A comeback!

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Isn’t it incredible how some games can be important for reasons that no-one but yourself can understand and appreciate.

I had one such experience last night at our local club. I knew to expect a visitor from a neighbouring town, a man who has only recently returned to the area and chess, a man I have always respected, a man I had never been able to beat in a game of chess!

Not that this had any sort of revenge-driven purpose. As a matter of fact, we have always got on famously well. This was a man who would always offer an encouraging word after a game and share any thoughts that you sought from him. He is one of the gentlemen of the game that you count yourself lucky to know.

I myself had taken a short break from competitive chess, before my comeback tournament in November 2005; it had only been 18 years since my previous tournament! Actually it was this same fellow who had taken me to my first ever tournament.

When I decided to again play competitive chess, I knew that there was a club in one of our neighbouring cities, Bathurst. I had played chess there when I lived there. I also knew that the other neighbouring city, Orange, had lost their chess club due to this man leaving for another part of the country and no one was able to pick up the reins and organise things as well as he did. I decided to take a gamble and start a chess club in our small town of 3,000 people and see how it went. I also made contact with some of the people who lived in the club-less town and told them that we were open for any players who wished to participate in this great game of chess.

To cut a long story short, we soon had two players from Orange and two players from Cowra, who joined with us to enable us to start an inter-town series of matches with Bathurst. That has now grown to be four clubs with the addition of Dubbo and Katoomba.

Anyhow, at one of the special occasions we organised, who should walk in the door, a ghost from the past! Hurried reintroductions, followed by furious questions of, what have you been up to? what are you doing? how long are you staying for? led to the pleasant discovery that he was now semi retired, living back in Orange, had left chess for bridge, was making a sentimental trip to renew old acquaintances and was making some sort of comeback to chess, having recently taught his grandson how to play the game.

Last night he came to the club with his grandson.  We had four kids there ranging in age from 15 down to 9, we had five adults ranging in age from ... well let’s not depress ourselves with that information.

We played a funny game where each of the juniors played the five adults who were taking turns from board to board in simul fashion. It wasn’t too serious, as the adults were often guilty of helping the kids spot their tactical ideas and even sometimes devilishly playing a move that made life horribly difficult for the player following them! Nice to say that in the end I think the kids got three wins to one!

Then we, my old friend and I, got to play a game, and for all the reasons mentioned above it was like turning back the clock twenty odd years.  For me it was also a bit of a confirmation that all the work that it takes to keep the club going, to have our tournament, to have the inter-club matches, is all worth it when you see great gentlemen like this fellow revelling in the enjoyment of the game.

As to the result of our individual game, that isn’t important, it was the actual fact that it was played that was important to me.