The United States Chess Federation

The United States Chess Federation or USCF is one of the main governing chess organizations in the United States. A non-profit organization the USCF is a member federation of the FIDE.

The formation of the USCF in 1939 was actually the result of the merger of two regional chess organizations. The federation grew steadily until 1972, when its membership increased to 60,000, primarily due to widespread interest in the rise of Bobby Fischer to the top of the World Championship. After Fischer's departure from public competition, the membership of the United States Chess Federation slid to below 50,000, and it would be 1992 when its ranks again surpassed its 1974 high.

The USCF is responsible for publishing two chess oriented magazines named Chess Life and Chess Life for Kids. Chess Life bills itself as the "most widely read chess magazine in the world", and Chess Life for Kids is a new publication that is intended for the federations’ scholastic members. It is estimated that Chess Life for Kids’ readership comes in at more than half of the entire membership of the USCF.

The USCF became a corporation on December 27, 1939 in Illinois, and it would later become a 501 after the establishment of its New York City headquarters.

Membership of the United States Chess Federation

Following an increase in the number of scholastic chess players in the country from the 1990s to the early part of the 2000s, the USCF registered a considerable increase in membership, with its ranks almost doubling in size from about 50,000 to nearly 100,000. This increase resulted in a corresponding growth in scholastic chess players all over the country. Unfortunately this boom also resulted in financial problems for the organization, since the low membership fees paid by the scholastic players did not adequately cover the costs of the United States Chess Federation’s services. The USCF simply was not able to raise enough sponsorship funds to cover the costs of increased membership. With the current number of members of the federation reaching approximately 80,000, the USCF was finally able to achieve some stability in its finances as well as its operations.

The USCF is also involved in sanctioning more than 20 national championships in the country, among them the U.S. Championship, the U.S. Junior Championship, and the U.S. Open.

At one time, the United States Chess Federation was the biggest chess book seller in the country, and was involved in flourishing trade selling chess equipment as well. The federation has since outsourced their sales activities to Chess Café.

The USCF currently works in conjunction with the U.S. Chess Trust, which is a chess-related 501 organization. The U.S. Chess Trust provides funds for both scholastic and prison chess, in addition to many other chess related other activities.