12 July 2011

Odd Man Out

Once again it's election time at the U.S. Chess Federation (USCF). Four candidates are vying for three places on the USCF's Executive Board (EB), each place for a three year term. The candidates were announced in February -- Candidates Set for Executive Board Election (USchess.org, the USCF's official site) -- Sevan Muradian, Mike Nietman, Allen Priest, & Gary Walters. Even if you don't recognize any of the names, you can find their statements in recent issues of Chess Life.

So whom to vote for? My first idea was to vote for the two who were elected for one year in a 2010 special election, Nietman & Walters. That would give them the chance to go the distance. When I started to research the other two, I concluded that both had strong chess backgrounds and complementary day time jobs: Muradian in marketing and Priest in accounting.

Muradian is a controversial personality. USCF past President Bill Goichberg recommended against him in a page on his own site -- THE MURADIAN CANDIDACY (Checkmate.us) -- with sordid tales of misplaced trust, spoofing, hacking, and conflict of interest. These are the sort of accusations that are often levelled against candidates in USCF elections and I prefer to ignore them by concentrating on the positive. Bill Goichberg has done a lot for U.S. chess, is undoubtedly a future U.S. Chess Hall of Famer, and deserves everyone's respect. Even so, his view of chess dates to the 1960s, he is in the twilight of his career, and it is time for fresh ideas.

Having decided to vote for Muradian and Priest meant I had to eliminate either Nietman or Walters. After all, they both won last year by default as the only suitable candidates (see Three Elections) and I had never given them proper scrutiny. I selected the man who impressed me more, marked my ballot, and sent it by priority airmail.

With Goichberg against him, Muradian doesn't have much chance of winning a place on the EB, but he has my vote. To find out more about him, see The Official USCF Executive Board Campaign Website for Sevan A. Muradian and North American Chess Association.

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