There are things that happen in life that are big things and there are things that happen in life that are little. Sometimes even the littlest things can have the finest impact.
My team captain was on the phone with me. After telling me that our team had only drawn the latest match, he cleared his throat. “How would you feel about moving up from the 3rd board?” He asked.
Surprise doesn’t quite cover how I felt. Our team captain, himself, was playing board two and a long term member was his board one.
“I wouldn’t want to upset anyone else on the team,” I said. I was thinking about how I might feel if I had been on his team continuously for years.
“Oh, don’t be concerned about that,” Captain said firmly. “It was the 1st board’s idea. He came to me after our matches were over and told me that it didn’t make sense for you not to be the 1st board since you were winning all of your matches easily and we were mostly drawing and losing.”
It was true. Only the last game played took longer than 15 minutes of my clock time because my opponent wouldn’t resign. The word, “easily, “ made me feel a rush of pride. Be careful, I thought. Pride goeth before the fall.
Nothing like an old homily popping up just in time to kick out the footstool in a moment. Like this past week, in the touch of Indian summer that appeared all too briefly this year. We were out on one of my favorite golf courses. Looking across the lake at the squawking geese that we had just chased from the 18th tee box. To this point, my score was 1 under par. It was the best I had played this course ever. I banged a terrific drive into the fairway on the other side. When I got to the ball, I got to thinking how wonderful I was. What a tremendous golfer I was becoming. All that was left was this little 65 yard shot to the middle of the green. I was so good, I didn’t even need to take my usual practice swings. Of course I bladed the ball, it went sailing over the green into thick rough and in an instant, the round of my life was gone.
There’s no difference in chess. One moment of carelessness and it is gone. No take-back-sies. That’s why you have to stick to the task at hand. One shot at a time in golf. One move at a time in chess. As in life and war, there are land mines everywhere waiting to kill you. A single careless moment and you find yourself staring at a lake, filled with squawking geese wanting to throw yourself into the icy waters.
A few minutes after we hung up, the phone rang. My captain was on the phone again.
“The league manager says we can’t do it,” he sounded unhappy. “Says it wouldn’t be fair. And, by the way, you’re in the running for a trophy for most 3rd board points. But don’t let that put any pressure on you.”
Well now I’m doomed.
When I was a teenager, I would have loved being an “expert.” I can’t imagine being that close to being really good at something at that age. Well, that’s not quite true; I use to make all the girls very happy. When I would walk away from them, they would always say, “glad to see you go.”
Seriously, that’s not true. Sadly, I was completely unaware of how well liked I was by the opposite sex. But, if I had known, I would have been a total and complete tramp. Which I was mostly anyway. What does this have to do with chess? An ill spent youth makes for a happy man. As I toil away now, I don’t have a moment when I say to myself, “if only I had....”
(I just read Silman’s article about how an expert becomes a master)
A really fine article .. and another nail in the coffin to my ever putting out the necessary effort to accomplish these fine and lofty goals .
But at least I know another layer of the onion that exists between my dreams and my indolent heart.
Finally the game day has come. My opponent was a delightful older man, H. Berry III . I was tempted to ask if a 4th and 5th had followed, but we were right into the game and Mr Berry’s hearing was none to clear. Still he was a fine competitor and very polite.
Once again I am beginning to notice that these folks like to use “ALL” of the allotted time. He just barely made the time control and I had only used 15 minutes. And then another 15 minutes of my clock to finish the game. I realize two possibilities: Playing thousands of 2 minute games has been good for me; I’ve come to the firm conclusion that there’s no sense playing bad chess, slowly.
One added note: at move 28. Rb8+ could have been played by my opponent which would have lead to a forced perpetual check. As said, I only used fifteen minutes and he could only see my threats after spending all but three minutes of the time control remaining. So it was very understandable that he missed his way out. I had no excuses.