Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Manhattan Chess Club and Fan Adams

Dr Ginsburg at 55th Street Location
I enjoyed being a member of the Manhattan Chess Club.   It was like repeating my youth without the drugs.  I met many people who I would be friends with for many years.   My rating would go up to the mid 2100s.  I didn't know at the time that the club was already doomed, and like several other people, I would be used. 

It was at the Manhattan Chess Club that I played in the rapids against player such as GM Joel Benjamin, GM Max Dlugy, GM William Lombardy.  I've played one-on-one bughouse against GM Michael Rohde.  I have lived!

In the election where Fan Adams took over, proxies were allowed.  Strangely enough, I controlled the largest number of proxies, and I voted for him.  I was told that he would be good for the club because he was rich and generous.  I was fooled once. Some people are fooled over and over.

First let me say that Adams did a good thing founding Chess in the Schools.  Of course kids need to learn to read and do math more than anything, and that isn't going to happen as long as those activities are portrayed as punishments.  Kids need instruction that is fresh and lively as opposed to cold, dead, hated, over managed, and over centralized.  They need constructive afterschool activities for the time after school when their parents are still at work.

Manager Jeff Kastner, Future GM Joel Benjamin, President Moses Mitchell
That being said, Fan was never going to be good for the Manhattan Chess Club.  Its not the money.  Its the narcissism.  What such people hate about chess is how egalitarian it is.  Chess doesn't care about your background, age, sex, or economic circumstances.  Everyone starts out with the same pieces, and everyone alternates between Black and White.

Such people think that every organization should be a hierarchy, where there is a boss on top, his minions, and then everyone else.  There are other kinds of organizations that can work like this, but not a chess club.  People go to a chess club to relax, not to be bossed around or patronized.
NM Eric Cooke, 2002 Club Champion

I was on the board there briefly.  We did have financials, and it seems to me that the club was close to a state where it could have survived at Carnegie Hall or a similar location.  Instead of trying to figure out how to make ends meet, the board's main activity seemed to be banning people, to show everyone who the bosses were.  By moving to 46th Street, the club became subject to mortgage payments above its means, which ensured that Fan and his ilk would remain in control.

Mike Hehir vs OLM Larry Tarmakin

The Marshall also did better than the
Manhattan not because we had better employees.  It was because the board respected the expertise of people like Steve Immitt, Sophia Rohde, and Ron Young. The people who knew about chess were not second guessed and degraded.

The Manhattan eventually because a 501(c)(3).  This seems to be quite illegal, as a membership club is owned by its members and the 501(c)(3) is owned by the public, so there was a conversion of equity involved.

People like Adams don't understand a membership club, unless perhaps the other members are all like him.

Lewis Cullman
In a chess club, we are always welcoming people of different backgrounds, ages, and socioecon
omic status. We are always helping each other, and we are a community. Charity is different, much like hero-worship. Charity is more like we're great and you're small. We'll do something for you, but at the end of the day, we're still great and you're still small. We have community and you don't because we control you. We have you standing there with your hand out and your nose you-know-where.

At 46th Street there was the Cullman Room, which was supposed to be used by major donors and grandmasters, but it was seldom if ever used.  Donors of this type don't go to a chess club to play each other.  They go to a chess club to feel better than someone.  Of course grandmasters have patrons, but they are not going to be seen hawking their services like a hooker on the street.


1 comment:

  1. Not sure why it was necessary to attack somebody who can't defend themselves (because they're dead) decades after the fact, especially without providing some hard and fast details. My experience with Fan Adams was through some correspondence games we played in the mid-80s, and he showed he had two sides to him, which most people do. He did object to an if-move I sent him that suggested he would play in a highly sub-optimal manner (I just missed it in my original analysis). I might go away from that thinking he was a jerk, but on the other hand, when a clear win was slipping away from me, he resigned because I guess he thought I deserved it based on my prior play. This latter doesn't sound much like the man portrayed in this blog post, and I'm not necessarily suggesting the portrayal is completely flawed, but rather that there are two sides to every story, and many sides to every person.