I wanted to share a personal chess memory that's close to my heart. Back when I was just 14 years old in Austin, Texas, in 1994, I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play against the legendary Anatoly Karpov. As if the excitement of facing such a chess titan wasn't enough, Karpov was playing 21 of us simultaneously!
Among those players was my friend, Grant Sitta, who impressively drew Karpov using the French Defense. My late chess coach, Jim Gallagher, also secured a draw with the challenging Sicilian Dragon Defense.
My game? An unforgettable moment unfolded. With the board set and pieces moving in rhythm, there came a time when Karpov took over two minutes (which felt like hours!) contemplating his next move. He evaded a checkmate by sacrificing his queen, resulting in a rook and pawn endgame that I, to my dismay, couldn't bring to a draw. As the game concluded, Karpov, with his characteristic Russian accent, left me with words that I've carried with me to this day: "You have talent, but you need to work on your endgame!"
That experience, humbling and inspiring, was a significant turning point in my life. It fueled my passion and dedication to chess. I've documented my reflections on this encounter in a YouTube video where I dive deeper into my thoughts, both as a 14-year-old and now, looking back at age 42.
Now at 44, with a USCF rank of National Candidate Master at 2194, I'm still in the game! In fact, I'm participating in the $3000 Studio October Championship this weekend. While I stand at a current rank of 2141, my eyes are set on crossing the 2200 mark and achieving the title of National Master.
Before I sign off, a quick note for those interested: For the second half of this Fall, we have Sunday course offerings from 1:00pm to 3:00pm, starting on October 29th, the Sunday right after this weekend's tournament. Hope to see many of you there, especially if you live near the Katy or Sugar Land area!
Thank you for being a part of my journey. Whether on the chessboard or off, life is about making the right moves and learning from each experience.