Letter From Bill Hall to Life Members
By Bill Hall   
June 1, 2009
I wanted to take a moment to address some concerns that have been raised due to rumor that Life Members of the USCF would be losing their printed copies of Chess Life magazine.  This is not the case.  Life Members retain the option to receive Chess Life in printed format at no charge; they will just be required to confirm this benefit selection approximately every three years.  The letter that is going out this week to Life Members is provided below to give a more extensive explanation.  The letter references a code to use to tell us their choice online.  This is individualized and will be printed on each member's letter for security purposes.  We will follow up to those not responding with a post card and then a cover wrap on the last issue to be mailed, provided we have not received a response.  This is to ensure that we have made every reasonable effort to contact Life Members regarding the issue. A copy of the letter that will be sent to life members is posted below.

Regards,
Bill Hall
USCF Executive Director 
 

Dear Life Member:
As you may be aware, the USCF revised its membership categories last August, dividing our major member categories into "Premium" membership, receiving a printed and mailed copy of Chess Life, and "Regular" membership with an online magazine only-plus a bimonthly Tournament Life bulletin. This allowed a necessary dues increase for those receiving the printed magazine, but with the option of a dues decrease in most categories for those who are price sensitive and/or comfortable reading an online publication.

Technology has resulted in a changing marketplace with an increasing number of other publications offering an online edition.  Now that we are able to provide Chess Life in both online and downloadable-PDF formats, we are better able to service our members and to provide some economically advantageous membership options.  In the first few months since December 1-when most of these changes went into effect-the new structure appears to be off to a good financial start.

For Life Members, most of whom are receiving benefits now entitled "Premium," the new structure will require no major change. The Federation is, however, now asking all Life Members to choose between Premium and Regular benefits no later than June 30, 2009 (use enclosed response card or visit  http://www.uschess.org/LifeMemberPreferences and use your USCF ID and the code printed above).

If you are satisfied reading the online format Chess Life and do not find receiving a mailed copy essential, you may consider selecting Regular benefits, which will save the USCF some money. If you later change your mind, you can switch back to Premium benefits at any time.  In selecting Regular benefits, you will have the further option of receiving the Tournament Life bulletin bimonthly or receiving no publication.

Life Members who do not reply by June 30 indicating their choice between Premium and Regular benefits will be assigned Regular benefits with the Tournament Life bulletin, but can subsequently switch to Premium benefits upon request. Our intention is to ask all our Life Members to reconfirm their choice between Premium and Regular benefits approximately once every three years.

A new option now available to those who are able to make a donation to help American chess is the Benefactor Membership. This is a special life membership priced at $3,000 ($1,500 for existing Life Members). Benefactor members will receive a special membership card and will be recognized on a Benefactor page of our website as well as periodically in Chess Life.  However, the primary benefit of Benefactor membership is simply knowing that you are among an elite group of Life Members that have made a significant contribution to the Federation and to our great game. To become a Benefactor member, contact the USCF office.

USCF is greatly indebted to the generosity and thoughtfulness of the late Philip LeCornu. Mr. LeCornu, a USCF Life Member and former Michigan Open champion, passed away last year and left the Federation a $350,000 bequest. $50,000 of these funds is planned to start a Philip LeCornu Olympiad Fund, secure.uschess.org/webstore/OlympiadFund, which will help to provide financing for future American teams. Every two years when the World Chess Olympiad is held, up to 10% of the fund will be available to support our teams. We expect investment and donations to exceed this payout so that the fund can grow and eventually provide significant, regular support to the U.S. effort.  The USCF Executive Board has also voted to use at least $100,000 of the LeCornu bequest to pay down the mortgage on our headquarters building.  If you would like information on how you can help to establish long-term support for a favorite project or fund by establishing a bequest, please contact me at bhall@uschess.org or by mail at USCF/Bill Hall, PO Box 3967, Crossville, TN 38557.

The USCF is facing a difficult year financially due to a lawsuit filed by current Executive Board member Susan Polgar.  She has sued the USCF and several additional defendants for $25 million (later reduced to $10 million).  You can follow the status of all USCF litigation at www.uschess.org/legalupdates

As a result, and in a measure to ensure financial stability in the coming fiscal year, the USCF headquarters will be operating on a four-day work week. Beginning in June, the office will be closed on Fridays, and this will continue until further notice.  If you can help the USCF through this difficult period, please donate to the USCF Legal Defense Fund.  You can donate online at secure.uschess.org/webstore/LegalDefenseFund, by calling Susan Houston at 931-787-1234 x136, or by mailing a check to USCF Legal Defense Fund, USCF, PO Box 3967, Crossville, TN 38557.

Sincerely,

Bill Hall
USCF Executive Director