Saturday, November 18, 1972

#2 Maryland

November 18 - 19, 1972
Baltimore Open
Towson, MD

1 win
3 losses
1 draw

Rating: 1029 provisional 8 games.

I was home for the Thanksgiving break so this gave me an opportunity to play my first tournament in my home state. This would be my third tournament of my fledgling chess "career". The tournament was hosted by the Towson Chess Club which met in the Towson YMCA. This Y was in one of those old buildings where ambiance was sorely lacking. Here is my first game. A longish draw where I missed my chance to win the ending.


When I first started playing in tournaments, my stomach was always twisted in knots, so outside of breakfast I could not eat very much. I think I'd eat a candy bar during the day and that was it. After the last round of the day, I'd go home and have dinner with my parents. This was my parents' first exposure to my newest competitive obsession. Over the years I don't think they ever really understood what I saw in chess. Though my father did document one of my study sessions in the picture below:

The date on the back of the print says April '72 which means it was taken even before I started playing in tournaments. I'm not sure where we had been before hand that I had been in a dress. Perhaps a nice dinner celebrating my 18th birthday? Why was I so eager to study that I didn't even bother changing into something more comfortable? I don't remember what book I was reading, though I do remember that the author had suggested using two boards to study.

The larger set on the right has a little bit of a story behind it. It belonged to one of my friends at summer camp. She gave it to me after I kept beating her. I had the set for many years, but I don't know what finally happened to it. It was a terrific travel set with wood pieces and strong magnets. It took a pounding over the years that I had it. I probably lost too many pieces, and just tossed it. Sigh. The things we get rid of, and then regret later.

I played a number of tournaments in Maryland while I was in high school and college. I'd also try to play when I come back to visit around the holidays. The last few years I've been trying come down at least once a year to visit friends of the family, and stay connected with people who been close friends to dad before he died. I get a chance to visit without people feeling like they have to keep me entertained all weekend.

Saturday, September 30, 1972

#1 Massachusetts

Sept 30 - Oct 1, 1972
University of Massachusetts Open
Amherst, MA

1 win
3 losses
1 bye

Rating: unrated

This is where it all began. It's funny because any time I mention that I started playing in tournaments in 1972 some will say something to the effect of "You must have gotten caught up by the Fischer Craze." My answer has always been, "Not really, it just happened that I attended my first tournament in that fall." The timing just worked out that way.

I attended a girls' boarding school in Massachusetts. Yes, I admit it. I was a preppy. Check out my high school yearbook picture, with my selected quotation. Way back then it was obvious I marched to the beat of a different drummer.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

I was known for two things there; sports and chess. I played on any sports team that would have me (JV field hockey, basketball, and lacrosse), and I played chess with anyone I could. I was considered a bit of an odd ball, being a combination of jock and geek. I wasn't part of the in crowd, and I didn't have a whole lot of friends. My friends were fellow odd balls, and they knew how to play chess. I was much better then them, but I often let them take moves back or I'd lose pieces on purpose to make it more interesting. I thought I was hot stuff because I could beat the teachers and all the students at chess. Playing in USCF rated tournaments would wake me up to the reality that actually I was simply a big fish in a very little pond.

On September 30th, 1972 I entered the world of USCF rated chess, and found out that I was actually very little fish in a bigger pond then I was used to. My first game I resigned after 20 moves in a position where I was already down 3 pieces to a 1400 player and about to have to give up the exchange to stop mate. Looking at this game 35+ years later with the aid of Fritz made me realize how terribly both my opponent and I played.


"Gee Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore." And so the first day of this tournament went the way of many that have followed over the years. Castling queen side on the wall chart.

0-0-0. Ouch!

Sunday I returned to do battle once again, but unfortunately I would make the acquaintance with the infamous bye. Sad to say, an acquaintance that I've made way too many times over these 35 years. Back then there were no house players hanging around so I had to wait around for the fifth round. So after getting the bye, I finally put a real point up on the wall chart.

I've played a lot of tournaments in Massachusetts over the years. Though it's been awhile since I've been back. I've had some of my better moments there such as winning the New England Women's Championship in Boston in 1978. I also had one of my most disastrous tournaments where I went 0-4 in an under 1900 section where my unofficial rating was over 1900. So much for trying to win the big bucks. I think that was the moment I realized that perhaps tournaments like the World Open weren't for me.

Looking back at that tournament I was one of the youngest players there, and probably the only female. There weren't hordes of little kids playing. I was a kid.