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

 

Interviewer: Fred Harvey

 

Transcription: Mary Murphy / Harvey Reed

 

Copy Editor: Fred Harvey

 

 

JACK MARTIN

 

Fred:

Hi Jack, this is Fred Harvey,  we are trying to piece together a history of the club. Harvey tells me that you were right in at the beginning of the club. He has 8 questions that I am supposed to ask you, and just about anybody else that you can lead me too.

1. When did you start playing chess?

Jack:

Hmmm, rated chess, or chess, chess?

Fred:

There are three parts to this question: when or where did you start playing chess and at a regular club and if so which one.

Jack:

I started playing chess when I was in high school which was about 35 years ago.  I played in a league, and I grew up in Weymouth. We played teams; we played in Framingham, or Wellesley, and that area. We played in a couple of scholastic tournaments in the late 60ís and the 70ís. This was all before the Fischer boom.

Fred:  

Before what?

Jack:

The Fischer boom, before Fischer made it into the world championship. It was pretty different, there was not much rated chess. Except for the New England Open, any rated chess tournament was played in Boston, the Boylston street club.  There was no chess tournaments and chess clubs in the area.  

I did see Bobby Fischer in í54 when I was 12, when I was in Pittsburgh.  There was a club there but that was far away.  Then I went to college.

Fred:  

But the Boylston Club was the only club in the area. It goes way back doesnít it.

Jack:  

Yeah, that was it; it goes back about 100 years. It has been in different sites. It has been around for at least 100 years.

Fred:  

The next question is when and why did you start playing at chess club. I donít understand the ďwhyĒ part. Why donít we deal with when. When did you start to play at the Framingham chess club?

Jack:  

I started playing about a year and a half after the club had started. I had been an organizer and also an officer at the Sudbury club, which started in 1973.  

Fred:

So, the Sudbury club predated this one (Framingham / MetroWest)

Jack:

Sudbury predates this club. There was a chess studio started in 1973 right after Bobby Fischer. Some guy by the name of Mike Hesser started the chess studio. I played there in the summer when I was home from school. After about a year the club ended because the boom subsided. Yet, he donated the tables to the Sudbury chess club, which was right across the street from the Sudbury library.  

 

And when I came home from college, that chess club was about 6 months old, and that club ran until 1982. I would say about 40 percent of itís members go to the MetroWest club now. I would say they have about 25 members. They lost the site due to Proposition 2 Ĺ. They started putting local tax on everything, so they lost their site.

I was telling Harvey, when Warren Pinches first started the club in June of 1983, eight to ten of the original members were from the Sudbury club. That was the start of the Framingham chess club.

Fred:  

That was June of 1983 that would be the MetroWest.

Jack:  

It actually was the start of the Framingham chess club. Of course, the first couple of months they only had about 20 to 25 people. The Sudbury club had basically ceased function about 6 months earlier maybe at the end of 82 or the beginning of 83. So there were still some people at the club. Still a good bit, maybe 30 to 40 percent of the people from the Sudbury club showed up.  People still played. People like Menno Koning and Bill Michaels played, and Bill Michaelís father Sidney. Sid played in the Natick and Framingham chess club. He was well into his nineties. He recently passed away.
And there were some other players.

Fred: Let me jot down that name, I know Koning.

Jack:  I was telling Harvey, the reason the Framingham club subsided, and it was a good organization. One of the reasons it took off was because right after the Fischer boom there was a lot of interest in chess. After the Fischer boom a lot interest in chess, disappeared around the country and around the region. Before Fischer the USCF only had about 12,000 members, after Fischer their membership jumped to over 50,000.
So, within a year or two the USCF membership grew by about 5times.

Fred:  

Fischer himself disappeared.

Jack:  

Yes, he disappeared. When Fischer was champion there were chess studios, and clubs. There was one in Sudbury and one in Ashland, they only lasted a year or two after 1972. There was the Sudbury chess club, and also there was the Framingham Four [Square 64] club. I think Mark Kaprielian was actually a member of that club. That was about in 77. When that chess club shut down they all moved to a chess club run by Carl Garfield who lived in Natick. . He ran a chess club out of his house on Saturdays. That club ran for about 6, 7, 8 or 9 years.   
       
So the interest was kind of high. So, when Warren Pinches started the club and called there were still people who were interested in the club and had been playing for over 10 years, going back to 1972.  I think that kind of helped keep the club going.

I was busy and I was actually living in Boston, when the Framingham chess club started in 1983. But, I did finally start playing about a year and a half later in 1985.

Fred:  

And have you been playing continuous in clubs, or played just sporadically?

Jack:  

No, I did not play between 1991 and 2000. I did not play. I basically took eight years off because it was just too much; between family and work, and travel. I was out of the area for a while.   And I did not play.

But in 1985 thru 1990 I was playing. I know that for about 2or 3 years I was President of the Framingham chess club. And Warren was program director, Warren Pinches.  And when Warren got out in 1988, Warren stopped participating in everyday activities at the club. He was still doing work for the club, yet every once in a while. He was no longer involved in the running of the club. I was involved for a couple of years.

Then I left, it was taken over by Tom Powers, and Bill McAllister. They did a good job. And they kept it going, one way or another and the rent kept going up. So they would move, and every time you would move you would lose membership.  And Tommy Markim(?) got involved.

In the 80ís, I would say it is about 70 percent of the size that the club is now. The club is getting very big now. It may have up to 80 people now.  

Fred:  

Are you going to be playing there regularly?

Jack:  

Yes, well no. I have problems on Tuesdays. I have played there regularly for about two or three years, but not well, I know. Tuesdays tends to be a bad day for me. It tends to be a really long workday.   I work in Rhode Island. If I can get back and take a nap, then I can play.   If I canít, then I wonít.   Sometimes, I play anyway, so it looks like I am half asleep. My play is not very good.

Fred:  

Harvey wants to know; why did you start to play here? I would guess that the answer to that is because it is the only game in town.

Jack:  

Well, I do like chess clubs. In the 70ís besides being involved in the Sudbury chess club, I also was involved in the Waltham chess club. Well the Boylston chess club the first club that started weeknight rated play, with a Thursday night Swiss. They started that in 1973. The Sudbury chess club also had weeknight rated chess. That was around 1973 and 1974, and that was an unusual thing. Now, it has become regularly common.

Fred:

Is there any interesting events that you remember, any stand outs?

Jack:

Well, I will try to remember  - Pinches, this is kind of funny, he would always try to keep 5or 6 nights a year for special events. If there were five weeks, he would try to have something special.  He did have a Spassky simul in the 80ís. And Paul did something like that in the Framingham club. And Susan Polger had a simul. He would do chess movies. He had old films about chess.  We would also do classes, or simuls, lecture nights, or teaching nights. With the exception of the simuls, it generally would not draw very well. I mean if we had 40 people for a tournament, the teaching night would only draw about 60 percent or maybe only 30 percent.  That was his idea to try to make it not just a tournament but try to make it more of a playing site.

I know that Harvey is pleased that Howard Goldowsky is using the Thursday night for end game book courses. He likes the study sessions that Chamberlain runs from 6:30 to 7pm.  Because it extends it beyond just a running tournament but makes it more of a club.  And of course certainly all the work that Mark has done on the web site, makes it more of a club.

That was always Warrenís intention to make it not just a tournament site, but also a club. It is difficult because the tournament thing is so popular. It is a chance for people that donít have a lot of time on the weekends to play rated chess. It is hard to get away from that.

Fred:  

Who are the key people that you can remember, the ones that kept things going?

Jack:  Letís see, certainly, Tom Powers, who is still a member. Also, Bill McAllister became treasurer in 1988.  He still lives in Framingham. He actually played at the club.  I saw him at the club last year.  Bill did a very good job. He is the one that took a look at finances. He put it all into an accounting database. And I think, without Bill, I donít think the club would have survived long enough until Mark came along.  Mark was able to get involved and do the web site, and find the good site in Natick.  Bill was able to keep it alive as the Legion raised the rent. Bill was able to do some fiscal management.

I left for California in 1990, or 1993, I think the club would have lapsed without Bill.

Fred:

And he is still in Framingham?

Jack:  

Yes, he is still in Framingham, sure.

Fred:  

I will have to look him up.  Is there anybody else you can think of?

Jack:

Well, certainly Tom, could tell you about that era.

Fred:

Tom Powers.

Jack:  

I know Donna Alarie. It went from myself, to Tom Zuppa. At the time Tom Zuppa worked for the MetroWest News, back then it was called the Middlesex News. Tom would write a column every Sunday, a chess column.

Fred:

Z u p p a

Jack:  

Z u p p a

Fred:  

Is he still around?

Jack:  

I think Tom works for the Lowell sun now. He lives in the Billerica area. Actually Tom was awarded a lifetime membership at the club. I need to tell this to Tom. I know there were three people, two in 1990 that were awarded lifetime memberships at the MetroWest chess club or Framingham chess club.   Tom Zuppa, John Curdo, and oddly enough, Mark Bond. You donít know Mark Bond is.

Fred:

I donít.

Jack:

Well, if there was no Mark Bond, there would be no chess club.  The reason I say that is that Mark Bond was Warren Pinchesí boss.


Fred:  

Mark Bond?

Jack:

B o n d

Fred:  

B o n d, He was Warrenís boss.

Jack:  

Mark Bond lived in the Framingham area. Mark wanted to get back into chess. Warren was a very good organizer.  Warren lived in Boston. Warren said, ďWell I have always wanted to get back into chessÖĒ  So, Warren is the one that started the chess club, so his boss could play chess, again. I donít think that his boss showed up after the first 6 months.  I think his boss got another job. He got transferred out of the area. His boss was not after 83.

That is the story. In essence the Stanley Crowe Memorial used to be called the Mark Bond Tournament. It was an inside joke, because there was no Mark Bond at the chess club.

Fred:  

And Warren Pinches still around, where could I find him.

Jack:    

Well, I think Harvey could give you his number, his wife is in Stoughton.  

Fred:

Right.  

Jack:

Warren was very good in terms of organization.  For the first two or three years when I started helping, he would get there at 5:30 spending an hour and half setting things up. He was the one who started the library, posting world events, and things about dues on the boards.

Fred:

This was what year?

Jack:  1983, 1984, 85.   I started helping in 1986. Warren also helped by setting up membership databases.  He did all kinds of things. Under Warren, it really helped, there was a whole transition where he left the club and I came into the club, and I left, and a new person would come in, at least there was a strong foundation to keep it going. This way when one key figure left, it did not completely collapse.

Fred:

It sounds like we were very fortunate because there was always somebody to pick up the slack, rather than nobody there to just let it drop.  

Jack:

Exactly. And certainly, what Mark did was truly extraordinary getting the web site up. That is great, but sometimes it is important to have somebody there that helps you get by from year to year.  And if someone comes along with a good idea that works, that is why I mentioned Bill McAllister, and Tom Powers. What Warren had done was create enough infrastructures to keep it together. It became a very hard chess club to kill.

I mean, I know, I think that back in 1985 the rent was 15 to20 a night, then it went up to 30 dollars a night, then it went up to 35, then to 50 , and then when I left, it was going up to 75 dollars and then it went up to 100 at the old American Legion. It just broke the chess club and they eventually had to leave. They at least had enough of a membership to move. Anytime you move you lose at least 30 percent of your membership.  I donít care if you move from a dump to the Taj Mahal, you are going to lose about 30 percent of your membership.  If you move you lose some of your membership.  They had to move a couple of times because of rent. They took some hits; at least the club was good enough.

Fred:  

It looks like we have never been stronger.

Jack:  

No, no, never.  

I think in 1990 I promoted the heck out of one tournament. We hit the 60ís. That was, the old record, I think was 63 people in 1990.   Generally tournaments would be in the 40ísor 50ís.   We hit 60 or 61, that was that one time.  Now, we always hit at least 60, sometime 70, or even 80.

Fred:

Incredible.

Jack:  Certainly, this is good. Markís thing, Markís best thing is the web site. People come in, and hear about the club from the web site.           

Fred:

Right, and it is a good web site.

Jack:  

Twenty years ago, of course, when there was no internet, Tom Zuppaís column was working because Tom used to write about it every week. Every week, Tom would write about games from the chess club.  Warren would run beginners tournaments. One weekend a month, people would go in, and of course that would be highlighted in Tom Zuppaís column. This would bring in two or three new people a month. This was very important in getting new people into the club, people who had heard about the club from Tomís column. This was very important in bring in new people twenty years ago. Now, we get new people from the web site.

Fred:  

Yes. Well Jack, I really appreciate this, is it okay if I call you back about this? You have giving me plenty of jumping off points. I will try to get in touch with Bill. And of course Tom, I will see at the club.

Jack:

Sure, talk to Menno about Carl Garfield.  Carl used to run a club from the basement of his house; it was right off of Rt. 135.  I never played at his house, yet I know Menno used to play at his club, and John Chamberlain played. John was still in high school when he used to play at this club.  Bill Michaels used to play at that club.  Jeff Gibson played at the club. There are a bunch of people who still play at the club who used to play at this club, not far from where the present site is.

It is kind of interesting I think this a decendent of the Square 64 Fischer club that rose and shut down within one year back in the Ď72 & Ď73. But one guy said, what the heck do you still want to play we can play in my house on Saturday mornings.  I guess we have been pretty fortunate; this is a pretty good area.

Fred:

Yes, very fortunate.

Jack:  

Once you get something going, the fact that we are located kind of centrally. When I was a kid, growing up in this area, I thought we were a long way from everything. We were like 30 minutes from anywhere. But, now I realize we are only 30 minutes from anywhere.

I will be there on Tuesday, if you have any questions.

Fred:

Okay, great talking to you. I will see you Tuesday.