Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bulletin Guy

At the Far West Open, I was neither player nor TD. I occasionally helped out my friends on the demo boards and I helped with some of the computer support for the organizer. But I had purposefully avoided most responsibility, preferring volunteerism and getting paid in "Thank you"'s. My most official duty was getting scoresheets and translating them into PGN for preparing the games bulletin. Our club had about twenty members playing, eight in the open section alone, so there were plenty of vicarious thrills of enjoying other people's wins while distancing myself from their losses. For the long periods of silence and inactivity, I had Asimov's "Prelude To Foundation" with me.

When I look back on the weekend, it seemed enjoyable if long and it had its moments. Don't get me wrong. I'm still living in the hermetically sealed comfort zone that is typical of self-absorbed nerds. Conversations are still stilted and brief. But a few times, when I looked up from my scoresheets and my Pocket PC, I almost had the semblance of a social life.

Jerry: Why aren't you playing?
Me: Can't stand the stress of losing.
Jerry: Well, take byes.
Me: Ha ha. If only I could anticipate my losses and always replace them with byes.
Jerry: I know what you mean. The pain of the losses seems to be bigger than the pleasure of the wins.

Tim: Are you playing?
Me: No, just watching this time.
Tim: Why not?
Me: Stomachaches.
Tim smiles knowingly. (Tim and I had almost exactly the same conversation vice versa a couple years ago when he pointed out the correlation between stomachaches and chess.).
Tim (looking over at drunknknite losing to fpawn): I bet he's going to have a big stomachache.

Mike(kibitzing during blitz): "Yes. Yes, I did it. I killed Yvette. I hated her SO...much. It-it-the-ff-it. Flames-flames. Flames...on the side of my face. Breathing. Breath. Breathing breath."
Me: History of the World? Or Young Frankenstein?
Mike: Clue.
Me: Ah, Madeline, you left us too soon.

Hanging with Nate and going over his games.

Eating prime rib with Nate and Chris at the Grand Sierra's Lodge Buffet between rounds 1 and 2.

Listening to John Donaldson and Vik Pupols swap a bookful of old chess stories.

Goofin' with Grant.

Watching Antal and Sevillano destroy other masters in style while filling in on demo boards.

Getting the inside scoop from Dana regarding his scalp of an IM.

Talking to Craig about Asimov and getting shushed by a GM.

Talking to fpawn about wheelchairs, Supernationals, and Foxwoods, and then listening in while he gave strategic advice to Danya about how to approach his next opponent.

I could get used to this. No worries. Just enjoying chess from the peanut gallery.


qxpch said...

Sounds as if you had a great tournament! As you might remember from my blog, I was a spectator at a tournament in December (the Berkeley International) and enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Gives you a chance to stop and smell the roses, and really appreciate what the other players are doing.

I wish you could remember those stories that Unkel Vik and John Donaldson were trading. Have you ever read "Viktors Pupols, American Master" by Larry Parr? It's a hoot.

Eric Shoemaker said...

Hi Ernie, it can be enjoyable. Last Thursday, I had a bye and so I had a chance to survey some of the really important games going on. There were several good ones: Hong vs. Rand; Alsasua vs. Fleming; and Weikel vs. Cater, therefore I am glad I had nothing else to do.

You played well last week, I haven't seen you play like that in a long time.