No Fool Like an Old Fool

by admin on July 27, 2014

The title is a line from a song you wouldn’t know, by a singer you wouldn’t know. It’s a line that came to mind this afternoon, as I was driving home from my latest tournament, the People’s Tournament.

There are some tournaments I often play well in, like the Reno tournaments. And then there are some tournaments that, for unfathomable reasons, I never ever do well in… and that’s the People’s Tournament.

I know that nobody reading this blog wants to throw me a pity party, so I’ll keep my account short. On Friday, the first day of the tournament, I had a great day. I beat two experts, and I know going into round three that I would be playing against either GM Walter Browne or GM-to-be Darwin Yang. Whichever one it would be, I was really psyched. I thought this might be my chance to finally beat a grandmaster for the first time.

Wrong! I lost to Yang on board one. Then I lost to John Daniel Bryant, an IM, in a really depressing game. Although these were both “expected” losses (both players rated more than 300 points above me), I took the losses hard and slept really badly last night. This morning I wasn’t at all sure if I was going to be in a condition to play well, and I thought, “Well, we’ll just see what happens. If I lose my first game I’ll just withdraw from the tournament.”

I’m not sure if I have ever gone into a game thinking about withdrawing before. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy. I played in reckless, do-or-die style against a very nice boy named Josiah Stearman. Of course, because this is the Bay Area, every little kid playing in an adult tournament is on a top-100 list. Sure enough, I just checked and Josiah is the number two 10-year-old in the country.

I don’t want to take anything away from Stearman. He played great, fearless chess and he won. I played crummy, fearless chess and I lost. At least I was fearless.

So, with a certain amount of relief, I withdrew. Usually I hate withdrawing from tournaments. For a very long time I never did it. By now I have done it maybe four or five times. This may be the first time I’ve ever withdrawn from a tournament where I didn’t even lose any rating points. When I estimated my rating change, I got exactly zero. But what a disappointment. After Friday’s games I had a chance to get back up to 2200 for the first time in almost twenty years, if I could keep playing well over the weekend. Instead, I ended up right back where I started.


Aside from that, it was a pretty good tournament. The open section was really stacked, with eight players rated over 2300 and maybe about 40 players total. It was twice the size of the other sections!  (There were also class A, B, C, and D-E sections.) As for who won, well, as I write this the games are still going on. The only thing I know is that  Faik Aleskerov was in clear first going into the last round with 4½ out of 5; Yang was in the group with 4 out of 5.

P.S. The singer who sang, “There’s no fool like an old fool” was Harvey Andrews. He is an English folk singer who never really had a chart hit and is just about unknown in America. I picked up an album of his when I was in England on my honeymoon and liked it. He has a song called “25 Years on the Road,” where he sings about spending your whole life “looking for that mother lode.” At first he’s expecting to have his big hit in a year or two… “because that’s what happens as a rule.” Then it become five years. Eventually he realizes he’s never going to have it, but he’s still on the road singing. “And there’s no fool like an old fool,” the song ends.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Michael Bacon July 29, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: