Caught Between Two Chess Clubs

This just in from the new US Chess Life website – an article titled “Fischer: Fame to Fallout” by Al Lawrence. I cite this paragraph where Bill Goichberg is quoted:

Running back-and-forth across the street to play in two tournaments at once

“At the peak, all kinds of people were going into the chess business,” Goichberg remembered. “Parlors, clubs, even full-time clubs were popping up in unlikely places, like Poughkeepsie. I used to hold a quad at the Baptist Church in Jamaica, Queens. Some newcomer began holding tournaments at the same time at the YMCA across the street! One player entered both, running back and forth across the street to make moves in two games at once. I don’t think he did very well.” — Bill Goichberg

This is pretty funny because in the 1980s, it became a one-time practice (not a common practice, mind you, but definitely a viable option) to run/jog/walk fast between the Bar Point Club at 6th Avenue and 14th Street (amusingly and coincidentally, considering the above quote, Bill Goichberg was the Bar Point’s owner during one interval in the 1980s) and the venerable Marshall Chess Club at 23 West 10 Street. This was not a very short distance – in other words, it was inconvenient to jog between the two sites when several games were in progress.

In one such absurd situation, I was playing Robert Feldstein in a quad at the Bar Point in a fast time control game. Feldstein was enjoying a quarter pounder with cheese at the board, he was dead lost, and he was definitely not resigning. The complication here was (due to not-staggered-enough round times) that I was playing IM Walter Shipman at the same time, in a much slower time control game, at the Marshall Chess Club in a more “serious” masters tournament. In a feat of athletic stupidity, I started trotting between the two venues. Finally, Feldstein resigned a ridiculous position and I was able to make my final run back to the Shipman game, panting and sweaty. I was able to settle down and play Walter ‘heads-up’ successfully in a long ending. I don’t think the Marshall saw anything so ridiculous until the statue of Marshall’s head disappeared (temporarily) a year later.

I never tried this stunt again. But it seems like something a young Fischer would have done if he was … caught between two chess clubs. Am I right?

Everybody sing now:

Caught between two chess clubs,

Feelin’ like a fool,

Cuz playing 2 simultaneous chess games,

Is breakin’ sportsmanlike rules!


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3 Responses to “Caught Between Two Chess Clubs”

  1. Jon Jacobs Says:

    I played in two tournaments simultaneously on at least one occasion. Fortunately, both were taking place in the same venue, the McAlpin — so I did not have to be a track star like Mark. In fact I think the TD(s) even obliged me by allowing both boards to be set up adjacent to one another in the same room, instead of the separate playing halls where each tournament was scheduled (one of my opponents probably had agreed to this).

    One of the events was the Greater New York High School Championship, and the other was a master candidates’ (i.e. U-2200) class event with a cash prize, which I recall was $300. While both were CCA events, there was no attempt to “stagger” the schedules; they simply overlapped.

    In an early round I had few qualms about playing an impromptu simul: my opponent in the HS event was rated around 1500, I think. He went down very fast, leaving me to focus fully on my game from the adult event.

    In the final round, however, I found myself facing a real dilemma: in contention for first place in both events, with the decisive round of the master candidates about to start, while my HS game was at move 40 or so, with me having a probable winning endgame (2 B’s vs R+P, but very likely able to force the win of one enemy pawn within the next dozen moves or so; with each side having in addition symmetrical 3 pawns on same side of the board).

    My final round opponent in the master candidates was Harry Baker, who was close to my strength. He was also a well-known prick, and unsurprisingly refused to make any accommodation to the fact I had a game going in another tournament. I still had the right to start our game while continuing my HS game, and toggle between them. But unlike the earlier round, I felt I’d have my hands full on both boards this time; I simply had to make a choice. So I went for the bucks. I gave Dan Jacklyn a draw in the HS event (passing up my chance to be Greater NY HS Champ for a third straight year), focused all my attention on Baker from the start, beat him and won the master candidates tournament.

  2. Lonnie Kwartler Says:

    I don’t know of Fischer getting caught between two games (not simul exhibitions). He wanted good conditions for playing and would not have preferred worse conditions. Walter Browne did play in two events at the same time in 1967. He was running up and down the stairs of the Henry Hudson Hotel in New York to play in a weekend event and the US Junior, which he had won the year before. This time he came in second to Sal Matera. Sunil Weeramantry used to play in two sections run by Glenn Peterson, a swiss and a quad, at the same time. At least they were in adjoining rooms on the same floor. I do not believe a player doing this should be accommodated by the opponents. In fact, they might feel they were being taken too lightly and under pressure to prove otherwise. With reentries nowadays, another level of confusion is available.

  3. The Fabulous 00s: Vicary is onto Something « IM Mark Ginsburg Presents A Personal Chess History Says:

    […] Walter Shipman at the Marshall CC (10th Street) to minimize my face time with Feldstein.   This jogging stunt was motivated in the large part by the at the board feast. I would encourage the USCF to simply outright ban the disgusting tableau of […]

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