I’m in Boston for a seminar at Harvard University and decided to venture into Harvard Square. I had heard there was chess there. While looking for a restaurant, I turned around and what did I see…
Immediately I was drawn to the sign that stated “Play the Chess Master.” It had a subtitle which amounted to $2/game. The Master’s name was Murray Turnbull. YES… he had “Chess Master” on his straw hat. His hat invites someone to sit down and make him feel ashamed of wearing it. Of course, I would enjoy the opportunity to give him a challenge, but since I don’t gamble, I merely watched. The level of play of everyone else was maybe 1500-1600 ELO and below. He was literally giving lessons to the guy above and the game wasn’t much of a challenge.
I found out that Mr. Turnbull’s father was a renown professor at Harvard and that the younger Turnbull had an aborted stint as a Harvard student before relocating to California. I was told he hit some hard times and then found his way back to Boston. The sign also stated he had been in Harvard Square since 1982. Later I heard him talk about the old days when he was the only player out there. The crowd eventually grew to about 30-40 players on the weekends. He states that there are sizable crowds even now. One thing for sure is that many strong players have played there.
Oh… and I did find a nice Indian restaurant called “Tamarind Bay,” an Indian Bistro and Bar. It was in a basement level area, but had a nice ambiance and some upbeat music. The service was fast and the portion plentiful. I had a spicy okra dish (Bhindi Adraki) and it was delicious with the roti. The only drawback was the lack of artistic aesthetics on the walls.
Generally when I travel domestically and abroad I look for Indian cuisine since I can be assured of some good vegetarian cuisine. To this day, the best Indian food I have had (not counting an Indian wedding I attended), was in Spain during the 2004 Chess Olympiad. Nevertheless, Tamarind Bay was good.
After dinner I enjoyed a nice walk back to the hotel adjacent to Charles River. The sunlight was reflecting off of the ripples of the water as Bostonians took advantage of a picture-perfect day. Maybe I’ll get a chance to go back to the Square and get some games in! Stay tuned!
Me at Tamarind Bay in Harvard Square. I recommend it!