I learned to play chess after going away to college. At WMU I made friends with
a guy who just loved to beat me, again and again, day after day. I would push the
pieces around the board, following the rules I learned when I was a kid, and this
guy would just take away all my toys, one after the other. And he would laugh real
long and loud each time.
I was mystified. How could he do that?
My brother showed me an opening position he learned where White's first four moves
bring the center pawns and two knights into play. He said that that position would
give me a much better chance of success. I never got to try it on my opponent at
Western; he moved on undefeated. But I continued to play and to study chess
for several years.
I joined a chess club in Grand Haven. (Before the Internet, chess clubs were quite
common.) I played in tournaments around Michigan. I won a couple class trophies
but my rating never got much above 1500, which is pretty average. I still like the
thrill of the one-on-one battle, with the clock ticking, but I haven't devoted much
to it since those early years.
I actually had one of my games published! (Too bad I didn't win it.) You can see
it in the side bar. I remember that the game was an ordeal, and thinking that everyone
seems to play their best when they sit across from me. I thought that I never got
I played postal chess before the Internet. And I played online chess with opponents
from around the world after the Internet arrived. These days I play against my Windows
machine when I have idle time, and that's about all.
I started a real informal chess club when I taught at Zeeland High School. Kids
would show up, or maybe not. They didn't care for instruction and competition as
much as just playing each other, so that's what we did. We had a couple matches
with neighboring schools. At the first one, nobody from Zeeland appeared. At the
second one, a large crowd participated, but that was the last interest anybody showed
BTW, my favorite opening is the Danish. I like it because 1) it is an attacking
opening, sacrificing two pawns for tempo and 2) it is spelled like Dan-ish. I like
the Bird too, for similar reasons; it's all about attack - and I like birds.