Why International Chess Master John Peters calls Sam Sloan a "nut"

Why International Master John Peters calls me a "nut".

I disregard the fact that in his letter to the USCF voting members, International Master John Peters calls me a "nut", because he no doubt is still upset that I beat him a chess game when he was a rising young master on his way to the top.

Here is that game:

[Event "Continental Amateur Championship"]
[Site "New Haven (USA)"]
[Date "1969.??.??"]
[White "Peters,John A (USA)"]
[Black "Sloan,Sam"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B01"]

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. d4 Nxd5 4. c4 Nb6 5. Nf3 g6 6. Be2 Bg7 7. O-O 
O-O 8. Nc3 Nc6 9. d5 Na5 10. c5 Bxc3 11. cxb6 Bg7 12. bxc7 Qxc7 13. Qa4 
Bd7 14. Qh4 b6 15. Bh6 Qd6 16. Ng5 f6 17. Nxh7 Rf7 18. Bf4 Qb4 19. Bd3 
Bf5 20. Bxf5 gxf5 21. a3 Qxb2 22. Rfb1 Qe2 23. Rb4 Qg4 {White resigns because his knight is trapped} 0-1

Not a bad game, actually. Never fear! None of the other candidates for the USCF Executive Board will be sending you their chess games to play over!

This and my other great games of chess can be downloaded from the University of Pittsburgh web site at: The file name is sams-pg.zip

In 1996, I called Peters on the phone. He said that he did not know me and could not remember me at all, nor could he remember this game. This is the first time in my recollection that anybody has forgotten Sam Sloan.

Here is the letter which Peters recently wrote, with which I almost completely agree:

1537 N. Vista St.
Los Angeles, CA 90046-3612
June 26, 1999

Dear Southern California voters,

This is the first time that I have written a letter about the candidates in a USCF election. Several of you have asked for my opinion. I will reluctantly get involved because the new system, with 17 candidates competing for seven posts, might produce the worst Policy Board ever. We cannot expect a productive Policy Board, but we can hope to minimize the damage.

I have three decades of experience in dealing with USCF politicians. Despite my criticism of office seekers, I do admire some of the people who have served the USCF. It's a difficult job that requires getting along with unpleasant people. From my brief stint on the SCCF board (I was one of the founders of the organization, more than 20 years ago), I know that I am not temperamentally suited for it. The most important factors to me are a candidate's love of the game, his knowledge of chess, his respect for masters, his selfless willingness to work, and his particular abilities that might boost the USCF.

I do not really have any faith in a seven-member Policy Board. I believe that one capable person can make better decisions than a mixed group of competent and incompetent officials, and I would support a reduction in size of the Policy Board. Few issues have been debated in this campaign. Of course, everyone wants to attract new members, retain old ones, and make a profit from the Internet. The issues that really matter (reform of tournament rules, faster updates of ratings, an improved "Chess Life," and better relationships between masters and the USCF) are not mentioned. Instead, voters hear hysterical claims of financial disaster and thinly-veiled attacks at Mike Cavallo, the best Executive Director in the USCF's history.

Several candidates have expressed dismay at negative campaigns, hit letters, and personal attacks. Very commendable. Unfortunately, some of the candidates do not deserve your vote because of their unsavory character. I think that someone needs to say this. I wish that another veteran of USCF politics had stepped forward to do this dirty job. Because no one has, I am writing the harsh words below. I have tried to be fair to all of the candidates. I hold no personal animosity to any of them except Tim Redman.

Unfit for Office

In my opinion, five candidates fully deserve placement in this category. Here is a summary of their "qualifications." I have left out many gory details.

Anthony Cottell: A former USCF treasurer known most for being the sole dissenter on 6-1 votes. He took a peculiar delight in voting against even the most desirable proposals. Completely unproductive in office. Part of the decades-long warfare in New Jersey, along with Denis Barry, Steven Doyle, and Leroy Dubeck.

Tom Dorsch: I have nothing personal against Tom Dorsch; he has always been polite to me. But his political rantings deeply offend me. He makes many charges and never apologizes when he is proven wrong. Perhaps we could forgive him for an occasional crude remark, but his pattern of abuse cannot be ignored. In addition, he has just threatened to sue the SCCF and its officers because he did not like John Hillery's decision to print two campaign letters in "Rank and File."

Steven Doyle: A former USCF president whose tenure was spotted with accusations of misuse of expense accounts. Another "destroy the enemy" New Jersey politician. Shows no respect for the game or for its best players. Appears to want to hold office just so he can push others around.

Tim Redman: A much smoother operator than Doyle, but with many of the same flaws. In the early 1970s, I initially distrusted him because of his close ties to Richard Verber, the corrupt leader of the Chicago chess scene. Over the years, though, Redman has carved out his own niche as an undesirable. He is polite and even-tempered in person, but a habitual liar. He tells different stories to different people, and his promises are worthless. He helped the USCF set up standards for tournament directors at national events, but misused his position to award directing jobs to himself and his friends. As a Policy Board member and later a FIDE representative, he made many unnecessary trips at USCF expense. I have a personal gripe dating from 1983 and 1984 against Redman (then USCF president), Executive Director Gerry Dullea and American Chess Foundation leader Allen Kaufman. The trio secretly conspired to undermine the consensus among professional players that I helped to create on a series of issues that should have been non-political and uncontroversial. Frankly, I think that Redman should have been impeached because he did not attempt to act in the best interests of the USCF. Later the USCF foolishly released the documents detailing their misdeeds, I convinced a chess magazine to publish excerpts, and Kaufman arrogantly demanded a personal apology from me! What a crew! Those who believe that the end justifies the means might tolerate underhanded scheming if the results were good. Even those hard-boiled observers, though, would rate Redman poorly. During his period of leadership in Chicago chess, the area failed to produce a single outstanding master. That should not happen to the country's third-largest city. Nor did he recruit great numbers of junior members or run impressive tournaments (with the exception of the 1973 U.S. Open, held during the Fischer boom). Redman and others made Chicago the nation's chess cesspool, and now he wants to return to national office. Don't trust him!

Sam Sloan: A nut. He got less than 10 votes in the last USCF election. Let's hope he does no better this time.

More Bad Choices

The best that can be said about the following seven candidates is that he or she would be less likely to ruin the USCF than the five above.

Doris Barry: At the risk of sounding sexist, I wonder if she has any qualification other than being the wife of former USCF president Denis Barry. I do not like Denis' abrasive style and I do not see how Doris could be much better.

Arthur Bisguier: A friendly fellow who makes a good impression on casual players and the general public. However, he has shown little interest in chess organization and promotion, and I fear that he will merely go along with the majority on Policy Board votes. I discount his expertise on professional players because he dates from the era when grandmasters had to rely on the USCF, the ACF, and patrons. Today's professionals expect much less from the USCF, and Arthur seems out of touch with their interests.

Robert Holliman: I do not know him personally. He ran an anti-Goichberg campaign a few years ago and lost. As most of you know, I have many complaints about Bill Goichberg's tournaments and I no longer compete in them, but even I could not sympathize with his ridiculous arguments. This time, he harps on his support of the Internet. Whoopee! Next he will come out in favor of motherhood and the flag. I consider the fact that he does not have support in his own state to be a significant factor against him.

Joseph Ippolito: The father of one of the country's best young players. I have never met him. He may be a wonderful person but I cannot imagine voting for someone who sent out two campaign letters filled with spelling mistakes.

John McCrary: The self-proclaimed consensus builder. It seems to me that he takes far too much credit for the accomplishments of others. Nor do I trust his understanding of chess. He sponsored one motion that recognized Kasparov as world champion and another that recognized the winner of the FIDE KO championship as champion. He helps choose inductees to the USCF Hall of Fame, and I disagree with his selections and the rules by which new members are added. On the other hand, he does seem to care about chess, and he would make a better Policy Board member than anyone else in this category.

Robert Tanner: I have had trouble getting information from him. He ran the 1994 U.S. Championship and disturbed the participants by constantly talking loudly on the telephone in the playing room. Then he managed to lose the last round's scoresheets. Then he failed to return repeated phone calls. In other elections, I would dismiss him as incompetent. This year, he is about average.

Helen Warren: I like Helen Warren and consider her a fine organizer and a true patron of the game. But I recoil at her choice of friends. She likes Tim Redman, and both have said that they will support Tom Dorsch for USCF president. It's guilt by association.

The Fortunate Few

There are only five candidates who I consider good risks for the USCF.

Ralph Bowman: A scholastic organizer whose heart appears to be in the right place. As a frugal ex-New England, I like people who know how to live on a tight budget. However, disclosing his annual salary was telling me a bit more than I wanted to know!

Frank Camaratta: I have only met him once, and he did not make a good impression on me. I thought him arrogant and overbearing, qualities that others frequently mention in describing him. When he served on the Policy Board, I thought that he was unethically trying to position himself to later serve as Executive Director. If he gets elected again, he might be the highest-rated Policy Board member, and that could lead to trouble if he tries to portray himself as an insider on the thinking of masters; that has been a typical failing in previous Policy Boards. I recommend him, despite these reservations, because he is an independent thinker. We will need strong personalities if the pro-Dorsch or pro-Goichberg factions gain office.

Larry Eldridge: When I first saw the list of candidates, Larry was the only one I knew I could support. He has been an occasional tournament player in New England since the early 1970s, and his son became a highly-rated junior star. He is a professional sportswriter for the Christian Science Monitor, so he understands how the rest of the world views the game. So far, I have not received a campaign letter from him, and I worry that he may have thought better about running.

James Pechac: I don't know him at all. Mike Carr says that he is an excellent accountant. If he knows nothing about chess, the Policy Board could still use him.

Bob Smith: In my opinion, he has run the best campaign. He has support from his home state, he refrains from attacking others, and he pledges to work hard. He won my vote when he gently chastised both Dorsch and Goichberg for their nasty disputes on the Internet.

Please keep my recommendations in mind when you are deciding how to distribute your votes. And whatever happens, let's support those who are elected.

Yours, Jack Peters.

Here are links:
Sam Sloan's Chess Page

My Home Page

Contact address - please send e-mail to the following address: Sloan@ishipress.com