Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Back Home Again! Wrap-Up on Trip to St. Louis

Whew!  I'm exhausted, darlings!  Glad I have the rest of today to unwind before heading back to the real world and the office tomorrow.

The flight home was smooth although it departed about 10-15 minutes later than scheduled time.  But we arrived back in Milwaukee nearly on time anyway, to a warm and rapidly warming day with humidity.  Yech!  The house was stuffy but it's better now with all the windows and doors thrown open!  The taxi ride, as always, is a scant 10-12 minutes away from the airport and sets me back $30 including tip. We do not have inexpensive taxis in Milwaukee, but I gladly pay the premium to be home by 10:30 a.m., which is about the time I arrived at my doorstep!
I had a 5 a.m. wake-up call at the hotel and checked out shortly after 6.  The hotel was still and quiet, and it was still dark outside!  I wheeled my stuffed suitcase (I swear my clothes reproduced themselves in the closet during my stay - the two books I purchased while in town could not possibly account for all the extra bulk I somehow had accumulated!) through the doors  from the lobby to the carport area and relaxed on a bench outside, taking in the setting Moon, the coolness of the night, and the sound of the chirping crickets.  It was a lovely, peaceful moment.
And then, zoom zoom - up drives the Go Best Express van to take me to the airport.  I checked my watch, it was just a few minutes after six a.m.!  A lovely and perky young woman took my bag and checked me "in" to the van.  There was another passenger onboard already, who gave me a curt good morning; European, I could tell, because even though he was not feeling particularly social at that time of the morning (or late night, depending upon your point of view), he gave a courtesy greeting to a "woman of a certain age..."  Me.  LOL!  I have to tell you, I would definitely use this shuttle service again. The people were polite and the service was on time.  I thought we would take off down the road then, but there were two other passengers also scheduled for that shuttle.  So, we waited.  I cannot complain, and I'm not -- they arrived right on time, at 6:15 a.m., the scheduled pick-up time.  And then - we were off down Kingshighway Boulevard!

This is not a photo I took in St. Louis from the van on the
way to the airport, but that's the Moon we saw in all Her glory!
According to this website, She reached "the crest of [Her] full
phase at 09:27 Universal Time this morning, on September 12.
That was 4:27 a.m. this morning for the central U.S.”
The Moon was starting its descent in a sky that was just starting to hint at sunrise and it was spectacular.  Big, glowing, mottled white.  Breathtakingly beautiful.  I could clearly see the larger 'Mares' and the "Man in the Moon" features with no problem at all.  The Goddess Moon was so large and hanging in the mid-sky, the illusion was that I could have reached out of the van and plucked Her out of the sky for myself to wear as a large glowing jewel around my neck.  A fitting goodbye to me from St. Louis!  Thank you, St. Louis!   Thank you, Goddess Moon, for such a fine send-off!  Smooches to you both.

I've tried to post regularly about my stay in St. Louis for the Chess Collectors International U.S. continental meeting, the grand opening of the new quarters for the Chess Hall of Fame and Chess Museum (U.S. and International), and the Kings v. Queens Invitational Chess Tournament taking place at the beautiful Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis.  You can find those earlier posts here at the blog, just by continuing to scroll back through the dates until my arrival in St. Louis, on Thursday, September 8, 2011.

Here are some final thoughts/impressions, as the water sprinkler ticks back and forth over my parched back-yard.  It was clear to see Milwaukee received no rain boon from the storms that passed over the Gulf last week/weekend.  Well, I work to pay my water bill, LOL!  I must have green grass!  I must have flowers.  My hibred Hydrangeas are once again singing to me, and all the wildlife has come flocking back to be fed (birdseed, peanuts, hazelnuts) and watered.  The earth is giving off that special "aaaaahhhhhh" scent that only happens when it receives water after a long dry time.  I'm going to take my shoes off and sit on the deck with my feet up and glass of wine at hand in just a few minutes.  I'm home again, everyone.  Home. 

Chess Collectors International

Although I have been a member of CCI for many years because of my interest in chess history and, in particular, ancient board games and their pieces, I had not had the opportunity to attend any of the CCI meetings, either here in the US or overseas.  There are at least a couple of meetings of CCI folk a year if one has the time to get away. I usually do not.

But, this year, the Goddess conspired to make it so, and thus I appeared, on time and with packed suitcase in hand, in St. Louis.

What a wonderful venue was chosen for this CCI meeting!  The hotel has a gracious, old-world quality about it and I found the staff to be courteous and attentive.

The meeting rooms made available for the presentation on Saturday, September 10, the dinner the evening of September 10, and the Chess Fair on Sunday morning, September 11, were just right!  For the most part, things went off without a hitch. 

I greatly enjoyed meeting various members of the CCI, including Floyd Sarisohn, with whom I've had email contact for several years dating to my joining the CCI.  During my attendance at the St. Louis CCI meeting, I was also introduced to USA Treasurer Bill Fordney and former CCI President Thomas ("Tommy") Thomsen of Germany.  I am pretty sure I met Mr. Thomsen years ago, in 2001 in Amsterdam when I attended the Koenigstein Group Initiative meeting of chess historians and scholars at the end of November, but I may be wrong about that.  He was a friend of our late mentor, Dr. and IM Ricardo Calvo (d. 2002). 
I found the CCI presentations informative and interesting.  I was amazed at how the time scheduled for the day's presentations flew by!

It is probably safe to say that the presentation by chessplayer/collector/computer jockey Jon Crumiller was the highlight of the meeting.  Jon has generously made available to CCI members an auction data base spreadsheet (for computer) that he assembled with a massive amount of work.  One has only to input descriptive elements of an item that one is looking for, and if one like it or similar has been auctioned during the past 40 or so years, information on it should pop up from the data base.  Amazing!  What is more, Jon intends to maintain and update the database on a regular basis by adding current and future auction information to it as that information (from auction catalogs, auction price sheets, and the like) becomes available. Some of this information is not usually available to the public, but Jon has great contacts! Jon has truly gifted us with a priceless labor of love.  A special added treat was the after-lunch presentation of some of the sets from his excellent collection, including many ancient gaming pieces that I find of particular interest.

Another of my favorite presentations was given by Duncan Pohl, who put together an absolutely splendid  and stunning catalog of chess sets made by American companies for those of us not quite so deep in the pocket looking to get into collecting interesting sets.  This was another true labor of love and contains excellent color photographs and original ads from old American chess magazines and other sources.  I had an opportunity to socialize with Mrs. Pohl later Saturday evening at the CCI dinner - a lovely and engaging lady.  I hope I see more of the Pohls in the future, they're my kind of people!

One presentation that became a favorite - and I have to admit I did not think it would - was given by Martin Frere Hillyer on "Thomas Frere and the Brotherhood of Chess."  It turned out to be an adventure in genealogy and the history of the Manhattan Chess Club, and if you've been following this blog you well know I've spent the past year plus tracing down my own family's herstorical roots as well as the roots of some friends.  I was absolutely fascinated - to paraphrase a famous line from the hit movie Jerry Maguire "You had me from genealogy..."  LOL!  How could I resist?  I couldn't.  I bought his book at the Chess Fair the following day :)  Thanks for the special dedication, Martin. 

Last minute additions to the program were also favorites -

Lynn Hamrick, a producer of "Family Ties" among other smash hit television shows, gave a presentation on her video "Chess Kids" (a video put together about the 1990 World Youth Chess Championships) and an update -- Lynn interviewed many of the young chess players featured in the original "Chess Kids" video many years later, including GM Judit Polgar -- now available in DVD.  I did some posts about how Georgia and I met Lynn in St. Louis while at Bissiger's! 


Rick Knowlton, who sells and buys "exotic chess sets" was also fit into the program and gave a blitzkrieg presentation on who he is and what he does.  Like - WOW!

At the CCI dinner Saturday evening Mrs. Duncan Pohl arranged an introduction after dinner.  Rick and I talked for a good 30 minutes about the ancient origins of the game and early board games in general.  He's very knowledgeable but unassuming - he's not an academic (just as I'm not) -- he's self-taught like me. I could not fault him on his knowledge (except that chess was "invented" in India, the general old line!) and found him very well informed regarding chess variants from Burma and Thailand.  I could probably have yattered on for hours with him, but I was tired; it had been a long day.

At the Chess Fair on Sunday Rick had a lavish display of some of his sets and I found several I loved.  Alas - poor pocketbook.  Clothes or chess sets, chess sets or shoes, vacations or chess sets...  Well, you get the picture, I haven't chosen "chess sets" yet!  But that's me, darlings.  Please check out Rick's websites and see what he's got - you won't be disappointed:

Ancient Chess
Courier Chess

I have to give a final hats-off to the Sarisohns, who put so much effort into putting this U.S. meet together.  Thank you!  I loved it!


Duncan said...

Thank you very much for the kind words. My wife, Ann, and I both enjoyed our company Saturday night and we also hope we cross paths again. Soon.


Duncan said...

Thank you for the kind words. My wife, Ann, and I both enjoyed all our company Saturday night. We also hope our paths cross again in the near future. Thank you again.


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