Castle Prior

3 Different Perspectives On Castle Closing Sept 27 Below:

Fellow chess enthusiasts, Sunday the 27th of September will be the Castle’s last event at the Waterbury building. After this, we will be closing until a less expensive property is located. Covid-19 has resulted in one of the most trying times for over the board chess in a century. Below is a summary for full transparency to our members and supporters explaining why we are leaving Waterbury and what the future plans for reopening are:

Over more than a decade, the Castle’s home has been at the Waterbury building. During that time, the rent has significantly increased while tournament attendance stagnated. The past few years have been especially difficult as Waterbury came under less friendly management and hiked the rent up to the point annual operating costs became about $30,000, with two thirds going to rent, utilities, and other site related expenses. Just before Covid-19, Waterbury was gearing up for another large rent increase for our lease renewal in September.

These costs depleted the Castle’s nestegg of $15,000 at one point to a mere few thousand all before Covid-19!! In the last few years prior to Covid-19, the Castle has relied on the support of Roger Hale and the MSCA, over $6,000 in support in the last year alone, to get by. But after Covid-19 the Castle officially went bankrupt, with only $44 to its name this June and over $4,000 in debts.

To try and remedy these issues, Roger transferred Stensberg trust funds to the Castle and began negotiating the next year’s lease with Waterbury with a generous personal guarantee to pay the remaining balance after the Stensberg funds were depleted. However, Roger stated he was retiring in September from the Castle board. I fundamentally disagreed with staying at Waterbury because spending another $30,000 to stagger along one more year would actually put us in a worse position in 2021. The trust funds would be gone, and either Covid-19 would keep our attendance down, or Waterbury would increase the rent as planned when Covid-19 ends. Thus I asked Roger to retire a month early and let me manage ending the lease at Waterbury. Ideally, we eventually raise enough money to buy a building instead of spending hundreds of thousands in rent a decade at a place like Waterbury. But for now, we will likely look to sublet a place two nights a week at a much lower rent.

At Waterbury post Covid-19, we had an average of less than 10 players per event and less than $1,000 a month in tournament revenue. Therefore, staying at the Waterbury Building could cause the Castle to go into debt over $2,000 per month, $24,000 a year! I decided to argue forcefully against what appeared to me like a waste of resources. As a result most of the Castle board including Dan, the club manager resigned, leaving me and one other board member to do the backbreaking work of moving all the Castle’s belongings into storage, resolving the clubs debts, and informing the public about the move.

I admit that I have done a subpar job on the latter since I have had to do all this in less than a month. Unfortunately, I am just a volunteer, who is not retired, has family obligations, a business, and graduate research work that I have been juggling throughout all this.

The future of the Castle must be sustainability. Meaning the chess club needs to be financially sound, but also cannot depend on the leadership of only one or two individuals. People like Roger and Dan are in short supply and asking them to bear the full responsibility of maintaining a chess club for the entire Twin Cities Area is unreasonable. Every time an organization relies on a single individual for a prolonged period they become burned out. I am looking for young future TDs to train and several dedicated people to join the Castle board and bring their energy and new perspectives to our chess community. Contact me if you fit that description or have any questions about the Castle.

-Dane Zagar, Castle Club President,

The Chess Castle is under new management now, and they have done a pathetic, shabby job of informing our club members of impending changes. So this will come as a surprise to many of you to hear that we are leaving the Waterbury building that has been our home, and the locus of Minnesota Chess, for the last ten years, at the end of this month of September. Hence the names given to the two tournaments detailed below.

At least there are clear signs that we are moving, either into temporary storage or a new smaller space. No one has given me any details. The two events listed below will be my last tournaments as club manager. I was intending to cover the last Tuesday Casual Night on the 29th, but that will be the first presidential candidate debate, and I will be elsewhere. So my run ends on Sunday.

I was so looking forward to booking my two thousandth tournament as Chief USCF TD by the end of this year, but I guess that will happen, if it ever does, with a different club or a different city.

In my over two decades of managing the Castle, I've always thought of it as more of a social club than a chess club. But I guess that is old-fashioned. So many dare not share a space together. Well, good luck with your new site, wherever that will be, or in your new future life of living and playing on a screen.

Dan Voje

Dear friends of the MSCA and the Chess Castle. I want to make a brief statement as to what has happened and apologize for not doing that sooner on the website. My hope was to negotiate the retention of our space at the Waterbury building as it has been very satisfactory for the past 11 years. The problem, of course, is that tournament activity has collapsed since the pandemic hit us and that is the situation all over the OTB world. Other folks on the board argued for not spending any money to continue the Waterbury lease, even though it might be greatly reduced and to close up for a while and/or go to a much smaller and cheaper space. That point of view, which is very reasonable, was expressed most strongly by Dane Zagar and he suggested that I leave the board (which I was planning to do at the end of September anyway) and let him manage the transition. I am glad that Dane has agreed to take over the transition and wish him and all ongoing participants in Minnesota Chess the very best.

Roger Hale

A three round-robin format at Game in 30 minutes (Game/30). You play players of comparable strength. Registration from 6:30-7:00 pm, Event is typically done by 10:30 pm. The entry fee is $12 for members, $15 others. Prizes are $25 for 1st in each section. No one is stuck with a bye ever. Phone to reach the club - 651.280.5473 or e-mail at You do not need to be a member to play in any Castle event.

Join us on Tuesdays at 6-10 PM for an evening of casual chess. Coffeehouse chess, speed chess, bughouse, analysis, pick-up games or enjoy one of the books from the clubs extensive library. Beginners to masters will attend this event. Everyone is welcome.

Entry Fee: $20, members $15 Prizes: Winners get free or reduced entry next month, with participation counting towards invitation to Club Championship. Swiss, Game/100 with +30 bonus. Onsite Registration: 6:30-6:50 PM first Thursday of the month. Rounds: 7:00 PM each Thursday, check-in by 6:55 or you may not get paired, call 612.964.6673. Directed by Norm Myrin. Most games done by 11:00. Questions, contact Mike Svenson phone: 651.276.2007. House players welcome. See Aug Standings, see current Wallchart .

Same format as Open. Excellent opportunity for higher rated players (must be 1700+) with discount incentives. Minimum of 8 players, otherwise the event merges with the Open. If the event merges with the Open, you can opt for full refund or use your reduced entry for the Open. Entry Fee: if early (U1900 $20), (1900-1999 $17), (2000-2099 $14), (2100+ $11), (FM and above FREE), (All $20 at site), members get $5 off. Byes: one bye if 4-SS, two byes if 5-SS, exceptions at TD's discretion. Other: Check-in by 6:55 each Thursday. Call or text 763-232-9944 if you are running late, or you may not get paired. Exceptions to minimum rating at TD's discretion. Directed by Nate Hoover. TD may require submission of game scores. Event may be broadcast. All proceeds go to the Chess Castle. See

Thursday Knighter

Aug Standings. See Wallchart.

2020 Thursday Knighter Kingpins

1121 Jackson Street NE, Suite #134, Minneapolis, MN 55413

In the red brick Waterbury building on the NW corner of Central and Broadway in the Nordeast.

Phone to reach the club - 651.280.5473 or e-mail at

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