Chess-related personal background
Early childhood in the circus.
I was a poor student in HS due to my love for chess. My soft studies (English, Social Studies) grades were fine, but my math and science were poor. I failed Elementary Algebra four times. This didn't bother me as I reasoned that my logic and English skills would more than compensate in my work as an adult.
Summer afternoons were often spent at the Rochester Chess Club which met at the downtown YMCA. I had many friends near my age. And I played many adults who, of course, influenced my chess development. Most notable was the 93-year-old Rev. George Switzer. He routinely played 1.e4 f5?! as Black. Few could beat him. I sure couldn't.
At 16, my parents sent to to live with my grandparents in Philadelphia. I attended Olney HS which had also been comedian Bill Cosby's HS. I skipped school a lot. Most afternoons, I would take the subway from the Hunting Park station downtown and play chess with Mike Shahade and Arnold Chertkoff, two 2100+ players. Mike is now an FM and his son Gregory is an IM; daughter Jennifer is a WGM. While most teenagers were getting passing grades in school, I was playing chess for money.
Thirty years as an 1800-rated player...
I spent the next thirty years as an 1800 rated player. I thought that memorizing openings would improve my chess. My tournament games progressed smoothly for eight to twelve moves, after which I quickly lost. I discovered that although openings were important, pawn topographies as discussed in Andrew Soltis's Pawn Structure Chess were much more relevant. All masters are aware of and practice the PSC approach. Three months later I became a USCF master.
I become CCCR Secretary
Skipping forward to the 80's, I was CCCR secretary and served as TD for the minor Wednesday night tournaments. "Hmmm, will I actually have to do any serious work, or can accomplish the duties in my typical desultory manner?", I wondered. Hadn't I always been dependent on the kindness of strangers and the forebearance of reptiles? CCCR would probably not give me much flak if minor amounts went astray. If I lost a few dollars, it's only a chess club after all.
An accountant convinced me that not accounting for money would constitude fraud. I resolved to account for every cent. All funds, EF's, club and USCF memberships were duly noted and the Treasurer received funds every week with a written account. I lugged the notebook with the previous tournaments to the meetings but no one particularly cared, then or now.
Downtown Rochester, NY
Rick Gagliano had a small daily newspaper here in Rochester, NY. One day I ran into him at Four Corners and asked him for a newspaper. We ran up the stairs of the Powers Building to his office. I discovered that you didn't need a six-figure income to rent an office.
I then rented an office there for ~$120 a month. A chessplayer from Leon's Typewriter sold me a Commodore 64 and a database program on cassette for storing membership names and addresses for mailing labels.
My office was adjacent to the Genesee Valley Chapter of the NY Civil Liberties Union. Nearby three elderly real estate agents drank coffee and whitled away the hours.
The Powers Building closed for renovations after the Tommy Termotto scandal and I moved to the Cox Building. It was smaller and less elegant than the Powers and more expensive.
New officers came in and the CCCR moved to the Rochester Chess Center. The CCCR approach become much less formal and more like a social club. Rules were relaxed, accounting was private. They lost the knowlege of calculation of expiration dates. So all one-year memberships expired on Dec. 31.