Boyd Reed write-in candidate for USCF Board

Dear chess community,

After some thought, and some discussions with a number of friends and officials in the US chess community, I’ve decided to pursue a write-in candidacy in the 2015 USCF Executive Board election.

Boyd Reed with son Alexander,
a scholastic player.

First, let me introduce myself to those who may not know me. My name is Boyd Reed. I’m 41 years old, and have been a USCF member since 1986. I was born in East St. Louis, Illinois, and gained my initial entry into USCF through the scholastic program in the greater St. Louis area. I now live in Hopewell Township, Pennsylvania. I have a fiancee, and we’re blending three children into our family. One of them is my 11-year-old son, who is an active USCF player.

In my professional life, I am the quality assurance manager for a tech company in Pittsburgh’s North Hills area. When I’m not working (yeah, right), I like to work out, play pool, play poker and watch various sports at the college and pro levels. I have a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an Master’s Business Administration degree from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. I’m currently pursuing a second Master’s degree in Information Systems Management, also at Duquesne.


“I am a competitive person at heart.”


I am now in my 27th year of directing and organizing USCF tournaments (I ran my first event at the age of 15). I’m a National Tournament Director, and an International Arbiter with FIDE. I’ve served as a scholastic official in both Illinois and Pennsylvania, and I’ve organized a national scholastic event (2001 NYAC). I coached a number of teams and individual players in Illinois while I lived there as well. I have been a member of the Board of Directors of Co-Chess (Illinois’ K-8 organization) and the Pittsburgh Chess Club. I am also a past president of the PCC. I was one of the proofreaders for the sixth edition of the USCF Official Rules of Chess, and I served as a Forums moderator for 21 months, up until late last year.

Boyd Reed (right) serving as Deputy Arbiter at 2012 World Open. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

I currently serve on the local level as the vice president for the Pittsburgh Chess League. I currently serve on the state level as the western vice president of the Pennsylvania State Chess Federation, as well as an administrator for PSCF’s Facebook page and a USCF Delegate. I currently serve on the national level as the chair of the USCF Web Site Advisory Committee, where we authored the current redesign plan for the USCF web site and advised the EB on the selection process for a development partner to execute that plan. I also serve as a member of the USCF Finance Committee, and as a Special Referee.

Now, I’d like to provide some background for my decision to enter this election in this unorthodox manner. I am a competitive person at heart. I know I’m an underdog, for a number of reasons. Write-in candidates do not, of course, get printed on the official ballots. Nor do write-in candidates get space for statements in Chess Life. These are tremendous disadvantages, that can only be overcome with a lot of direct contact with voters. To the best of my knowledge, no write-in candidate has ever come close to winning an EB election. So, why would I spend potentially hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars, trying to win an uphill battle where, if successful, two of the rewards will likely be the right to spend even more money and the responsibility to accept criticism from all quarters without losing my equanimity?

Boyd Reed, Tournament Director. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

Boyd Reed directing a young Hikaru Nakamura at 2006 World Open.
Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

LCC0669 - A picture of me with IA Gerry Graham (IRL), chief arbiter for the Bunratty Chess Festival.  This was taken during the 2013 London Chess Classic.  Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

Reed with International Arbiter Gerry Graham (Ireland), Chief Arbiter for the Bunratty Chess Festival running concurrent with the 2013 London Chess Classic. Photo by Ray Morris-Hill.

I have been approached before about running for the EB. However, like many members, I’m very happy with the current Board composition. I’ve had the privilege to see them debate issues amongst themselves, both in open session and outside of conference rooms. I think this Board works well together, has a diverse skill set, and has no obvious conflicts of interest that would stop any of them from making decisions they feel are in the best interests of USCF. They have honest, vigorous differences of opinion on many issues, but they have the ability to debate those issues and still work together with the overarching common goal of improving USCF. So, I’ve had no interest in seeing any of these volunteers leave the EB.


“I have a track record of independent thinking, experience with chess communities around the country, volunteer service to the USCF at the local, state and national levels, and a skill set that would complement the EB and serve as an additional source of expertise in many upcoming discussions. I’ve been an advisory asset to the Board in the past, and I think I can enhance that service by being an EB member in the future.”


However, I do believe that having uncontested elections is a bad thing. It deflates interest in governance of the Federation, and apathy is a great danger to a small, volunteer-driven organization. I confess that I didn’t even vote in the last election – there was no need even for the symbolism of a protest ballot, as I was satisfied with the incumbents’ performance.

My understanding this year was that we were going to have a contested election. However, with the regrettable news that Chuck Unruh will not be running, we are in the same situation we were in last year. I don’t think that’s even sustainable, let alone desirable. The members need to have options available to them, and we need fresh candidates to pick up the daunting burdens of volunteer service.

Boyd Reed conferring with GM Maurice Ashley while directing the historic Millionaire Chess Open. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

I certainly don’t think I’m the perfect candidate. However, I have a track record of independent thinking, experience with chess communities around the country, volunteer service to the USCF at the local, state and national levels, and a skill set that would complement the EB and serve as an additional source of expertise in many upcoming discussions. I’ve been an advisory asset to the Board in the past, and I think I can enhance that service by being an EB member in the future. Finally, I don’t have any conflicts of interest that may either hamper my service or cause me to recuse myself from any EB deliberations. I always have been – and will always be – my own man.

Understand, no one asked me to run this year. My hope is that, come election time, enough people will think that I should be running.

I do have an extensive Forums posting history that can be reviewed to find my positions on many subjects. Please feel free to review that, or ask me questions directly in this thread. If you think I’m a worthy candidate, tell your friends to register and vote for me. If you don’t think I’m a worthy candidate, all I ask is an opportunity to change your mind.

Thanks for your time, and I look forward to reaching out to more members in the coming months.

Sincerely,

Boyd M. Reed

Boyd M. Reed
for USCF Executive Board

(write-in candidate)

Bringing 27 years of service to chess!

USCF National Tournament Director, FIDE International Arbiter
East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA)
boyd.m.reed@gmail.com

# # #

Daaim Shabazz

Daaim Shabazz is the founder of The Chess Drum, while serving as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds a B.S. Computer Science from Chicago State University, an MBA in Marketing and a Ph.D. in International Affairs & Development, both from Clark Atlanta University. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

19 Comments

  1. A voting member for this election is any current USCF member except those with memberships of less than one year duration at their start (active as of May 4, 2014) whose membership expires on or after June 30, 2015, who will be age 16 or older by June 30, 2015, and who registers to vote by May 1, 2015.

  2. What do you plan to do for USCF and what does USCF need to do increase its membership. Is your platform to increase membership. If so, to what level and do you have a plan to achieve that goal?

    1. There are a lot of questions packed into this. I’ll try to unpack it so I don’t miss anything. 🙂 One big thing to keep in mind is that many of the things I’m going to talk about here are linked to one another. It will be important to find and highlight those synergies, which will help us deliver positive changes more efficiently to the members.

      What do I plan to do for USCF? I hope to bring my demonstrated analytical abilities, technological expertise and contacts developed from almost three decades of service to bear, thus providing an additional reasoned and independent voice to EB deliberations. That’s a very general statement, but there are many specific areas to which my expertise applies. For example, USCF needs to finish building out a strategic development plan that leverages the national office’s recent technological upgrades and its new 501(c)3 status. Part of that is expanding the use of surveys to target certain key demographics where USCF is bleeding members. Another part of that is improving USCF’s website, a process that I’ve helped lead for the past 22 months as WSAC chairman. Still another part of that is developing ways to use the volunteer labor available in USCF’s membership base. We’re not the largest organization, but we have some very smart folks, and not a lot of extra cash. We need to harness the energy of those willing to volunteer for certain specific tasks. This requires organization and planning, two things I’ve done my entire professional life.

      What does USCF need to do to increase its membership? Well, USCF has actually increased its total membership in recent years. What hasn’t really increased much is the adult membership. Slightly more than half of USCF’s members are under the age of 18. But we need more of them to stick with the game as they transition through secondary and post-secondary education. We also need to reach out into major metropolitan markets and, in a sense, bring the mountain to Mohammed. I know that many cities of any size have pockets of adult players who play unrated chess all the time. Can we find those pockets and cultivate those players? That involves working with the state affiliates and local clubs, then reaching out to those pockets. Not easy, but definitely desirable.

      All that said, I tend to think of membership numbers a little differently. If we provide a good product, at a competitive price, we will get members. USCF has always been leery about raising membership dues, for good reason. Chess players are, at their core, frugal. 🙂 What we need to do is find a way to increase connection to members and services offered to members. Then, we need to market those increased benefits. We need to reach out to lapsed members to see if there are any trends as to why people leave, and when they leave. We know that members tend to quit when changing school levels or transitioning into the work force. Identifying and finding ways to keep them engaged is crucial. To aid in this, we may need a customer management system (CMS) to help track and compile all this information. This, of course, raises a lot of questions – which will need to be at least considered and analyzed as part of our long-term strategic planning.

      I’m planning to put up a website sometime in the next few weeks, where I’ll explore these things in more detail. Thanks for the question!

  3. Hello Boyd, Congrats and good Luck! I have a slightly different question as Paul. We know the USCF has unlimited potential of diverse interests within the chess community, what interest will you advocate for and which interest do you feel can be best served by your background and passion. Also, which USCF organizational needs will you recommend?
    thanks,
    cpercy

    1. Hi – Thanks for the support, and we’ll see how it goes. 🙂

      I have a few areas that I think are both crucial to USCF and where I think I can help make a difference. These are listed in no particular order.

      (1) Leveraging volunteer labor. Many members want to help USCF with various things. However, that has to be coordinated tightly by the national office. If I’m elected, I would want to work with the national office to help install a plan to start using our members’ expertise. I’ve had some experience with that as chairman of the Web Site Advisory Committee, as well as other non-chess activities.

      (2) Improving our website. If elected, I could no longer be WSAC chair. However, I’d very much want to remain on the committee. USCF will soon be announcing the development partner that will do the technical work of implementing the first of three phases in which USChess.org will be upgraded. That’s right up my professional alley. I’d like to finish what I’ve started there.

      (3) Improving FIDE relations. USCF has some valid beefs with FIDE, particularly its top leadership. But we’ve tried the more combative approach in the 2010 and 2014 Presidential elections. To put it mildly, that approach failed. Several highly respected USCF officials who supported the Kasparov slate even got their commission seats yanked in the aftermath of the 2014 elections, just underlining how little pull we have. I think we need to be more patient in our approach, and set our sights on incremental gains. Building relationships with other FIDE members (especially in Africa – there are a LOT of votes on that continent!) would help. Not at the next GA, of course, but maybe 2-3 GAs down the road, we might have a coalition that can help us achieve our desired changes within FIDE. We really have to play the long game here.

      These are just three areas. There are others, which I’ve expounded on somewhat in the USCF Forums. As I mentioned to Paul, in the next few weeks, I’m going to put up a website where I can cover these things in greater detail. I’ll be sure to pass along the URL to Daaim when it’s ready. Thanks for the question!

      1. Thaks Boyd, Glad to see you are prepared to hit the ground running! May I make a suggestion. The USCF appears to lack mainstrem corporate and media recognition and support. Here is a vast opportuity to highten overall chess initiatves in the US.

        1. The subject of corporate and media exposure is difficult. With the exception of the Fischer boom, chess has never really had those things in the US. USCF does have some corporate ties – for example, Booz Allen Hamilton sponsors the College Final Four, and Nationwide offers discounted insurance to USCF members. However, chess is simply not as popular here as it is in other places. Most large companies want a large audience and positive visibility in exchange for their sponsorship dollars. USCF membership has never been above 100,000. The smallest number most such sponsors would entertain has been pegged at 500,000. Contrast that with USA Hockey – which has over 100,000 dues-paying members under the age of nine. (See for yourself: https://bit.ly/1KfFj7r has their info.)

          To get sponsors, you need to have an attractive, positive product. Until the last few years, USCF has been borderline toxic for many sponsors, thanks to a lot of self-inflicted political wounds. Now, though, we’re in a position where we can offer both a positive future plan and a positive current outlook.

          USCF could definitely do a better job promoting itself. Just one example: there could be a package in place where canned press releases go out to media in players’ hometowns whenever a player or team goes top-five in any championship section That’s free publicity, and a way to get the USCF brand in front of non-members’ eyeballs. We should also pursue online marketing more aggressively.

          For example, targeting anyone on Facebook who lists “chess” as an interest. That’s over 40 million people, last I looked. Obviously, you won’t get a large percentage of them – but you don’t need to, either. In Pennsylvania, we’ve had some modest success using our own Facebook page to target PA chess enthusiasts with our ads.

          Of course, to undertake these and other worthy initiatives, you need money and professional expertise. So, it’s the old Catch-22 for USCF. It’s definitely a problem we’ve got to solve if corporate sponsorship is in our future.

  4. Boyd,

    I know that many chess clubs are struggling with membership and tournaments are becoming the domain of scholastic players who are underrated sharks. Adult membership seem to be sagging and end up playing online. With the increase in online tournaments and activity is there a way the USCF can leverage that activity to reignite interest in regular tournaments? Is there any attempt at reclamation of “retired” players?

    1. Hi Daaim – Adult membership decline is a problem for pretty much every membership organization in the US these days, and has been for some time. There’s a great book, “Bowling Alone”, that discusses this topic in some detail. Many of its lessons apply to chess quite well.

      USCF has pursued some strategic partnerships with ICC and Chess.com, and now offers online rated events on ICC every Monday night. Unfortunately, I think USCF missed the boat here – about eight or nine years ago, we had the chance to partner with ICC. Instead, we decided to try developing our own online presence, US ChessLive. To put it mildly, that failed. Back in 2006, the only real online chess presence was ICC and FICS, so we’d have done much better in terms of establishing a market presence, as well as a link for these players to enter or re-enter OTB play via USCF.

      Online play offers convenience and cost advantages that USCF cannot match with its OTB product. So I think trying to pull online devotees from that medium is a doomed idea. We have to tap in to our local markets where there is not much OTB activity, and try to attract players in those areas to come out for 1-day events. People who play online exclusively aren’t suddenly going to enter the World Open, after all. Give them a place to dip their toes into the water, and make the event as friendly and accessible as possible. For this, we’ll need to coordinate with the state affiliates, at a minimum.

      Players leave chess for a variety of reasons, of course. USCF does try to get those players back from time to time with specials. For example, in 2012, for the 40th anniversary of Fischer-Spassky, USCF offered a $19.72 one-year membership for any former USCF member who had been lapsed at least a year. I even bought one for my brother, in the hope he might decide to play again (he hasn’t played a tournament in almost 20 years now). As part of the long-range planning currently underway, USCF is also developing surveys targeted at various demographics. A survey targeted to young adult or adult players who have lapsed for at least a year might yield some good info. There may be more aggressive ways to pursue that group of players, but there’s a serious question of whether those can be undertaken with a reasonable expectation of decent ROI. My napkin math says it’s probably not reasonable to expect that.

  5. Hello Boyd,
    You might remember me from a long, long time ago– I was one of your students many years ago (almost 15, now). Recently, I’ve been playing quite a bit of chess again and was just looking you up. Sorry if this is not the right forum, but I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to email me (I assume my email appears to you).
    Hope all is well!
    Best,
    Jordan

  6. I’m going to take a guess that this is Jordan Hoffmann. I remember you, and your family, quite well. I hope all is well with you and yours.

    I can’t see your email address, but as a USCF committee chairman, mine is a matter of public record. You can reach me at blitzburgh64@gmail.com.

  7. Obviously you are running because one of the people running is basically a criminal who has no business anywhere near the USCF board. I’m not sure you are such an underdog as your interview suggests. Very politically correct though 🙂

  8. Good luck brother Reid! Do what you can and if you get elected, hopefully you can pass along your experience .

  9. Hi Greg – My analysis is that I’m not a favorite to win a seat in this election. It has helped that I’ve been extended a lot of unexpected support (including, but not limited to, public endorsements from a number of state officials and major organizers). But not being on the ballot is a major issue.

    I’d also caution against characterizing any candidates as “criminal”. It is true that I do believe one of the candidates has some disqualifying concerns, but IMHO, none of those concerns rise to any level of criminality. That said, folks can read all about it at https://www.checkmate.us (click on “Top Players Committee Emails” link).

  10. Hi Jim – Thanks for pointing out the ballot instruction.

    If you’re planning to vote for me, please write in “Boyd Reed – 12479484” and check the appropriate box.

    (I’d also like to throw in a plug here for Randy Bauer, the incumbent EB member running for re-election. Randy has been extremely important to the EB’s work the last few years, and has an extensive USCF volunteer background (not to mention a distinguished record as both a scholastic and adult player). Perhaps most importantly to many USCF members, Randy was the person responsible for bringing Rex Sinquefield into the Federation as a benefactor.

  11. Good Luck Reed. You have my support. I think you will bring a plethora of fresh new ideals and support to the USCF.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button