More C.C. Stories, Characters and Two Games

More C.C. Stories, Characters and Two Games

Mar 1, 2018, 9:15 AM |

O.K. Since my last bit of self indulgence went down well, I have decided to post a small follow up.

As I mentioned, apart from the chess side of things, the great pleasure of correspondence chess for me was the letters that flew about with the moves, and that as an English speaker I was very lucky that so many could hold a conversation with me. Sometimes I wrote in German, sometimes in French, but mostly in  English.

I made friends all over the World and we would natter away merrily about all sorts.

Football. (soccer to some of you) The most popular universal language of them all! During the 1998 FIFA World Cup I was playing friends in Brazil, Argentina, Germany ( one of whom wanted to go on about WW11, but I ignored him, and relegated him to second place in the tournament. 1-0 to the Brits!!), Czech Republic and so on. That was fun! Boy, did I get some stick!!tongue.png

It is incredible what a mixed bag of characters played the game. When I remember them I realise just how dull and mundane my own life has been! I have been truly blessed that chess has given me the chance to get to know so many fascinating and remarkable people.

There was a factory worker in Asia who was a fabulous player, and totally chess obsessed. He had a chess set in every room in his home and one at work. At one point he told me how he had spent 5 hours on his move, and seemed a bit miffed when I replied that my entire analysis of the game was written on the back of one of his post-cards! There was  a guy who worked in his local supermarket who I met up with for dinner on one foreign holiday, what a nice guy, and more than one millionaire. Two very rich people spring to mind. One lived in the Bahamas. When I joked that I was planning to win the lottery at the weekend and asked him to keep an eye open for a house for me, he replied. 'Funnily enough there is one for sale at the end of the road - only $3,000,000!! That put me in my place! And he won the game too. 

Another one was the top man in the World in his highly paid field. He once moved jobs because he was head-hunted and offered a pay rise of $2,000. That would be $2,000 a week!! Lovely, lovely man, and a fantastic player. Totally humble, he put his success in everything down to 'I was very lucky'. One day his envelope contained a picture. A beach. In Venezuela. Miles and miles of bleached white sand. On the shoreline was what I assumed was the big hotel he was staying in, until I spotted the arrow pointing to it with the words 'My House'. Actually, he had three houses. One was in Spain where his wife lived. His boys were at a U.K. 'Public School'. During the school holidays they would all meet up in Spain, and that was the only time he saw them. To him that was perfectly 'normal'.  I didn't envy him a bit.

There are  some 'older gentlemen' who have particularly stuck in my mind.

One,- who's son-in-law is both a correspondence chess legend and a genuinely nice guy -, I became particularly close to. He had been a bomber pilot during WW11, with his best friend sitting behind him as navigator. Their Anson was shot down, and his friend didn't make it. Later he married his friend's wife( an incredible woman - the closest I ever met to  the extraordinary Marjory Wood -I wish the two of them had known each other).and they were together for over 60 years. When she died he was utterly devastated. At the funeral he came and asked if my wife and I could bring my two kids down to visit one weekend and go for dinner, which we did. It was the last time I saw him. He epitomised the English phrase 'cantakerous old git', but I adored and admired him.

There was a 70 year old who had just started studying computer progamming. To fill in the time between that and chess he used to take part in 150 km cross country ski races! At 70! What a guy.

Another was a player well known in English c.c. Due to tragic circumstances he and his wife were bringing up their grandchildren. The man could play chess!! He was THE World expert in one particular defence to the Ruy Lopez. ( luckily I had Black against him!!) He shared my attitude to the game, and had, for a number of years, played purely for the enjoyment of it. I was lucky enough to win the game, and he set me an example in sportsmanship that I will never forget, and always tried to emulate from that time onwards.

When he resigned his letter went:-

''Congratulations on a brilliant win. I see it all now - your sacrifice was totally sound and I was lost before I realised it This was a game that you won, not one that I lost. Kindest regards, B******'' 

And then there was my dear, dear friend Peter. He was a genius. The word is overused to a rediculouus degree, but there is no other way to describe him. Maybe I will write about him at some point. Few of us ever have our lives touched by such a man, and he deserves to have an article to himself.

Finally there is one who I always smile in remembering. Truly, truly astonishing man. Dr.B. He took up chess to fill his time during his retirement, which is a wonderful little story. For many years he was a medical doctor in India. He gave it up to do voluntary work at a free health clinic in the slums of Mumbai, until he ''retired''. I could almost taste the indignation in his words as he described it. ''THEY MADE ME RETIRE!!!'' I'm not surprised he was indignant - he was only 87 at the time!!

Well, I had better add a couple of random games to show the kind of silly things that I used to get up to when I actually got round to the chess side of things.

My opponent in the first game was a fascinating character in his own right. He was a professor of Art History. He moved to Japan to become head of department at Tokyo University, married a Japanese woman and stayed there. He used to send his moves on a simple post card, which he would write on with a type-writer, in tiny letters, to squeeze in as much chat as possible while still having it legible. He was infinitely cleverer than me, and had seen and done more than I ever could, but treated me like a brother.  

Indeed, my own life really has been dull. tear.png   

O.K. If that wasn't enough Guinness - inspired insanity for you, I will add one more before I get back to my more serious type of postings.

To show how we did things back then I shall add a copy of one of the pieces of A4 that I found tucked into the big blue score book in the header photo of my last post.