Happy New Year!

by admin on January 1, 2011

The new year is barely nine hours old, so what could I possibly write about? Well, my first e-mail of the New Year came at 1:11 AM on 1/1/11. It was a comment from a listener named “plutarco” on one of my ChessLectures, “The Golden Rule of Double-Rook Endgames.” It said, “very instructive thanks Dana.” Thanks to you, too, plutarco! Thanks to your excellent timing, you have now been mentioned on my blog!

Actually, I do have some real chess news for a change. This weekend I am ending my four-month break from chess and playing in the New Year Open in Santa Clara. This is another first in my chess career: the first time I have ever begun a tournament in one year and ended it in another. (I have to make an exception for the Santa Cruz Cups, which dragged on for months and months.) My mini-sabbatical from chess seems to have helped, as I won both of my games yesterday against Allan Beilin and Jack Qijie Zhu. I hope that I can keep the momentum going in the new year! I have three more games to play: one today (I am taking a half-point bye in round four) and two tomorrow.

I saw Emory Tate at the tournament. He wasn’t playing, but he has been teaching a chess camp this week organized by Bay Area Chess, the sponsors of the tournament. Emory is an old friend whom I have played four times dating back to the early 1990s, when I lived in Ohio and he would travel all over the East going to tournaments. He was playing at the board next to me in Reno in 2006, when I won my famous (do I dare to use that word?) queen-sac game against David Pruess. Emory lost his game, and said afterwards that he lost because he was so distracted by what was happening on my board!

I asked Emory how he was doing, and he said that chess-wise he wasn’t doing so well. He had some very strange losses in the U.S. Senior Open. Like many of us, he has found his attitude toward the game is changing as he gets into his fifties. He just doesn’t seem to care quite as much about his results. “We have other things to think about now, like our own mortality,” he said.

Emory told me an interesting story about how Larry Kaufman almost died against him. Emory played one of the best games of his life, and as Kaufman resigned he told Emory, “I don’t feel good.” Emory looked at him and said, “Larry, you don’t look so good either.” He was kind of pale and gray. After that, Kaufman went to the emergency room. The doctors found he had internal bleeding, and he could have died. So yes, older players sometimes have other things on their minds besides the result of the game!

By the way, the story has a happy ending — Larry recovered, and then went on to win the World Senior Championship and earn a Grandmaster title. “So there’s always hope!” Emory said.

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