May 30, 2013
Chess Journalists appoint new President and Vice President

The Board of Directors of Chess Journalists of America (CJA) has announced the election of Frank Niro and Jeffrey Roland as interim president and vice president, respectively, of CJA. Mr. Niro replaces Al Lawrence who recently stepped down in order to undergo surgery. Mr. Roland, currently President of Idaho Chess Association and editor of Northwest Chess, fills an existing vacancy. The leadership of CJA has been disrupted in recent years as a result of the passing of veteran journalists Jerry Hanken, John Hillery and Ira Lee Riddle. Niro and Roland have agreed to serve until the next CJA regular election in August.

Frank Niro is former President of the US Chess Trust and was the executive director of the United States Chess Federation (USCF) from 2001 to 2003. He was the editor of the Chess Horizons, the award winning Massachusetts state magazine, from 1984 to 1986, and served as interim editor of Northwest Chess from August to November 2012. Over the years, Frank has been recognized by CJA with individual awards for best feature article, best layout and best photograph. In 1986, he received Honorable Mention in the CJA category of Chess Journalist of the Year.

Additionally, Frank served brief editorial stints with Cap’n Harry’s Long Diagonal, where he was co-editor with Harry Simon, Princeton Children’s Chess News and APCT News Bulletin. He has contributed one or more articles, games, letters or photos to Chess Life magazine in each of the past five decades. Most recently his piece on the 36th Cardinal Open and the passing of Mike Anders appeared in the March 2013 issue of Chess Life and the May 2013 Ohio Chess Bulletin. His eight page tribute to the life and games of Robert Byrne will appear in the August 2013 Chess Life.

Frank passed the CPA exam in 1974 but spent the bulk of his professional career as a hospital administrator in the Boston area. He was selected as one of the “Top 25 turnaround hospital administrators in the U.S.” by Healthweek magazine in March 1989. After suffering a minor stroke in 1998, he enrolled at University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) to pursue a Ph.D. in Chess in Education He withdrew in December 2001 in order to serve as interim Executive Director of the USCF. While at UTD he was assistant coach of the national collegiate championship chess team.

Following a heart attack in February 2003 and a pulmonary embolism a few months later, Frank was unable to maintain the difficult travel schedule and, as a result, resigned his tenure at the helm of the USCF prior to the 2003 US Open in Los Angeles.

Frank relocated to Seattle in 2006 where he lived on the farm of radio personality Delilah Rene ( while working on his memoir. He is on the faculty of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, where he serves as Executive-in-Residence in the graduate program in Health Administration and teaches a course entitled “Strategic and Business Planning for Healthcare Professionals.”

Frank has collaborated on five chess books and is still trying to finish his memoir, All Over the Board, scheduled for release in 2014. Since 2006, he has maintained a popular blog entitled This Week’s Chess Safari ( He is a founding board member of the Susan Polgar Foundation, a non-profit organization that has awarded over $3,000,000 in college scholarships through its partners during the past ten years.

As president of CJA, Frank would like to see the web site expanded to provide resources and instruction to aspiring journalists on a variety of topics including style guides, copyright laws, photo credits, grammar and punctuation tips, diagrams, applets, writing feedback, outstanding examples of chess journalism, a certification track, and use of publication software such as InDesign.

As mentioned above, Jeffrey Roland of Boise, Idaho, was elected CJA vice president filling a vacant position on the CJA Board until the upcoming elections at the 2013 U.S. Open in Madison, Wisconsin.

Jeff played his first chess tournament at the age of 17 in 1980. Shortly thereafter, his career as a chess journalist began when he prepared a bulletin for the 1981 Boise State University Invitational. He bought a new typewriter for the purpose of typing each of the games from the October 1981 Boise Open, when he meticulously typed every game of every player in English Descriptive notation in order to save them for posterity. Later, with the help of his mom’s 35mm camera, he began a lifelong fascination with chess photography.

As a result, ICA President John Letterman asked Jeff to serve as contributing editor to the first few issues of the new state publication, Idaho Chess News, in 1982. He soon became the main editor and remained in that position until 1989. Additionally, he edited and published a special Annual issue in 1999. Jeff was a protégée of well known chess player and organizer, Dick Vandenberg, who was himself a Regional Vice President of the U. S. Chess Federation and long time tournament director of Correspondence Chess League of America. Mr. Roland was elected president of ICA for the first time in 1984 and has served multiple terms over the years. His present term expires in March, 2015.

Jeff recently completed a project to scan all of the old Idaho Chess Bulletins from the 1950s and 60s. He initiated the first ICA web site in 1999 and still maintains the current site today. He has remained an energetic catalyst for preserving Idaho’s rich chess history and presently holds the papers of Dick Vandenberg as well former Idaho state champion, Glen Buckendorf, who was the strongest player in Idaho for many years. Both are now deceased but, thanks to Jeff, their results and activities can be researched and enjoyed forever.

“Writing down and documenting tournament results, games and personalities so that they are available to future generations is what has motivated me to volunteer as an organizer and officer,” Roland said. “This urge is entwined in my being and continues as a motivating force. The record needs to be preserved!”

At present, Jeff is a participant in the massive project to scan old issues of Northwest Chess, a regional publication that has been in circulation since November 1947. He is also retyping old Idaho publications into HTML so, for example, names can be searched online. In the process, obvious typos have been corrected to make the search process more meaningful. He hopes to remain in his current role as Northwest Chess editor for many years to come now that he has successfully climbed the learning curve of the Adobe InDesign software.

As a Board member of CJA, Jeff seeks to promote a spirit of record preservation, including an effort to collect game scores at all chess tournaments and the creation of an archive of CJA award winning articles and other examples of good writing to assist aspiring chess journalists. He believes that a formal back-up plan should be developed so that if USCF records become unavailable, as has happened in the past, there is a guarantee that the historical record will be maintained.

“Everything we do today is the history of tomorrow,” Jeff said. “We, as journalists, have a responsibility to maintain an accurate account and not modify or interpret the historical record through a political filter. It is critical that CJA not become a political organization.”

Jeff anticipates working with Interim President Frank Niro, a good friend whom he has worked with on other projects such as the reunification of Idaho with Washington and Oregon into NWC, the publication of Northwest Chess magazine online in both black & white and color editions, and as co-tournament directors at various chess tournaments including the 2011 Portland Centennial. They have already made a commitment to work together to assist in the cataloguing of the USCF library in Crossville, Tennessee, to transition the CJA web site in support of education and research, and to develop a Strategic Plan for the organization in order to position CJA for the future.

For further information, please visit the Chess Journalists of America web site at:

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar
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