16 April 2021

USCF Awards 1984-85

In a series of posts over the last few weeks, of which the most recent was More Early USCF Awards (April 2021), I've been looking into the first USCF Awards. So far I've covered those granted from 1979 to 1983. As I wrote in that previous post,

The awards provide a guide to the individuals, as well as the organizations behind them, who helped build U.S. chess.

The 1984 awards were reported in the December 1984 Chess Life, 'Honoring Those Who Serve Chess' by Tim Redman and Gerry Dullea. Here is a full transcript:-

Each year at the Awards Luncheon in the midst of the U.S. Open and the annual business meetings. the USCF leadership and other interested members set aside all differences and competitions, pausing to honor those who have made outstanding contributions of various sorts to U.S Chess. As usual, the Fort Worth luncheon recognized different kinds of contributions.

Denis Barry was presented a Special Service Award for his work in developing the U.S Amateur Team Championship. This tournament began modestly in 1971 and has been nurtured by Barry to an annual extravaganza drawing nearly 800 players. In 1984. a Western Division began in California. the beginning of the embodiment of Barry's dream to see the nation swept away at least once a year with the pleasure of playing team chess for little more than fun and glory.

Distinguished Service Awards go each year to members who have made major and multiple contributions to the growth and welfare of our Federation. This year. all the recipients are worthy for their own accomplishments, but also for recognizing that it is the duty of a leader to train a worthy successor. These three have passed many torches of wisdom, knowledge, and leadership, assuring a new generation to carry on their work.

Lynne Babcock has been a kind of godmother to Texas and national chess since she entered by the back door -- driving her son David to tournaments. When Houston needed a chess club, she created one -- in her own home. When Texas needed an editor -- or any other help -- she was tnere until she could find someone else to take her place so she could spend her energies elsewhere. She was the principal organizer of the Houston International [1975?] and a major force behind the U.S. Open in Fort Worth. When we needed a membership drive in the '70s, it was Lynne who built it.

Pearle Mann has been similarly influential in Midwestern chess. Her playground chess program in Milwaukee has introduced thousands of youngsters to chess over the years -- and gave George Koltanowski his first job in the United States. For years, she organized and directed the Western Open and the North Central Open, providing not only great tournaments but also a veritable college for tournament directors that educated a generation of our TDs. A national tournament director and international arbiter, Pearle served also on the last successful Rulebook Committee and has represented USCF in the World Chess Federation as our zonal president.

Dr. George van Dyke Tiers has been at the center of Minnesota and national chess for decades. Among his proudest accomplishments is his influence in bringing four U.S. Junior Open Championships to Minnesota. Just as important, he is also responsible for creating an atmosphere in which these tournaments and dozens of others could flourish. He has held state federation office many, many times, including the task of editing the state journal. He has invented a chess clock and cheerfully argued almost every issue imaginable with everyone -- all for the love and improvement of chess. He has an impressive record of service as regional vice president of USCF, as well as a long list of committee services. And he, like the other Distinguished Servers, has taught and encouraged others to carry on his work.

The final set of awards were the Koltanowski Medals, given in appreciation of major financial support of chess. The Silver Medal, for supporting regional chess, went this year to the Massachusetts Chess Association. A model state association in many ways, MACA was honored in particular for its vigorous support of scholastic chess, including a scholarship program and the donation of chess sets and other needs to schools throughout the state.

A Gold Medal went to the anonymous patron of the 1984 U S. Championship and Zonal in Berkeley. This man's generosity provided us a first-class event, and it is no accident that spectators were more numerous than ever before.

The other Koltanowski Gold went to Jose Cuchi. Since arriving on the chess scene only a few years ago, Cuchi has been a major influence. Unlike many organizers who sometimes lose money on tournaments, Cuchi often plans to lose, whether through modest prizes in events with no entry fees or through the spectacular New York International, which lured top players from around the world to compete against our own best masters. In his brief remarks at the luncheon, Cuchi commented that he would continue his "foolishness" simply because he loves chess.

To all of these great chess supporters, to the winners of the past and future, and to those whose selfless service to chess might never be recognized with such a special award, we say congratulations and -- most important -- thank you!

I noticed a few divergences from the lists of awards that have published in later references. The official record, repeated year after year, says,

Koltanowski Awards; 1984; Gold: Jose Cuchi; Silver: M. Vacheron

There is no mention of an 'anonymous patron', or of the Massachusetts Chess Association (MACA). I was also unable to identify 'M. Vacheron' in connection with either of those two missing winners (or with anything else). In addition to that, Denis Barry is not mentioned for a 'Special Service Award' in 1984, although he received a 'Distinguished Service Award' in 1985 (see the next transcript). Finally, there is mention in the official record of a 'Chess City of the Year' for both 1983 and 1984, although neither has been mentioned in the earlier sources I've looked at:-

1983; Pasadena, California
1984; New York, New York

The 1985 awards were reported in the November 1985 Chess Life, 'Awards Luncheon : U.S. Chess Honors Its Own' by Dr. Gerard J. Dullea, USCF Executive Director:-

On Saturday, August 10th, the USCF held its annual Awards Luncheon. Amid the dining and the convivial reunion of chess organizers from all over the nation, several outstanding contributors to American chess were honored in special ways. Those who received the Distinguished Service Award, the USCF's highest volunteer honor, were:

Denis J. Barry: His accomplishments include the development of the Westfield (New Jersey) Chess Club, the 1972 U.S. Open in Atlantic City, major contributions to the National Chess League (NCL), and a central role in revising the TD Certification program while he chaired that committee. For the next year, he will chair "Telechess," a revamped NCL with both "Professional" and "Amateur" divisions. Most of all, Barry is identified with the U.S. Amateur Team Championship, which he has nurtured from a tiny event to an annual giant, which is due to expand to four regional tournaments in 1986.

Harold J. Dondis: His byline has appeared on the chess column of the Boston Globe for over 20 years. Less visibly, he has been an officer of, and legal counsel for, both the Massachusetts Chess Association and the USCF. Dondis was central in establishing the U.S. Chess Trust, the articles of which he wrote 'personally.

Tim Redman: He has served the federation in countless ways as a Policy Board member from 1978 to 1984 and, notably, as president from 1981 to 1984. Redman has helped to reestablish the USCF's leadership position in FIDE, to develop financial support for chess, to encourage the sprightlier Chess Life that we all enjoy, and to give advice in dozens of other areas. A leading authority on the rules of chess, he serves on FIDE's Rules Commission.

Kolty Medals for Mettle • Two Koltanowski Medals were announced for generous financial contributions to chess:

Frank Normali: The owner of the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, will receive a gold medal for his support of the first-ever U.S. Masters Open in 1984 and of the 1985 U.S. Championship, scheduled foi this coming October.

R. W. Twombly: This Texan.will receive a silver medal for his continued support of the Chess Trust's Kolty Chess for Youth Program, which provides equipment and literature to elementary schools which have chess-teaching programs

Efforts Well Rewarded • Special Service Awards were presented to two men who have made lasting marks on the USCF:

Judge Lackland Bloom: Judge Bloom was centrally responsible for USCF bylaw changes which democratized the Federation, eliminated proxy voting at USCF meetings, and brought its governance structure into conformity with the Illinois not-for-profit law, which presently guides USCF actions.

Martin E. Morrison: He was a key figure in Northern California chess who moved through the ranks, eventually becoming USCF Secretary, Technical Director, and Executive Director. His innovations include the Paul Masson Classic, the Chess Journalists of America, and USCF's TD Certification program and tournament clearinghouse system. Morrison also chaired the FIDE Rules Commission and edited the first two editions of The Official Rules of Chess.

The Policy Board voted a Meritorious Service Award to Dr. Joseph Wagner of Los angeles. Dr. Wagner graciously hosted various USCF events, served emergency stints as Federation physician, raised funds to assure televised coverage in the Los Angeles area of the world championship, and generously donated to the USCF all royalties from his Chessprints.

The Chess City of the Year Award went to Foxboro, Massachusetts. Thanks to that enthusiastic organizer, Dr. Joel Altman, many segments of this community pulled together to host the first match between the champions of the United States and England.

All of these award recipients deserve the thanks of the entire Federation for outstanding service to chess.

Unlike the report on the 1984 awards, that report on the 1985 awards matches the official record. This is the first recorded mention of a 'Meritorious Service Award', although we saw the term used in both 1979 and 1980; see my post The First USCF Awards (April 2021) for those years. The criteria for a 'Distinguished Service Award' (1985: 'the USCF's highest volunteer honor') as distinct from a 'Meritorious Service Award' is still not clear to me. The next post in the series might shed some light on this.

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