The Marshall Town Center Mall features two traditional jewelry stores and a bakery/snack store that serves hot dogs, chili, and homemade breads. Non-traditional jewelry is also available.
Matt Kreigel warmed me up for the exhibition on Thursday. On the right is just some of the food the Salvation Army collected and gave out to needy families last week. There isn't a worthier organization to help!
The new store in the Marshalltown Mall this year is Delusions, a body modification shop. I was too busy with the exhibition to wait in line to meet the Piercing Princess or partake in ear tapering, suspension on hooks, or any other body modifications...
I sat down at the chess table a little before noon and I immediately had my first customer, Isaac. Isaac was with his two daughters hanging around the mall while his wife was shopping in J C Penney. Isaac kept on forgetting to hit his clock and I reminded him a couple of times but then his daughters reminded him so I didn’t have to. I won a piece with an opening trick but Isaac was a pretty strong player and found a king side attack and won the piece back. We got to an even endgame but I only had nine seconds left on my clock when Isaac’s cell phone rang! Isaac said it was his wife and she was ready and he said good bye and left without finishing the game. I can only assume his wife was a stickler for punctuality.
As soon as Isaac left, Seth was ready to play. Seth comes to play every week at our club and beat me at last year’s exhibition. I tried to take a picture of Seth but the batteries on my camera died and I didn’t have any spares. I started swapping out the batteries from my chess clocks but none of them had enough juice to take more than one or two pictures. I got a picture of Seth and then Mike from the local paper showed up to take a picture of the exhibition. Mike’s timing was perfect since every year there are plenty of dead times when no one wants to play. I got a picture of Mike taking pictures and then Seth and I sat down to play. Mike must have been busy because he took some pictures while we were playing and then left before our game was over. I was beating Seth easily in our first game but I got down to less than ten seconds and had to salvage a draw by taking all his pieces before I ran out of time.
Andrew Smith(l) and Aaron Anderson, Marshalltown High School chess legends. I wore my cool Punisher t-shirt in hope of intimidating my opponents, but Andrew and Aaron were the ones doing the punishing...
I beat Seth again and then it was Aaron’s turn since Andrew headed out to the Radio Shack to get some batteries for my camera. Aaron is a solid player that doesn’t go in for a lot of tactics and I had a lot of trouble mixing it up against him. Once I got down to under 20 seconds left I went for some cheapos that Aaron rebuffed but then he fell for a back-rank mate! Seth learned from Aaron’s slow careful play and he played me to an even game where I ran out of time.
Having won his book, Seth left but Andrew had returned with some batteries for my camera and we sat down to play some chess. Andrew has a wild attacking style that has always given me fits. He completely outplayed me in our game and checkmated me before I could even run out of time. Then he and Aaron took turns beating me for the next 45 minutes or so at the time odds. While we were playing this guy was watching so I asked him if he wanted to play using a line I learned from Law & Order: SVU, saying: “Come on and play…you know you want to…” Eventually the guy came over to play and I played him while Aaron and Andrew played each other. The guy’s name was Rico and in our first game he was intimidated by the clock and fell for a quick checkmate. Rico played a lot better in the second game and I managed to find a cheap checkmate with just a few seconds left on my clock. After I beat Rico a third time he left and I spent another half hour unsuccessfully trying to beat Aaron and Andrew at the handicap time odds (although I was beating them handily at three minutes each).
Here is my wife Kathy's Christmas candle collection. They have been on display in Main Street storefronts the past four years and this year are at the mall. Yes, these are all candles.
Once everyone was gone, I spent some time talking to Casey the farmer and went over some games from the excellent book I brought along: ‘Secret Notes’ by David Bronstein which details the travels of the 1951 World Championship challenger in Europe after being under strict supervision in under the Russian regime before the breakup of the Soviet Union in the 1990's. I chatted with some passing by shoppers that wanted to talk about chess and worked the crowd to get some people to play against me. I got some games in against Garrett and Mike, who were both inexperienced and gave away too many pieces to make my limited amount of time a factor in our games. One older lady came up to the table where I had the chess books and started asking me about them. I told her about all the books and then she picked two out and said “I’ll take these” as if I was a clerk in a jewelry store or snack bar or body modification shop. I started to explain that I wasn’t selling them but she whipped out her checkbook and said “How much?” so I gave her a number and asked her to make the check out to the Salvation Army. While she was writing the check, she told me the books were going to be a gift for her son in California. When she left, it was around 5:30 and the only customers in the mall were at Delusions picking out their next body modification. I think Santa and Mrs. Claus were getting some body jewelry and ink and I assume the elves were getting their ears tapered since they had gone missing also. With no one to play and no desire to see Santa or Mrs. Claus undergo body modification, I packed up my chess stuff and headed home for the day.
It was a great day of speed chess, a special bonus to hang out with Andrew and Aaron, and as always any time I spend helping the Salvation Army is time very well spent. During the exhibition, I didn’t think I had played as many people as in past years, but as I went over my other ‘speed chess exhibit’ blogs I was busier than ever. I think my perception was off because while the last two exhibitions were slow at the start and busy at the end, this year was busy at the start and slow at the end. The idea of giving away chess books was worth trying (and I even sold two of them) but next year I’ll need to have the chess sets back because even the most basic chess book was beyond the scope of the beginning players that showed up to play. If I really want to ramp up the chess-playing crowd I may just scrap the chess sets and boards and give away body modifications at Delusions.