Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Boston Chess Community

Boston Chess Community

The future of OTB chess depends on the symbiotic relationships of many components where each part must contribute positively in order to guarantee a continued healthy existence of a Boston chess community. In contrast, the never ending squabbling and pettiness at the national level in the USCF, sometimes involving lawsuits by certain individuals, is a great example of how NOT to care and feed a chess community. This conflict may pull the USCF into bankruptcy.

My feeling is that in order for chess to be successful you need all of the following, equal in order of importance:

  • 1. Players: if people don't want to show up, no one is going to stop them.
  • 2. Organizers: either professional or clubs that have the resources and logistic skills to host tournaments example: the exit of Severine Wamala has created an obvious vacuum in Mass chess, MACA is having venue problems; what would happen to local chess if BCF or MetroWest clubs were to disappear?
  • 3. Professionals: especially the superstars that attract attention and create enthusiasm, example: when six or more masters and IM's show up at the BCF on a random Saturday to play it's just plain cool (and that usually attracts a couple more masters/IM's who watch these titans with the rest of us (some IM's even have been known to hang out in the skittles room divulging to smith-morra aficionados some way cool non-intheory devastating line while just kibitzing with the junkies: IM Marc Esserman. Ilya Krasik, Paul MacIntyre, as well as others, have held court on many a Saturday in the skittles room as well while the tournament progresses.) And in addition we need those who teach chess; for they develop the talent of the future. Members of the Boston Blitz are a great example of these type folks. And I see that the Blitz, as do many other masters, reach out and contribute to the local chess community.
  • 4. Volunteers: these folks have decided to give back time to chess and are necessary at the local and state level;( I can't name them all) but Bernardo Iglesias, Bob Oresick, and Chris Chase are at top of the BCF list where many others especially the BCF board members do their part to keep the BCF running. And we have Tony Cortizas' photos along with the MACA magazine edited by Mark Donlin to document the activity, not to mention the MACA board. Must be mentioned is the Boston Globe, Harold Dondis, and Patrick Wolff.
  • 5. Philanthropists: there are some organizations and many people, big and small, that are making up the difference by donating to keep the BCF in the black. Operationally the BCF couldn't survive for long without this help.
  • 6. Scholastic Chess: this is the future of chess, our future players and future masters all must come from the kids.
    7. Local Universities: the trail from Harvard, MIT, BU, (and the other 200 local universities) to the BCF for many a student player is short, and we welcome them all: example, a few weeks ago wicked solid IM Rico Zenklusen of Switzerland, now at MIT, dropped in to play and tied for 1st with IM/BCF co-champ David Vigorito (what fun to watch).
  • 8. Clubs: BCF, MetroWest, as well as the 45 other chess clubs around the state. And I also add the Au Bon Pan to this group. Clubs are the culture dishes of the chess community where camaraderie, competition, knowledge, and sportsmanship grow.

Another way to look at this is to pull anyone of the above mentioned pieces out, or pour some poisonous vitriolic conflict over this, and you would have a different picture. We as a community should appreciate what we have and continue to invest our time, money, emotions, and competitiveness into it. And above all show up and play.

How can we grow and improve this community?

Please Comment. Thank You.

Mike Griffin 02/12/2009

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