In ancient times (which we define arbitrarily as before computer chess), chess players came from all occupations. They were accountants, businessmen, taxi drivers, engineers, sailors, because they could not make a living at chess. There were some, but not many lawyers, perhaps because they were too busy playing but who knows. We do recall that Grandmaster Fridrik Olafsson of Iceland was a lawyer and so was Grandmaster Daniel Yanofsky of Canada. Paul Morphy of New Orleans, one of the greatest players in history, was a lawyer who failed in his profession. Alexander Alekhine, world champion, had passed the bar but never practiced.
So we were pleased to learn that the Boston Bar Association was planning a social night for lawyers and chess, an evening of relaxation with hors d’oeuvres and drinks in an attractive suite at 16 Beacon. This night of casual chess turned out to be a friendly and very well organized contest of 5-minute chess with clocks and boards all set up. There were approximately 30-35 lawyers in attendance, a broad selection from small firms and some of the largest in the city.
This unusual social event was sponsored by The Intellectual Property Section of the Bar and arranged by the Boylston Chess Club through the efforts of its vice president, Natasha Christiansen, and David Goldstone, both of whom are lawyers. Goldstone felt the affair fit lawyers’ affinity for logic and strategy, and gave them a social opportunity to meet each other. Natasha’s husband, Larry Christiansen, is a former three-time American Chess Champion and Natasha is an accomplished player herself.
The competition was arranged in quads: four players at each table playing one game apiece against each other. Records were kept to determine the winners.
After that the players cruised around playing each other at random, analyzing positions or playing them out. High-ranking players Steve Winer, Charles Riordan, Greg Kaden, Chris Chase, and Joe Perl played among themselves and with others.
The atmosphere was substantially one of good cheer rather than of intense competition. We noted some players were experimental beginners who soon lost material in the openings. Players with standard openings were clearly going to be tough opponents. Some players had not played since high school. Others had played from time to time, or had children who played and were trying their luck. After various games, we sensed soliloquies such as, “Where did I go wrong?’’ or “How the heck do you win at this game?’’ We could assure them that success in chess depends heavily on experience.
All in all a successful evening that will be renewed annually.
Brevity: H. Buckle v. NN (1840) 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Bc4 Nc6 5.d3 Nge7 6.Bg5 Bg4 7.Nd5 Nd4 8.Nxe5 Bxd1 9.Nf6+ gxf6 10.Bxf7++. 1-0.
Winners: March Boylston CC Quads — Quad 1: Daniel Grazian and Emmanuel Mevs, 2.5; Quad 2: Jason Rihel, 2-1. Quad 3: Eric Emer 3-0, Quad 4: Mateos Sahakian, 3.0, Quad 5: Andy Li.2.5.5; UConn. Winter Swiss, 1st-3d: Denys Shmelov of Pepperell, Alex Fikiet of Storrs, Conn., and Joseph Dixon of Connecticut, 3-1.
Coming Events: Fridays, April 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, May 6; Billerica Chess Club’s Friday Night Swiss, 25 Concord Road, Billerica, Brad Ryan, 978-369-8533. Saturday Boylston Quads, 240B Elm Somerville, www.boylstonchessclub.org.