Attack and destroy!
By Tom Brown
In the mini bus our motto was “Val aan en vernietig!” Attack and destroy! For our away matches the team spirit was more like a rock band than a chess team.
More like a war cry and that is what we did we demolished them all. After school club games and league matches one could always hear the cadet band practice and just the same march over and over but it didn't bother me I found it comforting.
I won all my official games in five years of high school with just one draw. I was very good in league matches but not tournaments my record there is rather dismal. And I never learned much of endgames my games were sorted out in the middle game.
Let us call him Alex. Our company usually involved alcohol abuse we were drinking brothers they worked shifts, with the wife and that at work during the day. Fishing trips too were a very convenient excuse.
This one guy had a thing he kicked under my seat all the time I couldn't concentrate. “Tannie Wynie” – Aunty Whiney was the tournament organiser at the Northern Transvaal Schools Open.
She and my opponent sat hours waiting for my clock to run down meanwhile disappeared the deserters me and JP were sitting on the bank of the Apies river drinking a bottle of cheap sherrie throwing stones into the water and smoking cigarettes.
Thus I had the dubious distinction of being the only person to be banned from the school chess team and banned from the Northern Transvaal Chess Union for life. JP got away with a warning for the school team and was provisionally suspended from the chess union.
The next year it was put to the vote and the chess club unanimously voted for my return. A second chance as such.
Some of my friends who came back from the border war partook in other chemicals too. These guys all went to the army after school and a few had a prolonged holiday at the state farm as well.
Time. “Sulke tyd”. Stoned motherless one day after a party at his place driving me home, stumbling drunk we spoke of his game I said he could not play a descent game in that state. No ways. He said no, he will and he would play blindfolded and he will win, so by us he came in and no sooner than later I had the board set up and with usual ease beat me not looking at the board. Quite easily done.
He was very good at blindfolded play even a few games at the same time this is very impressive you must see it. You call out the respective moves on the board and he answers in turn, everything in algebraic notation. He goes like that through the whole game.
With the passing of Bobby Fischer I was visiting Alex at home he said that Fischer had died and very gravely with some great significance “He was 64”, replied “Yes?” into my eyes “How many squares are there on a chessboard?”
Not always on top sometimes the edge dulled just a bit but always still the best player I've known. It was Alex vs. the Kasparov chess computer in the hospital maximum ward. One doctor was amazed the others were simply not interested. I think it looked like he was just pressing the little squares with his finger and it made funny little noises and without any men on the board and dismissed as he was just as crazy as the rest.
He died in a motor car crash in 2013 I was disappointed for him to go so easily.
Alex worked on my battered old Ford Escort (still the round shape) until late at night a number of times he seemed able of doing almost anything welding iron gates to building swimming baths large building alterations and so on. He worked a bit slow but he was very thorough his work was always of the best. Not so great at farming though but highly qualified and very experienced in the emergency services.
There were many times I had no place to sleep no place to rest he always had place for me on the carpet in the living room of his tiny house, times that nobody knew me, not friends, not family it was only them he and his wife. I was an outcast. If it happens that he does not have a place someday, I will sleep on the floor and he can take my bed (not my wife too, obviously).
~ . ~
These were good times in very troublesome years.
“Chess, like love, like music, has the power to make men happy” –Tarrasch