Thursday, February 18, 2010

E-mail from Stewart White

Last Friday, I received an e-mail from Stewart White. Here it is, slightly edited, along with my response.

Hello, James:

My name is Stewart White. I met you back in the mid-1970's at the YMCA in Montclair NJ. It was at a tournament run by the Montclair Chess Club when the late Mel Benson was in charge. Al Greuter was the tournament director.

I always remember how kind you were to me. Being a lower rated player, I was having a bad time there. I played in one game a Giuoco Piano and didn't know what went wrong. You came along and analyzed the game with me. You were so helpful! I never thanked you, but I thank you now.

I saw you at some other tournaments, but you were playing. So I never got the chance to talk to you. I see that you live in Kearny NJ. I lived there many years ago. I moved to Bloomfield NJ some time later. My brother Earl White still lives in Kearny on Chestnut Street.

I live out west in Montana. Needless to say, there are no chess clubs where I'm living, and I haven't played in years. I used to play at the Bloomfield chess club during the 1970's, 1980's, and early 1990's. That was when Dave Kilbourn, Ed Koss, Bob Szendroi, and Larry Schwartz were there.

Well, thank you for everything.

Stewart White

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I can't honestly say that I recall analyzing with you, but I do remember playing chess in Montclair at Saturday quads and at the North Jersey Chess League on Thursday nights.

Seemingly all the time at tournaments, people tell me that they played against me years ago, and my mind draws a blank. My favorite story along these lines happened in 2001. The Manhattan Chess Club was in its final year of existence on the 15th floor at the New Yorker Hotel. After a tournament, I was in the underground garage across the street retrieving my car when a faraway voice called to me. Here is our conversation, hollered from one end of the garage to the other.

Guy in garage: "Hey, Jim West! Are you still playing chess?"

West: "Yeah, I just finished playing at the Manhattan Chess Club."

Guy in garage: "Do you remember the game that we played twenty years ago?"

West: "Who won?"

Guy in garage: "You did. I sacrificed a pawn, but it was unsound."

West: "Yeah, now I remember."

To tell you the truth, I have no idea who the guy was. And I was getting strange looks from the other people in the garage!