Will the last one out of St. Petersburg please turn out the lights? I'm on a wifi spot in the center of the city at 11pm and it's still quite light outside despite the clouds. Beautiful city.
The legendary chess club isn't in very good shape. There is a calendar of events posted outside, but it's closed today and tomorrow for a national holiday so I might not see the interior. If it's anything like the run-down exterior and hallways they're in trouble. There is a little chess shop in the front. Eager chessplayers can liven up any hall, but it's still sad to see the decline. I remember first seeing the massive Moscow club the day they had rented out their main hall for a wedding reception, even though there was a tournament going on a thin wall away.
Is club play thriving elsewhere? Rents are high and the internet is tempting. Tournament play is a little different, and hard to imitate online. But paying hundreds of dollars to play blitz in a club is hard to justify. What are clubs doing to add value that can't be had online? Lectures and lessons are also online in force now.