Chess Set

Newton Cultural Center

An Appreciation of Harvey Towvim for his Gift of the Giant Chess Set on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the Newton Cultural Center

We express our appreciation to Mr. Harvey Towvim, a man determined to encourage chess playing, by building a Giant Chess Set and then donating it to The Newton Cultural Center.

Harvey Towvim had a dream of building a giant chess set that would encourage people to learn a game that he loved. He heard from Newton resident and chess coach Larry Eldridge, that the Mayor’s Office for Cultural Affairs was looking for a giant chess set to use at public festivals and events and which would also be available at the Newton Cultural Center.

When, at Larry’s suggestion, Harvey visited the Mayor’s Office for Cultural Affairs at the Newton Cultural Center to discuss how he could get someone to complete a project which had been stalled for 14 years, it became clear that such a project might interest Richard Dean, Business Manager of Local 275 of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, as part of the 2009 NewtonSERVES, a day of community service.

When presented with the idea, Richard Dean immediately saw the value of working on the chess set as part of NewtonSERVES and also as a teaching tool at the Carpenter’s Council and so he accepted the challenge.

“Those pieces started over 14 years ago in Acton, stayed in storage in Acton, when the Cub Scout troop that started them was unable to finish them. From there, they ended up in our West Roxbury basement until April 24, 2009,” said Towvim.

According to Towvim: “As excited as we are to see this idea of a NEWTON GIANT CHESS SET grow, it pales when compared to the delight that my wife Naomi experienced on Friday, April 24, 2009, when I returned from delivering some half-done pieces, and the battered cardboard templates for the pieces to Richard Dean.”

“I have been talking about having the set completed for a long time. However, as Benjamin Franklin said: “Well done is better than well said.” Richard Dean deserves that “well done” credit in big, bold type.” His approach to the project was so thorough and committed that his “crew of merry carpenters at the Carpenters Union New England Regional Training Center made an entirely new set of plywood templates that they used to create the set you will be receiving,” continues Towvim.

Photo taken by Newton Resident Photographer Barry Sugarman

Towvim encourages Newton to enjoy the set in the merry spirit of fun with which carpenters created them. The Newton Cultural Center accepts this 5th anniversary present with the promise to use it to help promote the great game of chess!