En Passant …

by admin on April 10, 2008

… Means “in passing,” and I’m writing this entry to honor someone who passed on too quickly.

Zoe, whose last name I do not know, was a regular at the Borders chess club here in Santa Cruz. She was a true chess fan, someone who was devoted to the game more than to her own results. I didn’t speak to her very many times, but I did often notice her watching my games and those of the other higher-rated players in the club. She was an older woman, gray-haired and with a sallow complexion, probably in her fifties or perhaps her sixties. Not a demographic group that you see very often in chess clubs!

What drew her to the game was its artistry. I know this because the other woman in our club, Ronée Curry, who did know Zoe well, told me so. And Ronée said that Zoe particularly liked to watch my games. “Don’t ever tell her that I told you this!” Ronée warned me. On the nights when I came to chess club, Zoe would usually not even play, because she preferred to watch my games.

You can imagine how uncomfortable it made me feel to learn this! Of course, if she wanted to see artistry, Zoe would have done better to watch the games of Topalov or Anand or Nakamura, but unfortunately those people don’t play in Santa Cruz very often.  😎

After I heard this, I would always feel especially bad when I messed up a game while Zoe was watching, because I felt that I had personally let her down.

Well, now I don’t have to worry about it any more. I hadn’t been to chess club recently, so I only found out yesterday from Ronée that Zoe died of a heart attack a few weeks ago. She hadn’t been in the best of health, and perhaps there were also problems with her medications. Ronée had managed to visit Zoe’s apartment and retrieve a beautiful old wooden chess set that she and Zoe used to play on. It’s nice to know that the chess set will remain in the hands of someone who appreciates it.

So … chess has lost a fan. I have lost a fan. I wish I had known her better. She’s just like a pawn that was captured “in passing.”

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Arthur Charfauros April 12, 2008 at 3:25 am

Wow…hearing this makes me feel truly sad because I too can relate to how great of a person and fun chess player Zoe was.
She was very modest and had the true passion for chess.

I know what you mean about her preferring to watch people play as opposed to actually playing. But when she was on her on-days and felt like playing blitz…uh oh! (I know from personal experience!!)

Rest In Peace, Zoe.


p.s. Dana your title was the perfect tribute to commemorate such a one-of-a-kind chess player!


Ronee Curry May 12, 2008 at 5:47 am

Oh my gosh! Dana, Thank You for this! Zoe was a quality person who needed to be honored. Ronee.


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