Tuesday, November 13, 1973

#4 Vermont

November 5, 6, 12, 13, 1973
Shortsleeve Chess Classic
Burlington, VT

2 wins
2 losses

Rating: 1169

I arrived in Burlington for my freshman year at the University of Vermont in early September. However I didn't play in my first tournament in Vermont until November. It wasn't that I was being a hard working student concentrating on her studies by not playing chess. Nope, I played one tournament in New Hampshire, and two in Massachusetts that occur ed before I played in Vermont. I don't even remember how I got to those initial out of town tournaments my freshman year. I didn't have a car.

Unlike today's kids who apply to 10 different colleges, I had only applied to three four year colleges. I got into all of them, but I wasn't totally sure where I wanted to go. I had spent a good amount of time at Skidmore hanging out with my sister, and a good amount of time at the University of New Hampshire hanging out with my boyfriend, but had never even been to Burlington until I got the acceptance. All three schools had good programs in what I was interested in. I decided I needed to visit Burlington, and check out UVM, before making any decision. I fell in love with the city of Burlington, and really liked the campus. I pretty much decided after my visit, I wanted to go there. Another factor that I did take into consideration was, the Burlington Chess Club ran chess tournaments at the University. I hadn't seen any tournaments advertised in Durham, NH or Saratoga Springs, NY.

As it turns out, my first Vermont tournament was not run by the Burlington Chess Club at the university. Instead it was a tournament run on a couple of week day afternoons at the local junior high school. The social studies teacher, Bill Mc Grath had a chess club at school. He had a good sized group of kids who would come to classroom after school and play chess. Many of the kids also played at the Burlington Chess Club. I met Bill at one of the Thursday evening meetings of he Burlington Chess Club. He encouraged me to stop by the school in the afternoon and play with the kids from the Edmunds JH chess club. Bill was rated around 1450 at the time. He and the kids would work together to study chess. The core group of 4 of those kids would go on to win the National High School Championship in 1977 against chess powerhouses such as Bronx Science. One of the Burlington kids, Chris Richmond beat 16 year old Yasser Seirawan.

One of my college classmates who lived in the same dorm as me also came down Edmunds to play in the afternoon. As luck would have it, we got paired against each other in the first round. Alex and I played a lot of blitz at the dorm, so he had a good handle on how I played. He was rated 1600, so he clearly had my number. Often we would play guillotine chess and he still beat me in 5 to 6 games. Guillotine chess is a blitz match where both players start with 5 minutes each on the clock. After each game, the winner loses a minute. With two players of equal strength it usually comes down to the last game with both players having a minute each. That was not the case with Alex and me. He often would win the match with one minute on his clock versus 4 to 5 minutes on my clock. In other words, I'd be lucky if I won one game.


An interesting thing happened in this tournament. In round three I played one of the kids from the junior high school. I won, and he was devastated by losing to a girl. He quit chess after that tournament. I wasn't aware of that until one his classmates told me that was why he stopped coming to chess club. Hopefully I didn't scar him for life, and that he's been able to deal with females being beter then him at some things.

Saturday, October 20, 1973

#3 New Hampshire

October 19 - 20, 1973
Dartmouth Fall Open
Hanover, NH
1 win
4 losses

This would be the second of many chess road trips I would take during college. This would also be another out of state tournament that I would play in before playing my first tournament in Vermont. Freshman year I didn't have a car so I had to either take a bus, bum a ride with someone else going to the tournament, or hitchhike. Yes, I did hitchhike to a few tournament before I had a car at college. I always had someone come with me. I was crazy back then, but not stupid enough to hitchhike by myself.

This particular tournament I was able to get a ride to the tournament, and I spent the night sleeping on a friend's dorm room floor at Dartmouth College. My back aches just thinking about some of the places I slept in lieu of spending money on a hotel room. The joys of being a college student on a budget. Fortunately entry fees were pretty cheap back then. There wasn't much prize money, but that didn't matter since I sucked and never won enough games to win my class.

My first round game was against a 1646. Back then I thought 1600s were God. I wasn't sure I'd ever get my rating that high. When one plays chess as badly as I did in this game what can one expect? I blundered a piece on move 6, and got my king and queen forked on move 18.


With a time limit of 50/2, 25/1, 25/1 I had a lot of time to kill until the second round. One of my friends took me over to the academic computer center where I played chess on the Dartmouth College mainframe. To tell you how bad chess programs were back in the 70s, I kept beating the computer. Unfortunately I did not save any of the games I played against the computer. I guess like most people at that time, I didn't think it was any great accomplishment to beat a computer at chess. Little did any of us know back then what computers would be able to do with chess in the 21st century.

The only bright spot in the tournament for me was winning in round three. I had won a knight and then in the end game promoted a pawn. The interesting thing about looking at these old games is reading the English Descriptive notation. I'm looking at Black's move sequence of P-R6, P-R7, P-R8/Q and thinking to myself "White is promoting." 30 plus years of Algebraic notation is making me think the sequence was a6, a7, a8/Q.

I would play in this tournament every fall throughout my four years in college. My junior year I had a car at school, so I didn't have to bum a ride from people. I would load up the car with some of the kids from the Burlington Chess Club or UVM and we'd hit the road Saturday morning to make it in time for round one. I got my first speeding ticket on that trip because we were too busy talking about chess, and I wasn't paying attention to the speedometer. Fortunately I got the ticket in New Hampshire where it was just a flat fine for a first time speeder. $20! My next speeding ticket would be 26 years later driving to another chess tournament. It cost more then $20!

Each year that I played in the tournament my rating was a little higher. However I never improved my record beyond 2 wins, 3 losses. Every year I would play some horribly short game on Sunday in round 4 or 5. Two years in a row I'd lose to Hal Terrie during one of the Sunday rounds. Hal Terrie is one of those players that I played in the 70s who is still an active tournament player. He's a Life Master, but at the time he was "only" rated in the high 1800s. Here is my super butt ass ugly lost from the 1974 Dartmouth Fall Open.

terrie-peterson 102074.pgn

I'm afraid too many late night hearts or blitz chess games on Saturday night in the dorm were to blame. Also three rounds on Saturday at the traditional 50/2, 25/1, 25/1 made for a long day. Many players were pretty wiped by Sunday. I think one of Bill Goichberg's best innovations was eliminating the 8:00 PM Saturday night round and changing his weekend tournaments to four rounds with two games a day. Some people bemoan advent of sudden death. Personally I don't miss the endless time controls.