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November 28, 2004


I was reading the November 6, 2004 entry of the Daily Dirt chess blog by Mig Greengard

In it was a link to an article by Tom Braunlich entitled, Scholastics and the Soul of Chess: Is Scholastic Chess Killing Tournament Chess, or Saving It?

Being more interested in history than in scholastic chess, I was particularly drawn to this paragraph:

Remember the Manhattan Chess Club?

Here is a similarly disturbing story about Chess-in-the-Schools: Its founder, Fan Adams, died in 1999. He was a former senior executive with the Mobil Oil Corporation and former ACF president. According to Adams’ will, quoted in part on, he bequeathed a donation to Chess- in-the-Schools, with the proviso that 20% of it go to support the Manhattan Chess Club (of which Adams was treasurer and a strong supporter through the ACF). The will stated that if the chess club ever goes defunct, this 20% reverts back to Chess- in-the-Schools for their general use. One year after Adams’ death, Chess- in-the-Schools evicted the Manhattan Chess Club from its building. The prestigious124- year-old club had a long history: host of the 1890 world championship match, the favorite stomping grounds of such immortals as Fischer, Pillsbury, and Capablanca (and the club where Capa died of a stroke in 1942), and the site of hundreds of strong master tournaments and matches. The club had a predictably difficult time finding alternative low-cost space in NYC, and soon went defunct after the eviction. Chess-in-the-Schools presumably now gets that additional 20% of Adams’ bequest, to support scholastic chess.


...and the irony of it all


according to Sam Sloan, the club has survived:

NEW YORK, March 31:
Just when it seemed that America's oldest chess club "in continuous existence" was going to close down, it has been announced that the club has found new quarters and will survive. The Manhattan Chess Club will move on May 1 to new quarters on the 15th floor of the Hotel New Yorker, which is located on the corner of 34th Street and 8th Avenue in New York City, opposite Penn Station and the General Post Office.
Thanks by all chess players should be extended Jeffrey Kossak, club president, who negotiated the deal with the Hotel New Yorker and without whose efforts the club might not have survived. The chess book store at the front of the club will not survive, however.
The Manhattan Chess Club is presently located at 353 West 46th Street, on "Restaurant Row". The phone number of the club is (212) 333-5888. The number of the book store is (212) 757-5603.


Bill Wall give a terse history of the Manhattan Chess Club, among which we learn:

In 1877 chess players met at the Cafe Logeling, 49 Bowery Street in lower Manhattan. Mr. Logeling was a chess enthusiast and eventually built a room in the back of the cafe for chess. Then, on November 24, 1877, it was decided to form a chess club. There was discussion to name it the Metropolitan, Morphy, or Manhattan Chess Club and on December 1, 1877, 37 members showed up for the first meeting. The entrance fee was $1 per person and dues were $4 per year.


Additionally, Mr. Wall informs us us the Clubs many venues over the years:

-In May 1884, the group moved to 22 East 17th Street.
-In May 1889, the club moved to 22 West 27th Street.
-In May 1892, the club moved to 105 East 22nd Street in the United Charities Building.
-From 1905 to 1910 the Club was located at the Carnegie Hall Building on 56th Street.
-From 1910 to 1923 the Club was located at the Sherman Square Hotel, then to Beacon Hotel.
-During the Depression, the Club moved to a basement on Broadway and 73rd Street.
-In 1932 to 1941, the Club was located at the Alamac Hotel.
In 1941 to 1956 the Club was located at 100 Central Park South.
-In 1956 the Club moved to the Hotel Woodrow.
-In the late 1980s the Club was headquartered at Carnegie Hall on the 10th floor.
-The Club later moved to 353 West 46th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue on "Restaurant Row." Traditionally, the club was supported by the patronage of Wall Street executives. When they passed away, the American Chess Foundation, which owns the building, fell into the hands of non-chess players. They ordered the Manhattan Chess Club to move.
-In 2001, the Club moved to the New Yorker Hotel, Suite 1521, 481 8th Avenue. It was open on weekdays from 6 pm to midnight and on weekends from 11am to 11pm.
-In January 2002, the Manhattan Chess Club closed. It existed for 124 years. Its last president was Jeff Kossak


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