Friday, May 12, 2017

Chess, the Game of Kings and Knaves

My initial teacher and opponent in Scotland when I was learning to play chess was my grandma. Progressively I moved up to tussles over the board with my uncle. My school won the Edinburgh Schools Junior Chess Championships 1969-1970, going undefeated in 13 matches. I played board 4 of 9, winning eleven, with one tie and one defeat. Years later in Ottawa I played on a simultaneous against touring pro Pia Cramling, then the top rated woman in the world. Swedish, 20 years old and blonde. I felt prompted that same year (1984) to enter the Canadian Open hosted by Carleton University in Ottawa where I got a real drubbing, finishing approximately 130th of 146 entrants. Being a rookie with no rating at the start I thought I might be the equal of those rated at 1500 or so. Wrong! I ended up at around 1200. When back in Edinburgh the following year it was a delight to play a game at the Edinburgh Chess Club, the very premises where Alekhine, one time world champ from the Soviet Union, once competed. It was fun attending the Candidates Match Quarter Finals in 1989 in Quebec City (mid winter to boot) where the Canadian Kevin Spraggett was narrowly defeated in lightning match overtime. Internationally I have played and won impromptu games in Mexico, France and Cuba. I would like that informal streak to continue, in Chongqing maybe next time? Just saying. Chess, the Game of Kings, where you can be royalty one minute, a knave the next.