The Bully's Pulpit
Five Decades of Chess Intimidation
By Gary "The Chess Bully" Newsom
Lessons from Ron
Next weekend we celebrate the memory of one of our greatest North Carolina chess heroes, FM Ron Simpson, whose life was cut way too short due to cancer. I was lucky enough to know Ron and to have played him on several occasions. With me being "Expert" it is not surprising that I had a dismal score against him. In fact I was o-fer. O for however many we played that is. But it's always enjoyable playing guys on that next level. That is how you improve at chess. I took my lumps against Ron but I can say that our games exposed many deficiencies in my play and highlighted the differences between a guy on Ron's level and myself. I will attempt in this blog post to break that down a bit.
IT AIN'T OVER TIL THE FAT LADY SINGS
So the lesson here, kiddos, is simple. FOCUS. For the WHOLE GAME. Don't let up. A good player is always trying to find a way to turn things around. As I stated earlier, Ron was not a perfect technical chess player. He was a fighter. And a fighter has a way of intensifying the effort when things are looking bad.
TRIPPING OVER MY SHOELACES
Well not literally of course (though I've done that a few times) but figuratively. To hang with Ron, you needed to make sure your pieces coordinate effectively. If they didn't, he would easily sense this and the punishment would be severe.
DON'T LEAVE YOUR FLY OPEN
Good advice. In pleasant company, one does not leave ones fly open. We must incorporate in our morning routine to make sure everything is properly tucked away and covered before we go out to meet the world. (But after we reach a certain age...maybe somewhere around bully age...you've gotta cut us a little slack, OK?) In chess terms we will liken that to keeping our king position defensible. We have already seen one example of Ron taking advantage of a poor defensive setup in a French against me. Now let's see another. Here, I leave my fly (kings position) open. Ron was quick to pounce and make me pay for my error.
So I got punished by Ron regularly. But there is plenty to learn from these games and the others I played vs Ron. My impression of Ron as a chessplayer was a guy who had a great innate feel for the dynamic value of the pieces, as befits a "fighter" in the chess sense of the word. I got a lot of good positions against him. I had my chances. But when it came down to a good old fashioned chess fight, he came with more weapons than me.