April 2nd, 2004

abstract butterfly

Scott and Conlon

Scott Joplin was born in the late 1860s in Linden, Texas, near Texarkana. His mother was a maid. He played his first piano at a home she was cleaning. He grew up in Texarkana, and received some classical training from the local music teacher, a Mr. Weiss, who early recognized his immense natural talent on the keyboards. Mr. Joplin played and toured in many cities, apparently, apocryphally even standing outside the famous 1893 Chicago World's Fair to play coronet. I imagine the magic of Tesla's electric lights, the lecture by Swami Vivekanda, and a mean coronet anachronistically playing trad jazz.

Collapse )
abstract butterfly

Arbiter of Fate, Master of Reality

I finally got in the mail the open-book examination to ascend to the next level of "Chess Tournament Director". I'm working gradually through the array of rules about board placement, late-arriving players and improbable finger slippages. I hope I pass.The last major open book test I took was that patent bar, in 2000.That deserves its own post.

A fellow named Rolf Wetzel(or some such) wrote a book called "Chess Master at Any Age". It's about how he improved from a Class B (decent weekend) player to a master, all after the age of fifty. The technique involves much study, of course, but also a lot of filling out index cards to use as flashcards on things to remember. I can just see my flashcards now: "Don't drop your queen" and "watch for easy-to-spot mates in 2" and "hide behind a wall of pawns, trembling".

Heaven knows I need some flash somewhere. My on-line play consistently shows that I am far less talented than I was at 30. I will not make the virility metaphor, for it is self-abnegating enough to merely mention that all the various virility one-liners ran through my mind just now.

When I was 30, I worked for a law firm where I was working to try to make partner in the firm. It was not that far from now, 14 yeara go, when they came to me and said "you must wait another year". Law firms often work on an "up or out" principal. The next year I made partner. It's intriguing to me now that I stayed with that practice group for sixteen years.
I think it says something about a plodding dedication thing I have sometimes. But maybe it all evens out. Now I have my own firm, with two dependable lawyers I've known for years, and I have the practice I always wanted to have. But I still want to be a chess master. If I were a chess master, people might think I was on the ball--that I had a clue.

Diffusion. Is that my enemy? Or am I just untalented?