Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Visit to Zanzibar's

  I ran into my friend Mike Jeter (no relation to Derek) 3 weeks ago while getting some copies made at the FedEx office. I know Mike through Dan Troxell and have played chess with him at Zanzibar’s Coffee Adventure. Mike works at Wells Fargo and we’ve seen each other at the Skywalk occasionally but I hadn’t seen him since last December. We had lunch at the Basil Prosperi restaurant in the Skywalk (an excellent Italian place) last week and I thought it would be a good time to head down to Zanzibar’s Coffee Adventure for a Saturday morning of coffeehouse chess.

  Playing some relaxed chess is a good way to ease myself back into the chess scene after 4 weeks with no tournaments to run or play in and the start of 5 straight weekends committed to chess activities. Next week I’ll be heading up to Okoboji to direct the Okoboji Open tournament, the 28th is my next youth tournament in Des Moines, the week after I’ll be heading to Des Moines to watch the St. Francis chess club play in a tournament, then I have a tournament to play in, and finally my first outdoor youth tournament of the summer on May 19th!

Michael with the coffees of the day and the $3.50 coffee refill with a sesame bagel!

  The last time I headed down to Zanzibar’s was on Thanksgiving weekend to meet Ben Tessman, but the Zanzibar crowd had taken the week off. I checked with Dan to make sure he would be there and after an early morning walk with Kathy to take Baxter and Daisy for some beef stick treats, it was off to Zanzibar’s’ Coffee Adventure for some coffeehouse chess. I arrived at Zanzibar’s at 8:30 just like I arranged with Dan. The rainy day had Zanzibar’s packed and Dan was setting up the board on one of the small round tables while I ordered an everything bagel and a big mug of New Guinea coffee. $4.50 later I was sitting down and ready to play Dan. Then Mike arrived and while Dan and I were playing were all talking about the Zanzibar and Marshalltown chess regulars. We had all lost touch with each other in the winter, but now that spring is here, hopefully we can all get back together for some more chess in the future. Here was my game with Dan:  These are the types of games that can happen when trying out new openings. We spent a little more time talking and then Paul showed up. Paul said he didn’t want to play, just watch. He had suffered a stroke last year and lost his memory for a time. It has taken him a long time to recover but he is back at work. That was a scary thing for me to hear. Last year I passed the age when my father had a heart attack and it is a sobering thought to realize that all the plans I have for my youth chess tournaments among many other plans and dreams can be waylaid by a stupid blood clot. But none of that mattered when I sat down to play Mike with the Black pieces:

  Mike is a strong player that has the habit of trying to get too complicated when simple solutions are called for. I have the exact opposite problem of trying to be too simple when complicated solutions are required. I wanted to be back at 12 to watch Ben play tennis for the high school team (I didn’t know that they tournament was cancelled when they couldn’t dry out the courts), so I took a break from playing and got a sesame bagel and a cup of Peruvian coffee and watched Dan and Mike play:

The battle of the breakfasts! Dan's Spartan choice of black coffee took the nod over Mike's eggs, toast, coffee, & juice this time. I take the middle road and have coffee along with a bagel and cream cheese.

  That was some real coffeehouse chess, although I think Mike got distracted by his large breakfast. Mike and Dan started another game while I took my leave of Zanzibar’s to head back home. It was fun morning of chess with friends. I was happy to have had a relaxing morning and am looking forward to when I’m living closer to Des Moines and able to visit Zanzibar’s more frequently!

You can never tell what celebrities you'll find at Zanzibar's Coffee Adventure. I captured a picture of James Brolin. He didn't seem very happy having his picture taken, probably because he shaved and got a perm to be inconspicuous. I also managed to get a side shot of Robin Williams getting his morning coffee.