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Friday mornings, from 10am through 12 noon, at the Lake View Lodge — weekly chess is coming on the community calendar!

I promised when we moved here five years ago that I would get involved. Naturally, the first activity I looked for was chess. Finding it surprisingly absent. So I wandered off to the Special Projects Group (despite being no handyman) and the Ragtimers (despite then not having a clue how to play the ukulele). But always swore that when I retired, I would launch a community chess club.

Chess was once an addiction of mine. An obsession. A passion. I used to own every issue of Players Chess News and accumulated a chess library with over 300 good chess books. Most days after putting in my time past 8pm down on Wall Street, I would ride the subway uptown to watch or play at the Manhattan Chess Club. A landmark knowledge system that I designed and built for the actuarial profession was fashioned after early computer work I did for myself keeping track of chess games. And one of my fondest memories was collaborating with Bernie on a board in a simul against Bent Larsen back the summer Bobby Fischer defeated Spassky. I’ve often observed that the family life I eventually chose over my chess life was my greatest chess sacrifice. But I swore that after the family had flown the nest and I had retired from my career, chess would join poetry and a few other private pursuits in making a comeback.

So sure enough, although my retirement this past year was closely linked to a campaign for an HOA office certain to grab as much time and attention as a family, my promise to myself was kept: within weeks after retirement, I had formally requested permission from our HOA Programs Director to set up a chess club. We needed to survey the community for interest, and of course the election and the past two months of office have made life rather hectic. But soon – perhaps as soon as December – we will be launching our club.

I myself anticipate resuming my atrocious losing record. My chess is like my poetry: I’ve read tens of thousands of poems and have an extensive knowledge of poetry, but have myself written no more than maybe a hundred poems, if that; similarly, I’ve played no more than maybe 50 chess games in any formal tournament, and could count on both hands how many of those were wins or draws. I never made it much past a 1600 rating back in the day, and I have no reason to expect that I’ve gotten any better through two decades away from the board.

Oh sure, I’ve played a few games notable enough to remain vivid in memory. Perhaps my most memorable experience being a club tournament game in Manhattan. I lost that one, but had fun pulling a double-knight sac playing the black pieces against a near-master. Our game drew rather a nice group of spectators that included several masters, who were curious enough to analyze the game with me after I went down in flames. Turned out that my instincts had been correct, and they showed me that I actually could have won the game, if I had known how to follow through. I had an open line and a very active rook, so I sacrificed the first knight to blow away my opponent’s pawn down the attacking file. Several moves later, finding no better purpose for my other knight and having opened up the adjacent line from my end, I sacrificed again, again to remove his pawn protection down that file. Within several moves I had both rooks and my queen bearing down against those two files, with my opponent holding only minor pieces between my attackers and his king. Suffice it to say that with his knights and bishops serving essential blocking duty, I didn’t much feel the loss of my own knights. And it was a perfect sacrifice: giving up material for open lines and an attack. Eh, but in the typical way I always played back then, I could see such things, but was never any good at calculating the final attack.

So don’t expect anything phenomenal out of my chess resuscitation. Even so, it will feel great to be pushing the wood once again.

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Written by macheide

21 November 2017 at 7:36 pm

Posted in 64

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