USCF President Ruth Haring’s “Numbers Game”

Ruth Haring is the President of the USCF board. She begins her President’s Report with, “I report to you today as I complete three years as President and five years as an executive board member.”
For the five years Ruth has been on the executive board members have been leaving the USCF ship like rats on the Titanic. The numbers she provides in the charts and graphs show this fact. She even expresses the major problem in words, writing, “It is notable that there is a drop year over year in the adult category, and we should find out the reason for this change.
Looking at the chart “Membership by Age Breakdown,” we can see that our under 12 membership is constantly changing. Under 12 members are not the same members year over year. We need to pay more attention to how to retain our members as they become teenagers and adults.”
Ruth and the boys have had five years to “pay more attention” to the problem. What have they been doing for the previous half decade? Not only does the problem persist, it continues to grow, like a cancer.
In her second paragraph she writes, “…and heeding the words of JFK who said, “Effort and courage are not enough without purpose and direction”, the board set out on a journey to accomplish just that; meeting in January for a comprehensive strategic planning workshop. Jean will talk about the work done in this meeting in more detail.”
I write this in late August, at least eight months after the “comprehensive strategic planning workshop.”
What is the “purpose and direction” of USCF? Ruth needs to elaborate on the “purpose” part because the “direction” is known. It is in the numbers, which are heading down. What does the President plan on doing about this? “In the past I have discussed retention and demographics and my goal to have equal number of female and male chess members doubling our membership. I believe that a side effect of the influx of around 70,000 female players will also be that our female players will be stronger. It’s all a numbers game.”
Let me repeat that last part, “IT’S ALL A NUMBERS GAME.”
Ruth is on a mission to vastly increase the number of female players. She has stated this ad infinitum. It is her raison d’etre. She believes in this in the way Joliet Jake and Elwood Blues believed they were “On a mission from God.” She believes she will have “70,000 female players.” The woman is delusional. She also believes the exponential increase in girls will produce a “side effect” of making female players stronger because “It’s all a numbers game.” Her thinking has been refuted by Robert Howard who “holds a PhD in psychology from the University of Queensland in Australia and has research interests in human intelligence, learning and memory, and in the development of expertise. He has carried out many research studies examining expertise in general, using chess data. Until recently, he taught at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. He has authored five books, the latest being Islands in the Orient Sea: Travels in the Edgy 21st-Century Philippines, published in 2012.” Do not take my word for it; read the refutation yourself in a recent article on Chessbase, “Explaining male predominance in chess” by Robert Howard (http://en.chessbase.com/post/explaining-male-predominance-in-chess)
Certainly Ruth has been made aware of the article, yet she has chosen to disbelieve it because it does not conform to her thinking. It took many people a long time to wrap their minds around the fact that the earth was not flat.
After five years on the board, three as President, Ruth has a goal and tells us about it, “So my goal is to double USCF membership. What about retention? Recall the earlier chart of of membership by age and the dropoff at 11-12 years old? A jigsaw puzzle we need to solve for sure.” Unfortunately, the woman is still puzzled after all these years.
Let us consider a possible reason for the staggering numbers by which these children drop out by age thirteen. What happens to a child at that age? It is called puberty. The chart shows, “67% of our girl players are 12 and under.” This drops to 11% in the 13-15 age group. With these numbers staring her in the face, President Ruth has the audacity to write that there will be an, “… influx of around 70,000 female players.” Yeah, right. What are the odds of such an occurrence?
I thought about Ruth Haring while reading an interview with former World Human Chess Champion Vladimir Kramnik on the chess24 website (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/24-000-goal-for-chess-documentary) Vlad said, “As a chess player in any situation the first thing you do is always think logically – if I do this what will the guy do? But in fact many people just don’t think this way. For a chess player it’s automatic. You play a move and you always think about what the answer of your opponent will be. In fact this is also something which is very useful in life. I see this in many areas, especially politics. Modern politicians are lacking it a lot, because they just don’t think, in my opinion. I’m very unpleasantly surprised by the mistakes they’re making because they just don’t think in this way. They’re just thinking about their moves, not trying to calculate the moves of their opponent.”
Let us consider how it may affect USCF to have an influx of 70,000 girls on chess by considering what the effect has been on the demographic change since the USCF decided to become, shall we say, more “child friendly.” Former adult players have found other pursuits. I would assume this would continue at an exponential rate. The graph shows there are less than five hundred members in the 20 year-old age group; 473 to be specific. That is an average of less than TEN PER STATE! Why is this so? By age twenty only 2% of the females are left in the numbers. TWO PERCENT! Could it be that a twenty year-old male, who is becoming a man, does not wish to continue playing a game with grammar school age children, especially preteen girls? Many comments can be found on the USCF forum concerning comments made by young male adults saying chess is considered a “children’s game.” These males have left childhood behind and are preparing to enter the adult world. Yet after five years on the board, three as President, Ruth Haring is “puzzled.” It is obvious the USCF is purposeless and heading in the wrong direction. It’s in their own numbers.

As an addendum, I posted something on the USCF forum in reply to Ruth’s report, which has not, as yet, been taken down, if you can believe it. It can be found here: (http://www.uschess.org/forums/viewtopic.php&f=24&t=20425)

RIKKI DON’T LOSE THAT NUMBER (1974) by Steely Dan

Steely Dan “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” 9/30/13 Beacon Theatre, NYC

The Blues Brothers – Briefcase Full Of Blues (Full Album)

BLUES BROTHERS BAND | Live at Montreux Jazz Festival (Switzerland, 1990)

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