University of Massachusetts Open
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.
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.
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.