MICHAEL MULFORD on Tue Jun 02, 2020 (on US Chess Forum):
Glad to see you posting here!
On another thread started by Ron Suarez questions were posed to all candidates related to three relatively less significant issues (in this world of COVID-19, almost everything is less significant). The questions were, highly summarized:
- Among the current six candidates, who would be your dream team? (by Ron Suarez)
- What have you done to promote Senior Chess and what would you recommend US Chess do? (by me) I have an additional question specifically for you. Since you are clearly one of the strongest players in Arizona and now qualify for the National Tournament of Senior Chess Champions, will you consider representing your state? Arizona was well represented last year by an IM, but was not represented at all the first year. You would add strength and diversity to an event that has yet to have a female competitor.
- What would you have done differently in the process of making a specific clock the “official” clock of US Chess.
ANJELINA BELAKOVSKAIA, Tue Jun 02, 2020:
Thanks, Michael! Below are my answers:
1. I have no intention of choosing a “dream team.” Why? Because I believe that we have to encourage everyone to actively participate and contribute to the growth and development of US Chess, promote a positive environment and inspire maximum engagement. It is easy to hurt people’s feelings, but it is absolutely unnecessary and detrimental to the health of the organization. I am happy and willing to work with anyone who gets elected by the US Chess members and will support others, who won’t make the cut this time around.
2. Great question that can be answered through my actual contributions while I was on the US Chess Executive Board in 2015 – 2018:
11/22/15 Meeting – EB16-030 – Belakovskaia – I move to support the World Senior Championship and Women’s World Senior Championship age 50 and 65 at the level of $500 per event as long as the recipients play in the preceding US Senior Open. PASSED 5-2
01/22/17 Meeting – EB17-042 – Belakovskaia – Anjelina Belakovskaia moves for US Chess to provide travel stipend for US Chess Senior Team to participate in the FIDE World Team Senior Championship starting in 2018 and in the amount not to exceed $15,000. The EB recommends that the Top Players Committee designs invitational requirements and reports to the Executive Board by March 31, 2017 for review and approval. FAILED 3-3
01/22/17 Meeting – EB17-045 – Belakovskaia – Move that the EB directs the Top Players committee to develop a plan for US participation in the World Team Senior Championship to be presented by the June 2017 EB meeting. The plan should include the players and coach selection criteria and the timing of the selection, the year in which we might be able to begin participation in this event, and proposed funding level and possible funding sources, as well as recommendations for team players’ participation in promoting chess around the U.S. PASSED 6-0
06/03/17 Meeting – EB17-052 – Belakovskaia – For US Chess to provide support for travel and hotel accommodations for the US Chess Senior Team participation in the FIDE World Senior Team Championship (ages 50+) in 2018 and in the amount of up to $3,000 per participant (up to 5 players), with the total amount not to exceed $15,000. Players’ selection criteria, invitational cut-off dates and other guidelines shall generally follow the same requirements as for Olympiad and World Team, and be added to the “US Chess Invitational Requirements” accordingly. Team Members shall actively contribute in identifying additional funding sources and help US Chess to advance the goal of growing the game, through providing free post-event article(s) about their experience with annotated games to our Publications Department and increase participation in promoting chess around the U.S. PASSED 4-2
Supported – 11//12/17 Meeting – EB18-024 – Unruh – I move that US Chess provide up to $10,000 in prize funding for the 2018 Tournament of State Senior Champions. Participants completing all rounds in the event are eligible for a reduced entry fee into the US Open. The entry fee incentives are the same offered in the invitational tournaments coincident with the US Open event. PASSED 7-0
08/02/18 Meeting – EB18-078 – Belakovskaia – I move to amend motion EB17-052 to read as follows: For US Chess to provide annual support for travel and hotel accommodations for the US Chess Senior Team participation in the FIDE World Senior Team Championship (ages 50+) and in the amount of up to $3,000 per participant (up to 5 players), with the total amount not to exceed $15,000. Players’ selection criteria, invitational cut-off dates and other guidelines shall generally follow the same requirements as for Olympiad and World Team, and be added to the “US Chess Invitational Requirements” accordingly. Team Members shall actively contribute in identifying additional funding sources and help US Chess to advance the goal of growing the game, through providing free post-event article(s) about their experience with annotated games to our Publications Department and increase participation in promoting chess around the U.S. FAILED 1-5-1
08/02/18 Meeting – EB18-079 – Belakovskaia – I move to amend Motion EB16-042 by Allen Priest – to read as follows: US Chess to provide a $1,000 travel stipend to the highest finishing US flagged players in US Senior Open in each of four categories – open age 50+, open age 65+, female age 50+ and female age 65+, as well as to the Winner of the National Senior Tournament of Champions. The travel stipend is only to be used to offset costs to participate in the succeeding World Senior Championship or Women’s World Senior Championship. FAILED 1-5-1
01/26-02/20/16 – EB16-042 – Priest – I move to provide a $500 travel stipend to the highest finishing US flagged players in US Senior Open in each of four categories – open age 50 and up, open age 65 and up, female age 50 and up and female age 65 and up. The travel stipend is only to be used to offset costs to participate in the succeeding World Senior Championship or Women’s World Senior Championship. PASSED 6-0
As a direct result of my efforts, US Chess was represented by the Grandmasters’ Team in the last three World Senior Team Chess Championships – 2018, 2019 and 2020 and we now have 3-TIME WORLD SENIOR TEAM CHAMPIONS!!!
This accomplishment develops more interest in the chess for seniors topic in the United States – from playing in and organizing chess tournaments perspective, to promoting chess in the senior rehabilitation centers, recreational facilities and adult living communities.
In 2016, my then 12 y.o. son Brian has chosen “Chess for Seniors” as his Bar Mitzvah project, created a fundraiser, wrote a book, and volunteered in the Handmaker Center for Aging in Tucson, AZ – https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-elderly-through-chess
I believe Seniors deserve to get US Chess’s share of attention and much more can and should be done to support professional and amateur players – current US Chess members, as well as significantly boost outreach to the general aging population.
We should seek active engagement with senior communities; establish collaboration projects with Universities and Medical facilities to research, study and find data supported evidence confirming benefits of chess with fighting dementia, Alzheimer’s and other impairments associated with cognitive decline.
Finally, to answer the last part of your question, while neither I nor my family feel that I have recently crossed the threshold of “Senior” territory (my 11 y.o. daughter is laughing at this notion), I would love to play chess more often and absolutely wouldn’t mind to participate in the National Tournament of Senior Chess Champions, for as long as it doesn’t interfere with my teaching at the University of Arizona.
3. Answer (Jun 03, 2020):
This is a difficult question. I will answer as best as I can.
At my last meeting serving as a Member-at-Large on the US Chess Executive Board for the 2015-2018 term, we had on the agenda the following 2 related items:
- Review of the Committee Charters (with one of them being “Charter: US Chess Clock Working Group”)
- Report on Clock/… Negotiations
Since both items have been discussed in the Closed session, I can’t reveal the details of those discussions.
Thus, I will simply tell you about my view, concerns and thoughts on the subject:
- Chess clocks are important part of the chess games and chess tournaments. As we have switched from simple analog clocks to digital versions and added delay, increment and variety of time controls, some of the issues of various level of significance have emerged: easy to set and easy to use, features and flexibility, reliability, quality, affordability and so on.
- With different companies producing multitude of different chess clocks, significant challenge has been imposed on players (and parents of scholastic players) AND tournament directors (especially at the huge events – like National Scholastic Championships, with respect to choosing the “right” clocks and knowing how to set them and adjust as needed.
- Multiple ideas have been flown on trying to categorize the features, the clocks, etc and provide “recommended “lists”, endorsements or “official US Chess clock” designations.
- I always felt this topic being a double-edged sword, requiring at most transparency and communication. The reasons – there will be pros and cons, no matter the route chosen. While creation of a special Committee to research, study, compare and evaluate the clocks and provide recommendations was helpful, I would have preferred to supplement it with publishing an editorial write-up in the Chess Life and Chess Kids magazines and running a membership survey.
- Having an extra avenue of income that comes from the “official US Chess clock” designation might sound attractive and there is nothing wrong with considering such opportunity. However, it’s important to be mindful of overall conduct and approaches with various vendors – to ensure that it is done in a transparent and fair-game way. Any “small circle” decisions can be viewed as favoritism, unfair play, etc… and create negative publicity and resentment from other manufacturers. It also sets a bad precedent and creates reputational risk.
- I believe there is a need to design standardized and well-publicized protocol for any “official designations” process, if that’s the route that the organization would like to use.
- My other suggestion would have been to look at the other sports and situations when “designations” are used and extract the bits of wisdom from the available “best practices.”
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