CHESS VOICE (Vol. 11, No. 5) October-November 1978

The Monterey Chess Center

The Northern California chess community was recently saddened by the death of one of its most-loved members, Ruby Yudacufski. Ruby assisted her husband, Ted, in directing the tournaments at the Monterey Chess Center and the LERA tournaments in Sunnyvale. Her efficiency as a director, combined with the extreme warmth of her personality, made her one of the most popular chess personalities in this region. And many chessplayers and organizers were touched by her kindness and lament her passing.

But life goes on. The Monterey Chess Center, under Ted Yudacufski's direction, will continue its normal schedule of tournaments and activities, and Ted will continue to direct the LERA tournaments. The Center held an open house on National Chess Day and - "The Flight of the Bumbler B'ees"; January 13-14 - Monterey Coast Classic; March 17 - St. Patrick's Day Donneybrook (Quads); June 23-24 - Monterey International.

The Monterey Chess Center is a unique institution. It is one of only two chess clubs in Northern California that have their own permanent location and a regular schedule of daytime as well as evening activities. The other permanent club, of course, is the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club in San Francisco, which lays claim to being the oldest continuing chess club in America. But, unlike the San Francisco club, which is financially underwritten by its larger, parent organization, the Monterey Center has no outside backing and is that very rare thing - a stable, self-supporting chess enterprise.

To be sure, the Chess Center has incorporated some non-chess-related activities to make this possible. Table tennis and pool are available there, as is a small restaurant. And dart tournaments make up a big part of the Center's schedule and contribute proportionately to its income. (The Center is the headquarters for the Central California Darts Association and Ted is himself a regular participant.) Games like Go and Shoji have also found a home there.

The Monterey Chess Center has been in existence for about eleven years. It conducts weekly rated tournaments, plus a number of larger weekend swisses. The original name was the Alvarado Chess Center and its first location was above the Bank of California in Monterey. After about three years it moved to a location above a Viennese Bakery. (Both locations were rented on a month-to-month basis.) Then, about five years ago, the Center moved to its present location at 430 Alvarado, over the Regency Theater, where Ted has a lease.

The notion of starting up a chess center was born out of a book Ted read when he was first getting interested in the game, when he was in a college. "The Fireside Book of Chess" contained stories about romantic, colorful figures who haunted a place called the Café de la Regeance in Paris. They were the top chess players of their day, along with famous writers and artists who also played chess. Then, when Ted was in Europe during his army service, he discovered that nearly every city had a café or coffeehouse where chess was the main draw. When Ted settled in Monterey in 1959, he decided to try to recreate this atmosphere.

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