Alberta Chess Association
First, the year 1975 was an important year for Calgary. The centennial was just around the corner! Why not join the celebration in a big way, so I thought, and I proposed an International Chess Tournament. To my astonishment everybody at the meeting agreed with me! Honestly, I was afraid of being ridiculed of such a proposal, this was year 1969! Now was the time for the group to think and explore all possibilities to implement the idea. At this time the enthusiasm prevailed. I’ll come back to this point and I’ll try to reconstruct what followed afterwards.
Other pages of the same book describe in detail the school system in Calgary at the time. My eyes were “itching” in a new direction. How to open a door in a school system with my poor English? Suddenly, my chess became more important than my English! I was invited to play chess at a Woodman Junior High School. Occasion? A chess player from the CCC lost more games than won against the same players. The teacher couldn’t stand bragging of the winners of that exhibition. There must be somebody to stop that bragging. Sure enough, one morning the General Manager of Stearns Roger call me at his office, where the teacher have got already the permission for me to play at the school, and be paid for the entire day! Wow, what a respect I’ve got at the company from then on!
There is also the most important aspect of chess, that is the actual play. So I played and won twelve consecutive chess tournaments. They, according to Mr. Farkas, made me first ever master candidate by playing chess only in Alberta. A couple of years later the same happened again with the master title.
No one person ever achieved “greatness” without help of many, or some. Therefore, a core of a working team was the order of the day. There were at least four of them who were willing to “help”. Art deJong started publishing chess clubs’ papers of which only few were printed before he left Canada. Rick Korpan was secretary-treasurer and was looking after daily business of the club, including the money collections of the members. Derek Maguire, the past president of the club (a lawyer by profession) was there all the time to help with outside connections and internal affairs. Besides, he was a liaison of the past and present. Yes, I was now the president of the CCC, the year was 1969. I believe that Joe Kassay-Farkas was still conducting chess tournaments, but I remember that he was the organizer in Calgary for annual match against Edmonton, on Easter weekend, held in Red Deer.
The chess season of the year 1969/70 expanded rapidly in the membership. At the end of the season we had more than 50 active CCC members, an improvement from 15 CCC members of the previous year. I’m not sure, if this expansion was because I had played some of the simultaneous chess exhibitions around Calgary, or it was some other reason. Remember, this is before Bobby Fissher vs Boris Spassky! At that time, the city atmosphere was in taverns (cowboys and Indians), a new era of pubs will come much later.
The Calgary Chess Association was the fruit of two negative letters I had received, one from The Albertan (newspapers) and the other from the Alberta Department of Youth (see above). Both refusing of sponsoring my trip to Canadian Open CC in Vancouver 1971. I went anyway to play in that tournament.
Urgency to receive a material support for any future activities, and for anybody else than myself, I proposed at next chess club’s meeting to start a local association: CCA. My proposal was unanimously accepted. Mr. Derek Maguire wrote the Association’s by-laws, and five of us signed an application, and on 2nd day of December A.D. 1971 we became official organization for the first time! (The original Certificate of Incorporation is presented above.)
I became first and the only President of that association until it was dissolved in 1975. Art Milne and I signed the document for the government to dissolve it.
In 1972 Calgary had two chess clubs. Beside CCC, at Mount Royal College was the other one called Black Night Chess Club. The president of that club was Peter Zingeler. Soon I had a chance to meet Pete. At very first meeting I saw his organizational ability, and I proposed to him to work on two projects. First: the Canadian Closed is every three years cycle, and coincides with the Calgary Centennial (there goes out through a window my 1969 proposal of an International Chess Tournament!), this I thought is easier to achieve. Second: we need a real chess organization to include all Alberta, to get some support from the Provincial Government. This was the prime reason to start the ACA! Since all these were my “brain childs” I wanted to be an important part of it.
Therefore, during the first meeting of the future ACA, at 1973 Alberta Open Championship, (call it first working meeting of ACA) they elected me in my absence (I was still playing my game) as the first President of the ACA. I remember Peter Z. came, while I was playing, and told me that I was elected for the president and asked me if I accept it. Of course I did. I attended last part of the meeting. My tenure was for two years. During that period we achieved everything to solidify the ACA of which future generations harvested fruits to this day.
Here I must give credit to Mr. Leonard Steele for his chess activities in Edmonton. He was also instrumental in future ACA activities, and I believe he is still there when you need him!
An example of equal treatment of two opposite sports. Two historical moments at the same time. What a memorable time! SSSR against Canada on ice, and Bobby, an American against Soviet Union on a chess board! Both on the front page of The Calgary Herald at the same price of 10 cents for the papers!
The inception of the ACA - a story by Branimir Brebrich
Introduction to an “organized” chess, for a newcomer, in the city of Calgary was an adventurous task in September of 1968. Walking around centre street of the city, asking about chess club, stopping policemen, taxi drivers and their dispatchers, barbers and students at vocational college, a luck strike me! Another newly arrived citizen, this from USA, who happened to be cousin of Harry Belafonte (he was a Vietnam War dodger), he found in North Side Mirror of coming speed chess tournament. Immediately I contacted Mr. Joe Kassay-Farkas, who graciously picked me up and took me to the chess club. He was the club’s president, and overall organizer for the last decade. I thought I could “capitalize” by betting for a beer with Louie (Hayes, his full name) that I would bring the trophy next day as a winner. I kept my promise by winning all the games and trophy. We, some three fellows, “consumed” the beer a block away at Empress Hotel Tavern (the hotel was later demolished).
At the vocational school, I attended the very first time organized English courses in Calgary for newcomers. There they gave us the detailed book about the city of Calgary. They would have a great “influence” on my ideas of moving chess from “alcoholic anonymous" type of organization to the “masses” of the future chess admirers (enthusiasts), so to speak.