I have arrived to Atlanta yesterday, there was about a dozen players, local and out of town, greeting newcomers at the hotel. Some old friends I knew for 25 years. My brother just came from Europe, it seems every hotel there is charging $20 a day for computer connection. The airports are charging too, and there was an in-flight charge of $17 on my trip! They are making money on everything! So it was so nice to discover the Wellesley Inn was old-fashioned and had the internet free.
I had a long conversation with Alfred "Eastpoint" Barnett, the 8-times American Champion. He moved away to a small town and there is trying to teach local kids to play checkers. While I was showing him bits and pieces of the Library site I was amazed at the speed with which he was solving positions on the screen! He asked me to sell some of the books - but I do not sell, plus - all the books are available on the site - print them yourself!
For many years Mr. Barnett cherished the thought of writing a book, but I think he needs someone local to help put his thoughts on paper. Last time it was Mr. David Jackson who liaisoned posting some beautiful shots from Eastpoint. Let's hope more is to come.
At the restaurant I met another familiar looking gentleman. Turned out he was from Bahamas (they have a huge number of top checkers players), I played him in 1986 in St. Louis, Missouri. He said I offered him a draw but he did not accept and is mad about that till now :)
I am enjoying myself today, had many conversations, several training sessions, all spontaneous, just someone would ask something about the library, other players would join in and we would spend an hour or two exploring. Older players stayed a bit back, letting the younger folks have at me
Just saw George Robinson! As usual he is the happiest man in the room, just got out of the hospital, happy to play some checkers! Yes - George Robinson is 95 !!! As amazing as this is, even more remarkable is that he is a Top Master! And not just Top Master - he is always in the top 10! Many players paid dearly for trying to score on George, for he will punish any mistake you make! I told him of the challenges coming from Africa - he just laughed, he would just LOVE to play them all!
Mr. Robinson won his first two matches. Both Mr. Barnett and Mr. Monroe are here, so is Mr. Lambert, I was told that Mr. Brown was coming too. I did not see Mr. Williams. The playing hall is medium size and it is hot with so many people in it, so I come and go and just have occasional glimpses at the games. It feels that Mr. Monroe is very focused on winning.
Neither Mr. Brown nor Mr. Williams arrived. They have a peculiar card system that works for them, but it is hard to know who is ahead at any moment. I had two more wonderful sessions, many players never heard of the library site and are anxious to visit when they get home.
It is very common in Russian tournaments that immediately after the game players share and test the ideas considered during the game. The onlooking players also love these moments, they could finally offer their long waiting input. These impromptu communal analyses are the greatest thing there is, it's a fantastic feedback, to learn what you missed while you are still hot and intently remember every nuance of the game. I tried to do that a couple of times, showing the missed opportunities, wins instead of losses, missed draws - but this practice is foreign and unwelcomed.
I love watching the older gentlemen in the Blue Ribbon division slugging against each other, they have fun! They do not need three days to finish the tournament, they do it in a couple of hours! For them I would do a different tournament each day, to bring home many ribbons and stories of glory!
There was an interesting moment in the Top Master division - George Robinson was masterfully maneuvering defending a weaker ending, and he called on the official how many moves he needed to make to declare the game a draw? Several players offered their input but all wanted to know the official rule. But it was not that easy, they already made like 9-10 moves without an exchange, there was no recording on either side - if the count should be for example 30 moves - should the prior moves be subtructed?
I purchased a set of checkers from Roger Blaine yesterday, of course I have many sets at home, but these had a perfect size and weight to them, it is so often that pieces are too small, too large, too light, too thin, or have unpleasant feel or look to them, it is like an instrument you play, it must be perfect to enjoy. He had other types as well - but I had my eyes on these
Just went downstairs and saw Mr. Lockheart and Mr. Gooche working at entering the scores into a computer. Things seem to be going on smoothly. They have t-shirts and caps with the Atlanta 2012 insignia made, printed booklets. I did not see any photographers or journalists, but then I do not spend much time in the playing hall.