Bob's Chess Page
"Chess Ambition is poor excuse for not
having enough sense to just be lazy
My Game Database    My tournament history

Columbia Chess Club    South Carolina Chess Association
I first learned how to play chess when I was around 10 years old when my parents bought me a Whitman
Chess and Checker set. The chess pieces were a lot more interesting than the checkers, especially when I
discovered they not only looked different, they all move differently. I had more fun just trying to figure out
where the Knight could move to than pushing checkers around. Unfortunately hardly anyone else was
interested in the game and I wound up playing against myself, no computers back then! I first found out how
difficult chess could be when we were visiting friends of my parents and he brought out a wooden chess set
that had a computer in it! I thought it was the coolest thing I'd ever seen. That is until it began to put beating
upon beating upon humiliating beating on me! I couldn't understand how this stupid machine could just take
me apart game after game. I did beat it at the lower settings, but who wants to win at the easy settings?! I
spent hours being humbled by that machine that night until it was time to go. Shortly after, my parents bought
me a Tandy 1650 "Fast" Response Time Computerized Chess Game which I played against for years. While
this computer was great at the time and the middle levels, it has 9, were difficult for me to beat, it would literally
take a week or two to play a game at the highest level because it took so long to think. Through this whole
time I only played casually and bought a couple chess books that were so hard to understand I never
bothered to learn the basic fundamentals and never had the desire to seek out a chess club or tournaments. I
continued to play casually and, like almost everyone, thought I was pretty good since I could beat my friends
and several adults.

I stopped playing for quite a few years. When we quit racing boats in '96 I started pushing pieces around
again, and even broke out the old Tandy computer. I stumbled across Yasser Seirawan's Winning Chess
Series and bought the Winning Chess Tactics book. Who knew that Chess had pins, skewers, forks, x-rays,
discovered attacks, windmills, outposts etc.......!!!!! Apparently everyone but me! This really peaked my
interest in the game and suddenly the old Tandy wasn't even fun to turn on anymore.  I blew my knee out
playing softball in '99 and turned to chess for something competitve to do that I probably couldn't hurt myself
at. Through the internet I discovered the USCF and the SCCA. I also found a group that played here in town.
it didn't take long to realize that while I wasn't horrible at chess I definately wasn't very good! I entered my first
tournament in June of 1999, the SC Open in Rock Hill and played in the lower section. I played former SCCA
president, James Mac Dougall, in my first game and wound up with a draw.  I thought since James is pretty
good, maybe I'm not as bad as I think. The second game I played against Charles Cameron and wound up
with another draw. "Charles is rated higher than James, maybe I'm better than I think!". The reality of chess
was made clear to me in the next three games which I kept finding ways to lose. The third game I played Jeff
Mahaffay. "Jeff's rated way lower than my first two opponents, I should win this, right?". I did play well and even
had a winning position. After the game Jeff told me he was going to resign on the next move until I blundered
on move 37 and quickly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. I guess one move can cost you the game, I
won't let that happen again. Round 4 I played Terry Brown. "This guy is not even rated at 1000. I'll get my first
tournament win here for sure!". This game quickly showed me not only to ignore ratings, but pay attention to
what I'm doing. I lost my Queen on move 11. I punished myself by fighting for 48 more moves (this guys under
a 1000, I can still beat him!). That's two games in a row that I was humbled by my opponents. This last game
the guy I'm playing, Kevin Dunn , is unrated like me. "I'll treat him like he's Kasparov and play the best game I
can.". I thought I did just that and felt I had a good chance to win the game. Unfortunately on move 27 I
discovered that my hand does not alway listen to my head and it reached out and took back with my pawn
instantly losing the game instead of moving my King which would have given me a chance to win. "So that's
what they mean by sit on your hands!" Fritz analysis of this game showed that neither one of us played very
well! My first tournament came to a disappointing end with three horrible losses. These five games are in my
database.  My second tournament, the Charleston Classic, went much better.

In 2007 David Grimaud and I started the Columbia Chess Club at the Shoney's that used to be on Harbison. I
figured it wouldn't more than a few months but to my surprise players started coming out of the woodwork. At
the end of the first year we moved to Ashland United Methodist Church and that has been our home since.
We have around 80 members with 24-30 coming out each week to play.

I have improved some in the years since, but not as much as I would have liked. With Chess you get out of it
what you put in. I still believe I can get to the level I want to be at if I can just find the time to spend studying
and learning the game. In chess there are no excuses. You don't win because you were not good enough. If
you enjoy competition and having to work for good results you will enjoy Chess!
I am a Class B (1600) player and Local Tournament Director. I am also a founder and the
director of the Columbia Chess Club. Established in 2007 it has quickly become the largest and
most active chess club in South Carolina.