How important is the USCF?Posted by Hello

A week ago, we had the “Natrol” chess enhancement pill fiasco. The national chess federation of the United States (USCF) was endorsing a chess enhancement pill that claimed to take chess players to the next level. This company was in Las Vegas handing out free samples and free gifts to young people (the youngest I saw was around 9 or 10). A friend of mine took this picture (and many more) of the line of kids getting these free stuff. The faces are blacken not to reveal their identities since they are minors.

I was totally outraged at this. How can anyone be dumb enough to sign a deal like this when more than 50% of the memberships are young players? We later found out that this same company paid $250,000 settlement to California just last year for misleading advertisement and proposition. Isn’t that amazing?

I was expecting an apology from the President of the USCF or from an official spokesperson for this incredible blunder. Nothing! No apology. Instead, since then, anyone who asked the USCF to disclose the information about the Natrol agreement was publicly attacked, insulted, and vilified.

The USCF has lost more than 15,000 members since 2003. Instead of working hard to promote the game to gain new members, chess politicians are publicly bashing each other daily. Even though I have nothing to do with the management of this federation, I have been called by just about every four letter word in the English vocabulary in the past 2 years because I demanded for better and more positive chess promotion in America and I asked the politicians to conduct themselves better and more appropriately.

My questions are:

1. Will people still play chess if there is no USCF tomorrow?
2. Do people play chess because of the USCF?
3. What do you want to see happen with the USCF? Total changes and improvement or a new federation?
4. Do you condone chess politicians who see nothing wrong with publicly embarrassing chess and the USCF every single day?
5. What does it take to reform chess governance in America (and even FIDE)?


Natrol, Inc. had to pay $250,000 for misleading advertisement and proposition last year.

600 ADMINISTRATION DRIVE, RM 212-J SANTA ROSA, CA 95403 (707) 565-2311

Date: 09/14/04

Contact person(s): Media Coordinator, Donna Edwards – 565-3099Media Spokesperson, Chief Deputy Larry Scoufos

Deputy District Attorney: Matthew Cheever Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, California


Sonoma County District Attorney Stephan Passalacqua, Napa County District Attorney Gary Lieberstein, and Solano County District Attorney David W. Paulson, announced a $250,000 settlement against Natrol, Inc., of Chatsworth, California, and its president Elliott Balbert. The defendants were charged in civil lawsuits filed by the district attorneys with making false and misleading advertising claims for their chitosan-based weight loss products, and with selling weight loss products that contained too much lead, in excess of that allowed by Proposition 65.

Natrol, Inc., manufactures and markets herbal teas, nutraceutical ingredients, sports nutrition products and dietary supplements, such as vitamins, minerals, and hormonal supplements, primarily under its Natrol brand.

Starting in 1998, it marketed Absorbitol Fat Binder, making claims that the chitosan ingredient in the product would cause the user to lose weight because it was a fat absorber, that it could bind “178% more fat than other brands” and it could bind 10.8 ml of fat “per gram of active ingredient”. In 2001, it introduced three new chitosan-based products: Chitosan 500 mg, Ultra Chitosan Fat Intercept and Ultra Chitosan Fat Intercept Plus, making similar fat binding claims for each of these products.

An investigation found that there is no valid scientific evidence to support claims that the ingestion of chitosan causes fat to be “trapped” or “bound” in the human G.I. tract, or that the use of chitosan-based dietary supplements causes any significant or noticeable weight loss results. The investigation also revealed that three of the products, Chitosan 500 mg, Ultra Chitosan Fat Intercept and Ultra Chitosan Fat Intercept Plus, contained lead in amounts that exceeded the 0.5 microgram daily limit allowed by Proposition 65.

Under the stipulated judgment, filed in Napa County Superior Court, defendants are fined $220,000 and will pay costs of $30,000. The judgment also imposes numerous requirements and prohibitions on Natrol and Balbert.

Specifically, defendants are prohibited from making any fat binding or weight loss claims about any chitosan-based product until they first possess valid scientific evidence to support such claims. In addition, they are ordered to provide clear and conspicuous Proposition 65 warnings for any chitosan-based products marketed in the future that expose the user to more than the 0.5 microgram daily limit allowed by Proposition 65.

Sonoma County District Attorney Stephan R. Passalacqua stated: ” I am proud of the efforts of our Environmental and Consumer Law Division, which, in conjunction with other District Attorney offices throughout the state, are working to protect the health and safety of our citizens.”

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar