As the new President of the MCA, I’m going to take a little space here every issue to try to keep you, the members, informed as to what the Board of Directors is doing on the chess front here in Big Sky country. First, on behalf of all the guys on the Board, we’d like to thank you for your vote at last month’s Annual Meeting. The method used to secure the election for almost every office was a bit aggressive, but several of us felt that we needed an energetic bunch of guys that would “get the job done.”
What job is that, you ask? Well, to start with, Montana has the least number of players in the whole nation. MAYBE we beat Wyoming, but we’re still way down at the bottom. And being a BIG state, it follows that the number of entrants at any given tournament is going to be small, usually around 10-15 players. With an entry fee of say $15, that’s a gross of about $200. After rent, rating fee, and miscellaneous, that doesn’t leave enough prize money, if any, to equal what the winner paid out for entry fee, dues, motel room, gasoline, etc., not to mention the other participants who also go home with just a handshake.
I can hear you now…”Oh, quit whining! You should be playing for the love of the game. You don’t always need to make money on EVERYTHING.” There’s a lot of truth in that, but it always sounds like something a poor father would tell his 17-year old son, “A car? You don’t need a big fancy car. You should just walk to school. That’s what I did when I was your age. It’s better for you anyway.”
So, what’s the solution? Well, we sure can’t shrink the state down and we sure can’t offer huge sums of money to attract out-of-state players. What’s that? Charm them with our good looks and a friendly smile? Well, it couldn’t hurt. But the best option I can see is to do what EVERYBODY else in my position tries to do, and that’s to INCREASE THE MEMBERSHIP. We just need to get to a certain “critical mass” to make everything a success.
With more members, there’s higher turnouts at tournaments, better prizes, less rent each player must pay, stronger players, different players, more guys WILLING to work for the MCA, less guys HAVING to work for the MCA, more people to catch a ride with, less overhead for publishing the newsletter, etc., etc. It’s just a win/win/win situation. So, that’s what we’re concentrating on. I want to DOUBLE the size of the MCA by the 1st of June, 2001. That’s a total of 150 members. I know we can do it. They’re out there, without a clue of our existence. If you have any suggestions on how we might achieve this goal, please contact any officer on the Board.
The cost for a signing up a youngster is only $5. Call up your local grade school, Cub Scout Pack, or YMCA today(!), and have them get the name and address of a boy/girl who’d like to be a member and send in the dues for him/her. Then pat yourself on the back, you just did a good thing!
If you know someone who’s no longer a member, give him a call. He just might sign up again when he remembers all the fun he used to have.
Try it, and you’ll see how easy it is. I’m promising to get 10 new members myself. I’m certain you can bring in at least one.
Finally, I’d like to give a special thanks to Paul Motta, who single-handedly put together the new MCA Web Site. Here you can play through the games without having to set up the pieces, look up a tournament date if you can’t find your newsletter, leave messages, find a ride to a tournament or a place to stay, etc. Down the road, we plan to use the site for collecting entry fees and renewals, animated chess lessons, voice clips, maybe even make it so you’ll be able to observe the State Open games in real-time when you just can’t make it. The sky’s the limit!
If you don’t have a computer, go to your local library and ask your friendly librarian to connect you with: www.montanachess.com
Thanks again, and I’ll see you next issue.