Open Letter From Roger Morin

05.05.09 Former Maine State Chess Champion and active player Roger Morin writes to express his concerns with the state of chess in Maine. Please feel free to comment on this open letter at the bottom of the entry

Roger Morin plays at the Washington County Chess Federation June 2008 Swiss

I'd like to give due credit to all the fine and dedicated Maine tournament directors for a great 2008 season of many fine tournaments. There were 8 tds that I know about holding some 38 tournament betwen them. I'm noticing a serious decline in tournament activty the last couple of months and I don't see any relief this month or even in June and where is the Maine Championship? This tournament is usually in April. I always thought that the Maine Chess Association took care to make this happen as one of their obligations, this along with the Portland Open, Daly Open, Maine Open, etc. Portland being somewhat far for me as I live in Houlton is not on my chess route of late, but I am most certainly interested in the Calais area, Waterville, Newport and very much the Aurora, Bangor, Orono areas for myself. I would like to see at least one tournament a month in these areas. I don't get involved any more in tournament organization as I did when I was younger. Now I just want to play chess and I'm willing to drive some 125 miles just to play. I can nevertheless possibly guarantee prize money if that is an issue for some dierctors. If anyone wishes to contact me to help along the lines, please do so as we are very much dependent on organisers to hold these tournaments and it benefits all players to support our hard working directors.

Thank you, Roger Morin
e-mail: ( phone 207-521-0435


Thank you Roger for your thought provoking open letter dated May 5th, 2009. Please allow me to digress from your letter a wee bit as my comments, while not a direct reply, are somewhat related. After almost 30 years away from chess, I rejoined the USCF last fall, and that application included my wife and 9 children! One thing that stood out then was the small amount of active chess clubs in Maine. Anyway, I thought, where is the Lewiston Chess club? Brunswick? These cities all had clubs when I was member of the Portland Chess club in the 70s while a student at SPHS and then USM. Yes that was a long time ago, but I'm convinced this is a primary area for growth/re-assessment/revival that needs attention. I live in Lisbon Falls. If anyone is interested in reviving or help starting a new Lewiston area chess club, or some version there-of, or simply to be a potential member/visitor, contact me at phil at In my opinion, chess clubs should establish strong ties to the local community above and beyond the local scholastic system. In doing so, I believe we'd see a self-sustaining system where the club survives, even as members come and go. When club activity survives and grows to a certain level all kinds of opportunities arise, such as local club tournaments for starters. Also, the general club player will look towards more active play, while others may follow a different type of commitment to the chess community. I would guess that most of these players probably look for “outside-the-club” tournament play. However, one can think that a certain percentage of players may find the thought of being club directors and tournament directors appealing to them,as well as being players. It seems to follow that the potential “supply” of replacement or additional TDs is greater when we have a larger chess community. At least I hope it would. Some folks may think this is all a bunch of “wishful” thinking and/or rhetoric, or even a simplistic assessment of a larger problem, but an aggressively applied agenda with guiding principles can make things happen. By making sure the Maine chess “scene” foundation is solid with sustained club activity, I believe the number and diversity of Maine-held tournaments would then be consistent and entertaining from year to year and be something for all Maine and non-Maine chess players to enjoy and look forward to. Simply, a tournament will not be a “maybe” but a “will be”. Let us grow the “business” of playing chess not only with focus on chess tournaments, but at the chess club level as well. Hopefully anyone who reads this will find something of value in my post here. And for those folks who are already deeply involved with traditional clubs, scholastic clubs, TDs, and other chess venues, your efforts are appreciated; and I'm not trying to diminish your efforts by my comments here. Again, anyone interested in a Lewiston area club, see my e-mail address above. I'm also in the Lewiston phone book. Thanks Roger again for your letter, it inspired me to write this.

I'm not a great chessplayer, nor will I ever be, however I miss the tourneys as well. If it wasn't for the fact that I got laid off last week I to would help in ANYWAY I could. I live in Etna and would love to see a tourney in the area. Newport is 12 miles south of me. The times are hard and I relize this isn't going to happen overnight, just wanted to give my 2 cents worth.

I found Roger Morin's letter and those commenting on it of interest. 35 yrs ago, I was going to a tourney almost every weekend. Then, I lived in NH and was in range of the impact of the Fischer boom. ME was holding its own at the same time..Things change. TD's move on. Life intrudes on TDs as well as players..If ever a job deserved the phrase "labor of love", being a TD does. Perhaps, an offer of help, other than financial, would be appropriate. The work load of organising and running even a small tourney is incredible and must be experienced to be believed. Lament all we want, in any way we want, let us see if we can entice the old with conrete and effective offers of help so that we all might find comfort in the struggle we all love--chess. A final thought--because we find no tourneys for us, does not mean they are not around. What price going?

Where are you Philip Lowell? The state of chess in Maine is poorer without you! You are missed.

Good comments from Roger. One of the things I miss since moving back to Maine are the weekend tournaments. I live 45 miles from the Orono and Waterville chess clubs so it is not practical to go to the meetings. I would however travel 100 miles for good competition in a weekend swiss. While entry fees are not an issue for us older players, there might be a sliding scale incorporated for the new ones. As of this writing I am planning on traveling to Mass for their open championship this month and NH next month for their open championship. It is the competition and atmosphere that draws me that distance. Please check my earlier blogs for my comments on the type of tnmts I look for.

Thank you Roger for bringing up what has been on my mind for months now. Where have all the tournaments gone? No Maine Championship? No Tourney? what of this year's Downeast Open? I can understand that tournament directing may be a largely thankless job with lots of hard work for little compensation but let's face this issue in Maine. Like Roger I'll gladly pay more money if that is the underlying issue! I'd much rather it go in a Maine td's pocket than in gas and hotels to travel out of state! Can somebody shed some light on this for us all please?! To Phil Lowell and all the Maine TDs: please come back! We miss you!

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