Just what you were praying for, another blog from another bad chess player.
1993. I'm 27 years old and attending my first official tournament in Austin, Texas. It's the Texas Championship and I've never played a timed game in my life.
For three years I have been a semi-serious student of chess. It started when an annoying buddy of mine constantly challenged me to a game of chess. I would always accept the challenge (I'm nice like that) and would always be stomped soundly within ten moves. So, I decide it's time to hit the Radio Shack and a Waldenbooks. I pick up the best chess computer they have at the Shack and pick up a copy of Reinfield's The Complete Chess Course. Within a few months, I gradually was able to defeat the computer at higher levels and play much less embarrassing matches against my friend. An amazing thing happened during this process, I realized that the more I knew about chess, the more fun it was. Soon after, I relocated to Germany for a new job and made more chess friends. One was my boss, an arrogant jerk who scoffed at my constant study of the Reinfield tome. He didn't scoff for long. I was definitely getting better but I was young and more interested in partying. Of course, one of my favorite opponents was the owner/bartender of my favorite dive. He would give me a free drink if I beat him. I got a lot of free drinks.
After returning to "the States", I decided to get a little more serious with chess and joined the USCF. As I wasn't familiar with the local chess scene, I was mostly a correspondence player. My chess library started to grow (I learned algebraic notation finally) and my ambitions did as well. It was time to seek out serious chess. I signed up for the Texas Chess Championship as an unrated player. Might as well jump in, right?
I was pretty excited an arrived nice and early to sign up early with my new tournament chess set and clock. Winning, ironically, was not my main goal. I just wanted to play and be around other chess players.
My first opponent was a kid, maybe 10 years old. I knew better than to underestimate him because I had read enough Chess Life issues to know that there were multitudes of younger players that could stomp me into a fine paste. As my victory started to become obvious, this guy started offering a draw on every turn. I occupied a weird state of mind between pity and aggravation. Aggravation won and so did I. Time for round 2. I am summarily beaten and I leave Austin at 97th place and a rating in the upper 1200s. I am VERY happy and feel like I did my best. My chess career has begun! Then life happens. And here I am 25 years later, coming out of retirement to once again wow the amateur world with my amazing chess technique. That previous sentence may contain some hyperbole. Too early to tell.