Rank & File

(Volume VIII #2) March-April 1985

by John K. Hillery


As I write this, I have before me the tournament life section of the February 1985 Chess Life. In all of southern California, there are four weekend tournaments: two in Anaheim, one in San Luis Obispo and the U.S. Amateur Team in Pasadena.

Now look at the first issue of Rank & File, from June 1977. Remember that this was near the nadir of U.S. chess, with the collapse of the "Fischer boom" and the organizers struggling all over the country: three tournaments in Northridge, three in Carlsbad, the Southern California Amateur in Santa Monica, a scholastic in Huntington Beach, tournaments in Los Angeles, Riverside, Newport Beach. Where are they now?

In the years that I've been playing chess, I've seen organizers come and go, dominate the scene for a while and fade away, willingly or unwillingly. The successors were sometimes better, sometimes not, but mostly about the same. But in the last five years in southern California, a whole generation of organizers has vanished - or, in some cases, petrified in place - and no one has replaced them. Most of the few remaining active organizers are interested in large, prestigious, profitable tournaments. There nothing wrong with profit, but isn't there some room for small tournaments, amateur organizers acting out of love of the game?

It isn't that hard to organize a chess tournament. You don't need a large, expensive hotel; try a YMCA, a school or business cafeteria, a community recreation center. You don't need a lot of money; hold a small event, a one day tornado, a set of quadrangulars. You need a USCF affiliation, but most clubs have one. For that matter, the SCCF would probably beatify anyone who ran a tournament for them. A certified tournament director is needed, and the USCF will provide you with a list if you ask, but the only requirement for the first level of certification is that you promise to read the rulebook.

What about the SCCF? I used the word "petrified" above. Yes, we should promote tournaments in the San Fernando Valley, the South Bay, San Bernadino, but no one cares very much, and we hold our positions by inertia. The only contest in the last SCCF election was which candidate could avoid being elected Treasurer.

Come to an SCCF Board meeting - the next two are announced elsewhere in this issue. Run for office. But most important, do something, and you'll soon take over by sheer merit.

And maybe some of us can go back to playing chess.

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