MCC History / Raw Transcripts of Interviews (all conducted from Feb 2003 April 2003)

 

Interviewer: Fred Harvey

 

Transcription: Mary Murphy / Harvey Reed

 

Copy Editor: Fred Harvey

 

 

BILL MC ALLISTER

 

Fred:

Hi my name is Fred Harvey I live in Natick. I play chess at the Metro West chess club where we are going about trying to get up a chess history, an early history of the club. You are one of the people that somebody told me could give me some good information on the club, on the early days, the early years.

 

So, what can you tell me? He gave me several questions, maybe about 7 or 8 questions. Let me start, when and where did you start to play chess. Did you start at a regular club? If so, which one? I think you can start the when did you start to play chess. You started when you were a kid, right?

 

Bill:

Right. Are you doing this for the chess club?

 

Fred:

Yes, oh sure.

 

Bill:

Oh, okay.

 

Fred:

Yes, they want to get a history.

 

Bill:

Yes, I am not sure how much help I am going to be, because my memory is so bad.

 

Fred:

Well, I can understand that, because as a matter of fact, I talked to somebody else the other day, Jack Martin. Do you know Jack Martin?

Bill:

I am also hard of hearing

 

Fred:

I will try to speak up.

 

Bill:

I have got you on a speakerphone.

 

Fred:

I was talking to Jack Martin the other day. Do you know him?

 

Bill:

I do.

 

Fred:

I had to ask him, "How do you remember all this things?" Because I know I never could. Anyway, just do the best you can.

 

Bill:

Okay

 

Fred:

Let's see, so they want to know when and where did you start to play chess. And I guess they want to know at a regular club and if so which one, and where.

 

Bill:

You mean me personally.

 

Fred:

Yes.

 

Bill:

I started to play chess at the Framingham chess club which was in the VFW hall, here in Framingham.

 

Fred:

How long ago?

 

Bill:

That was the predecessor to the MetroWest Club. That had to be either 10 to 15 years ago. Actually maybe more, probably 15 years ago.

 

Fred:

We are not going to hold you to any particular fact. What we are going to do is go over all the interview and just do the best we can. We will get as accurate history as we can.

 

Bill:

You know, it is a shame, I am not a pack rat for certain things. Yet, I had a lot of stuff on the Framingham chess club. I had the board of directors meetings, notes, and all the kind of stuff. I threw a lot of that stuff out.

 

Fred:

They probably would not care about all the details of that.

 

Bill:

It is not so much the details; it was more to jog my memory to see, who did what, when and where, and that kind of thing. Do you have Warren Pinches on your list?

 

Fred:

Yes, I do, I have tried that number, yet all I get is a taped message. Something like, "Hi this is Dave, please leave a message." I don't know who Dave is.

 

Bill:

Humm

 

Fred:

Who was it; Harvey Reed has been trying to call him, but got kind of a rude reception. He is on my list to call. Do you think he will be helpful?

 

Bill:

Well, I mean, Warren pretty much founded the club.

 

Fred:

I will try to get thru to him.

 

Bill:

I don't know how he feels about it, because, sort of, when he ended up leaving it was not under great circumstances. Because he had poured his heart and soul into it, he kind of felt that nobody

 

Fred:

appreciated it

 

Bill:

Appreciated it, I guess.

 

Fred:

That is a shame. Maybe, that is why my friend Harvey, got such a rude reception.

 

But anyway, I will try to get to him too, because I understand that he could really fill us in on a lot of information.

 

Bill:

He would be the bible about how the club got started.

 

Fred:

Okay, let me see, when and where did you start to start to play at the Framingham or MetroWest chess club. That was about 15 years ago?

 

Bill:

yes.

 

Fred:

Okay, we are into question 3, let me see - okay - Why did you start to play here? What did you like? Any interesting events?

 

Bill:

The Framingham club at the time was one of the leading clubs. I guess Metro West club is the leading club now, in Massachusetts. The Framingham club at the time was one of the clubs, with the Boylston, I guess.

 

Fred:

Are you ever at Metro West, Bill? Have you played there recently?

 

Bill:

Yes, last year.

 

Fred:

Well, if you ever pop in, I would like to meet you. But, anyway, let me see, so, what did you like about it, and were there any interesting events that stand out in your memory.

 

Bill:

Oh, definitely. First of all, what I liked about it was that it was a chess center in Massachusetts. So, if you were interested in chess, and loved chess, which I do, it was like a magnet. Almost anything going on was going on there. They had the regular Tuesday night tournament. And they had all levels of players. They had some very good strong players. And they had a mixture of players. So, it gave you a good opportunity to play against not only the top talent, but also against your peers. There was a whole bunch of people.

 

Fred:

And they managed to keep that at the MetroWest, they have three groups. We have three groups and you can play in whichever group you want; you can play down in your level, you can play up, you can play across. Whatever.

 

Bill:

Right. The MetroWest club now is a lot like, not exactly like it was then, but it is very similar. What they had back then, that they don't do so much now, I could be wrong about this, there was not so much interest in chess. This was one of the few places that you could go where there was really quite a bit of chess interest. You asked about, one of the things that you asked was, what stood out. I think a couple of things stood out. One of the things that stood out was the simuls. They brought in Sammy Reshevsky, he did a simul and he did a lecture. And they brought in Tal; it was about a year, just a few years before he died. He came in and gave just a rousing lecture; everybody was on their feet. And then, he did a simul. He also did a bunch of scholastic tournaments. I took my kids there. They played, and that kind of stands out in my mind as well.

 

Also, there was, I am sure, it is the same way it is now, there are a lot of people who are really good friends with each other. It was really an enjoyable time to go, to see people every week. There were some rivalries going, and that kind of thing. So, it was a really fun time.

 

Fred:

Could you ever get to socialize with any of the guys and play a game of chess for instance between the two you.

 

Bill:

Yes, we did, definitely.

 

Fred:

That is great. I have tried that with a couple of people who have introduced themselves as being local people. Because I have checked at the library and they welcome that. They have invited us, I have talked to the head librarian, "sure you can come in". She even pointed out a room where we could have coffee or whatever. That has always been a good by-product.

 

We have a couple of highly rated people come in to give lectures, but nobody of the stature of Reshevsky or Tal. So, no wonder you remember that.

 

Bill:

Of course, that was quite something, but of course, that was when those guys did not get paid as much, and did not get as much attention. So, it was easier for a club to bring some body like that in, of world stature.

 

Fred:

That is true. That is true. Okay we are on question 4 here, have you been playing continuously, or did you leave the game for a while.

 

Bill:

I only play on the computer and play the games in Chess life. I don't really play anyover-the-board games. Except, every once in a while, I go play a tournament. But, I am playing Bridge now. I am into Bridge in the last year, so...

 

Fred:

I tried Bridge once. You know, I found Bridge more difficult. And when I tell people they raise their eyebrows. Yet, with Bridge there was a whole lot of stuff you had to remember. I tell people, "with Bridge I have remember what was played. And with chess it is all right out there in front of me."

 

Bill:

That is true. With Bridge you have to remember what was played. You have to remember a bunch of systems, basically. So, it is true.

 

Fred:

Who are the key people that you can remember. The ones that kept things going.

 

Bill:

The ones that kept things going?

 

Fred:

Right.

 

Bill:

Well, there was Warren who single handily kept things going, for a while. And then once he started to phase out, there was Jack Martin. There was Tom Powers. Have you talked to Tom?

 

Fred:

No, I haven't.

 

Bill:

Is he on your list?

 

Fred:

Is he local? You are not the first person to mention him.

 

Bill:

He is in Sudbury.

 

Fred:

He is in Sudbury. Let me just jot that down.

 

Bill:

Tom pretty much ran the club for a while after I left. He was program director and then he ran the club for a little while, and then he sort of phased out of it.

 

Fred:

About what year was that? Do you have any idea, what year it was, that he took over.

 

Bill:

No, I don't. I don't remember.

 

Fred:

Okay. Question 6: Who were the best players at the time you started?

 

Bill: Well, the regulars there was Drew Sarkeyznen. Last I knew he was in Texas.

 

Fred:

Drew - D r e w

 

Bill:

Yes, Drew D R E W. I don't remember the names that well, but John Curdo used to come to the tournaments, the bigger ones that we would have.

 

Fred:

John is in our club now.

 

Bill:

Curdo plays now, yes. The thing that the Framingham chess club did also, besides the Tuesday night tournament, the other thing that I really liked about them, was they had weekend tournaments as well. If I remember correctly, they had at least one weekend tournament a month, or at least one a quarter. They used to have a regular one around Christmas time and that used to attract quite a crowd: 80 to 100 or 120 people.

 

Fred:

See, how it is coming back to you. I bet you never gave it a thought.

 

Bill:

Yes, I know, I didn't.

 

Fred:

Let me see, so the best players: Drew Sarkeyzen, John Curdo. Anybody else come to mind?

 

Bill:

Dr. Epp, he plays now

 

Fred:

Dr. Who?

 

Bill:

Dr Epp - E P P , I am sure I am missing someone. I just can't remember. There were a lot of good players, I just can't remember who they were.

 

Fred:

Okay, let's see. They kind of have the same question next. We were just talking about the best players when you started. The next question is who are the best players over the years. And I have a hunch that we are talking about the same people.

 

Bill:

Yeah, well there are people that did not really belong to the club, but they used to come to the tournaments Lou Mercuri - He would be in any chess directory, he is a Massachusetts guy. And he used to come to the tournaments. He is a heck of a good player. I can't really remember anybody else right now. I can call you back if things come to mind.

 

Fred:

And the eight, and last question - Who else do you recommend that I interview. Do you have their contact information? You have already told me about Warren Pinches.

 

Bill:

Yeah, Warren Pinches and Tom Powers.

 

Fred:

Tom Powers, I will try him. Is there anybody else you can think of?

 

Bill:

Donna Alarie

 

Fred:

Who.

 

Bill:

Donna Alarie

 

Fred:

A L A R I E, any idea where she lives?

 

Bill:

She is out in Worcester, the Worcester way, not in Worcester, but one of those towns around Worcester. She was actively involved in the club for quite a while.

 

Fred:

She was a rarity, being a woman.

 

Bill:

True. She was one of the first ones who played in the 80's. I think there are a lot of

women who play now. She played in the late 80's , and early 90's when it was not as fashionable.

 

Fred:

Isn't funny, how chess does not seem to attract women the way it has the men.

 

Bill:

I know. It is now though.

 

Fred:

Yes, we have got about 3 or 4, I guess. But that is out of 50 or 60 people.

 

Bill:

Oh, I know another person, you just reminded me of who used to play. Who was fun to

watch. Bobby Selzer. I don't even know if he is still playing chess. He was a child prodigy back around then.

 

Fred:

Z E L T Z E R

 

Bill:

S E L T Z E R He would come when he was a small kid, and his father would bring him. And his father was a really good player. And his father, was like better than me. But Bobby was like a prodigy. And I don't know whatever happened to him.

 

Fred:

I have not heard of him recently. So, he might have lost interest or something.

 

Bill:

Yeah, he dropped out of the scene quite a while ago. There was a guy from Worcester who had a National Rating. I think it is Ilya Gurevich.

 

Fred:

I L Y A , G U R E V I C H?

 

Bill:

close enough.

 

Fred:

So, you had some good people.

 

Bill:

They had really, really good tournaments. Who else? David, this guy was from Lowell. I want to David Figerito, but I am not sure that I got the name right. I know he is still playing because I read about him in chess life.

 

Fred:

Somebody mentioned something about him in the Lowell area. I think Jack Martin did. I am looking at his info: He has got Tom Zuppa Z U P P A.

 

Bill:

Oh yes! Excellent, Tom used to be a reporter for the MetroWest Daily news.

 

Fred:

The info I have got is he might be a reporter of the Lowell Sun.

 

Bill:

Yeah, he was Warren Pinches' vintage. In fact, he helped Warren in the early days at the

club. He would know a lot more than I do about the club.

 

Fred:

As I say, we will piece it together. We will get a little from each person and before you know it we will have a cohesive early history.

 

Bill:

He would be an excellent source. That just reminded me, if you can go back into the microfilm for the Metrowest Daily News It may have been under a different name at that time. Tom wrote articles for that paper. He wrote a chess column. In that column he mentioned a lot of what was going on at the club. So, that would be a good source. That would better than just relying on people's memory. You could get some real facts.

 

Fred:

Okay. Well, look you have my phone number. And if there is anything startling that you

remember, that jogs your memory, and you come up with any interesting facts I would love to hear from you.

 

Bill:

Okay, great.

 

Fred:

And if you get a chance to come over to the club, come by. It is quite active. We love to have you. We are carrying on the tradition.

 

Bill:

Yes, I have heard a lot of good things about it. You know I bump into people. You know, Al Schaefer?

 

Fred:

Do I know who?

 

Bill:

A L S H A E F E R

 

Fred:

No, I don't think so.

 

Bill:

He is another person you can talk to. He is a regular at the club.

 

Fred:

Oh.

 

Bill:

He walks with a cane sometimes.

 

Fred:

S H A F E R

 

Bill:

S C H A E F E R

 

Fred:

Okay. And he walks with a cane.

 

Bill:

He is another one you should talk to, because he has been around for a long time. Of course, have you talked Mike Kaprielian?

 

Fred:

Oh sure!

 

Bill:

Well , Mark was involved with the coronation of the club. When Warren was around. And after Warren left, Mark came back and sort of resurrected the club.

 

Fred:

Yes, he did. He did a fine job.

 

Bill:

He pretty much did what Warren did. You can think of Mark as the way Warren was like. Mark did a lot of things like Warren did. Except, I think Warren actually made it his lifetime challenge. Mark still has like a job, and other stuff.

 

Fred:

Uh huh

 

Bill:

Warren it was like, it was like..

 

Fred:

It was a mission.

 

Bill:

It was a mission.

 

Fred:

Could you give me any insight as to the circumstances that he left, so I will know how to approach him, if I can. I would appreciate it. Anything was it a controversial situation; was it?

 

Bill:

I think that it was that he had put so much effort into the club. What happened is, that first of all he was getting burned out. And second of all people would come and ah... It was almost like if you went to the club next Tuesday, and you started whispering behind Mark's back, that you didn't like the way the tournaments were being run, that they were not starting on time. And here Warren was pouring... you know putting 40 or 50 hours over his regular job into this . And people were making comments.

 

Fred:

So, they were complaining, but not really offering to help him.

 

Bill:

Exactly.

 

Fred:

I got you.

 

Bill:

He had done it for so long, I think he just got totally pissed off.

 

Fred:

I don't blame him. I don't know him, but I don't blame him. Okay, that is great. Every little bit helps. You have given me more than a little bit.

 

Bill:

Hummm

 

Fred:

So, if you happen to think of any thing. Any thing that may help in our history, as I say, give me a call.

 

Bill:

Good luck with your project.

 

Fred:

Thanks Bill. Bye.: