Short break, plus other news

by admin on December 20, 2020

For all the people following my “50 Years of Chess” series, I’m going to take a short, two-week hiatus for the holidays. One reason for the break is that I’ve come up to 1990, which is going to be a challenge because my records for that year are a mess. Until I got married in 1989, I was very diligent about studying all my tournament games and putting my notes into a binder. This makes it very easy for me to look over them today and identify quickly which four or five or six games would be the best candidates for me to analyze in this blog. Then I go over those games more carefully, with the computer, and pick one of them.

But in the last half of 1989, my previously good study habits went to pot. I was dealing with the changes of being married and having a new job. I continued to have a very active playing schedule — Ohio had plenty of tournaments — but the games piled up in a folder and I didn’t have time to analyze them. It wasn’t until the first half of 1991 that I managed to get back into the habit of analyzing my tournament games.

So now I have this envelope full of games from my “lost year,” or two years really, from mid-1989 to mid-1991. In most cases I have absolutely no idea what happened in the games, which ones are interesting and which ones aren’t. It will take time to sift through them. So I’m going to give myself two weeks, at least, to pick the next one.

Meanwhile, I have two pieces of news, only one of which I can talk about yet. In one of my previous posts I mentioned Curtis Graham, a chess friend of mine from North Carolina. Actually, he lived in South Carolina but I saw him pretty often in tournaments, and we re-connected on Facebook this year. In my post, I said that he is battling cancer… but what I didn’t say is that actually, it’s stage IV metastatic lung cancer. This week, he wrote a post on Facebook saying that his doctors were going to stop chemotherapy because his cancer is too far advanced. He will continue on radiation so that they can shrink a tumor near his heart, but I think that treatment is merely palliative. He asked his doctor how long he can expect to live, and the doctor said, “Months.”

In some ways, maybe this is better for Curtis. If I had only months to live, I think I would prefer to live most of them feeling more or less okay, instead of suffering through chemo that wasn’t working. Curtis agreed with me on that.

I’m not a believer in prayer; sorry, I’m just not. But if any of you want to pray for Curtis, or just send him your positive thoughts, that would be a wonderful thing to do.

He really doesn’t seem too down in the dumps to me. One thing I like is that, cancer or no cancer, he still speaks his mind. Here’s an example. Just a couple days ago, he wrote about how this will probably be his last Christmas, and of course his family wants him to come and spend it with them. But he won’t do it. In part that’s because the radiation treatment will keep him in North Carolina, but he says that even if that were not the case, he still wouldn’t go home. “Thanks to those who traveled on Thanksgiving, we are averaging more than 3000 dead Americans a day,” he wrote. “People, if I can handle NEVER having another Christmas, you can handle a Christmas with your immediate family only. These are people you claim to love. ACT LIKE IT.”

My other piece of news is secret for now (and it’s good news). I hope that I can tell you about it soon, maybe even before Christmas. But if not, merry Christmas, everyone!

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Larry Smith December 21, 2020 at 11:12 am

Thanks for the reality check. While none of us have had a stress/worry-free pandemic year, what your friend Curtis is going through helps put things in perspective. My thoughts are with him and his family.

Enjoy your time off, happy holidays, and a happy new year!


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