Monday, September 26, 2016

Rookie versus Veteran

This morning, I received the following e-mail from former blogger Atomic Patzer.

Hi Jim, 

Did you know that you are mentioned in the new book "The Rookie" by Stephen Moss? See quote below from the chapter titled "Life at the Marshall." I got it on my Kindle and read it over the weekend. The book was a good read about competitive chess. 

In the second round – this was what in the U.S. is called a ‘Game 45’ tournament, with each player getting 45 minutes – I came up against a very good player: a veteran called James West who was rated 2200, had written books on opening theory and who was, I discovered later, a fixture on the New York chess circuit. He had a greying beard, which he stroked from time to time; his jacket was a little threadbare; he sighed a good deal (even though I didn’t give him much to sigh about), and made a point of always staying a few minutes ahead on the clock just in case. He played the King’s Indian Defence, and of course knew it back to front. After 15 moves my position was horrible; after 20 I was a pawn down and as good as lost. I wished he had been out on a bender with Sam the night before, but I could see he wasn’t that kind of a guy: he was very businesslike, clearly lived for chess and loved to win. I had heard him earlier telling the story of defeating a grandmaster in a tournament being played in a hotel, and coming out of the lobby afterwards and finding the GM beating his head against the wall. He wasn’t boasting; just telling it matter of factly. Chess does strange things to people – and especially to players who try to make a living from the game – was his point.

Tom Stanics

          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

The story is true, with one correction.  My opponent at the New Yorker Hotel was a FIDE master, not a grandmaster.