In this installment I will sum up what the MCA Board has done this last year, and this will, in effect, be my Presidentís Report to the Annual Meeting in Bozeman next month.
I remember 15 years back, when Bill Lynch of Billings held everything together by printing out the newsletter and directing the scant few tournaments. The newsletter then had no photos and was only a couple of pages long. Individual members invested their own money towards rent and trophies to run the tournaments, which usually ended up being in the red. MCA did not sponsor a single event! Most of the Board members were pretty much only figureheads, and our newly adopted Constitution sat on the shelf gathering dust with the rest of the chess books.
Well, weíve come a long ways since then. The newsletter is bigger and better than ever, and now we have the best state association website in the country. The MCA Constitution, though still just an infant, has already shown itself to be strong and alert to the task.
NOTE: It has already helped save the Association this year from being wrongly sued by a member for $3000, which would have bankrupted us and forced us to cancel a number of programs, including the Junior Championship and this newsletter. We won the case handily, and that member has been suspended until July of next year. A special debt of gratitude is owed Dennis Petrak of Great Falls who defended us with "brilliant competence."
The Board accomplished much this past year. The main results from our effort are:
- Implemented the new Grand Prix schedule allowing for more Grand Prix events
- Constructed a great, new website at no expense to the MCA members
- Established a new tournament in the championship cycle -- the Montana Invitational
- Every Grand Prix tournament (and two others) received an additional $150, for a total of $750. This was donated by one of the Board members.
- The Board now has a way to communicate and vote online (a BIG step forward for MCA)
- More than doubled the amount in the treasury to over $500
- Reversed the decline in membership from the previous three years. Now it's a dramatic increase!
- Reinstated the Junior Championship again after a ten year lapse (This is where our new members come from.)
- With much effort by Steve Scarff, the Bozeman chess club is fit again and ready for battle.
- Now offer discounted 3-year and family membership rates
Two important things to take special notice of here are:
1) At the end of 1997, the MCA had a total membership of 107 members. Thatís one member short of the record.
For the last three years, it dropped steadily downward. When we took office last year, I was told that the membership total was roughly around 75 members. After checking, it was found that we really only had 60 members for August 2000. Ouch!
The membership today stands at 90 members. Weíre up 30 members for this year! Now ten of these Iíd promised to sign up, and are ones Iíve paid for. And maybe some were just late renewing, but 90 is still a pretty healthy number.
If we DO happen to sign up 20 kids for the Junior Championship this month, that will break the record with 110 members. If you havenít brought in a new member yet, make a few calls. Itís easier than you think. Then invite him/her to come to the next tournament with you.
2) In 1994 we had around $1100 in the bank. The largest sum ever in MCA history. This has been decreasing steadily since then, and when we took office last year, there was around $250. Today, after we pay for this newsletter and trophies for the Junior Champs, etc., there should be just over $500 in the treasury. Weíve more than doubled the amount. And none of it was from donations. Again, this is a good indicator things are moving in the right direction.
And finally, at Bill McBroom's suggestion, we found the time to buy the MCA its very own 42-cup percolator! Now that really IS the heart of every organization. Next on the list: a donut-maker!?
We did raise eyebrows and caused some concern with a few of our decisions, but thatís to be expected with a "working" Board, especially after many years of inactivity. A long-time member, Don Price of Bozeman, wise beyond his years, told us that everything that grows and evolves, like our association, must suffer certain "growing pains." But these quickly pass and will leave the MCA stronger and more unified, and with a better sense of purpose. I believe heís right.
The University of Missoula club is down in attendance, but Iím sure this is only a temporary situation.
Thereís a lot more to do. Kalispell, Billings, Butte, and eventually other cities across the state will hopefully get a club started. Without them, chess in Montana will not flourish as it could. And weíll need to obtain non-profit status one of these days in order to attract corporate sponsorship for some of our larger events. Our MCA constitution was written up to comply with the IRS for this very purpose. That was twenty years ago! Itís time to decide on a course of action.
Finally, letís set a goal to bring another Grandmaster out to MT for a simul within the next three years (I vote for Walter Browne, but it couldnít hurt to send Bobby a postcard, either.)
I speak for all the Board members now, and say that itís been challenging and difficult, rewarding and not without some controversy, also. An extra thanks goes to their wives and families for their patience. For me, my two dogs missed out on a lot of late night walks. We hope that somehow you personally have been affected in a positive way by the decisions weíve made.
Well, thatís it for now. Thanks for all YOUR efforts, and weíll see you at the Montana Open.