International Chess Day

Here is my son Jon playing in a tournament, back in his chess champion days.

It’s July 20, also known as International Chess Day! I played a bit of chess back when I was a kid, but haven’t played since high school. I was only OK at it. My son, on the other hand, has a real talent for the game.

He was a US Chess Federation-rated player when he was little. In fact, he did so well in his first tournament — playing against both adults and children — that he was initially rated very highly. Like, Queen’s Gambit highly.

That meant that in subsequent tournaments he was matched up against state champions who had competed in dozens of tournaments, and he really had no chance at all against kids who playing at that level. He started winning again after he had lost to enough of the super-experienced kids that his rating moved down to a more realistic level.

In the years since he stopped competing in tournaments, he hadn’t played the game much, and allowed his USCF membership to lapse. He hadn’t given it up completely; he was in the chess club in high school for a couple years, and won almost every match he played. Then after-school orchestra rehearsals started being scheduled against chess club, and he had to stop going.

Lately, he started playing again at college, mostly online because of the pandemic. And he can still beat his father almost every time they play. I’ll have to suggest that he get in a game or two today, to celebrate International Chess Day.

Happy International Chess Day!

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