Friday, October 8, 2010

When 3-0 is better than 2-0, 7-0, or a big 5-0

  I missed most of the Yankees win last night since it started at 5PM, when our chess club meets every Thursday. Normally I only play in our clubs weekly chess tournament when we have an even number of players. Yesterday we had an even number for the first round so I played, but then Matt Kriegel showed up late so I sat out the second round, but then one of the players (Logan) disappeared, and after spending 10 minutes walking in and out of the building looking for him, I sat in against his opponent, Dan from Des Moines to give him a game. I was pretty annoyed at Logan for disappearing and won 2 pawns quickly from Dan, but then he snuck an attack in, won his pawns back, but I managed to win by running to an endgame, where I think I’m pretty strong. Tim McEntee once told me, “You aren’t strong in the endgame, you just think you are!” I thought a lot about that and while it’s true, the fact that I think I am good in the endgame gives me an aura of confidence that my opponents who KNOW they aren’t strong in the endgame pick up and helps me save a lot of half-points. In this case, ignorance is bliss. Before the last round Chris had to go to help coach his Lego League team as he had been doing the last few weeks so I was ready to sit out again, but then Logan came back. It turned out he had just remembered he had to turn in a paper on-line that was due tonight so he walked to library to use their wireless internet. Don’t forget, when you deal with kids, you have to deal with kid stuff!. So I got to play a third game. I won all 3 games but since I was filling in for other people, I didn’t play the strongest players. In any event, I’ll take going 3-0, even if my game against Dan was pretty touch and go.

  I am very pleased to see the Yankees take a 2-0 lead on the Twins with a workmanlike effort yesterday. Pettitte pitched the best he has in months and kept the Yankees in the game until the Twins loser pitcher Carl Pavano found an excuse to give up a big hit after the mean umpire wouldn’t call strike 3 on the big bad Yankee hitter Lance Berkman. I can’t stand Pavano. He took millions of Yankee dollars, was hurt all the time, and only pitched well when he was at the end of his contract and needed a new one. He’s a loser and he can’t lose enough to suit me. It is great to see Granderson and Berkman come up big. You never know if the new players are going to choke in Yankee pinstripes until they are in the crucible of the playoffs. And now with the 2 game lead, Hughes shouldn’t feel too much pressure in game 3 and hopefully can wrap it up at home. It is nice to have a 2-0 lead, but a 3-0 lead and ending the series on Saturday would be better. After the Red Sox disaster of 2004, I won’t discount the Twins until like the old pre-Twilight vampire movies, the Yankees put a silver stake through the heart, cut off the head, stuff it with garlic, and bury them.

  Tomorrow is the 70th birthday of one of my two favorite musicians, John Lennon. I am a bit too young to be a huge Beatles fan, but I can always recapture a bit of my youth listening to ‘Nobody Told Me’, ‘Instant Karma’, ‘Well, Well, Well’, ‘Jealous Guy’ to name a few. I remember working in the Bristol-Myers factory the night he got shot dead by psycho Mark David Chapman. He had just released his first record in 5 years and the next morning I was the first DJ up on our college radio station. People just came in to the station to talk on the air about John Lennon and I played ‘Watching the Wheels” a lot that morning.

  Today will go down in history as the day I turn 50 years old. For me it is just like my last few Fridays. I helped with the St. Francis chess class this morning and then off to work. I’ve gotten the usual assortment of cards ranging from the sentimental to the kidding to the obligatory picture of the ginormus, underdressed wrinkled backside reminding me that there are scarier things than a birthday. When I was a kid we celebrated birthdays by having spaghetti the next Sunday and the only card I got every year was from my grandfather, grandmother, and my Aunt Elaine (I wish now I had saved some of them). Not a lot of fanfare, so maybe that’s why while I enjoy the attention and the presents and cake, I don’t especially relish them. Maybe they will mean more as I get older, but since I plan on living till at least a hundred and five I’m not even halfway done with birthdays. As long as I’m more than twice as fast as people twice my age and more than half as fast as people half my age, I’m still going strong.

  Last week at St. Francis, I played 2 of the stronger kids at once in separate games and this week the kid I consider to have the most chess talent in the whole school (2 time state grade champion before stopping serious play a couple of years ago) wanted to play 2 kids at once the same way I did the week before. He would have been bored playing either of them separately, but seemed energized by trying to tax himself to beat them both. If I have rekindled his enthusiasm for chess, I will have given myself the best birthday present of all.