Controversy continues in American chess. GM Susan (Zsuzsa) Polgar and FM Paul Truong (who are married) have had their memberships revoked from the United States Chess Federation. This brings to a head the vitriolic media battle within America’s top chess brass.
This action was apparently enacted by the USCF Executive Board in a special session. Polgar and Truong appealed the sanctions to the Board of Delegates but the decision was upheld by a vote of 55-21 (Polgar) and 58-18 (Truong).
These actions may have occurred during the General Sessions at the U.S. Open and follows a ongoing and contentious lawsuit between Polgar/Truong and fellow members of the USCF Board of Directors. In this case, the dismissal and sanction stems from accusations that Polgar’s organization had fraudulently used Internet accounts to write scurrilous messages about board members in an attempt to defame and discredit.
Both were part of a contingent sued by Samuel Sloan, who felt his reputation was wrongly sullied by Internet posts linking him to unsavory activities. He filed a separate $20 million lawsuit against Polgar/Truong. An investigation was done by the USCF and Brian Mottershead pointed to Truong as being the culprit of false posting after an intricate analysis of weblogs. However, experts could not name a specific individual… only that the author used the handle “chesspromotion.” After further investigation, more attention had turned to a Gregory Alexander who managed Polgar’s websites. He has recently been arrested and arraigned for alleged “computer fraud and aggravated identity theft”. Charges against Truong appear to have been dropped after a “Motion to Dismiss” had been granted.
The USCF Executive Board moved to have the members removed from the Board. Truong and his wife then filed a counter lawsuit for $25 million (later lowered to $10 million) and have been the subject of relentless attacks. Over the past few months, elections for the Executive Board were conducted and in the run-up to the voting. There was much discussion about this lawsuit. Bill Goichberg, the USCF President released statements in his tournament literature implicitly citing Polgar/Truong for threats to the USCF. After trading barbs in printed and Internet media, the voting was conducted and Goichberg was re-elected along with three other members.
Apparently at the USCF meetings during the recently-concluded US Open in Indianapolis, a decision was made to revoke the memberships of both Polgar and Truong. There is a precedent case. Vaughn Bennett sued the USCF for $150 million after alleging consistent occurrences of racial discrimination in scholastic events. His membership was revoked. These series of events dampen an already beleaguered organization which has battled infighting and one financial crisis after another.
In the Avalanche Journal in Lubbock, Truong was quoted as saying, “We have absolutely no doubt that not only our memberships but our statuses on the board will be reinstated,” he said. Meanwhile Goichberg declined to comment the USCF’s actions, but stated that details about the decision soon could be posted on its Web site, www.uschess.org. Polgar and Truong were recently in Norway to visit the Arctic Chess Challenge and seem to be in good spirits, but details of their plans in this case are unknown.
Adam Young, “Tech Chess Star removed from National Organization,” Lubbock Online, 10 August 2009.
Bill Hall, “USCF Revokes Memberships of Polgar and Truong,” uschess.org, 10 August 2009.