Ruth was one of the top US women players back then. She stopped playing chess for about 30 years, and just started up again last summer. So I was very intrigued when I heard she was running for a seat on the US Chess Federation's Executive Board. These elections tend to be contentious affairs, and I often why anyone in their right mind would want to run. I got to spend time with her between rounds five and six, and had the following interview with her. This is my first attempt at doing an interview on my blog. I apologize if I don't have pithy questions and comments to add flavor to this post.
Ruth Haring in action
Polly: I saw you last year in Dallas, and I can’t remember when I saw you before that. When did you start playing again?
Ruth: One year ago at the National Open. That was my first tournament after a little over 30 years of not playing tournament chess. I now have three grown children and decided to start playing again. Then at the US Open last year I actually got my son to start playing. So we’re sort of going around as a team now.
P: How old is your son who is playing?
R: He’s 19. He’s my youngest. I have two daughters, 22 and 21.
P: And they’re not following mom’s footsteps, trying to be an outstanding woman chess player?
R: They both can play chess. And they’re probably decent because they sometimes can beat my dad who used to be a C player. But they’re not interested in playing tournament chess.
P: How is your son doing so far?
R: He’s disappointed with his result. (National Open) He just got a 1700 rating and he’s improved a lot. He started in class D. He was sort of hoping to win, and win the class prize. (Under 1800 section) But you know you have to go through the school of knocks a little bit before you do that. But it’s good for him to be optimistic at this age.
P: I started out the tournament 0-3 in the same section. It’s been pretty brutal competition. So what have you been doing all this time that you haven’t been playing chess? Obviously raising three kids, but what else?
R: I’ve been working for the majority of the time. I started out as a programmer, and then went into project management. Consultant in the high tech industry in the Silicon Valley. The last 15 years I’ve been in program management for companies like IBM and eBay. A pretty intense and hard working field.
P: When did you decide that you wanted to run for the Executive Board?
R: Shortly after started playing again. In my career in Silicon Valley I met a lot of the movers and shakers type of people, and some of them are very good chess players, or chess enthusiasts. My initial idea was I wanted to volunteer my time and do some fundraising.
I went and talked to a bunch of people I knew from the old days and said “Hey I’d like to help out the USCF and I think I can do some fundraising because I have all these contacts.” Everybody I talked to told me “Don’t do that. The money would be wasted. The USCF is embroiled in lawsuits.”
Then we got talking about what I’ve been doing and catching up. When they saw my resume, and learned what I had been doing, they said, “The thing you should do is run for the executive board.” After about 5 or 6 people told me that I started seriously considering that, and here I am.
P: If you’re elected what do feel that you have to offer the board? What are some of your goals?
R: My initial goal was fundraising, but that will have to wait until some of the legal problems are solved. I do have a management background, and I have great interpersonal skills. I feel I would be a calming and maybe mediating influence on the board.
As a program manager it was always my objective to make things happen and get things done. There are probably a lot of little projects in different areas of the USCF that have been around a long time, and haven’t gotten done. I would really like to help mentor people and get some of these projects done so we can move on to other things. Make sure there are plans and place and help move the organization forward, and that’s how I think I can help.
P: Are there any sort of pet projects that you’re interested in doing in terms of helping the USCF move forward?
R: I was interested in the fund raising as a pet project. I’ve always thought there should be better media coverage and better programs to promote players. I would really like to figure out how that could happen because all the various formats that have been tried over the years don’t really seem to do what they’re intended to do.
(We spent some time talking about how expensive it is to play in the big tournaments and we kicked around a few ideas about that. That I will discuss in another post.)
P: Thanks for your time. I think you have some very good ideas and positive energy.
R: I’m trying to keep it all positive though I know there are a lot negative things going on. I really don’t see the value in name-calling and infighting. So I’ve been trying to keep my campaign totally positive. Hopefully it will be effective.
P: Good luck, and we have just over a month left before the ballots need to be in.
R: I would just like to encourage everyone reading this to read all the candidates’ statements. (The link is the USCF website. You must be logged in to read.) It’s very important to vote this year.
I will echo Ruth's sentiments and encourage everybody to vote. There is a lot of stuff on the internet about the issues and the candidates. Read what you can, and try not to get sucked in by all the hyperbole.
Edit: Chess Tiger asked some good questions in the comments section. Maybe I should have had him do the interview! Ruth took the time to answer them. Feel free to contact her via Facebook or leave more questions here.