14 January 2014

Happy Anniversary, Chess Federations!

The bottom right corner of the cover on the January 2014 issue of Chess Life (CL) displays the small graphic reproduced on the left. It reads, 'USCF 75th ANNIVERSARY 1939 - 2014'.

To determine the origin of that cryptic message, I turned to the November 1939 issue of The Chess Review. Its cover bore the message 'The OFFICIAL ORGAN of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA CHESS FEDERATION' and inside (p.222) I found an explanation.

THE PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE • To lovers of chess everywhere in the U.S.A.:-

It is a great pleasure and satisfaction for me to announce the formation of the United States of America Chess Federation -- a merger of the National Chess Federation and the American Chess Federation. I feel deeply honored that I have been chosen first president of the new federation, and I am greatly pleased that Mr. Maurice S. Kuhns who has been president of the National Chess Federation for many years has consented to serve as president emeritus and will aid me with his advice and counsel.

For the past fifteen months committees of the N.C.F. and A.C.F. have labored long and arduously in the merger negotiations. There were times in the deliberations when it seemed as though the obstacles in the way of a merger were insurmountable. But finally, thanks to the friendly spirit shown by both sides, and their very real determination to iron out all difficulties, the committees reached complete accord and the merger agreement which was drawn up has now been signed by Mr. Kuhns and his directors on behalf of the N.C.F. and signed by me and our directors on behalf of the A.C.F. A charter is now being prepared by our counsel and the date of this charter will be considered the birth date of the new United States Chess Federation. [...]

Cordially yours,
President, United States of America Chess Federation

The previous issue of The Chess Review, October 1939, had indeed carried the message 'The OFFICIAL ORGAN of the AMERICAN CHESS FEDERATION'. I have no idea what was meant by 'the obstacles in the way of a merger', but will save that investigation for another time.

Flipping forward to 2014, this is the second consecutive month -- following GM Benko's Last Column -- that CL has served as a source of inspiration for this blog. I detect a shift in its content and outlook and will be watching to see what future months bring.

On a related topic, FIDE will be celebrating its 90th birthday later this year in Paris. The main chess news sources will undoubtedly carry the story and photos.

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