I hope you are all enjoying this final day of 2013 in your own particular way! Here in Milwaukee it is bitterly cold and snowing (it started about 3:30 p.m. or so, as I was leaving the supermarket with New Year's Eve supplies), the snow forecast to fall continually through Thursday noon. Not that I would be out and about for New Year's -- haven't done that in YEARS! I celebrate at home in a quiet fashion and while I try to stay up until midnight, I don't often make it, LOL!
This time of year is filled with nostalgia, as well as hope as we look toward the unknown future. We (and now just me) of Goddesschess, have always tried to do our best to make things better in whatever ways we could reach out and touch people. Now not so much writing and researching and posting articles (and writing our own) and publishing information not then readily available in the early days of the internet. But time changes things, and we change, too. Today, it's mostly about funding prizes and trying to encourage people to take up the game of chess, especially girls and women but, really, anyone of any age! Chess has so much to offer.
Our credo, and my personal credo, is to live the best life I can, and that means trying to make the lives of others better in whatever ways I can. For me, these days, it's all about chess, darlings!
A little trip down 2013's memory lane:
2013 opened with Goddesschess sponsorship at the Grand Pacific Open, a regional tournament hosted in Vancouver, British Columbia that draws from a wide area and, I like to think thanks in part to Goddesschess sponsorship, has hosted some very fine female players the past few years! At the 2013 tournament (traditionally held over Easter weekend) WGM Kateryna Rohanyan, who received sponsorship funds, finished in 4th place overall, just missing out on a share of the tournament prize money, but she did take top Goddesschess honors -- $80. Hardly the kind of prize worthy of a player who has participated in several U.S. Women's Chess Championships, but I as so happy she played. Four other female chessplayers also took home Goddesschess cash prizes.
On April 13, 2013, the Hales Corners Chess Challenge XVII took place. I had intended to play in Challenge XVII after withdrawing from Challenge XVI in October, 2012, which took just a few days after the death of Don McLean, my dear Mr. Don. But I just wasn't feeling up to part in April while continually wrestling with health issues. I hated missing Challenge XVII -- let me tell you! Goddesschess paid out $540 in prize money to the chess femmes, including prize money to my chess buddy Ellen Wanek, pictured here with Tom Fogec (left) and Robin Grochowski (right):
On the heels of Hales Corners Chess Challenge XVII was the U.S. Women's Chess Championship in May, 2013, hosted at the beautiful Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis. Goddesschess sponsored a "Fighting Spirit" (I call it the "Fighting Chess") award of $500. Twelfth Women's World Chess Championship GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, once again agreed to serve as judge and selector of the Goddesschess prize winner.
Ultimately, she chose Anna Zatonskih as the winner of the Goddesschess Fighting Spirit Award.
June 15 - 16, 2013, Goddesschess provided prize money for the Second (2013) Milwaukee Summer Challenge, hosted by my adopted chess club (Southwest Chess Club). Honestly, I don't have a clue who ultimately won the best game prize money for the sections, but I know for sure the folks at Southwest Chess Club would have worked hard to ensure that all was fairly done and that the prize money went to the best game in each section, regardless of the winner's actual rating.
On October 12, 2013, after a summer of on-line training games with chess buddies Shira Evans Sanford and Ellen Wanek, stern but fun task-masters, I played in the Hales Corners Chess Challenge XVIII. Looking back, I can't believe I actually did it. LOL! Maybe not such a laughing matter, because October 12th is the anniversary of Mr. Don's death. But if he'd been here, he would have egged me on to go play (and I'm sure he was thinking maybe I'd make a fool of myself, because we were that competitive when it came to our chess and he HATED it when I won the occasional game against him), and I would have tweaked him as a chicken-heart because although I challenged him to come and play, or at least stand around and take excellent photos of the players at one of the Hales Corners Chess Challenges many times since Goddesschess had begun sponsorship (back in Challenge VIII), he always backed down. Ha! See, I'm still tweaking him up in Heaven.
So, it was with bittersweet memories that I met up with Ellen Wanek at Challenge XVIII at the playing venue. Ellen surprised me with a gift of a lovely chess tote bag!
I immediately put that tote bag to use, and I put my chess training to good use too, drawing one game against a player rated almost 2x higher than I (and he was cute, too), and giving what I felt were good efforts in two other games. The last game, I totally crashed and burned. It was my fault, as my head was hurting (felt like my brain was going to explode) and I was exhausted. I should have given my opponent much more of a challenge. I'm embarrassed by what happened! I should have told the TDs that I was withdrawing after R3. Oh well. That's the way it goes, sometimes.
I will not be stupid and say that I do not mind losing games, because I do - terribly! But if I lose a game after what I consider a damn good effort on my part, well, that's a different story. At least I can take pride in my effort, if not the result. At present, I just do not have the stamina I need to put forth what I consider a decent effort to play four intense 60 minutes on each side chess games in a single day.
Hales Corners Chess Challenge XVIII proved to be very lucrative for the chess femmes in terms of Goddesschess prize money -- $800! A NEW RECORD! The chess femmes came through and rose to my challenge made after Chess Challenge XVII, to break a record in prize money awarded to them! I was soooo fricking happy! Poor, but very very happy! LOL!
And, in honor of Mr. Don and all that he meant to Goddesschess, I put up one-time cash prizes (in the form of Visa gift cards) of $100 and $50, respectively, to the top male finisher in each section (Invitational and Open). Don would have been so tickled about that! A Goddesschess $50 best game prize was also on the table, open to all players.
The photo above is of Mr. Don's corner of my desk in the front room, decked out for Christmas 2013, with glittery bird perched on a photo of a handsome Mr. Don in his prime (1999, when we first met), the one-armed warrior made out of a clothspin that Mr. Don rescued from the curbside outside his apartment and gifted to me one lovely Christmas visit, a pine cone from the grounds of St. Joseph's Basilica in Montreal, we spent a leisurely morning exploring there on December 7th after our memorable trip to Amsterdam in November/December 2001, the Queen Bird (moi, of course). A precious photo of Mr. Don and I at the end of a carriage ride in old Montreal on that mild December 7, 2001 day, taken outside the Notre Dame Cathedral of Montreal. The lamp, embellished with the royal fleur-de-lis, is suitable for such a royal couple, don't you think! Oh, and my version of the Eternal Flame, in the shape of a red glass heart that is either filled with an actual burning votive candle or a battery-operated votive candle.
Call me sentimental...
Like magic, I am reminded of the immortal words of the poets 'come live with me, and be my love...(Marlowe) ...the best is yet to come...'(The Scorpions):
In 2014: Live your life doing good for others, in whatever way you can, in whatever way makes you most fulfilled. Hey, darlings -- it's really not that difficult. Just fricking do it, okay? None of us lives forever, and we do not know what tomorrow holds.
I'll once again be sponsoring these wonderful events (one in honor of Mr. Don's Canadian homeland).
I love you all! Here's to a fantastic and absolutely wonderful 2014! The best is yet to come!