Saturday, August 04, 2012

Open to the Open, Part One

I really wish to advance in USCF rated chess.  This is particularly affected by my having starting back at a provisional rating of--this is not a typo--1452 for eleven games about a year and a half ago.  Don't worry.  That was my rating from back in the year 1973, after which I HAD to give up chess.  I was too OCD about it.  My family forbade it.

Had this not happened, I probably would have gone on to do far more in chess.  I really had the mind for it, but coming from a decidedly poor family (we were educated, but my father left my mother when I was ten), in their better wisdom and probably rightly so, accessed that with the way I was going would not get into a proper college without good grades, staying up ALL night with a chessboard, and staring into space in class (guess what I did in my head).

I came home one day, all the books were gone, the board.  In due time I figured out where they were, but understood it, and was TOLD.

Well, not only did I get into a good college, but a very good college, The Cooper Union.  Like the United States Naval Academy, West Point [1], The Air Force Academy, and in the private realm, The Webb Institute was free.  I concentrated myself to get in, was told how utterly hard it would be, not to expect too much, and be prepared for disappointment.  Why?  It had tougher admission rates than institutions of higher education no less than MIT, Harvard, CalTech, etc.  Hardly a laughing matter.

Who says so?  U.S. New World Report, Rankings of Colleges and Universities, or whatever it was called, you know the drill, had a side bar in many editions, listing the usual and expected top ten would highlight Cooper in a sidebar on the same page, headlined, 'In a class by itself'.  True.  The only bright kids?  Hardly.  Cooper consisted of three separate schools.  Let me explain:

Whereas its College of Engineering based its admissions entirely upon the SAT's [2], the Art and Architecture schools each administered their own home exams which figured largely in their evaluation.  It was a thirty day home exam, copious and difficult.  Its like the well known practice of Microsoft and Google which give applicants intractably difficult questions in qualifying interviews, but in the visual area, 'Draw a pair of sneakers inside out' (I did); 'draw a hand holding an egg (not that year, but I practiced it for half a year before).  The other biggie was 'draw your vision of the world'.  I even redesigned NY City as an independent study, in my senior year, to fortify my submittable, all very tactical... That's the first part of the story.

What does this have to do with The 2012 U.S. Open Blitz Chess Championship in nearby Vancouver Washington in three weeks, well, I am getting to that.

* * *

I really don't enjoy rated chess, or what is it called, real chess.  Its not like I started back a year or so ago.   No.  I started back in 2002 when I found Yahoo Chess after the epic Kasparov-Kramnik 2002 WCC, and I was hooked again.  No one to tell me I couldn't play.  I lost my ass getting tossed out of Wall Street.  I can still remember what my mother said back in 1973, 'you can do that when you are an old man'.  Well, not that old, but more or less earned hegemony on the earth, paying your dues as it were.  The rest is history.

35,000+ internet games, many 2 12 for a few years, then 3 8, then 0 4, quite a few 5 0's, then 3 0 now, and many an hour has gone by.  That's the second part of the story.

* * *

Fast forward.  After twenty years to the week in Seattle, I went back east seeking refuge from a all too harsh job market (the Washington Mutual bank meltdown, the largest bank bust in US history, flooded the market with thousands of extremely well qualified persons willing to do much work for a lot less money.  Ouch.) and to help take care of my eighty-five year old mother.  Almost two or three days after arriving, I set out to find a chess club.  Realize, this is thirty-seven years latter.  Thirty seven.  I am age fifty four.  Right away I not only had the good fortune to find one of the best clubs if not THE best chess club in New Jersey, The West Orange Chess Club, but it was a twelve minute drive from my mothers house.

Kennilworth, Rahway, and Westfield cannot be counted as any less if not, in some ways as more, but The WOCC had a long history, a very, very friendly and relaxed atmosphere, and most of all, had secured for the foreseeable future a lovely club house in a community center, in a lovely setting. It consisted of a large playing hall (air conditioned in the summer, heated in the winter, clean bathrooms), a side skittles room for blitz, many experts and masters, all set on a small lake with a dock out front in a green suburban setting, easy access off of a major highway (the 280 Interstate), and--shall I go on?--safe and easy and well lit parking.  That's the third part of my story.

What am I getting to?  They met weekly.  And in retrospect, for me in particular this proved to be a real life saver in getting back into rated chess.  That is where we will pick up the next part of my story.

[1] For readers outside The USA:  West Point, aka as The United States Military Academy at West Point, and formally The United States Air Force Academy.

[2] Other readers:  The Student Aptitude Exams


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must say that I find it impressive and inspirational that at the age of 54 you are able to pursue something like chess with such passion and energy. Really the fact that you were able to do that at age of 44 and stick with it over the past 10 years is a feat.

Sun Aug 05, 07:25:00 PM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...


let me make a few analogies, but first, as a rule, when otherwise extremely active both responding to and making lots and lots of comments, 2005 to 2008/9, as a rule i tend almost never to respond. i am not a snob. i just don't have the juice. so to respond here, is a statement. first in a long time...

you truly touch my heart. i can tell that you 'see'. seeing in the spiritual tradition is a big thing to say. thank you.

first, i only wish that i were so brave or so strong. i have always been highly motivated, but as i age, its not so much WHAT i want to do, as NOT do.

thats the reason dating is so harsh as we mature (single, never married, long since stopped looking. i just try to be wherever i go with all persons--ne of the few benefits of age, comfort in your own shoes...). everyone, and this goes for both persons, unknowingly shows up with a list of what they DON'T want, and duly so.

that said, i run (four hours sat and sunday total, in about a twenty five hour period), do fine cooking if not lot of nutrition, follow popular culture/current and world affairs.

here is the real deal. i suffer from severe depression. for example, when i wake, and it is raining, if not hard, i am so glad. it cloaks me in comfort, a kind of shield. it is unusal, but if you 'go to meetings', you find that some, rare as it is, like me find sunny days depressing. somehow my neural paths are certain the rest of the world is living, and i am not.

intelligence is not uncommon. sensitivity less so. but sensativity added to inteligence is not an easy place. you cannot go to bars or malls or zoos, you feel too much sorrow. agoraphobia? hardly. i always say, 'ask me to talk to 1,000 persons with five minutes notice, with no notes, or subject, and i can do it'. true.

i was interviewed to be a spokesperson for an entire nation in april. homeland security, armed guards were in all the interviews.

for a princess, a leader of a nation, do all her special projects, call the whitehouse daily, etc. but they could not clear me, much as they wanted to. what a big surprise. smile.

what job interview goes on for weeks AND they never asked you for your resume. they found me.

i have had psychic experiences since i was 17. i cannot turn it on, at will. it comes. they knew that. think of it like a strong project manager with CSI or the Xfiles.

OK. so here it is. in gender i am a straight male, but love the gay analogy. gays talk about comming out. well i am out, about depression.

just as some have multiple sclerosis, which has no cure, to be able to walk half a mile is a big deal, if not a great goal. so me.

i say, just not to be unhappy, for me, is all i ask of life. i dont think i will ever be OK. there is no training, therapy, sex, alchohol, money, fame which can fix it, no video or book or food suppliment.

its all i ask. just not to sink. just not to cry inside.

chess fills me, and allows me to forget. life is hard, and i suffer. i need some comfort, somehow, and here it is.

i never asked for this, but one thing, i earned a human heart, and it is permanently installed in me, and i refuse to be like many others. i refuse to be anyone but me. i am awake. this is at once great joy, great sorrow.

love to all beings, dk

thank you again. i can only write all or nothing, the reason i can no longer comment but hardly ever. the story is too large, too deep, too complex and superficiality if not laconicism hurts me and seems empty.

Wed Aug 08, 02:19:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, you do have strength and courage. We are all circling a black hole, only some are more aware it is there. You are blessed to have found something that fills you, as chess does. There are many, many people who suffer as you do and it's sad to live in a society where we feel we must keep it in the closet. Kindness and compassion, both the giving and receiving, hold us up and give us strength to get up each morning.

Fri Aug 10, 10:56:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, thank you for sharing so much insight. I am a poor chess player, but I enjoy your writings, your honesty and detail was very powerful in this entry.
I'd love you to share more, thoughts on job search, what works ( and what doesn't), the economy, and mostly: how are you getting on?
Thoughts and prayers, we are all in this together.

Fri Aug 10, 03:35:00 PM PDT  

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