Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Mona Lisa with Three Warts

At the end of the 2005 National Open, I had gone 2.5/6 in the Under 2200 section, including 0-0 on the last day. To console myself, I went to the bookstore. On the discount table, I picked up two books for $7.50 each: Chess Under the Microscope by Paul Motwani, since I work daily with a microscope on my job. The other title was Chess: The Search for Mona Lisa by Eduard Gufeld. Now I’ve heard some say that GM Gufeld has churned out dreck designed more to put money in his pocket than to enlighten the masses. Since this book was on the discount table, I had few illusions that it was a diamond in the rough. I’d like to say I’ve read the book to give a review, but it went into the To Do Pile and hasn’t made it back out. All I can say is that I read the preface and cover info and surmised that it was Gufeld’s autobiographical quest for beauty in chess.

One of my favorite lines from the movie “Searching for Bobby Fischer” is the line where Bruce Pandolfini’s character soliloquizes, “What is chess do you think? Those who play for fun or not at all, dismiss it as a game. The ones who devote their lives to it, for the most part, insist it’s a science. It’s neither. Bobby Fischer got underneath it like no one before him and found at its center…art.”

Back in 2004, I won the Class A section of the Western States Open ahead of about 70 other class A players with a score of 5.5/6. It was the pinnacle of my chess career. I won the first place trophy on tiebreaks, but I had to share the cash prize with one other person who also scored 5.5/6. His name is John Rinaldo. In a way, our chess careers traveled on parallel tracks. In fact, when I was working as TD in a subsequent Reno tournament, Mr. Rinaldo came by asking if we could write a letter to the USCF to help him request a ratings floor at 2000. Having just gotten my floor myself, I told him all he had to do was call the USCF and ask for the floor verbally by telling them he won more than $1,000. We both earned our floors that weekend for winning $1087.50. Nowadays, floors are given for $2000+ prizes. He’s done a little better than me since then with his rating peaking at 2110 while mine maxed at 2051. A while back, a mutual chessplaying friend had a falling out with him. In a way, I saw this game as the tiebreaker that we never got to play back in 2004. It went a lot better than I expected.

This is my Mona Lisa with three warts, my spoiled Scandinavian Princess, my Snoring Sleeping Beauty, my Venus De Milo with two bionic terminator arms grafted on. Perhaps I should just regard this as a work still in progress. I’ve scalped higher rated players, but right now, I consider this my best work of art to date despite its blemishes.

1 comment:

Robert Pearson said...

How does a guy who plays like this as Black stick to 1. c4 as White?