David KenneyDavid Kenney wrote, On December 7, 1997, “As requested, here is some background history on the Bluenose Chess Club at Dalhousie University . . . This document does not try to document the history of the Bluenose Chess Club in detail. In order to complete a good history of the BCC, a lot more research is needed . . . The major obstacles to this project are primarily a lack of written documentation and foggy memories of members who were around prior to 1970. I know there were club records maintained in the past, but I believe they have disappeared gradually with the various club “administrators” who have looked after the club in the past. As a result of my concern with this “lost history”, I had suggested that we may wish to have a web page created which would try to capture and document as much chess history in NS as can be determined. If this info is stored in a central place such as the web site, then it would always be available to anyone who is interested in this subject.”

World Champion Boris SpasskyThis picture left from the 1960s shows World Chess Champion Boris Spassky playing a simultaneous exhibition at the Bluenose Chess Club. The gentlemen in the foreground are Dane Parker, Al Fraser and Brian McCarron. Dane Parker “ran” the Bluenose Chess Club for decades and was the creator of the famous club constitution. It was also interesting to note, that in most of the pictures, the chess players wore suits or shirt & ties. Many thanks to Harold Uuetoa of the Bluenose Chess Club for this picture.

I realize that NS has not been the center of the chess universe, but I know that the province has had an interesting past. Did you know that the name of the chess club at Dalhousie College in 1904 was called the “Pawns and Pieces Chess Club” ? I found this out by accident when I received a package in the mail containing a chess book printed in the late 1890s. According to the sender, the book was borrowed from the club around 1904 and the owner wanted to return it to someone who is involved with chess in the province. They even apologized for the delay in returning the book!

History of Bluenose Chess Club at Dalhousie

Around the 1974-76 period I was running the Dalhousie University Chess Club while I was a student at the University. At the same time, I was also elected to be the Secretary-Treasurer of the Bluenose Chess Club, which was a separate club not connected with the University. The Bluenose Chess Club had been operating for many years prior to this time period. I do not know the exact date the club was established but there has been organized chess in the city from the early 1900s.

History 1 Photograph. In the History 1 Photo, In the right foreground is Jim Mathers and Michael Holmes. The most distant player on the left side is Harold Uuetoa who is still active in Nova Scotia Chess tournaments!

As far as I can remember, around the 1975-76 period, the Bluenose Chess Club started to meet at the Dal SUB in association with the existing Dalhousie Chess Club. There were mutual benefits associated with having these two separate clubs meet at the same time and place. Some of the benefits to the Dalhousie Chess Club were as follows:

– the more experienced and stronger chess players from the Bluenose would be available to provide a higher level of competition to the Dalhousie University students and faculty members;

– the Bluenose Chess Club members would be able to assist new players from the University to develop their chess skills as well as provide some training when required;

-the Bluenose Chess Club would also be able to use their expertise in organizing and directing CFC rated chess tournaments;

– since the Bluenose club had sufficient funds to meet the equipment needs of a chess club, the Dalhousie Chess Club would no longer have to obtain funding from the Student Union to operate if the two clubs were combined.

History 2 Photograph. World Chess Champion Boris Spassky stands before Michael Holmes in a simultaenous exhibition. Dane Parker (left) and Al Fraser (right) can be seen seated at boards in the background.

The benefits to the Bluenose Chess Club from meeting in conjunction with the Dal Chess Club included the following:

– The club would not have to always be concerned about generating enough revenue from Membership Fees to cover the ever increasing costs of room rental. At the time, the BCC was meeting at the YMCA which charged us for using one of their meeting rooms. The Dal SUB did not charge any rent to the Dal Chess Club.

– The BCC would also be located in a University where there were numerous foreign students and faculty who enjoyed playing chess. The University enviroment always brought new younger players to the Club.

When, I was getting ready to graduate from Dal, I was having some difficulty in finding someone at the University who was willing to take on the responsibility for looking after the club. Rather than seeing the University Club fold, the Dal SUB was approached to see if an arrangement could be made to maintain chess at the University.

Both the BCC and the Dal SUB at the time, agreed their were mutual benefits to bringing the BCC to the University on a formal basis. Therefore the original agreement was simply, in return for the SUB providing a free room once a week to the BCC / Dal Chess Club, the club would allow all Dalhousie University students and faculty to play at the club for free. If we needed a room on the weekend to run a tournament, then the club would have to pay a daily rental charge. In addition, the BCC would not approach the Student Union for any operating funding. I believe both parties have operated under these terms during the last 21 years in good faith without any major problems.

History 3 Photograph. The player in the left foreground is Frank Monks with Jim Mathers seated beside him.

The partnership between the SUB and the BCC has been a “good fit” over the years. The BCC supplies the “experienced profesional chess players” and the University supplies the new “young talent” which is essentially if the club is to survive long into the next century.

Yours truly,

David Kenney au601@chebucto.ns.ca
(902) 462-7455

David Paulowich paulo@isn.net wrote: I recently took up tournament chess again. Was pleased to see your History of the BCC on the Web. I have Vol. 1, No. 1 of the BLUENOSE CHESS BULLETIN (March, 1968) – with an article by Michael Holmes:

“On Sunday, October 22 [1967] Boris Spassky, Soviet Grandmaster and 1966 Challenger for the World Championship, gave a simultaneous exhibition on 27 boards at Dalhousie University. He won 26 games and drew with Frank Monks, Nova Scotia Champion.”

Also contains a report on the BCC Championship for 1967:

(I think it was a five round Swiss)

1st R. Hubley 4 points
2nd M Holmes 3.5
3rd D. Paulowich 3.5
4th P. Chatterton 3
5th Dr. J. H. Cooper 3
I am not sure if the BCC Championship was played every year. I have some notes on the tournament held from June 11 to Sept. 10, 1969. It was a 13 player round robin:
1st Dr. J. H. Cooper (probably of Dalhousie U.)
2nd Jim Mathers
3rd Harold Uuetoa
4th Gunther Schutzenmeier

A few notes by Michael Holmes: When I joined the club in the early 60s, it met Wednesday nights in a 2nd-floor meeting room of the Halifax Library on Spring Garden Road, a prestigious address. Then, for many years, from the mid-60s until the mid 70s, the BNCC met at the Larry O’Connell Field House, just off Chebucto Road, not prestigious but comfortable. During that era, one or two “major” open events were held at the Women’s Institute, located in a graceful Victorian house in the South End.

When I joined the club in the early 60s, the leading players were Rob Dickey, Dane Parker, and Harold Uuetoa. Another regular was George Beals, who, along with Dane Parker, was always delighted to test a new player’s knowledge of the King’s Gambit, Danish Gambit or Goring Gambit. Later on, there appeared on the scene Frank Monks and Jim Mathers, who introduced the club to scientific, positional chess. Frank was an expert on the Archangel Variation of the Ruy Lopoez, while Jim showed the winning possibilities for Black of the Benoni, Nimzo-Indian and Queen’s Indian.

Re: the 1967 Spassky simul at Dalhousie. Spassky and Keres were the two Soviet GMs who competed at Winnipeg 1967, a tournament held as part of the Centennial celebrations (the subject of an excellent NFB documentary, “Seven Days to Win.”). After the tournament, some of the GMs were available for simuls: clubs that wanted simuls had to pay air transport, acommodation/meals and an appearance fee (the appearance fee was $125, I believe). The BNCC booked Keres (a sentimental favourite of older club members and informed younger members, who knew him as a rival of Alekhine, Capablanca, and Botvinnik), but it was Spassky who disembarked from the plane at Halifax airport, where he was met by Jim Mathers and myself. Spassky played 27 games at Dalhousie on a Sunday afternoon in autumn, yielding a draw only to Frank Monks, who was NS Champion at the time. After the simul, Spassky gave a talk and answered questions: all chessplayers immediately empathized with him when he reproached himself for playing “stupidly” in the 1966 World Championship against Tigran Petrosian. After the simul, Spassky was interviewed by a local CBC TV program. You may want to find out if the tape of that program if it is still extant.

Michael Holmes wrote up this game in the BLUENOSE CHESS BULLETIN (March, 1968) and was provided by David Paulowich.

[Event “Halifax Simultaneous”] [Date “1967.10.22”] [Site “Dalhousie University, Halifax NS”] [White “Spassky, Boris”] [Black “Monks, Frank”] [Result “1/2-1/2”] [ECO “B41”] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. c4 Qc7
6. Nc3 Bb4 7. Be2 Nf6 8. O-O Bxc3 9. bxc3 O-O 10. Bd3 Nc6
11. f4 d6 12. Be3 e5 13. Nf5 Ne7 14. fxe5 Nxf5 15. exf5 dxe5
16. Kh1 Qc6 17. Bg5 b6 18. Bxf6 Qxf6 19. Be4 Rb8 20. Qf3 a5
21. Rae1 Ba6 22. Bd5 Rbc8 23. Re4 Rc7 24. h3 b5 25. Rfe1 Re8
26. Qe2 bxc4 27. Rxe5 Rxe5 28. Qxe5 Qxe5 29. Rxe5 Kf8 30. Bf3 Bb7
31. Bxb7 Rxb7 32. Rc5 Rb1+ 33. Kh2 Rb2 34. a4 Rb3 35. Rxc4 Ra3
36. Kg3 Ke7 37. Kf4 h6 38. Ke5 Kd7 39. Rg4 Rxc3 40. Rxg7 Ke7
41. f6+ Kf8 42. Rh7 Kg8 43. Rxh6 Rc4 1/2-1/2

Finally, may I say that all Nova Scotia and Maritime chess players owe a debt of gratitude to Dane Parker and Al Fraser. Dane, a strong player who played for fun, often sacrificed his game-winning and tournament-winning chances to fulfil the duties of organization. He was an excellent parliamentarian, always fair and kind, and a font of knowledge about the history and culture of chess. Al Fraser often organized informal quadrangular round-robins at his home in New Glasgow, extending extraordinary hospitality to the participants. Dane and Al both liked endgame studies that showed the beauty and subtlety of the game. It’s rare to go to a tournament today where a player in the skittles room wants to delight you with an endgame study.
In any event, good luck in your efforts to reconstruct the history of the BNCC.


Michael Holmes