark Glickman, a significant refinement of Elo's system.

Titles[edit]

USCF norms-based titles
Title Rating Level
Life Senior Master 2400
Life Master 2200
Candidate Master 2000
1st Category 1800
2nd Category 1600
3rd Category 1400
4th Category 1200

USCF awards titles for lifetime achievement. These should not be confused with the titles awarded by FIDE, such as Grandmaster and International Master.[13]

The USCF awards a player who achieves a rating of 2200 or above the title of Master, and sends the player a certificate. Likewise a Senior Master certificate is awarded for a rating of 2400 or higher. Until 2008 the only other title awarded was that of Life Master, awarded to players who played 300 or more rated games while maintaining a rating above 2200.

In 2008 USCF implemented a system of "norms-based titles", patterned after the titles awarded by FIDE: if a person has (for example) five tournaments in which he demonstrates strength above 2400, and if in addition his rating at some time eventually reaches 2400, then he earns the Life Senior Master title. The system is somewhat more complicated than this simple example suggests.[14] The old Life Master title was renamed Original Life Master to avoid confusion with the new Life Master title; both are recognized and tracked by USCF. Titles are posted on the same Player Search web page as ratings.[9]

National Championships[edit]

USCF organizes or sanctions various national championships. Most of these are held annually.

The oldest is the U.S. Open.[15] It began as the Western Open in 1900, held in Minnesota. It is the “congress” of the USCF – the annual meeting of the Delegates is held concurrently, as well as many smaller gatherings and events. Several hundred players participate (the highest number, 836, was at the 1983 event in Pasadena). Three invitational scholastic events are held concurrently: the Denker Tournament of High School Champions,[16] the Dewain Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions,[17] and the National Girls Tournament of Champions.[18] Players generally qualify for these events by winning state scholastic championship tournaments.

The U.S. Championship, an invitational event, has been held since 1936. (For many years before that, the national championship had been decided by head-to-head match play.) Noteworthy past winners include Samuel Reshevsky and Bobby Fischer, eight times each; Walter Browne, six times; and Larry Evans and Gata Kamsky, five times each. The 2016 tournament was won by Fabiano Caruana.[19]

The U.S. Women's Championship, also invitational, has been held since 1937. In recent years it has been held concurrently with the U.S. Championship. The 2016 tournament was won by Nazí Paikidze.[19]

The largest national championships are the Elementary (K-6), Junior High (K-9), and High School (K-12) Championships which are held annually in the spring. Every four years the "Supernationals," an event combining all three in one tournament, is held. The last Supernationals in 2013 drew over 5,300 players to Nashville, Tennessee and was the largest chess tournament ever. The oldest of the three, the National High School, was first held in 1969 by the Continental Chess Association.[20]

The Elementary, Junior High, and High School championships should not be confused with the National Grade Level Championships, held in December, in which each grade level from K to 12 has its own championship.

Except for the U.S. Championship, the tournaments listed above are organized by USCF itself. But USCF’s calendar of national events[21] also includes quite a few events that are bid out to interested affiliates.[22] Here is a partial list:

National Open open
U.S. Junior invitational; under age 21
U.S. Junior Open open; under age 21
U.S. Cadet invitational; under age 16
U.S. Senior Open open; age 50 or over
Pan-American Intercollegiate open; teams
U.S. Masters open; rating 2200 or over
U.S. Class Championships open
U.S. Amateur Team (North, South, East, West) open; teams
All-Girls National open

USCF also organizes national championships of correspondence chess:

Absolute Correspondence Chess Championship invitational
Golden Knights open; mail or e-mail
Electronic Knights open; e-mail only

Publications[edit]

USCF publishes two magazines, the monthly Chess Life, and bi-monthly Chess Life for Kids, which is geared towards those under 14. Chess Life, which began in 1946 as a bi-weekly newspaper, is now a glossy full-color magazine of 72 pages per issue.

The USCF sanctions a rulebook,[23] which is published by Random House. It is produced in both paperback and kindle forms, and is currently in its 6th edition.

Controversies[edit]

In 2002, the USCF Executive Board voted to cancel Bobby Fischer's right to membership,[24] due to his public remarks after the World Trade Center terror incident. In 2007, that decision was vacated by a successor board.[25]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b In 2015 the U.S. Chess Federation announced a rebranding effort, calling itself US Chess rather than USCF (Chess Life, August 2015, p. 13). Wikipedia continues to use the older abbreviation USCF because it is more commonly used in secondary sources.
  2. ^ "USCF Employee Contact Information". The United States Chess Federation. Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  3. ^ "About". US Chess Federation. Retrieved 2 February 2016. 
  4. ^ "US Open 1927 Kalamazoo = 28th Western Champ.". Retrieved 4 April 2016. 
  5. ^ USCF (2006), "2006 Yearbook" (Retrieved 2016-01-31), Chess Life, April 2007 
  6. ^ Chess Life, Nov. 1967, p. 327.
  7. ^ Chess Life, March 1976, p. 130.
  8. ^ Chess Life, September 2005, p.7
  9. ^ a b "Player Search". uschess.org. U.S. Chess Federation. Retrieved February 3, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Sagarin speaks: Playing chess and the BCS". Retrieved February 2, 2016. 
  11. ^ Glickman, Prof. Mark E.; Doan, Thomas (1 June 2015). "The USCF Rating System" (PDF). 
  12. ^ Glickman, Prof. Mark E. "The Glicko System" (PDF). glicko.net. Retrieved February 2, 2016. 
  13. ^ "FIDE Handbook". fide.com. Retrieved February 4, 2016. 
  14. ^ USCF Ratings Committee (September 2015). "The USCF Title System" (PDF). glicko.net. Retrieved February 6, 2016. 
  15. ^ "US Open Tournament Index". Retrieved January 31, 2016. 
  16. ^ "Denker Tournament of High School Champions". Retrieved February 10, 2016. 
  17. ^ "Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions". Retrieved February 10, 2016. 
  18. ^ "National Girls Tournament of Champions". Retrieved February 10, 2016. 
  19. ^ a b Klein, Mike (July 2016). "Changing of the Guard". Chess Life. Crossville, Tennessee, U.S.: US Chess Federation. 
  20. ^ "About Continental Chess Association". Retrieved February 10, 2016. 
  21. ^ "National Events Calendar". Retrieved February 10, 2016. 
  22. ^ "How to Bid on a US Chess National Event" (PDF). October 2015. 
  23. ^ Just, Tim (2014). U.S. Chess Federation's Official Rules of Chess (6th ed.). ISBN 0-8129-3559-4. 
  24. ^ "Executive Board Actions (EB 02-40)" (PDF). USCF. 2002. 
  25. ^ "Unofficial summary of the February, 2007, meeting of the USCF Executive Board" (PDF). Retrieved March 17, 2016. 

External links[edit]