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  • Tom Boyd

Berkeley Thoughts

(this is in my office and I am not the model)

(this is in my office and I am not the model)

Walking in Berkeley

Walked around the area near the Berkeley Chess School. Passed Sierra Club, small tea (only) shop, environmental stuff shops and Good Vibrations. Good Vibrations, not a record store, seems to appeal more to women. They have a sign on their  door that states you are to use gender neutral  terms in talking to staff. This stumps me. I understand gal, guy, dude, miss, sir, man, madam, lady, mister, but what are gender neutral terms? I did not go in the store as I assume staring at the customers, staff and products would get me called a “dirty old creature”. I saw a number of weird tattoos in stores and on the street, scary too and I assumed they were mostly women or women want-a- be. Perhaps looking for sailors or were former sailors?

The Berkeley Chess School

The most normal thing about Berkeley was founded by Elizabeth Shaughnessy.

Elizabeth Shaughnessy is a former eight-year member of the Berkeley School Board and 1970 Irish Women’s Chess Champion. She has played in seven international chess Olympiads and is active in chess tournaments around the world. Now over 80 Elizabeth is still going strong. I have played her twice and we split the two games. Hence I can say I beat the Irish Women’s Chess Champion ( while overlooking mentioning the year she won).  Like all of us seniors her playing skills have declined over the years. My goal is to also see my 80s and love and play chess as strongly as she does. The school has a lot of programs, classes and tournaments for the youths and an international chess exchange program.

Donations are welcomed as they look to build a new school.

Berkeley Senior Chess Open 2020

I went 2-2 against the old dudes. The games were good and fun, felt I could have gone 4-0 or 1-3 but did not do either and I am ok with that, happy that one of my wins was against a dude who had beat me last year. Kids in this annual event are at least 50 years old (gads, my kids are all in their 40s).

Having time this summer I did inquire again about chess summer camp. They first thought I was asking about teaching not attending but once that got straightened out the answer was still no, age discrimination is mean. Since the Berkeley Chess School is down the street from Gaumenkitzel, award winning German restaurant, that I have yet to visit perhaps teaching would be a good idea. I would waive the $100 a day teaching for being fed (and come out ahead).

Chess Pictures I had six pictures with chess themes hanging in my office at work. I have donated them to the Berkeley Chess School, a 501 ( C )(3) nonprofit organization. Now will have to go to the school to admire them as they all hang on their walls. I miss them.


The virus threat has reduced chess tournament attendance by 50% and more across the country and tournaments are being canceled. Some of the chess site hotels are not waving the cancelation fee nor reducing the hotel rooms minimum which while it may  be understandable does not promote good will. Most chess organizations are nonprofit organizations and will remember how they were treated. Poor manners and poor public relations.


I have played in chess tournaments in 11 states and my updated bucket list goal is to play in 20 states by the end of 2022 along with playing in Canada and Europe. I am not going to try for all 50 states, Nancy hopes one of the pending is Hawaii, and I will repeat some locations. My ratings has declined over the years from mid class A to low class B but at this low point I am in the top 14% of the nationally rated chess players. I can celebrate being better than 6 of 7 players or I can be upset that 1 of 7 are better. I also now have an international rating but being # 272,844 in the world does not read as good unless I note that the world has 7,800,000,000 people (LOL).

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