Last night I drew a game against USCF Life Master Brian Wall and at the same time won a victory over myself of the sort described in an earlier posting here. The challenge this week was both over the board, around the board, and under the board.

Firstly, whatever his virtues, Brian Wall is a master of distraction. It’s hard to tell with him what’s intentional and what just happens, as he is by nature cloaked in an improbability field. He bumps the board while writing his move and tilts it half a degree. He adjusts pieces on his opponent’s move unless reprimanded, sometimes including his opponent’s pieces. He stands up and wanders around the room on his own move, then reappears standing behind his opponent to see if the position looks any different from his or her side. This week he managed to set his clock erroneously (as Black, he had choice of equipment) to 30-second increment rather than 5-second delay, which we only discovered when he was in his characteristic time trouble. I called the TD, but of course it’s both players’ responsibility to see the clock is set correctly, so there was no penalty.

At the start of the game, there was a soap spill in the men’s room and Brian departed the board to try to clean it up with paper towels, gambiting ten minutes for a somewhat theatrical performance followed by a loud announcement to avoid the slippery floor. He appeared genuinely not to know one can’t clean a soap spill with paper towels but must mop.

As Brian finally sat down to play, there was yet a pair of players setting up their board who simply would not shut up. They chatted in a conversational tone, oblivious to everything around them.

Finally, there was the customary weekly sound irruption occurring right on schedule in the middle of the game: our TD, possessor of a lovely bass voice, each week steps behind a retaining wall in our playing room with 12-foot ceilings so that he may converse with the club treasurer, in the mistaken impression the wall masks the sound. It doesn’t. The aperture into the room acts instead as a bass amplifier so that the entire room rumbles almost to the windowpanes with his every muttered confidence until someone yells, “Knock it off!”

Fortunately, having suddenly shaken off in the middle of last week’s Tuesday night game the slew of family dramas and health crises which had their impact on my play over the past few weeks, I managed to stay focused.

After the exceptionally long (remember the clock?) game, Brian and his teenage son importuned me for a ride home, which I granted and was rewarded to hear Brian muse along the way to himself, “Yeah, that Czech formation [as he called my treatment of the Modern Reversed] is pretty solid. There’s no way  in.”

Here’s a somewhat similar game from FIDE play where Black does decide on an h7-h5 attack.

Jacques Delaguerre