Many years ago Boston had a Metropolitan Chess League. In its heyday, it consisted of clubs in the vicinity, including the Lithuanian Club in South Boston, a social mecca for Lithuanians in the area, where Kazys Merkis, a correspondence champion, held forth. The Boylston Chess Club, Harvard, Danvers CC, Boston University, and MIT were among the participants.
The league folded for reasons we can’t remember. The Lithuanian Club was no longer active after Merkis’s death and the movement of youngsters out of South Boston. The local col-leges lost interest, or so it seemed.
The Chess Renaissance began with the appearance of Bobby Fischer, computers, and finally the Internet. The Internet has connected millions of players and made possible the real- time, international dissemination of chess games by electronic chessboards. Most international tournaments now use them. The Metrowest Club has acquired a couple, and games on their top boards can be watched in real time every Tuesday night.
As for college chess, it has fluctuated with its students. We have recently heard from Tony Blum, a Harvard undergraduate, who reports that the Harvard Club is active once again. As noted in a prior coming events notice, the club meets on Wednesday nights, and outsiders are welcome to come in after contacting club president Ben Ascherman (bascherman@college.
harvard.edu). Blum also reports that Harvard had a team in the Eastern Team championships held last November and placed eighth among 31 teams. Harvard and Yale keep their eternal rivalry going with an annual match. They played last Nov. 16, but the nine-board match could only produce a draw. Harvard currently has possession of the famed Harvard-Yale trophy.
There is also a Chess Ivy League, which preserves ancient rivalries. It consists of Columbia, Cornell, Penn, Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth,
Princeton, and Brown. It has existed for three seasons, apparently engendering a lot of enthusiasm among the players. In 2011 the tournament was a tight contest held at Columbia. In that event, the University of Pennsylvania was ahead by a point in the penultimate round and clinched the championship in the last round. Harvard placed second, 1.5 points behind. In 2012, the picture changed. Eight four-player teams participated. Yale had Robert Hess, the US rated No. 4, on first board, but it was upset by Dartmouth in the first round, with Columbia prevailing in the last round. Dark horse Dartmouth placed second. Yale and Princeton tied for third.
This year’s tournament was held last month at Columbia, but unfortunately Yale, Princeton, and Cornell did not attend. Columbia fielded five teams of a total of 12, but none of them got the title. Brown and Penn teams tied for first. Harvard won the Under 1800 Section. There were 43 players in attendance. According to Blum there will be another Ivy League match this April.
Brevity: E. Book vs. A. Hiidenheimo (1925) 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bc4 Nxe4 4.Qh5 Ng5 5.d4 Ne6 6.d5 g6 7.dxe6 gxh5 8.exf7+ Ke7 9.Bg5+ Kd6 10.0–0–0+ Kc5 11.Rd5+ Kxc4 12.b3+ Kb4 13.Rb5+ Ka3 14.Nb1+ Kxa2 15.Ra5+ Ba3+ 16.Rxa3 mate.
Winners: Metrowest Groundhog Day — 1st, Ilya Krasik 3.5-.5, 2d, Yi Yang, 3-1; Boylston Quads — Quad No. 1, 1st-2d, Andrew Wang and J. Timothy Sage, 2-1.
Coming Events: Boylston CC’s “Legends of Chess” March 23 and BCC Grand Prix, March 28, 240B Elm St., Somerville, www.boylston
chessclub.org; RI Scholastic State Championship (open to out-of-state), Brown University Alumnae Hall, 194 Meeting St., Providence, firstname.lastname@example.org.