Round about the time I was six we started visiting my grandparents every Sunday and as fate would have it my grandfather was a very strong chess expert and he decided to teach me how to play. This turned out to be an incredible gift on many levels. Thank you SAM !! I lost every game we played for at least 3 years. No doubt this approach would discourage many but I think it taught me a type of persistence that has helped me achieve the vast majority of the goals I have set for my self for almost 50 years. I still remember the sense of accomplishment I felt the first time we had a draw and the combination I used the first time I won 40 years ago !
I won’t spend too long talking about my accomplishments as a player because I am a MUCH better coach and teacher. I will just hit the major highlights.
I became an FM in the late eighties tying for first in the 84 Canadian open. Equal first with became G.M. Y. Seirawan in the 83 or 84 Memorial day classic at 5.5-.5 ahead of many gm’s and I.M.s I later went on to win the Alberta championship and the 86 and 87 British Columbia Championship.
I was lucky enough to be invited to two Capablanca memorial events in Cuba during the mid 90’s and there had the great pleasure of looking at chess with the late super G.M. Tony Miles.We had some incredible adventures in Cuba and these memories are priceless to me.
Back in Canada in the late eighties we were fortunate to have three very strong players in G.M. Kevin Spraggett and the late G.M. I. Ivanov and I.M. Jean Hebert. We all lived in Montreal and I got to play many blitz events with all of them. I actually won some of these events and am certain I was gm strength at 5-0 chess.
Kevin had made it to the last 8 players playing for the world championship that year and he asked me if I was interested in helping him prepare for a match with G.M.Yusupov. I was one of Kevin’s seconds and this was a dream job.
This was the first time in my life I got to analyse with a g.m. on a regular basis and Kevin was a great teacher. Kevin lost in the tiebreaks and we didn’t get to go to London to face legend Anatoly Karpov. I sometimes wonder how much stronger we would have all become had it gone the other way…..
During this time I started teaching for Canada’s national Scholastic Chess Association ,Chess and Math. This involved going into schools and teaching grade 1-6 during lunch time and after school. I absolutely loved doing this and did it for next 20 years ! I will describe my teaching experience in greater detail a little later.
The 1998 Canadian Closed presented a very good chance for me to become an I.M. I needed to make 6-9 against a field that included both G.M. Spragett and G.M. A. Lesiege both around 2600 fide at the time. There were many very strong I.M.s in the field and I finished with 6 draws and 3 wins and became an I.M.
The really amazing thing about this is I was violently ill from the 4th round on and knew without a doubt if I had gone to a doctor he would have ordered me to withdraw. I went two days after the event finished and found out I had a very bad case of Bronchitis.
I got married and became a father in 2004 and didn’t play any chess for the next 10 years – which brings us to the present.
I played my first two Fide events in St. Louis during the last 4 months and managed a plus 1 and even score. It is a very different game now. It is faster and everyone is much better prepared. I plan to play often during the next ten years and we will see if it is possible to improve in one’s fifties.
One thing is for sure, there will be many great adventures trying!