Learning from the Texas Chess Association

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In this article, I will focus on the official state affiliate for Texas, the Texas Chess Association (TCA). Maybe other state chess affiliates will learn from my impressions of TCA; or perhaps even chess organizations outside of the United States could benefit from my observations.

The US Chess Federation has over 93,000 members and 2,000 affiliated clubs and organizations. 52 of those organizations are state affiliates. Why 52, even though there are 50 states? California is split into separate Northern California and Southern California state chess affiliates. And the DC Chess League is the official state affiliate for the District of Columbia.

An Inclusive Meeting

Tom Crane, TCA President

Congratulations to the TCA President, Tom Crane, and his TCA Board for enabling long-distance participation in the TCA business meeting, held at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, September 1, during the Southwest Open. Several TCA members, including me, participated via Zoom audio conferencing. I heard what was happening at the meeting, added my comments, and voted on several motions. A satisfying experience! Perhaps other state affiliates might consider adding virtual participation to the traditional in-person participation in their meetings too.

One motion raised during that TCA meeting was creating a paid Twitter Administrator. The current TCA Facebook Administrator, Jim Hollingsworth, generously offered to share the $1800/year that TCA pays him with a TCA Twitter Administrator. I agreed that the $1800 be shared among the Facebook and Twitter Administrators, as Jim suggested, rather than adding more payroll costs to TCA, which has less than $10,000 in the bank. The motion to create a Twitter Administrator, to be compensated at a similar level as the Facebook Administrator, passed.

Social Media

One argument for paying social media workers is that social media posts bring in new sponsors. For example, social media posts brought in cash and in-kind donations to the 2019 Texas Women’s Chess Championship, August 17-18, 2019. In my opinion, social media posts should likewise acknowledge existing sponsors. I submitted a biographical statement (bio), before I played in the Texas Women’s, which included this line: “Since the fall of 1999, Root has been a lecturer at The University of Texas at Dallas, teaching online courses about chess in education.” The TCA Facebook version of my bio listed my employer as a “Texas university.” However, a “Texas university” is not specific enough. Texas is home to hundreds of colleges and universities including three universities that offer four-year, full-ride scholarships for chess: Texas Tech University, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and The University of Texas at Dallas.

Universities Support Chess

State affiliates should commend the universities in their states which help chess players. For example, Texas Tech University is offering a full-time, well-paid job for a chess player rated 2000 or higher (expert level). I could give additional examples from other “chess” universities but I will focus on the one I know best, my employer, The University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas).

UT Dallas supports TCA and sponsors chess generally too. To give a recent example of how UT Dallas helps TCA, look at the Southwest Open, International Section. UT Dallas chess team members made up over 20% of that section, with UT Dallas paying for their entry fees to this Texas Chess Association tournament. Since 1996, UT Dallas Chess Program has given hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships to chess players, hosted chess tournaments and chess camps on campus, organized free events for the public to attend (my favorite is the annual Chess Educator of the Year each February), and provided chess team members as volunteers.

I also volunteer with chess, for example my upcoming appearance at a free screening of Brooklyn Castle on September 28th at the Audelia Road Branch Library.

Acknowledge Sponsors

Coca-Cola recently became a partner with FIDE, the World Chess Federation. How would it look if FIDE’s social media referred to Coca-Cola as “a soft drink” rather than specifically listing Coca-Cola? Sponsors like acknowledgement, something that should be considered in all social media posts, press releases, and within websites. Give the specific name of the university, such as “UT Dallas,” rather than write a “Texas university.”

UT Dallas Chess Position

In the seventh round of the Southwest Open, UT Dallas student and International Master Eylon Nakar played against the highest FIDE-rated woman in the United States, WGM and FM Carissa Yip. You can view their game, along with all the games from the other 9 rounds of the International Section, at this link. In this position, after White’s 52nd move, what move did Nakar, as Black, play to force a resignation?

Hint: The white queen is protecting the white bishop on e1. If you can deflect the white queen away, you win the bishop.

Answer: Bc4.

WIM Alexey Root, PhD

Alexey Root is a Woman International Master and the 1989 U.S. Women's chess champion. Her peak US Chess rating was 2260. She has a PhD in education from UCLA. You can find her books on chess on Amazon.com.

2 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Louis Reed at

    Excellent points to be sure. How can we expect additional sponsors in chess if we don’t properly recognize the few that we do have? If we want to grow our sport, especially at the professional level, it’s going to take money from sponsors to do it. Sponsors also need to realize a return on their investment otherwise they won’t have an incentive to continue the relationship. Back to the beginning of the article, I think the technological advances of the Texas Chess Association (TCA) are helping to keep the organization moving in the right direction. We need to keep members involved in the governance to ensure that TCA is an inclusive organization. Texas is a big state and not everyone can make the time commitment necessary to attend a TCA business meeting.

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  2. Avatar
    JIM HOLLINGSWORTH at

    The Author does not understand 501(c)3 rules. Great care must be taken to avoid crossing the line between paid advertising and sponsorships. Publishing a company’s name, address, business hours, phone numbers, etc., constitutes advertising which puts the 501(c)3 in jeopardy. Publishing a logo for a company that provided a gift to TCA is not advertising, it is recognizing a sponsor for supporting chess (which is quite acceptable).

    One final point, UT Dallas was not an official sponsor of the 2019 Texas Women’s Chess Championship. The Author omitted that information from her article.

    — Jim Hollingsworth —
    Fundraising Chair
    Texas Chess Association

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