Sunday, July 22, 2012

Somerville's Boylston Chess Club holds international tournament July 21

The main room of the Boylston Chess Club is not fancy. It’s windowless, lined with bookshelves and sporadic chess themed poster art. Long tables, pre-set with chess boards and flanked by mismatched chairs, dominate the room.

On July 14, that room contained a group of eager chess enthusiasts waiting for tournament director Bernardo Iglesias to put up the matchups for the first round of tournament games on a bulletin board.

“The pairings have been posted,” he announced, and the games began.

The chess club, located for the past decade in Davis Square, has tournaments for members every week. On July 21, though, the club will host Somerville first international chess tournament as part of its member appreciation month. Directed by World Chess Federation (FIDE) accredited arbiter Robert Messenger, the two-day tournament will feature an Internationally rated Masters Challenge and a Nationally rated Summer Open.

“We wanted to do a special month of events, to thank our members,” said Carey Theil, the club’s vice president.

The chess club has an active schedule all year long with weekly nationally-rated chess tournaments and open play days for club members. Club members also promote chess in schools with an active scholastic program and run a youth chess camp.  But tournaments are really their big draw.

“Usually we run a series of tournaments on Thursdays and Saturdays and people come and play,” said club president Charles Riordan, “Saturday tournaments are the most popular.”

The atmosphere was competitive and friendly last Saturday as the players set up their timers, took out their play books, and quietly settled into the rhythm of their matches. After starting the clocks and calling for cell phone to be turned off, Iglesias had other duties to perform. As tournament director, Iglesias was responsible for knowing all the US -Chess Federation rules and serving as arbiter should there be a need to settle a dispute. Not that the club frequently sees outbursts.

“It takes a lot of patience to play chess,” Iglesias said. “It really exercises the mind.”

With close to 200 members, the chess club is a community of passionate and dedicate chess players of varying ages and skill levels that has earned itself a national reputation as one of the foremost chess clubs in the United States.

“It’s one of the top five chess clubs in the country,” Theil said.

As the club’s name suggests, the Boylston Chess Club has not always been in Somerville. The club began on Boylston Street in Boston in 1919 and has been organizing nationally and internationally rated competitive chess matches ever since. Relocating to 240 Elm Street in Davis Square in 2003 marked a new era for the club.

Read more: Somerville's Boylston Chess Club holds international tournament July 21 - Somerville, Massachusetts 02144 - Somerville Journal

“The change has been great,” Riordan said. “We love Davis Square.”

The Tournaments
The Masters Challenge is open to Masters level club members with a rating of 2200 points or higher.  Spanning two days, there will be four rounds of matches, two on Saturday and two on Sunday, starting at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. The event will feature world class chess playing as well as live commentary by Chess Masters and three time US Champion and Grand Master Larry Christensen.

For club members who aren’t ranked at 2200 and above, but who would still like to play, there will be a separate nationally rated Summer Open tournament, running concurrently with the Masters challenge.

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