A couple of my friends who are masters have flaunted their master certificates on Facebook or in a blog post. I want one. I covet one. It reminds me of three conversations in my favorite chess movie. ***WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD FOR SEARCHING FOR BOBBY FISCHER MOVIE***
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BRUCE PANDOLFINI: I want to show you something else. This is very rare. It says, "Master Chess Certificate...awarded to..." and there's a blank here for a name... "for highest achievement on this day of blank, nineteen hundred and blank." Careful with it. It's a mysterious and powerful thing. It's only been given out...I don't know...a few times in history. And then only to those who achieve a lot of master class points. Then there's a big ceremony and so on.
JOSH WAITZKIN: How do you get master class points?
BRUCE PANDOLFINI: You earn them. You just earned ten for that knight to c8. Ten...master...class...points.
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BRUCE PANDOLFINI: It's white's move. Can we expect it any time soon?
JOSH WAITZKIN: How many points is it worth?
BRUCE PANDOLFINI: To make the opening move?
JOSH WAITZKIN: Yes.
BRUCE PANDOLFINI: Forget the points.
JOSH WAITZKIN: How much is it worth if I do it?
BRUCE PANDOLFINI: Do it for its own sake. Do it for the love of the game.
JOSH WAITZKIN: I want to know how close I am to getting the certificate.
BRUCE PANDOLFINI: Forget the certificate.
JOSH WAITZKIN: But I want to know.
BRUCE PANDOLFINI: I don't know.
JOSH WAITZKIN: What do you mean you don't know?
BRUCE PANDOLFINI: I don't care. It's...white's...move.
JOSH WAITZKIN: I want the certificate.
BRUCE PANDOLFINI: [sighs] You want the certificate. You have to have the certificate. [gets briefcase] You won't move until you get the certificate. [opens it] You win. [gives him copy of certificate] Here's your certificate.
JOSH WAITZKIN: [takes it]
BRUCE PANDOLFINI: Fill it out. It doesn't mean anything. It's just a piece of paper. It's a xerox of a piece of paper. Do you want another one? [gives Josh another copy] Do you want 10? [gives Josh few more copies] Do you want 20? [continues stacking them on chess board one-by-one] 30? I've got a whole briefcase full of them. They mean nothing.
BONNIE WAITZKIN: [entering the room]
BRUCE PANDOLFINI: They mean nothing.
BONNIE WAITZKIN: Get out of my house.
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BRUCE PANDOLFINI: I have something for you. It says, "This is to certify that Josh Waitzkin, on this day, has in the eyes of his teacher...attained the rank of Grandmaster."
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So I decided to make myself a certificate. I googled "chess certificate" and found a suitable image to modify. The customized picture serves as the opening picture of this article. If you'd like to make your own certificate, just download the picture, add it to the background in your favorite word processor and then get to work on making up verbiage that sounds certificate-y. For my choices, I found an English Towne font to write medieval calligraphy letters. In the center of the certificate, I reproduced the club championship bracket for the year that I won the chess club championship. Printing was a bit of a disappointment because the printers within my reach don't print to the edge of the paper. Printed on 8.5 x 11" cardstock, the certificate serves as a tangible reminder of my road to the club championship.
Now if I could just pump my rating up about 67 points, I could get the certificate from the USCF that says "Master".