Thursday, April 26, 2007

A bit about me

Seattle in 1980. This was an interesting year. The Seattle Chess explosion is just about to end. Yasser Sierawan and John Donaldson are about to leave town. There was still chess at the Last Exit on Brooklyn, and even still happening a bit at the Pizza Haven on the Ave. But at Garfield High School, there is no one left. I am your typical non-performing, overly qualified senior. Nobody cares, and I barely show up for school at all. The chess team officially disbands. So I get me and 2 of my friends to restart the chess club and we move into the activity center pretty much 7 periods/5 days a week. This is before anyone knew what 24/7 was.

We attracted two more players including a poor sap who actually knew how to play chess. And we were ready for Metro. We played the first match against Lakeside and got whooped 0/5. We learned that we had more to do before next week. We learned our lessons, and didn't lose a single match for the rest of the year. Hah! Our fifth board did not lose a single game. Unfortunately, I don't think our top board won more than 1 or 2 games all season long.

I didn't play any competetive chess for the next 11 years. I had gotten married, moved to Italy, and had taken up bridge as my game of choice. I came back, played unrated and recieved a rating of ~1400 won a couple of class things locally, thanks to the technique of block, pounce and simplify. And dropped out for another 14 years or so. Not that I haven't always been a little bit interested. I played some ICC. Got busted for cheating once. Played some online tourneys for real, read some of Yasser's books, and Silmans Amateurs Mind book. And essentially packed it up.

Last year, my son, the second grader got a tourney chess set for Christmas. And here we are today. I am about as active as I have ever been, I play a lot of chess with my son, who is not quite good enough to beat me, but desperately wants to. This is the summer of chess. We are ambitiously launching on a process while he is still interested, to improve our respective ratings by 300 points or so.

This I believe is eminently doable. We know more now. We have computers to help. While we don't personally have Yasser at our beck and call, we do have him on DVD. So far things are looking dramatically up. His play has improved dramatically. Even his loses are not horrible (usually). He still seems about as far away to beating me, so hopefully I am improving as well. We are in general using PCT for tactics. Generally 5 modules a week. We are trying for 7 but things come up. We intersperse this with various other things, from fiction, to DVD training to Fritz training modules. This helps alot with the general chess gestalt, that helps with making decisions on the board. We have learned about the physicality of the game and how that can help or hinder.

We struggle to find our place in the massively bizzare politics of chess in the USA. But mainly we are attempting to have fun. We shall see if this is actually something that sticks, who knows. I do think that he takes what he learns this summer and can use it at various times in his life. And I hope someday, his brush with greatness is not just a year off.

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