Program for Improvements to USCF Wiki Page
22 January 2016
Add a section about the USCF participation in FIDE. This should discuss the achievements of U.S. players in FIDE championships, including Olympiads, World Championship cycles, and so on. One of the group photos of U.S. medalists at a World Youth would be appropriate (assuming permission to reprint can be obtained). Mention Fischer. Mention the U.S. Chess Trust role in funding this participation.
Add a section about governance, which would consist of the two paragraphs about governance that are currently in the History section. I am not absolutely sure that governance is a topic that people would go to this website to look for. But the USCF’s governance structure is so unusual that, who knows, perhaps this is a helpful section.
Tighten up the prose in this paragraph:
Strike “Among other things,”
Strike “December 27,”
Change “… and a member of FIDE, …” to “… and represents the United States in FIDE, …”
Also strike “including more than fifty grandmasters”. This is distracting trivia. The playing strength of top-level chess in the United States is best described in the section on National Championships.
The first paragraph discusses the growth of the USCF over the years.
It gets bogged down in the narrative of Bobby Fischer’s career. It should give as few details as possible about Fischer’s career. The link to the Bobby Fischer Wiki page makes that unnecessary.
The USCF did not “relocate to New York”. Its first headquarters were in New York. Of course, for the first years after incorporation, it had no headquarters, because it had no employees. See below for more about headquarters.
The paragraph refers to the “’Fischer boom’ of the 1970’s”, but the Fischer era started in 1958, when he won the U.S. Championship. The membership numbers tell the story: 1958 was when the meteoric growth in USCF membership started, and the increase in membership from 1957 to 1969 was six-fold.
The paragraph correctly identifies the growth of scholastic chess as important in the history of USCF. But the effect on membership was less spectacular than the growth in national championships and participation in FIDE youth events.
The two subsequent paragraphs do not focus on history. Move them from the History section to a separate section on Governance.
The last paragraph should focus more sharply on history.
It mentions the headquarters move from New Windsor to Crossville. This is as good a place as any to mention the date of the first Executive Director and headquarters (New York), and the dates of the moves to Newburgh and then to New Windsor.
The discussion of financial questions is sketchy and gives almost no historical information. Remove it. The USCF has had some hard times and some easy times in the past 75 years, but I cannot think of any financial history dramatic enough to merit mention in this section.
Add a paragraph to talk about the history of the national championships. The U.S. Open started as the Western Open in 1900. Link to the U.S. Open Wiki site. Perhaps also add a “References” footnote to the www.chessgames.com U.S. Open site. The U.S. Championship as we now know it started in 1936. Link to the U.S. Championship Wiki site. Give the names of just a few past winners (Reshevsky, Fischer, Evans, Browne, etc.), each name being a link to the Wiki page for that person. Mention that the National High School was started by the CCA in 1969.
Add a short paragraph about the history of publications, particularly the evolution of Chess Life, and the historical “merger” of Chess Life with Chess Review. Give some history of the website.
Give the year (1950) of the introduction of the Harkness system.
Tighten up prose: strike “Due to the Harkness system sometimes giving ratings that were unreliable,”
Give the year (1960) of the switch to Elo’s system.
The reference to USA Today should come with a footnote to a link in the References section. Also note that FIDE adopted the Elo system.
Replace the phrase, “Because the original system … in the 1990’s,” with something tighter like “To more accurately track the rapid improvement of many new scholastic players in the 1990's,”.
Explicitly mention Glickman and give credit. Do not mention sliding K-factors, iterative rating procedures, or other technical matters – it is unreasonable to expect readers to understand these references. The footnoted reference to the 2015 description of the rating system by Glickman and Doan is good, but a reference to Glickman’s informal explanation of “the Glicko rating system” might be helpful – it was for me.
Mention the introduction of online submission of rating reports in 2005, which was a major breakthrough.
Over the Board Ratings
The first two sentences of this section are OK, and the table of rating classes is good.
The lengthy discussion of the pros and cons of having three, rather than one or two, ratings is inappropriate for this Wiki site. It would be of no interest to non-members, while members would normally discuss the issues in other places, such as the USCF Forums. At maximum, a single sentence would be sufficient to convey the essence of the question.
There is not enough material on online ratings and correspondence ratings to merit separate sections. Fold those sections into the section on “Over the Board Ratings”, and rename that section to something like “The Present Rating System”.
Change “differently than” to “differently from”.
It is appropriate to introduce the concepts of sandbagging and rating floors, but the detailed and highly technical discussion in this section is of no interest to non-members or even to the great majority of members. A sentence or two is sufficient, along with a footnote to Glickman & Doan.
Delete the sentence, “Achieving the title … master for life.” The reference to rating floors is a digression.
Original Life Master and Life Master are life titles. National Master is not a life title (you aren’t a National Master any more if your rating drops below 2200), but you get a certificate for it, anyhow. Likewise for Senior Master.
“Norms-based titles” should be an item in the bulleted list, not in a separate paragraph afterward.
It is awkward that the explanation of norms-based titles is so long. The explanation should not be more than three sentences, along with a footnote to the USCF document “The Title System”. That document is itself not very easy to read. I have seen a more accessible explanation on the Web, at the North Carolina Chess Association site, but in the long term it would be better to have an accessible explanation at a more “permanent” site, such as a Wiki page.
The last sentence, which differentiates USCF titles from FIDE titles, should be clearer and more prominent (e.g. perhaps move it to the beginning of this section). Non-members commonly get the two sets of titles confused with each other. The other common non-member confusion is mistaking the Master and Expert rating categories for titles.
In chess as in sports, organizations like the USCF are judged by the championships that they organize. This section is important in shaping the casual reader’s impression of the USCF.
The section should start with, or should have near the beginning, a photograph of a playing-hall scene (rows and rows of games going on) from one of the larger national championship tournaments, such as the U.S. Open. Perhaps two photographs could be used: besides the playing-hall scene, a shot of a single game from one of the elite invitationals, such as the U.S. Championship.
In the list of tournaments, put each tournament on a separate line. Note which tournaments are open, and which are invitational.
The Denker has its own Wiki page; make its name a link to that page. There may be others of the listed tournaments that should be updated the same way.
Note that there is a playoff among the U.S. Amateur Team winners.
Note that the Denker and the Barber are for state champions.
To avoid confusion, the two sentences about which tournaments are run by US Chess and which are “bid out” should be in a separate paragraph.
(I do not have any proposals for changes to this section at this time.)
US Chess Sales
This section is rather awkward, and reads like an advertisement. Replace it with a single sentence in the History section, noting that the USCF began equipment sales during the Fischer era, but later contracted them out, and they are currently contracted out to the House of Staunton.
The first paragraph in this section describes USCF’s actions regarding Bobby Fischer in 2002 and 2006. These actions are largely forgotten, and Fischer has been deceased for eight years. It seems unlikely that anyone would come to this Wiki page looking for information about that controversy.
The second paragraph describes a lawsuit filed in 2007 over actions allegedly taken to affect election to the USCF Executive Board. I do not think that the USCF was a party to the suit. The lawsuit was dismissed, and the plaintiff has not re-filed since then. It is nearly inconceivable that anyone would come to this Wiki page looking for information about that lawsuit.
A related lawsuit was filed in 2008 by Polgar and Truong against the USCF and several other parties. It was settled in 2010. I wouldn’t (yet) characterize that lawsuit as “long forgotten”, but I am uncertain as to whether it would be useful to give a summary of that business on this site.
For now, remove this section altogether.
In chess as in sports, controversies happen all the time. Cheating (electronic and otherwise), problematic resolution of disputes, unsporting behavior, and so on, come up frequently. It would not be surprising if, in the near future, some controversy would arise that would be worth mentioning in this website. But as we can see, it is not easy for a section like this to be kept up to date by the community of volunteers.
There should be a link, or links, to websites with lists of past winners of national championships. This would include USCF’s own website (http://www.uschess.org/results/2015/).