ChessMaine Visits The Boylston Chess Club

02.20.08 On a recent vist to Boston, we stopped in to see our friends at the Boylston Chess Club now located at 240 Elm Street in Somerville. One of the oldest Chess Clubs in New England, the Boylston has been in business since 1919 and has had luminaries such as Harry Nelson Pillsbury and modern grandmasters including Larry Christiansen, Patrick Wolff and Roman Dzindzichashvili amongst its membership.

The unassuming entrance to the Boylston Chess Club located in Suite B9 of the Sommerville Social Security Building.

A brief history of the Boylston Chess Club (from the BCC brochure)

In the 1850's the Boston Young Men's Christian Union on Boylston Street maintained a small room for chess. John F. Barry, Harry Nelson Pillsbury. C. F. Burille. Franklyn K. Young and George Walcott frequented it in the 1890's. John Barry said that it was "before, then and now the local chess cradle."

The club was formally organized on August 27, 1919 at the YMCU at 48 Bolyston Street in Boston. There were 22 charter members. Augustus Seaver was elected as the first club president and H. G. Daniel won the first club championship.

On January 16, 1945 the club was chartered as an affiliate #51 of the United States Chess Federation, itself founded in 1939.

In its history, many leading chess figures have served as club president, including Master Emeritus and club patron Harry Lyman, who for many years embodied the club, giving generously of both his time and money to encourage club visitors, beginners and especially youngsters, in the game he loved.

In 1989, facing sharply increased rent and deteriorating facilities, the Boylston Chess Club moved to the YWCA at 140 Clarendon Street in Boston.

The club was incorporated as a Massachusetts non-profit corporation in 1995. It is run by its officers: President (currently Paul MacIntyre), Vice President, Clerk and Treasurer and a board elected by all members at the club's annual meeting in October. Renovations at the YMCA obliged the club to move again in January 2004, this time out of Boston to Davis Square in Somerville, home of Harry Nelson Pillsbury.

The BCC is not just an historic club, but also a florishing chess center in 21st century Boston and one of the most active clubs in the nation. Since 1991, the Boylston has organized more than 946 rated chess tournaments. In 2006, members at the club included 28 masters and 22 experts.

For more information including a schedule of events, news, photos, games and more visit the Boylston Chess Club online.

You'd miss it if you weren't looking for it. On the botton right: Room B9 The Boylston Chess Club

The main playing room of the club just before Round 2 of the 93rd Tornado Tournament

Round 2 underway looking left and...

looking right.

Feverish analysis ensues between rounds.

A portion of the trophy case of interest to Mainers

A closer look reveals Harlow Daly's 1967 Portland Chess Championship Second Place Trophy

and his 1962 Portland Chess Championship First Place Trophy.

An American Wesclox timer, notice the wooden bar under the clock faces. To start an opponent's clock a player would slide that bar forward.

This round-faced clock was made in West Germany. On this clock the silver bars protruding from each side of the clock would be lowered to start the opponent's clock.

The club has a number of inlaid wooden tables still used for club and tournament play.

A photo of the great GM Roman Dzindzichashvili during one of his lectures

This painting portrays former BCC President Harry Lyman (right) and a friend.

Part of the club's extensive chess library

The next time you're in Boston, drop into the Boylston Chess Club--you'll be glad you did.


Thanks for this article. It brought back many good memories as I played in some 30 or more tournaments at the old Boylston location in the late 60s and 70s. Roger Morin

Thanks Dan for posting. Seeing the Harlow Daly trophys choked me up as we played many games together in the sixties. A real good friend of mine. Paul Dumont

Post a comment

  • Navigation: