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Chapter 13: More Misdeeds


“Let us eat and drink”

Isaiah 22:13

Food and drink have their proper place in a chess club. A long-standing tradition at Melbourne is the provision by the Committee of wine and cheese before the AGM. (Unfortunately some sluggards greedily devour what is offered and then ignore the meeting.) But the Club has had to battle against food and drink taken on other occasions. For example, a by-law of 1986 decreed “that alcoholic beverages may not be consumed or stored in the club-rooms except with the consent of the Committee” and a later resolution said that members should not store food in the Club refrigerator. When the Club moved to Fitzroy it made and publicized a by-law prohibiting the consumption of alcohol in the club-rooms. Despite this, nocturnal drinking became a problem which Edwin Malitis did his best to stamp out by midnight raids. In January 1999 a member complained that he was disillusioned, saying that the Club was being treated “like a pub”. When the Club moved to Fitzroy it banned the eating of meals outside the kitchen, so that rice and other foodstuffs from take-away meals would no longer be ground into the carpet. In 2003 the Krstic committee recommended that rules about food and drink should be laid down and that food should not be eaten outside the kitchen. Since 2009 the new regime has got rid of the drinking problem.

Smokers used to be another problem. In 1866 the Committee prohibited smoking in the club-rooms, but a fortnight later it repealed the prohibition. After another one hundred and twenty years the debate was still going on. At Peel Street the Club occupied a long, narrow area made up of three rooms. In the early days there the back room was made a non-smoking area on tournament nights, a motion banning smoking during tournaments having been lost. The following year the central room was reserved for non-smokers during tournaments and non-smokers were empowered to insist on playing in the two non-smoking rooms unless they were full. When the Club moved to Fitzroy one room was set aside for smokers. Later, smoking was banned outright.