In the summer of 1972 a strange thing happened in the United States. I was only eleven but I remember it well. Bobby Fischer was facing the World Chess Champion Boris Spassky for the championship in Reykjavik, Iceland. Chess sets were flying off the shelves in America. Chess fever. My dad and a family friend Bill would get together a couple nights a week and play. The matches were on public television. I knew this was a big event- bigger than chess. It was the USA vs USSR. It was the Cold War. Without that as a back drop no doubt it wouldn’t have received as much attention. Also the fascination of Bobby Fischer had to play a part in it. I would sit and watch and listen to the commentary on television and when my dad and Bill played I watched. I learned the moves. I would play a game here and there against my dad or Bill. As the 70’s moved along I would play Bill when he came to the house. I went to a nearby town’s library one evening when I was sixteen where there was a chess club. I felt intimidated. I wasn’t very good and these guys seemed to me at the time like they were grandmasters!
Over time I have seen my interest in the game come and go. In the early 1990’s I was really into it for a few years. I even entered a tournament in Pittsburgh where I won a match and loss two. One of the problems in keeping into it-is finding someone to play.
In the past 9 months a chess club has formed in my town. At first there was just a few of us but recently it has grown, the last meeting had 15 or so there. I can’t say that I am playing very well. I did enter another tournament recently and won two matches and lost two. I thought back in the 1990’s I was playing well and with confidence. I am not feeling that way now.
I got the “Chess is Life” t-shirt on the internet about a dozen years ago. When I was on a trip to Washington, D.C. a year later I picked up a couple more at the US Chess Center they had there.