The Future of MECA

10.11.09 There are two candidates for president of the Maine Chess Association this election cycle. In this report we reproduce a statement from one of them, Andy Bryan, on his thoughts on the future of the MECA. Andy maintains the blog Eastern Maine Chess.

MECA presidential candidate Andy Bryan

As a candidate for President of the Maine Chess Association, I feel obligated to critique a letter written by Akagi Kayashima to the Maine chess community. Instead of restating his letter, I am offering a glimpse into how I would function as MECA president.

As president I would be forthright in any specific plans that I have in mind and would work with all directors and organizers in making Maine chess visible and player friendly. I would strongly encourage directors to look to all the counties in the state for venues to host an event. Then I would assist by providing insight into that specific area of the state and talking with clubs and individuals in that area about their interests and wants. I would advise Akagi on how to reach all the burgeoning chess players in the state and help him in the promotion of his tournaments. I will not be personally affiliated with any tournaments but would encourage all directors and organizers to see the value in being associated with the Maine Chess Association.

As far as changing the Maine Closed Championship, I feel that there is no need to throw the baby out with the bath water. The Closed Championship has been very successful when it has been consistent and rotated from Portland to Augusta to Bangor on a three year cycle. It can prosper again in this cycle by having it occur each year in late April to maximize interest among both the old guard and the scholastic champions who have just finished their scholastic season. It is the perfect time in Maine to hold the event and can continue to be so.

Let's also encourage to expand their horizons and organize another tournament or two. If you haven't noticed, the Championship has quickly become the most popular tournament in the state. Kudos to Dan DeLuca for taking the bull by the horns and making this work. It's my belief that Dan should be closely involved in the future of MECA since he is the one who has re-energized the chess community through his unparalleled state website and fine tournament.

In regards to holding a major tournament at a gambling venue, I have reservations. Many of our active players are scholastic players who provide strong competition for the old guard. I am not in favor of holding a large tournament at a gambling venue in Maine particularly when we would like these strong scholastic players to be a part of the resurgence of Maine chess.

And on one final thought for the evening, I would not discourage other interested parties from holding events. Yes, there is a concern that too many will saturate an area in a given time frame, but this has yet to be a concern. I have yet to hear anyone say, "There have been too many events in the last month; I can't go to them all."


Andy, You make some very strong points and commitments here. For those making such "promises" I encourage those to follow through by publishing a monthly or bi-monthly "Letter from the President" accessible on the MECA website in its own section rather than the general news category. Good Luck.

Roger, I'm not convinced by your argument on the gambling environment venue when scholastic age players are participating, although I know your intentions here are sincere. As a parent myself, I see the sphere of influence on anyone as multi-directional. Whereas you state that a child may not enter the casino area, often the concern is what comes out. And yes, I agree that dialog is important, which is why I have replied with my opinion.

Andy Bryan will make a wonderful president for MECA! Andy brings a lot to the table from administrative skills to passion for Maine chess. Margaret's record as a representative of scholastic chess speaks for itself. Margaret's talents and interests would serve her well as MECA's vice-president. Their candidacys are not just a decision but an opportunity for Maine chessplayers!

Hi Mark Parker...Just to put parents at ease, I'd like to reply to the reservations on holding a tournament in a gambling environment. The playing site is in no way connected to any gambling casino so no children would ever be affected. They're seperate units...No child can cross into the casino. As for item #2 you will see that no conflict of interest will arise. This is only about the work of one person willing to lay out money and his time to promote successful tournaments for us. It is important for Maine Chess that more of you give your input in these matters so all lines of communication can remain open. Dialog from parents like Mark is important and can only lead to a better understanding and a better chess future for Maine. Roger Morin

I'd like to go way back in Maine Chess history to reintroduce some of the great tournament directors Maine has been fortunate to have as gifts to all the players. Without them, many of us would not have had the opportunities we have today. Stuart Laughlin (man in the suit) Jim Quirk (all the clocks faced the same way) and Phil Lowell all held down the Portland area for some forty+years. They invented the Maine Championship, the DownEast Open and The Maine Open. They set up matches yearly between Maine cities, promoted youth chess and were a tremendous boon to Maine Chess.
In the Orono Bangor area you had George Cunningham (former president of the USCF), Professor Harvey Brimmer of UMO and Tom Sandford who still devotes his time to running at least 3 tournaments a year in his area and look at all the scholastic activity in the Orono area. These men also held many many tournaments for some 30 years.You could always depend on a good playing site and lots of chess fun at their tournaments.
Duane Mercier (teacher) in the Augusta area for years taught students chess and ran a monthly tournament at the High School. He was Maine champion also.
This prings me to the present where our modern directors Phil Lowell, Dan DeLuca ( fame), Lee Doucette (a driving positive force in Maine chess), Tom Sandford and Alba Briggs of the Washington County Chess Federation (the economy has put chess on a back burner for everyone especially in that area) have been the main four men to hold tournaments together. These ten men all served unselfishly devoting energy and time to their cause and I never heard anything but positive remarks from their respective tournament directors. All have worked together to promote Maine chess for our benefit. It was hard to vote for any one because every one was nice to each other.They seemed to know who could be of more help at any given time so someone would step aside and let the other lead.
As I write this I see new faces on the horizon: Maggie Bryan, Brian Roderick, Steve Abrahams, Laddy DeLuca Lowell and Akagi Kayashima. I look forward to playing in their tournaments. I don't see any division in Maine chess politics, merely a smooth future for all. It's about the big picture. It's not just the old guard or scholastic chess It's about everyone playing and having a good time and we all so much need tournament directors who are stepping up to make topurnaments happen. Ask yourselves, What is the big picture for Maine Chess? Roger Morin

Though I am only a middling, casual player myself, I am the parent of two strong scholastic chess players and I read the state chess news on this website with interest. Two chords are struck for me as I read the presidential candidate ideas: 1. I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Bryan that the thought of a state championship event inclusive of scholastic players and held at a professional gambling site seems inappropriate. 2. The concept of regionalized champions is innovative, but it is concerning that Mr. Kayashima's vision references his ability/plans to finance/sponsor the final championship event himself. It seems a conflict of interest with running a candidacy for executive office.

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