Bill Hall on the FIDE Congress in Poland
October 15, 2011
Today was registration day for the latest installment of the FIDE Congress series, this time performing in a nice, but chilly city in Poland. With one exception, the US Delegation has arrived here a bit travel weary, but otherwise unscathed. Your delegation representing the USCF is Ruth Haring (President and Head of Delegation),  Michael Khodarkovsky (FIDE Delegate), Francisco Guadalupe (Zonal President), IA Sophia Rohde, IA Walter Brown (Qualifications Commission), Bill Hall (USCF Executive Director), and Tony “The Exception” Rich (who is dealing with travel difficulties, but is en route). Vice President of FIDE and former USCF President Beatriz Marinello has arrived as well.

Also in attendance are IA Carol Jarecki (Commission Member representing BVI) and IA/IO Sevan Muradian (Commission Member).

The commission meetings begin in earnest tomorrow with the opening reception at 9 am and the Qualification, Arbiter’s, Trainer’s, Women’s, and Chess in Schools Commission meetings to follow. Although today is reserved for registration and recovery, we have received a very warm welcome and are enjoying renewing old friendships and developing new ones. It is always beneficial to be able to place a face and a memory of a conversation together when communicating later via email to conduct official business.

The Commission meetings are in the Galaxy Hotel, a very pleasant and modern hotel about a 25-minute walk from the heart of Krakow. All of the people have been friendly and receptive here.

There is a fairly spacious mall about a block away which many of us visited today. On that trek, we went to a nice little market in the mall and I decided to get a few bananas. As I went to pay for them and a couple of other items, the cashier asked me what they weighed. I am not sure if my puzzled look was quite as comical as her look of bemusement in return. I finally processed that it was my responsibility to weigh the bananas in the produce section. So, I paid for the other items and then weighed the fruit and returned to pay. Of course, as the Executive Director of the USCF, I entered stealth mode so as to not let my fellow delegation members know that I had committed such a drastic violation of etiquette. Just as I was struggling to get the plastic bag open to place my error behind me, I heard over my shoulder Franc Guadalupe’s voice, “So you forgot to weigh your bananas.” I turned to see his brief look of consternation until it gave way to a knowing grin as he raised his own bag of bananas.

I was instructed by my wife to bring back a souvenir for our two-month-old son, Skyler. Now, to be perfectly honest, I have no idea what to get an infant as a souvenir, so I planned to go to a baby store in the mall. It turns out there were two options and I went to both. I assumed I would find a little outfit or T-shirt with some authentic Polish saying or regional representation. This reinforced yet again past lessons about not assuming. Every piece of clothing in the place was in English and nearly all had recognizable characters. I was stunned at how much Western influence had been exported to Poland. This left me feeling more at home, and yet more confused about what to get as an infant souvenir. If any of our readers have any suggestions, please login as a member and make them in the USCF Forums!

Watch for more reports as we get immersed in FIDE business tomorrow. Thanks to Michael Khodarkovsky’s wife Lily for the photograph of the Delegation and Sophia Rohde’s for passing it along. So long for now--Bill Hall