Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Year's Retrospective

by Doc Kinne
Doc playing the indomitable Harold Dondis
Incredibly, today marks exactly one year since I walked into the Boylston Chess Club, entered the $10 Open, showed Bernardo my new TD card, said I wanted to help, and then proceeded to lose all my games that day (you have to give yourself a good baseline to start from, you understand!).

I look back on the last year with both awe and some mixed feelings.The mixed feelings are tied to my performance over the last year. In a year's work, ultimately, I've risen, as of last Thursday night, a grand total of 11 rating points! On the other hand, my winning percentage in both 2011 and so far in 2012 is the best it has ever been since 1991. So, like I said, a mixed bag.

The Very Successful South Station Simuls
I have been able to participate in events that, 30 years ago in Syracuse, NY, where I grew up and started chess, would have been unthinkable. In Syracuse I played a Simul against Joel Benjamin once before he gained his GM title. Here in MA, as part of organized chess, I've found myself being slaughtered regularly against GM Larry Christiansen in his very popular South Station Simuls, and even had the privilege of driving Larry home from a tournament once this year. Larry was the first chess Grandmaster I'd ever met, and someone I'd known of since he won his first US Championship back in 1981, sharing it with my favorite Grandmaster from childhood, that "other" Larry - Evans.

I've had the chance to root for organized chess teams, the good old New England Nor'easters and the Boston Blitz - something that in central NY didn't even exist.

But the real awe has been...the people! Never in my 47 years have I found the characters that I've found in MA chess!

Bernardo, now that he has a small staff, is playing again!
The patient, solid tournament direction of Bernardo...
The always-has-his-hand-out-to-shake-yours friendliness of Seth Lieberman.
The great cooking of Mike Griffin...
The childlike great enthusiasm of kids like Eddie Wei...
The never, never-say-die playing attitude of Tom Sifter...
The indomitable Harold Dondis...
The hard mental playfulness of Chris Chase...
The always-ready-for-a-new-challenge Nathan Smolensky...

The Boylston Chess Club has been amazing!

One of the new things that came out of left field for me was getting involved in chess politics starting at the Boylston. Former BCC President Dr. Jason Rihel invited me to the Board and then shocked me by nominating me as Clerk. The Boylston Board is one of the top two Boards I've been involved in. The meetings are smooth, the discussion is civil, and the Board as a group is progressive. They're not afraid to try new things, as evidenced by such things as the BCC Members picnic, the increasingly successful South Station Simuls, trying to restart a scholastic tournament program, and organizing the very first FIDE-rated Masters tournament in the history of the City of Somerville. And that was just this year!

MACA in Classic Debate Mode!
I've been privileged to even get involved in chess at the state level, certainly an opportunity that never quite presented itself when I was in central NY. While the discussion and arguments of MACA apparently have attained the level of legend, I can say that the people involved at the state level in MA have great hearts and have devoted a good portion of their lives to try to move chess forward in the Commonwealth.

I have been impressed with the quiet leadership of George Mirijanian. Brian Mottershead has inspired me to become involved in parliamentary procedure seriously for the first time. And newly created FIDE Arbiter Bob Messenger, who recently directed the very first FIDE tournament in the history of the City of Somerville right here at the Boylston Chess Club, is far and away the hardest working chess person in New England that I've met!

So, on balance its been a heck of a year, and I'm looking forward to the next!

Thanks, Boylston!


Robert Oresick said...

Doc, it is really hard to believe it has only been a year. I and we all appreciate how enthusiastically you engaged in so many facets of chess in the community. You have worked so tirelessly and for an organization that runs by volunteers, you have contributed an overflowing year. Thanks. bob

Ken said...

Aye, the BCC is very fortunate to have you, Doc! Just keep them Daleks under control, please.

Thanks also to all our wonderful volunteers, but I'd like to give a shout out to Alex Cherniack, whose quiet management of the club's website is perhaps less prominent than the directing of tournaments and other activities that people see right in front of them (unlike those overlooked tactics).

Rihel said...

Doc, you've just summed up what I miss about the Boston area the most.


Unknown said...

Ken, "Hear! Hear!" on Alex's webmaster-ship! While perhaps less prominent than directing tournaments, it is, in this day and age, at least as important!