Hundreds of people have been asking me for years about my experience in Foster Chess Club. Let me set the record straight- it was exhilarating! Foster was the elementary school I went to. Mr. Nolan was my sixth grade teacher and he loved chess and had chess club for all the 30 years he was a teacher. I believe he retired a few years after I left Foster. My Dad's girlfriend was working at Foster when he retired and as a going away gift to the school he gave the teacher's lounge a stainless steel tea pot engraved with words that said something like: To Foster School, Sincerely Mr. Nolan. I remember that Jennifer thought it was a hilarious gift. I also remember when I found out I was going to be in Mr. Nolan's class I literally cried to my Dad. Mr. Nolan was well known as the meaner of the two sixth grade teachers, and my brother Alex had had the good fortune of being in the other teachers class and loved every minute of it. I begged Dad to call the school to get them to switch me, which of course he didn't do. Thankfully I might add because if he had I would never had had the experience of FCC. The picture below is a fascinating moment in time that was created by the genius that Mr. Nolan was. We went to OMSI for the big season ending chess tournament. While there he took the pictures he had taken of FCC (Joel, Adam, Brian and myself!) and attached them with a special stamp and OMSI postcard and sent them back to Foster Elementary. Cool!
Here's a closer look at the kings of FCC. Although I was fourth board I always preformed best under pressure at tournaments. I think it was because I was distracted by telling to many jokes and drawing too many penises at school. As seen elsewhere in this blog- I could be a tournament star! I wish I still had that shirt. So many times I have regretted throwing away bags of old shirts that didn't fit me anymore.
The four frame sequence below is one of my proudest moments ever to exist in my chess club life. A mere ordinary person probably won't be able to comprehend the significance of the set of moves, but true chess masters, including Mr. Nolan, were stunned by my savvy while under pressure during a tournament. So impressed he was he printed out my moves (he watched solemnly from a few feet away as I played this end game at the tournament. Talk about stressful!) and transferred them to a transparency to display to the entire class the Monday after the big game! To phrase it so even the most simple minded will understand, to end the game as quick as possible I sacrificed my 5 point rook to a one point pawn, only to create room to check mate my opponents king with my very own pawn!!! Checkmate mother fucker!
The ribbons below are bitter sweet. The third place is probably correct, but the next year during the big junior high inner school chess tournament I could have easily taken the blue ribbon if I would have just stay focused. The entire school was invited to play in this tournament. After wiping the floor with the first six or seven woodpushers it came down to me and Adam, the usual second board. He was a good chess player but a real chatter box who I felt used this to distract his opponents. I stayed focused and pulled that game out somehow. Then it came down to me and the best player in the entire school- Grant Stephens. A true champion both academically and physically, and someone I was proud to call a friend all through high school. On another occasion I was teamed up with him to do a report on Mars and I worked extra hard to make sure I was pulling my weight. When I showed up on Monday he was all "Oh don't worry about it- I finished it" and we both got 100 points. After I had put 4 hours into it over the weekend not even one word I wrote made it into the final report! Grant went on to be our valedictorian and played baseball at Brigham Young. I remember during his valedictorian speech he did that Saturday Night Live skit where you would say a sentence and then quickly say another sentence under your breath that meant the opposite. I can't remember what it was called but it was something like subliminal message guy or something and would go kind of like this: We're all going to go on to great thing with our lives! except those of you who skipped class all the time... What a riot! Anyway- during the final game of the tournament Grant and I met face to face. I buckled down and tried not to draw any penises. Grant may have been a little cocky playing the fourth board and somehow I skewered his king forcing him to sacrifice a rook putting myself in a position to ultimately and completely win due to my dominance on the board. It was all on my shoulders to just stay focused and I would pull out the title of champion of the entire junior high. Of course, once I got the upper hand I lost focus. Grant quickly rebounded and forked my queen and a rook. Once we were on even footing again I was doomed and took home the red ribbon. Even so- I was proud of that too.
Check out my certificate of superior chess skills for the sixth graders! Nice caligraphy whoever wrote that! Unfortunatley I let my chess skills lapse and now I suck ass at the game. At least I have the memories!