ACA - American Chess Association

The American Chess Association or ACA is a chess organization that was established in New York in 1857. The organization was responsible for holding the first major chess tournament in the country, which was called the First American Chess Congress. The event was held in the United States on October 6, 1857.

After the tournament Paul Morphy, who had beaten Louis Paulsen, was presented with a silver service on November 11, 1857. The prize was awarded to Morphy by Colonel Charles D. Mead, who was then the President of the ACA. Soon after the event, the American Chess Association, with the blessings of Paul Morphy also issued a $5,000 challenge to any chess player from Europe. The challenge was to beat the recently crowned ACA champion in a chess match.

It was also during this time that the ACA published a monthly magazine, which was entitled The American Chess Monthly. The magazine was founded in January 1857 by Willard Fiske who was responsible for organizing the First American Chess Congress. Fiske also served as editor for American Chess Monthly in the period from 1857 until 1860. Only four months after Fiske’s stint as editor, the magazine closed down. Paul Morphy was actually billed as the co-editor of the magazine, although he had very little actual involvement in its operation. There was another magazine with the same name, which was published in 1892 to 1893, although it had no affiliation with American Chess Monthly.

The American Chess Association underwent a few changes in 1874, most notable of which was the change in name to the National Chess Association. This organization then evolved into the National Chess Federation, which later joined with the American Chess Federation to create the current United States Chess Federation in 1939.

Today, the United States Chess Federation or USCF functions as a non-profit organization, and is the main chess organization in the United States. The USCF is currently a member federation of the FIDE. Since the merger that formed it, the USCF grew steadily until it managed to double its membership to 60,000 in 1972. This rise in membership was attributed to increased interest in Bobby Fischer's much-publicized campaign to the top of the World Championship. In fact, with Fischer's retirement from the public eye, the USCF’s membership slid to less than 50,000. It wasn’t until 1992 when the organization’s membership surpassed its 1974 peak level. Today, the organization seems to be hitting its stride once again, with a huge increase in membership recorded over the past ten years. This increase has been attributed to the corresponding increase in scholastic chess clubs and the widespread popularity of chess computers.

The USCF currently releases two magazines, Chess Life and Chess Life for Kids. Chess Life bills itself as the "most widely read chess magazine in the world". Chess Life for Kids, for its part serves as the official publication for the scholastic members of the USCF, which has been estimated at numbering a little over half of the organization’s membership.