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MACA Chess Horizons Magazine Article
 Club Spotlight: From a Cold Knight to a Warm Day
 Nathan Smolensky
  June 2015

The last home of the BCC was on Elm Street, Somerville, in a basement. After a flood in 2012, when the river of waters subsided, leaving a gritty residue, the mold fostered a rather putrid stench which discouraged many chess players from frequenting the premises with any degree of regularity. But, as the saying goes, in every cloud, there is a silver lining. And this was a shining example of the metaphor. On the brink of becoming homeless, the BCC was saved by members Harold Dondis and Mark Fins, whose generosity allowed us to find an absolutely beautiful place in Cambridge, north of Porter Square, quite parallel to the Somerville address.  

Day Street is known for its parking lot, across from the bowling alley, where parents of the many wonderful children who frequented BCC events parked their cars each Saturday. So walking down Day Street from Elm to Massachusetts Avenue, takes us from Somerville to Cambridge. Somewhere in the middle, the street signs change from Somerville blue to Cambridge green. Right turn on Mass. Ave. from Day up towards Arlington, 3 blocks, on the left only, is Norris Street. And left again down the street takes us to the former St. John’s High School building where Speaker of the House Thomas P. Tip O’ Neill went as a young lad graduating in 1931. The premises in now a renovated condo complex, including two marvelous rooms on either side of the basement, 101 and 103, the new home of the BCC.

The conditions of our new home compared to our old one are, well, like night and day (pun intended). Shiny hardwood floors, high ceiling, and windows – yes not since the early aughts has the BCC had fenestration.

As if by magic, a beautiful empty hall becomes a tournament room ready for action!

The Herb Healy Memorial, major fundraiser for the BCC occurs, traditionally on New Years Day. We moved during the entire month of December 2014. Andrew Hoy and Co. volunteered to refinish all the wooden chess tables; Ted Cross led the team which packed up the Elm Street show and with hard work and dedication to the cause, and all the stuff that wasn’t thrown out arrived at 40 Norris Street, Cambridge for reworking into our new place. We are still finding new pictures to hang on the walls.

The BCC has a Saturday tournament, Game 60, every weekend. This is the most popular time for our kids to come and play and have fun while they’re at it. BCC is a training ground for some of the best juniors in the Commonwealth, like Carissa Yip who played 2 critical events at the BCC, the February Thursday Night Swiss and the BCC February Legends of Chess. Carissa scored well in both events and got her rating to 2194; she was concurrently playing the February Billerica Swiss where she finally pushed her rating 2203 thus becoming the youngest female USCF master. It should be duly noted that in the MACA Game 60, held on March 29, which was won by GM Ivanov, Carissa scored 3 points to share 3-5th place for a 2219 rating! Way’ta go Carissa!

And the BCC is also home to other scholastic stars, like Mika Brattain, Sidharth Arun, Nithin Kavi, Brandon Wu, Suraj Ramanathan, Jason Tang, Derek Jin, Boshen Li, brothers Maxwell and Winston Zhao, brothers Daniel and David Zhou, Jerry Li, Lucy Cai, Joy Cao, Raymond Xu, Evan MacLure, brother and sister Aashish and Pooja Welling, brothers Eddie and Evan Wei, Michael Yu, Alex Yu, Andrew Liu, Eric Feng John Archibald Daniel Wang, Skiler Zhou, Miriam Abd-El-Barr, brother and sister David and Anna Katsman, to name just a few! BCC is holding a 10 double round robin (40/90; Game 60) on Monday nights as well as chess camp and a Sunday Scholastic event for the kids chess novitiates. Even with a rather icy winter, the players would flock to the club from all over Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and even Connecticut and New York from the south. The ghost of Harry Nelson Pillsbury lingers in the mist of the wood work as the drawing of Harry Lyman by Suzy Kitman hangs on the outside wall, looking down benevolently on the players in the main tournament room.

The Boylston Chess Club is a jewel in the crown of New England Chess, as Harry Lyman said. And Harry was, after all, the Dean of New England Chess. The BCC has expanded its tournament activities to include a Friday Night Blitz, organized and directed by NM Andrew Hoy, which has already become a popular choice of chess action by the Harvard Square chess scene!

Beyond that, we have expanded the scholastic program enhancing the activities of our highly skill veteran chess teachers we offer a major, robust chess and education program to the children of the Greater Boston area.

Activities of the Club are accurately posted on the BCC Website, under “Calendar of Events” as well as the MACA tournament listings on the front page of its website. All persons interested in chess, education and playing the royal game, are welcome to visit the Club at 40 Norris Street, Cambridge, MA, 3 blocks beyond the Greek Church, on the left, off Massachusetts Avenue, north of Porter Square. The main days when you are sure to find people around and the door open are: Friday Night Blitz; Saturday game/60 events; Monday longtime control tournaments and the famous and popular Thursday Night Swiss, also a long time control program.

So come on over to say hello and talk chess, chess analysis and current events and maybe you will also decide to register for a formal chess event. Worth noting: the Friday Night Blitz event is not rated so there is no requirement for membership either in the Club or in USCF. The BCC is an informal and friendly organization which has a long and illustrious history of chess play and chess education for the whole family.

All photos credit Steven Stepak unless otherwise noted.