The Pittsburgh Chess Club Is in Trouble!

Milliern

The Pittsburgh Chess Club is among the oldest chess clubs in America, and it also boasts the second largest chess library in the Western Hemisphere, thanks to sustained book donations by titled players.  The chess club was either directly started by Carnegie and Carnegie Steel Corporation, or by some informal organization instituted by Carnegie, passed down to as a recreation assignment for management oversight.  (Steel workers would often play before or after a grueling 12-hour shift.)  The nonprofit, Pittsburgh Chess Club Inc., was officially founded a number of years later, and enjoyed a sustained injection of chess enthusiasm in the form of competitive tournament players and casual players seeking mental exercise.  Despite these facts about the rich heritage and tradition, the Pittsburgh Chess Club is in trouble –its extinction likely within a year.

 

I am posting this to make the at-large public, within Pittsburgh and without, that one of the very oldest American chess clubs is in danger of disappearing.  There are a number of ways to help.  The ideal way to help is in the case that you live in the Greater Pittsburgh Area and would pay for a club membership and play in a couple of their annual tournaments.  (The roster of tournaments the PCC puts together are held each and every year, and the schedule entails, single-day weekend tournaments, two-day weekend tournaments, and a monthly Tuesday Night Tournament, in which one tournament game is held each week.)  Becoming a club member and an active tournament player at the PCC is the absolute best way to help sustain the club.  Another way to help is if you are planning some trips for tournaments, and would choose to make Pittsburgh your tournament destination.   While the club is in trouble due to low membership, the tournaments still do really well, as the PCC’s USCF tournament history page indicates.  I have plans for such trips to Pittsburgh (all the way from Bloomington, IN and Boston, MA to do it!), and I hope others organize chess vacations to a weekend PCC tournament, if possible.  If for no other reason, a tournament vacation to the PCC would be worthwhile just to see it and its impressive library if it does perish.  Finally, it would be a temporary help to purchase a membership or make a donation to the club, to help it remain open long enough to acquire more members and active players.

 

Just a quick comment for those who live in the Greater Pittsburgh Area: There are a number of benefits well worth noting.  First, if you are someone who recreationally plays chess and/or enjoys a bit of study (or reviewing classic games), the chess club’s library is not only available two or three days per week, but the library lends books out.  When I was player learning the moves and basics of the game, this was an invaluable resource.  I had virtually every book I could think of at my disposal, tons of chess periodicals (e.g., Chess Life, Chess Informant, and no-longer-published magazines), DVDs, and so on.  The membership probably saved me $500 in tactics books per year, because I could simply borrow whatever I needed.  The chess club also holds classes taught by IM Jerry Meyers, and there is a substantially reduced price for PCC members.  Though the courses are usually attended by children, IM Meyers is adult-friendly –and I was among the adult students in his “scholastic classes.”  The club sometimes holds very cheap lectures (PCC members only) by GM Shabalov, such as a series he did on attacking chess this past fall.  For tournament players, entry fees into tournaments are reduced for club members. 

 

 

The social and physical environments of the PCC have always been relaxing and conducive of enjoyment.  It’s a wide open space, well lighted, and with a diverse group of congenial players, old and young.  You don’t even need to bring your chess board or clock, because the club has its own.  Go visit, and tell a friend, about it, too.

Benedictine

Sounds like an amazing place to play chess. I would love to be able to play for a club like that.

Yes if you live near the area stop messing about online and get your bum down there!Smile

sss100

Is the club in trouble because of lack of funds?

I live in the Cleveland area and would consider taking a trip there. Where's the best place to get info?

The_Time_Traveler

Very sad... I have been competed in a few tournaments in Pittsburgh where members of the PCC showed up and the tournaments and the players were of high quality. Is there any way to help other than joining the club? I'm about two and a half hours away so joining really isn't an option for me.

Milliern
sss100 wrote:

Is the club in trouble because of lack of funds?

I live in the Cleveland area and would consider taking a trip there. Where's the best place to get info?

The club membership has fallen to a point where the savings and investments will have to be withdrawn and used to pay rent.  With that being the case, the invested money of the club, whose return on investment pays the rent, will be diminished soon.  

 

Here is a the club webstite: http://www.pittsburghcc.org/

 

Also, you can find tournaments at the PCC through the usual means of the USCF's PA tournament page: http://www.uschess.org/tlas/upcoming.php?STATE=PA 

Milliern
uscftigerprowl wrote:

Wouldn't it be better to circulate these resources? If someone is in Pittsburgh, someone is in Cleveland, I am in Detroit, Joe Schmoe is in Chicago, etc... you could have a set available (not for check out, but study as reference material) for a period at each participating library and then it would make its rounds. Pay for a membership and you get access.

That might be a good idea.  Shipping books about might be a pain.  I will through this by one of the board members.  I know that had talked about completely digitizing the collection, but there are copyright concerns.

Milliern
The_Time_Traveler wrote:

Very sad... I have been competed in a few tournaments in Pittsburgh where members of the PCC showed up and the tournaments and the players were of high quality. Is there any way to help other than joining the club? I'm about two and a half hours away so joining really isn't an option for me.

Coming in to play a tournament, or organizing a group to come to town and play, are both very good options.  Small donations are helpful, too.  Even spreading the information that the Pittsburgh Chess Club could go under might prove helpful.

 

When I lived in Pittsburgh, the PCC members organized frequent trips to other clubs, including Morgantown CC and Toledo CC regularly, so I am hoping they consider doing the same.  The odd thing is that the PCC's members tend to be so active that I didn't even realize there club is in trouble, because the tournament activity is only somewhat reduced compared to when I was in town.  Most failing clubs don't have a crowd of Masters and Experts playing in tournaments, but I guess the PCC has many faithfuls.    

Milliern
Benedictine wrote:

Sounds like an amazing place to play chess. I would love to be able to play for a club like that.

Yes if you live near the area stop messing about online and get your bum down there!

It really is a great club.  I learned chess there.  It would break my heart if it went under. 

17rileyc

Git mo moneez! :-D

kleelof

I think this is happenening all over. The local 'to-be' chess club in S.F. is having problems too.

Milliern
kleelof wrote:

I think this is happenening all over. The local 'to-be' chess club in S.F. is having problems too.

Wow, the Mechanics Institute is having trouble?

Milliern
Becky_the_Stabber wrote:

Sounds like the club really does a lot for the area, have you spoken to city officials ?

Maybe they can do a bit of advertising for your non-profit organisation through their own channels.

I'm pretty sure that's on the board's agenda.  The problem is that when political officials don't care about something, it usually doesn't get attention or help.

kleelof
Milliern wrote:
kleelof wrote:

I think this is happenening all over. The local 'to-be' chess club in S.F. is having problems too.

Wow, the Mechanics Institute is having trouble?

This is what I heard. Before I moved back I found a couple of other chess players in the area. They were telling me the place is mostly for blitz games and their tournements are diminishing.

Milliern
kleelof wrote:
Milliern wrote:
kleelof wrote:

I think this is happenening all over. The local 'to-be' chess club in S.F. is having problems too.

Wow, the Mechanics Institute is having trouble?

This is what I heard. Before I moved back I found a couple of other chess players in the area. They were telling me the place is mostly for blitz games and their tournements are diminishing.

It seems the world has traded the congeniality, friendships, and human relationships found in OTB chess for, well, you know... online chess.  Online chess is a good supplement, but it can only ever be an ersatz without chess in the coffeehouse or chess club.

kleelof
Milliern wrote:
kleelof wrote:
Milliern wrote:
kleelof wrote:

I think this is happenening all over. The local 'to-be' chess club in S.F. is having problems too.

Wow, the Mechanics Institute is having trouble?

This is what I heard. Before I moved back I found a couple of other chess players in the area. They were telling me the place is mostly for blitz games and their tournements are diminishing.

It seems the world has traded the congeniality, friendships, and human relationships found in OTB chess for, well, you know... online chess.  Online chess is a good supplement, but it can only ever be an ersatz without chess in the coffeehouse or chess club.

Yeah. It's really terrible. 

Even 10 years ago when I left the U.S., I could find places to play OTB.

Now, I've returned and  searched and searched and can only find 1 place to play on Sunday evenings.

kleelof

Yeah. So if anyone reading this lives in the S.F. Bay Area, let me know. Perhpas we can play some OTB.

TheOldReb

The internet is killing physical otb clubs , sad but true . 

kleelof

"INternet killed the chess club star!"

The_Time_Traveler

Milliern wrote:

The_Time_Traveler wrote:

Very sad... I have been competed in a few tournaments in Pittsburgh where members of the PCC showed up and the tournaments and the players were of high quality. Is there any way to help other than joining the club? I'm about two and a half hours away so joining really isn't an option for me.

Coming in to play a tournament, or organizing a group to come to town and play, are both very good options.  Small donations are helpful, too.  Even spreading the information that the Pittsburgh Chess Club could go under might prove helpful.

 

When I lived in Pittsburgh, the PCC members organized frequent trips to other clubs, including Morgantown CC and Toledo CC regularly, so I am hoping they consider doing the same.  The odd thing is that the PCC's members tend to be so active that I didn't even realize there club is in trouble, because the tournament activity is only somewhat reduced compared to when I was in town.  Most failing clubs don't have a crowd of Masters and Experts playing in tournaments, but I guess the PCC has many faithfuls.    

Thanks for the info. Cheers!

The_Time_Traveler
Reb wrote:

The internet is killing physical otb clubs , sad but true . 

I can attest to this as well. I remember about 12 years ago having a tournament run through my local chess club that drew around 80-100 people... these days we have the same annual tournament and are lucky to get 15-20.