Latest Chess PR Nightmare

The politics of organized chess are often brutal and sleazy but now they have sunk completely into the sewer.

As reported in The New York Times, “A lawsuit filed in federal court last week accuses two officers of the nation’s leading chess organization of posting inflammatory remarks on the Internet under false names in order to win election to the group’s board. The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in Federal District Court in Manhattan, says that Susan Polgar and Paul Truong, who are married and who were elected to the board of the United States Chess Federation in July, posted thousands of remarks, many obscene or defamatory, over the last two years on two public Internet bulletin boards. The suit was filed by Samuel H. Sloan of the Bronx, who ran unsuccessfully for re-election to the board. He said more than 2,000 of the fake remarks were posted under his name.”

Susan Polgar, who is the chair person of the USCF and a former women’s world chess champion, denied the accusations, as did Paul Truong.

“Mr. Sloan is no stranger to the legal system,” the Times explained. “In 1978, the United States Supreme Court agreed with Mr. Sloan that the Securities and Exchange Commission had improperly suspended trading in stocks that he handled. Then, as now, he represented himself. In 1992, he was convicted of attempted kidnapping in a case involving his daughter, Shamema, who was living with guardians. Mr. Sloan spent 18 months in a Virginia prison.”

The thicket of charges and counter-charges is hard to wade through. Pending an internal investigation, the USCF executive board has gagged its tens of thousands of members from discussing the sordid matter on its message boards. A reluctant Mig Greengard (“my keyboard tends to smell funny after writing about the USCF so I try to do it as rarely as possible”) has provided a forum where the matter is being debated.

5 Responses to “Latest Chess PR Nightmare”

  1. Tom Panelas Says:

    It’s pretty depressing. At this point I’m reluctant to pass judgment on the merits, but either way it’s bad for chess.

    And as if that weren’t enough, there’s also this:

    RUSSIA: CHESS KILLER CAUGHT, KILLED 52 PEOPLE

    Didn’t somebody write a book recently about how screwed up chess people are?

  2. Boylston Chess Club Weblog: Let no one say I threw the first rock Says:

    […] Chess BlogNY Times and Lawsuits – US Chess DiscussionLawsuits at the USCF – Bionic Lime ThoughtsLatest Chess PR Nightmare – the pHtestArguing on the Internet – USCL news and gossipFrivolous lawsuit and other items – Susan […]

  3. Economic Fallout from Chess Scandal « thepHtest Says:

    […] thepHtest Paul Hoffman on words, chess, food, science, and everything else that’s big fun. An exploration of ideas in my book King’s Gambit: A Son, a Father, and the World’s Most Dangerous Game. « Latest Chess PR Nightmare […]

  4. paulhoffman Says:

    Indeed, Tom. I prefer the “screw ups” that are just quirky and not mendacious.

  5. Brenan Nierman Says:

    I found it interesting that, in THE KING’S GAMBIT, you highlighted some of the same fishy elements in Paul Truong’s tale of woe that I had noticed as well. (This was the story that Susan, in a typical display of hyperbole, ranked up there with the Anne Frank story, a comparison that is positively offensive.)
    I followed this for a while until I realized that the disgust it was causing me was spreading to the game itself. So, no longer. If in the end the result is that we will not hear Paul or Susan’s sanctimonious moralizing, or at least take it seriously, we’ll all be better off. But I am not holding my breath or even paying much attention anymore. It is simply not worth it.

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