Sights and Sounds of the WR Simul - Part 2
Dean went from table to table, shaking hands with each of the participants as he went along and Donna and I were walking around, following Dean to try to get some good shots of him. As the event went on, more people would trickle in and sign up and then be assigned a table towards the end, no matter what their rating was. Dean didn’t seem to mind as he rolled along, always with a smile on his face and a bottle of Gatorade in his hand. Players couldn’t move until Dean came to their board, and once he did so, they got up, got a drink, mingled or some just sat still staring at the current position, trying to figure out an opening to use against Dean for a better transition to the middle game.
I have to backtrack for a second here to say that before the event started, Donna and I met two men, one of who was named Bill, who gave himself the nickname of Santa because of his long white beard. We interviewed them both and found out the other man with him, Steve Stoyko, had a long history with Dean. It turned out that Dean, at the age of 6 or 7, participated in a Simul that Stoyko gave and he said he is just paying the favor back by playing in his. They both had some great stories to tell and we got them all on tape to use in the article. The reason why I am backtracking is because during his in-between moves, we were talking and he pointed out two more important people there, the President and Treasurer of the New Jersey State Chess Federation (NJSCF from here on out). Ken, the Treasurer, had an Elmo doll, a very big Elmo doll sitting next to him. We went over and interviewed him and took some pictures. For the pictures, he would have Elmo on his lap and holding his arm on a piece making it look like Elmo was doing the moves. He was a great guy to talk to with a lot of stories as well. We then met Roger, the president of the NJSCF, and did the interview/picture process as well before Donna and I had to leave for a few hours because of a prior engagement she had. But we told everyone we met that we would be back by 5 PM or so. I really didn’t want to leave but I knew I had to. And once I got home, I just couldn’t sit down for anything. I couldn’t concentrate on a single thing. All I wanted to do was get back to the Simul and see what Dean was doing and how he was playing.
Once we got back to the Simul, we found almost 35-40 boards were already over with, including three of the top five players, one of them being NM James West. One of the players I know from Chess.com, Matt (Petrosianic) was deep in thought as people around him talked and discussed what they did right (or wrong). People were free to go once their game was over, but some hung around to chit chat and talk with their friends or people that they knew from the tournament circuit. It was a great thing to be a part of and witness. As people were leaving and packing up, Dean was still in good shape and his pace from board to board picked up as he had to walk greater distances between moves. A tally of Dean’s results were posted on one of the columns as the night went on and Dean’s wife would occasionally come up to him asking him if he was hungry or if he needed anything, which he really didn’t seem to. He didn’t look tired at all as the night went on and the smile never really faded from his face. There were some players that gave him a very troublesome time and no matter what the result, Dean shook hands with the players, signed the boards, thanked them for the game and for coming, got a picture with them if it was possible, and he moved on to the next board.
Either Donna or myself would get more pictures of Dean as the night went on and once the players left went into the single digits, it got really quiet and after almost 12 hours of preparation and playing, Dean finally took a bathroom break, which, by rules, he only had a couple of minutes for. His wife brought him a bottle of water, which he seemed to ration with small sips as he quickened his pace from table to table. Donna then got the idea, with permission from his wife, to play a trick on Dean in order for us to get a board signed by him. Donna set up a weird position on the board (which we have a picture of), and once Dean came to our board, he didn’t realize it was Donna until he looked up at her and said “I remember that position” with a smile on his face. He then signed happily signed our board and went on his way. I told her I didn’t want any part of it because I didn’t want his rhythm to be thrown off. But it turned out to be for the best as Dean laughed it off and continued on his quest.
Almost exactly 10 hours after the event started, at 8:35 PM, Dean finished his last game of the night and received applause from whoever was left and a big hug from his wife and handshakes all around. The momentous quest was over and it looked like Dean could’ve gone more. In fact, in a post event Q&A interview, Dean said he could’ve gone at least two more hours if it was necessary to do. He sat down, relaxed, had a drink (7 & 7 – which is straight grain whiskey and 7 UP). Donna and I were achy and tired, but we wanted to stay to hear what Dean had to say about the day, all of which we got and will be organized for the post-Simul article that will be posted on Chess.com at some point this week.
All in all, it was an awesome day, despite the length of it, and it was a great experience for us to share with Dean. We shook hands, thanked everyone and congratulated Dean at least three times afterwards. He thanked us for coming and for us trying to promote the Simul on Chess.com. The ride home was calm and peaceful. Donna dropped me off, we said our goodbyes and we both literally limped off to finish our long days.
I must say, for our first chess event, this one was just absolutely amazing. Everybody was so friendly, the atmosphere was quiet but electric, and it really made me love writing about chess even more. We made some new friends, met some people from Chess.com and the chess world as a whole, and just enjoyed the wonder of it all.
I want to thank everyone that we met: James West, Matt O’Brien, Atomic Patzer, Ken, Bill and to all of those we interviewed and shared our experiences with. Thank you all so much.
I want to thank Donna for so much with her help interviewing the players, for driving me back and forth, and for just being the incredible, amazing woman that she is. I really appreciate everything you did for this and everything you have done with me and for me.
Finally, I want to thank Dean and Dawn for helping us out with information about this event, for the interview questions, and for being so kind and polite during the event. We had a great time and we thank you for allowing us to be there. It meant a lot to the both of us.
Thank you all for reading this “diary.” We will be doing the article at some point soon for Chess.com so be on the lookout for that. Have a good night everyone!