Springfield Park Board Chess Club, 45 Years Strong

intro by Martin Stahl

While I only started going to events at the Springfield Park Board Chess club in 2008, I first encountered their involvement in chess during the early 90’s when attending some scholastic tourneys being ran by the club and Marty Phillips. That has only been part of a longer history of the club which has been having a resurgence in the past couple of years and looks to continue growing.

In 2011, I began helping run some events in partnership with the club and worked with them on holding a Springfield Open each year in the October time-frame (initially with a National Chess Day event in 2013). Starting in 2016 they began holding ladder games and in the latter part of 2017, Dylan Mounts resurrected the club newsletter, The Outpost.

The following comes from the October 2017 issue of the newsletter. PDF versions of The Outpost can be found on their website, which include games with annotations. You can keep track of events and happenings there or on their Facebook page:




by Roger Pagel
with editorial contributions
by Dylan Mounts

October 7 marked our second annual Senior Center Blitz Fundraiser. It’s a small way for us to show our appreciation to the Senior Center for allowing us use of their facilities. My understanding is that our club is the oldest in the state of Missouri, and for most of our history the Senior Center has been our home. It seems fitting, then, to provide a brief history of our club as told by our longest standing member, Roger Pagel:

Historically, for those who do not know, the Center was not always a Senior Center. When the Club was “given use” of this space in the 1980s at the Ray Kelly Park by the Spring-field Park Board—now called the Springfield-Greene County Park Board (note the Club has not changed its name)—it was only the back room that then dog legged to the left and was formally a police satellite station that was no longer being used.

It sometimes got crowded in such a small space. There were two window A/C units that would often blow the fuses and it had an exhaust fan the size of a large dinner plate that did little to cool the place off. It got hot excessively hot during the summer months, but we played anyway!

The Club over the years has waxed and waned in members. In the 70s chess teams were part of the club comprised of 4-6 teammates who would then play other teams. We even had team names! If memory serves, we had 6 or so teams and a small newsletter of the matches was distributed among the members.

Then in the late 80s Marty started our first ladder competition and created the newsletter, “The Informant,” later changed to “The Outpost,” which increased member-ship to well over 50 and the club thrived with members paying $1 each for each ladder game played to cover rating fees and operating expenses in addition to yearly dues, which if memory serves was $25/yr. Our treasurer then was Clarence Townsend who kept immaculate books and made sure everyone paid the $1. You knew when he app-roached you to get out your dollar! Clarence was a mainstay of the Club and should not be forgotten.

This saw our coffers soar to over $2000. This amount was used after many years of just sitting there in 2012 for a 40th anniversary tournament with 1st prize of $500 and class prizes of $100-$50. We were able to disburse enough funds to bring our account down to under $400. Since club participation then was very small it was time to disperse the funds to a more manageable size while giving back to the chess community.

And now, thanks to Afzal, who reintroduced the Ladder last year, the Club has grown to our present 40 paid members with many others showing up each week to play and/or learn the game. While the Club provides the Ladder, we like to think we provide fellowship and other forms of chess that welcomes anyone interested in the game.

Thus, we are overly grateful that when the large addition was added to the Senior Center, the Club was still welcomed to the use of the building. The Park Board still owns the park and the building, but only maintains the outside area and provides no funds to the interior maintenance. The Senior Foundation of the Ozarks (assuring seniors are provided food and community) works with the Park Board and in turn leases the building to the current Senior Center Administration. At least, that is our under-standing of the operation of the facility.

Prior to being located at the Ray Kelly Park, the Club used many Park Board facilities around the City, thus the reason the Club was named SPBCC to denote the Park Board giving the Club places to play by the founders, members of the Springfield News-Leader and SMSU faculty members. In fact, in the early 70s the Club used to meet on Saturday mornings at the Meador Park Bath House. Not the best facility to say the least, but even worse than the bath house, the Club met at Fassnight Park in an open pavilion—not ideal in bad weather or during the winter in addition to having to contend with the pigeons and their droppings!

Thus, after this lengthy recollection—most of which is accurate though some might remember it differently or explain the history with a different point of view—we have a long and rich history and wish to support the facility where we currently play.

This year’s Blitz fundraiser was a great success with first place shared by Ed Rysal, Matthew Pratt, and Roger Pagel, each with a score of 6-1. Nearly $200 was raised for the Senior Center.