The comeback kid

by admin on December 25, 2012

Today I recorded my first ChessLecture in more than two months. And there’s a story behind it that I’d like to tell.

One of the “behind-the-scenes” guys at ChessLecture is the man who does the recordings, whose name is Rich Pearl. He lives in Long Island, and his home was walloped by Hurricane Sandy back at the end of October. Even though he lives five miles from the ocean, the tide just kept coming and coming and flooded his basement. He lost power for 16 days, his basement (where his office was) was rendered unusable, and there has been no way for him to get on the Internet.

I was originally scheduled to record today’s lecture on October 30. I kept waiting and waiting to hear anything from Rich, but I only heard from the other staff at ChessLecture that he was still digging out, so to speak. I don’t think that people like me, who live across the country in California, can fully appreciate the scope of the disaster that Hurricane Sandy caused. For the last two months Rich’s life has just been about the basics. Getting food and electricity, getting stuff fixed, spending a lot of time standing in line. Life still isn’t back to normal. He says it will never get back to normal, if normal means the way it used to be.

But he did finally get back online last week, and I talked with him today for the first time in two months. I don’t think his mind is really into chess yet, but at least for me it was good to hear his voice again.

The lecture that I recorded today would have been a little more apropos on October 30, when the baseball season had just ended. I called it “A Yankees-Red Sox Moment.” It’s about a game I played in Reno in October that was, I’m pretty sure, the most amazing comeback of my chess career. It was my game against Colin Chow that appeared on Chess Life Online. There is one particular moment in that game that reminded me of the Yankees versus the Red Sox in 2004.

If you remember, that is the series that the Red Sox won after trailing 3 games to 0, a deficit that no team had ever overcome in a postseason series. Not only that, they were a run behind in the ninth inning, and facing the best relief pitcher in big league history, Mariano Rivera. The odds against them must have been 1000 to 1 at that point. But they got a man on first, and then Dave Roberts stole second base.

That moment, not David Ortiz’s game-winning home run several innings later, is the one that I will never forget. I remember the quizzical look on Yankees catcher Jorge Posada’s face when his throw didn’t get to second base in time. It was just the slightest hint of a shadow of an inkling of concern. It was a look that said, “Wait a minute. They’re still playing?”

Look — the series was over. No one beats Mariano Rivera, and no one comes back to win three more games in a row. The stolen base was, for all practical purposes, meaningless. And yet it meant everything, because it signified that the Red Sox had still not stopped trying. They weren’t just going to let the Yankees steamroller them into submission. And somehow, that shift in momentum snowballed. They tied the game that inning, and Ortiz won it three innings later. They won the next game, and the next, and the next, and then they won their first World Series in almost a century.

All because Dave Roberts stole second base.

There’s a moment just like that in my game with Colin Chow, a moment when he must have thought, “Wait a minute. He’s still playing?” You’ll have to listen to my lecture to hear more about it.

Anyway, I don’t know if this has anything to do with hurricanes, but it does have to do with comebacks. I hope that Rich and all the people who were dislocated by Hurricane Sandy will manage to keep in the game. Even if you can’t see your way to the end yet, if you can just keep in the game you might be able to beat those 1000-to-1 odds.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

splitleaf January 5, 2013 at 1:46 am

Wonderful sentiment and something likely many of us could use being reminded of from time to time. Thanks for expressing it.

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