Saturday, January 30, 2016

My First Stint on the Marshall Board

Marshall Chess Club
I have been on the Marshall Board at least three times.  Long ago I was in a triple role.  I was on the board, a club employee, and running tournaments for Goichberg at the club.

The first time I ran for the board, I lost.  But as far as I know there was no animosity.   They needed volunteers.  The only person I think really didn't like me was Dr. Finkelstein.  During the voting I was standing near John Collins, and one of his sisters reminded him to hide his ballot.  We all vote for people we know, or probably should.

I volunteered for the tournament committee.  The head of the committee was Gary Sperling.  We didn't have any meetings, but I volunteered to run the Prelims and the Club Championship, which in those days would go on for many weeks.  Eventually Bill Slater came to trust me and he would hire me to substitute for himself or other managers.

It was around then that I met Ginny Hoffmann (then Ginny D'Amico) who is one of my very best friends.
Peter Sepulveda and Ginny Hoffmann

Before I got elected to the Board, Kathryn Slater told me, "Don't repeat anything you hear at the board meetings.  The people on the board are very experienced."

They didn't seem as fanatic about it as they are now.  There were a few scams going on at the time, but I was too naive to figure them out.  Also there is always an inner board and an outer board.  If you don't know which board you're on, you're on the outer board.

NM John Collins

Before I went into the board meeting for the first time, Gary Sperling told me, "Welcome to the den of thieves!"  Actually, despite what some current board members say about me, I don't think that highly of myself.  And I don't think the situation was that bad at the time.

As members we were happy.  We had friends.  We had speed chess. We had tournaments.  We had the Gills.  Who could ask for anything more?

But there was a sense of desperation on the board.  As a member of the outer board I didn't know the specifics, but they had many competitors at that time, and the building was rent stabilized with very low rents.  One major decision they made was to invite Goichberg's tournaments in.  It was probably the right decision, but they did it very reluctantly.

IA Bill Goichberg
I will talk about my roles as manager and Goichberg employee elsewhere.  The club has had a number of incarnations, and it was divided then as it is now.

Old people like to have the same routine every day.  They didn't want to come on the days when there were big tournaments and not come on the days when there were no big tournaments.  Some members of the old guard were against having a "commercial" activity at the club altogether.  At the same time there were robberies.  We still don't know who committed them.

Eventually the board voted to throw Goichberg's tournaments out.  I voted to do so because I was no longer working for Goichberg, and I thought it was what my employers at the club wanted.  That was a bit of conflict of interest.

The result was devastating to the club.  Many of the old people had left and never came back.  Goichberg opened up his own club on 14th Street and took all of the tournament players with him.  I will get into the devastation more later.

Bob Dylan
While I had gained some experience in directing tournaments and other chessclub duties, I got sick of all my roles.  I resigned from them and went to visit my friend Rafael in Minnesota.  When I got back, I resumed my role on the board.  Some people asked how I was able to get back on the board without an election, but the president, Goldwater, said I had shown initiative by going back on the board and no one wanted to contradict him because they thought he was going to leave the club a lot of money.  Happens all the time!

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