An Oversimplified View on the Administration of US Chess

Written By Nick Carlson on October 13, 2021

Have you ever sat down and wondered how Chess is run and administrated in the United States? If you have, then you probably have too much time on your hands, or maybe just a great enthusiasm for the game of chess. In my 3 years of doing chess administration, I’ve concluded that the administration of United States Chess on a macro level is loosely run by a balance system that can be seen in the image above.

The top dog in this balance system is the United States Chess Federation (USCF) itself. The Federation has an elected executive board that sets the rules and administers the more prominent tournaments in the country such as the annual US Open. The Executive Board positions are voted upon by individuals who have been members of the USCF for over 1 year. The Executive Board runs the day-to-day operations of the Federation. The Federation acts as the record keepers for tournament results, club affiliates, and individual memberships, the federation has an important role in uniting US Chess and its players. Since it would be impossible for US Chess to do everything, they delegate some of the major tournaments to the State Chess federations, New Jersey gets delegated two important tournaments, the United States Amateur East Individual, and the World Amateur Team.

State Chess Federations play a major role in keeping chess active in their respective states and running state-run tournaments. For example, in New Jersey on every Labor Day weekend, the New Jersey State Chess Federation hosts the NJ Open. Other state federations also hold their respective state opens on other dates such as Arkansas which holds its state open on October 23rd and 24th this year. The states, (California being split between Northern California and Southern California) annually send a select number of delegates based on the state’s US-Chess membership. There should be 125 selected delegates, delegates are usually picked by their contribution to chess, for example, if you run several tournaments a year and run one of your state’s larger clubs you will likely be asked to be a delegate for your state.

The delegate meeting is held at the same time as the US Open and at the same location, for 2021 it was held in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The delegate meeting resembles something like the “Congress” of US Chess. At the delegate meeting, delegates are shown several presentations that give a comprehensive overview of the current standings of the US Chess Federation. Once these speeches are complete, delegates are to vote on approving the annual budget, affirming executive board members, and other important information regarding the chess federation.

This circle of balance allows for the US Chess Federation to continue to operate large chess events while also giving representation and independence to the State chess federations. The circle of balance is highly important and needed in the continued success of the US Chess Administration.


My personal experience as a 2021 USCF Delegate and Media Manager of the New Jersey State Chess Federation.