Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chess and the BU Open

Chess and the BU Open

It was November 15 1997 and I decided to get back into playing tournament chess. Lifetime boomers have a membership ID beginning with "1001": the USCF offered it to members in the 70's for those who opted to pay twice as much for 10 years in a sustaining membership to convert to Life. So after 19 years away, raising a family, I walked into the Third Annual BU Open.

Bob Oresick and Alan Ong were seated in the basement of the BU student union, paid my entry fee as I showed them my 1590 rating on the label of my Chess Life.

Bob and Allan were more occupied in encouraging players to assist in setting up tables and chairs. So an array of folding tables, folding chairs, and pieces of plywood were crafted by custodians and players assembling the hall. I found myself moving a table with a BU facilities man, Benjamin Theodore, whom I worked with for 11 years previously in a company that had subsequently closed. Benjamin made it a point to work during the BU Open for the next 10 consecutive years in order to say hi to me and make sure things were ok. He retired from BU two years ago.


Few coat racks available, we piled our coats and bags on the side of the room. The fact I was a class C prize winner that day fueled my enthusiasm; and so warmed by the prize money, the 30 degree weather made no impression as I took the T home; not noticing that I forgot my coat.

That day would begin the revitalization of my chess career, become an annual tradition, and begin a friendship with Bob. Subsequent BU Opens have moved upstairs into a glass walled, pre-furnished room, overlooking the Charles River surrounded by the colorful autumnal leaves. When combined with the nearby food court, ton's of space for skittles, each game has their own separate table to play on; the BU Open has evolved to one of the best places to play chess. Another feature is that local students are attracted by a low entry fee and team prizes, So you are not stuck in dealing with the typical cast of characters but have an opportunity to play unknown strangers.

From it's humble beginnings the BU Open has grown into a special day in the chess year.

Thank You Bob Oresick and Alan Ong.

What are some of your experiences at the BU Open?

Please Comment.

Mike Griffin 11/09/2009

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