My copy of Chess Life arrived today. As usual it got a quick read and then thrown in the trash. Truth is I’m not all that interested in professional chess or trying to improve these days. I just want to play a little correspondence chess for my own amusement.
I was, however, looking at USCF membership dues. Depending on one’s age they range from $16 for Scholastic (under 13 years old) to $49 a year for adults. Life memberships are no longer available. The only reason I’m a USCF member is because I purchased a life membership way back when it cost $100…a princely sum in those days. Since I haven’t played in an OTB event in nigh on to 30 years, I wouldn’t even bother subscribing if it weren’t for being a life member. All the news, games and instruction in the magazine is available quicker and free on the Internet.
But my interest lies in CC, so what do they offer in that area? Not much. They offer post card games; yes, people still play using post cards. And they offer e-mail play. That’s e-mail, not server play although they keep promising to add it someday. You can download some pretty good freeware programs to play e-mail chess that keeps track of all the tournaments, time used etc, so that’s not a problem, but no server play? EF’s for these events range from $7 to $25.
You can play CC at the Correspondence Chess League of America for a fraction of the cost. They only recently began server play through an agreement with the ICCF. I played at the CCLA for years, but you couldn’t enter events online and pay with Paypal; you had to mail them a check. When I complained to the CCLA Secretary, I got a nasty reply back that it costs money to accept Paypal and unlike other free server sites, I also got a rating that means something. I notice that soon after they started accepting Paypal anyway.
I not sure what the difference is between having an “official” US/ICCF rating of 2060 and a server rating on Queen Alice and Chessworld of ~2300 is. My opponents are playing at about the same level and breakfast at McDonald’s still cost me almost $4 this morning. And…QA is free.
Back to the USCF. I know setting up a server to play CC on costs money and people like Susan Polgar, et al, have cost the USCF a ton of money in frivolous lawsuits. It’s always about money at the USCF. But my point is that if people like “kingscrusher” at Chessworld offers an excellent server site for reasonable membership dues and guys like Ste Robinson at Plastic Bishop and “Miguel” at Queen Alice can offer really well constructed CC server sites for free, what’s wrong with the USCF?