|| The U.S. Tak Association (USTA) is an invaluable organization in the Tak community. It is one of our only formal institutions, and it is an anchor point in keeping the community connected to the commercial publishers of Tak (Greater Than Games). I am honored and excited to have recently joined the Board of Directors just a few weeks ago, along with my fellow Tak Times contributor Orfane. Looking forward to the exciting times ahead, I present to you (the entire Tak community) the following proposal.
This month’s issue of the Tak Times celebrates the USTA’s most recent contribution to the Tak world, and the articles contained within are evidence of its success in hosting the biennial U.S. Tak Open. It was a phenomenal tournament with many beautiful games, a few upsets, and plenty of entertaining commentary from Simmon.
Looking towards the future, I would like to make a modest proposal: the U.S. Tak Open should be, well, open. The ability to compete in the Tak world’s premiere event is, at the moment, limited to a minority of the Tak community: only those who have chosen to join USTA and pay the membership fee. But I would like to suggest that when our community’s only formal institution names the “Tak Champion,” it should not be from a field of competitors that has been winnowed down by criteria like membership in the organization. There are phenomenal players in the community who have not joined the USTA for various reasons. There are brand new players, still developing their skill, who have joined and can freely compete. It is odd that, for a tournament widely believed to showcase the height of skill, the better player is excluded and the inexperienced player is welcomed, solely based on who has paid the yearly membership due.
To be fair, organizing and hosting the U.S. Tak Open is not free. The prizes given to the top three finishers are high-quality, gorgeous, and expensive. The collective dues paid by USTA members make such valuable prizes possible. Therefore, I also propose that, if the tournament is opened, we can introduce a small tournament entry fee for non-members that will subsidize the cost of the prize, and offer a limited number of waivers for anyone who, in good faith, privately communicates that the fee would prevent them from competing. This will retain the membership benefit (no tournament registration fee for members) but open it up for non-members who wish to join the competition. It is a compromise that isn’t perfect, and may require additional systems and management of payments, but it is a step forward that will improve the quality of the tournament.
We have nothing but gratitude for the founders and board members of the USTA who have supported the organization and the Tak community for the past few years. And if you haven’t joined and you have the means to, you should (join here)! Doing so supports an organization that has done so much for the community and strengthens the USTA’s ability and potential to do even more. Additionally, moving forward, we can all adapt and be willing to change the way we’ve done things. But I only ask that everyone, members and non-members alike, merely entertain my proposal. And as a parting shot, I’m tempted to close by saying that the best strategy is to build roads and not set up too many walls; but I trust that you, the reader, have no need for such a cringey analogy.
Agree or disagree? If you're not a USTA member, would you want to compete in the U.S. Tak Open? If you're a USTA member, do you think it should remain exclusive?