One way that people show appreciation for each other is through compliments. If they share a vocation, the compliments will likely be vocation-centered. Thus, when chess players give compliments to other chess players, it’s usually about chess.
At the start of this article, I remember former US Chess President Don Schultz. Schultz was generous with compliments and deserving of them too. In the second half of this article, I will share how three college chess coaches are spending time together during the pandemic.
As reported by FIDE, former US Chess President Don Schultz died on April 20, 2020. Although I saw Schultz at several chess events, I spent the most time with him during the 1991 U.S. Women’s Chess Championship. The US Chess Federation had asked Schultz to organize the tournament when another bid for it fell through. As Schultz wrote in the tournament book, “It was our intention to make this tournament more than just another competition.” The playing site and the players’ housing were near beaches, in Highland Beach, Florida. Schultz arranged for a bookstore promotional event, during which I played a speed chess match with Woman International Master Sharon Burtman, before the championship began. During the championship, there was live analysis by Bill Cornwall of on-going games. After the championship, a brilliancy prize was awarded by Grandmaster Arnold Denker and a 28-page tournament book, for which I was the cover model, was produced by Schultz. I played in 10 U.S. Women’s Championships, during the years 1981-1995. Schultz’s 1991 championship was the only one which had a post-tournament book with multiple color and black-and-white photos and each round’s games.
Schultz’s organizing prowess was memorialized in the film Chess Kids, about his 1990 World Youth Chess Festival For Peace. Schultz autographed one of his books, ChessDon, for me. The same compliment that he inscribed should go to him. Don Schultz, “thanks for your many contributions to American Chess.”
The year 1991, when I spent time with Schultz, feels long ago. Also receding into the past is a March 2011 photo of chess teammates at The University of Texas at Dallas, which I shared in an earlier SparkChess article. Three of those pictured are grandmasters who now coach chess at universities: Cristian Chirila (University of Missouri), Julio Sadorra (The University of Texas at Dallas), and Alejandro Ramirez (Saint Louis University). Due to restrictions stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, there are currently no over-the-board competitions for these coaches or their chess teams. So, they spend time together online instead.
Chirila has a Twitch channel, countlive. When Sadorra challenged him to 3/2 (game in three minutes with a two-second increment) on April 20, they played for over two hours. In one screenshot I took during that match, Chirila is broadcasting while Sadorra (ChessenseiJulio) and Ramirez (LittlePeasant) trade greetings in the chat box.
After the following game’s finish by Chirila, Sadorra complimented, “Nice one. That’s Twitter/YouTube worthy.” White has just played 1. Rxf7. This wasn’t actually move 1 of the game, but I don’t have the game score. At this point in the game, White had 0:12.0 (12 seconds) and Black had 0:07.5 (seven-and-a-half seconds) remaining on their clocks. The time scramble may explain Black’s error on move 2. Black replied 1… Ne5 2. Nf6+ Kg6? [2….Kh8 was necessary, as then Rf8+ is not possible because of Qxf8]. 3. Bh5+ Kf5 4. e4+ Kg5 4. h4#. Although not a well-played finish, it is pretty: the black queen is sidelined while a white pawn delivers checkmate.
During their match, Sadorra mentioned that his almost one-and-half-year-old son Tigran “Tiggy” Sadorra, named after World Chess Champion Tigran Petrosian, enjoyed Chirila’s “beats” (the music Chirila played during his Twitch broadcast). When Sadorra ended the match, he chatted, “gotta go help with Tiggy’s bathtime. You win today, congrats buddy. Stay strong and keep the cool vibes.” That’s good advice for all of us during this pandemic: Stay strong and keep the cool vibes. Additionally, as the three college chess coaches demonstrated, connect with each other online and give chess compliments.