ALEXANDER KENTLER. CROSSROADS: THE BLUEBIRD OF HAPPINESS
"Choose me; choose me, Bluebird of happiness of the near future". Nowadays these amusing lines give rise to very different associations because of the bird flu.
I won’t discuss the advantages of the presidential contenders of the Saint Petersburg Chess Federation. It is impossible to count them indeed. In recent times nobody needed chess in our city. So it is strange that now this game has turned out to be in the center of attention of some remarkable persons. Then chess really means something, doesn’t it? Or maybe there is something chess-related that is of real interest of some important people…
Everything can be described in images of our city. The Hermitage is a palace, pictures are represented by the Russian Museum, books correspond to the Public Library, the Smolny is a symbol of power, the Avrora is an image of revolution, ballet corresponds to the Mariinsky Theatre, etc. Undoubtedly, the Chigorin club personifies chess of Saint Petersburg. I am sure that while the Chigorin chess club exists we have chances for rebirth even at worst times. We can also hope for the appearance of new names in a great chain Chigorin – Alekhine – Botvinnik – Spassky – Korchnoi – Karpov – Khalifman – Svidler. But the club that has recently celebrated seventy years, is not only a symbol. A soul of Saint Petersburg chess lives in it! As soon as the Chess Temple is lost, we can easily bury this magnificent game.
There were many attempts to take away the building on Konyushennaya st. that was given to chessplayers in many respects because of Botvinnik’s efforts and progress. There was an intention of giving it to the Variety Theatre, to the Church. In earlier times the club was saved by appellation of Chigorin’s name, later by foundation of the junior sports school. Now it seems that trouble is brewing for the club again. Tarasov, the vice-governor of Saint Petersburg, has already called it on and declared that the chess club would be moved to a building of a kindergarten, which is even larger, for a time of the major repairs…
It is well known how such removals are carried out in our city. At first, the renovation begins, then after a couple of years the other building is assigned to the “refugees” and the building in the downtown is passed to those who benefit from it.
How can we prevent it? It is necessary for the new man who will head the federation to be ready to stand for the club, to be wealthy and independent of the crumbs of the municipality. He must not strive for the favor of officials at all costs (for example, doing what he can to help them in taking away the chess club). Foremost he should consider the chessplayers’ opinions.
There were different times in the chess life of the city. I suppose that these two years were the saddest of the last forty years. In any case, we never had a “president in refuge” before, and real leadership had been carried out by more worthy people.
I don’t know what is waiting us ahead. But I always want to hope for the best. “Tomorrow it will be better than yesterday”.