Sunday, January 4, 2015


Retreat can be the verb to run away from a battle or the noun of the act of running away, or a regrouping from the usual cares of the world, usually in a remote location.

By most measures, last year was a very successful year for me chesswise. Here are the highlights:

  • Played more rated regular games (54) than I had the previous 5 years combined (51)
  • Had fun
  • Strengthened some chess friendships
  • Broke the 2100 barrier and reached my highest rating ever at 2132 (now 2098)
  • Won the club championship for the first time
  • Contended for the state championship for the first time (semifinalist)
  • Won a total of $189 in prize money
  • Won outright first place in a tournament ahead of 5 other 2000+ players
  • Earned the fifth and final USCF Candidate Master norm
  • Won 2 trophies, doubling my chess trophy collection (Well, okay I bought one for myself after winning the club championship)
  • Finished a year with a plus score against experts for the first time 11W-4D-8L
  • Made progress in my openings study method thanks to Chess Position Trainer
  • Caught three strong players in my opening traps

But there were a few lowlights:

  • A good friend - young, only 2/3rds my age, my chess mentor - passed away near the beginning of 2014.
  • Castled long (0-0-0) to start a tournament for the first time
  • Withdrew from a regional swiss tournament for the first time
  • Got caught up in two bad disputes as a tournament director

On balance, it was a good year, but - and I know this is whining - I fear a return to the bad old days of loving/hating chess. I won my last game of 2014 before Thanksgiving and I haven't thought much more about chess since analyzing the few blunders of the Carlsen-Anand match. Club championship season starts in 11 days and I don't know how to get mentally ready for my title defense. Over the holidays, I played some tabletop games including Gloom, Dixit, Tsuro, Munchkin, and Australian Rails. Chess is still grander by far because of its deep strategic, geometric beauty and the shifting of rewards toward the meritorious and away from the merely lucky. But in the last 50 days, chess has been a stranger. Chess has given me much to be thankful for, including this opportunity to braggingly list my accomplishments. I'll try to regroup for chess in 2015.