Saturday, September 11, 2010

Just another ordinary day......

When we look at our chess opponents we obviously can't ever know what history lurks behind the frowns and smiles that emanate from our opponent throughout the course of a game. Last week I played in the 5 minute 'all play all' championships at the Brown Jack pub in Wroughton. The eventual winner was Peter Richmond with an excellent score of 12 wins, 2 draws and 0 losses. Most of Wiltshire's chess loving fraternity know how strong Peter is, so it came as no surprise, albeit one of his draws came against his wife Jane, talk about keeping it in the family!

In second place with 11 wins and 3 draws was a polite elderly gentleman by the name of Jim. In my game against Jim I blundered a pawn in a Reti opening, then another, before finally resigning in a bad position with over a 30 seconds left on my clock. Nothing remarkable here, but having spent several hours refreshing my knowledge of the 'ins' and 'outs' of this opening during the previous week I was disappointed that I couldn't seem to pose any valid threat or gain any 'momentum' throughout the game. I felt that he was particularly strong and was curious to know a bit more about him, and hence asked Peter who he was, - the answer came 'well if I told you he once played against Fischer and is featured in my 60 memorable games '.......Amazingly enough the previous evening with absolutely nothing else to do I had by chance picked up a book I had purchased from the stall at a local chess congress some years ago but never really studied in depth, - Learn from Bobby Fischer's Greatest Games by Eric Schiller, and instantly I thought maybe Jim = James? A story had stuck in my mind of a 'James Sherwin' who had played against Fischer over 50 years ago (February 1957 to be more accurate), and on a certain move the young James (albeit slightly older than his opponent) had moved a Rook with his little finger ('pinky') as if to 'emphasize the mystery of the move', as Fischer subsequently wrote. Sadly in that match the move proved to be a waste of a tempo, but the anecdote and Fischer's narrative were firmly etched in my mind. Fortunately, at the moment computers simply are not able to exercise such 'psychological tactics' otherwise we might be beaten by them even quicker!

Anyway on completion of my research sure enough the elderly, but mentally very agile gentleman I played against was indeed James Sherwin who moved from the USA some time ago and now resides near Bath, or so I am reliably informed. Obviously if I'd known this at the time of my match I wouldn't have been able to resist moving a piece with my small toe or left ear, but sadly I think I can safely say the result would have remained the same.

Fortunately as we are not obliged to write down all our moves in 5 minute encounters, and as I do not possess the mental faculties to recall all 14 games, I deemed it appropriate to include Sherwin's attempt to beat the up and coming World Champion - well 15 years later anyway.


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