How I Became an A Player

After laboring for more than two straight decades as an expert, tonight I finally made it to Class A. Here is how I did it:

It all started when I found out that the nun, Sister Theresa Courtney, was on her way to my apartment to see my children. That meant that I had to clear out of the house to make sure than the nun did not catch me with my kids.

This is a long story, but this vicious man-hating woman has been attacking me since 1991, even though I have never met or spoken to her. (I saw her once from a distance).

In May, 1991, she led my pregnant wife, newly arrived in America, and our two children out of the back door of the Jamaica Arms Hotel in Queens, while I was waiting in my car out the front door to pick them up and take them to Virginia. The dear sister hid me from them and them from me for the next four years until I finally found them in April, 1995.

When she found out that I had my two sons in California in May 1995, the dear sister had me arrested and had the two boys extradited to New York.

In February 1997, I came to New York and started living with my wife and three children again, this time in Spanish Harlem. Four months later, Sister Theresa Courtney found out about this, had me arrested again and forced my wife and children to move again.

It took me a year to find them. My wife and children are so terrified that Sister Courtney and her lawyer, Dorchen Leidholdt (who once received the honor of being named "Asshole of the Month" by Larry Flynt) will force them to move again (by now they have been forced to move five times because of those two man-haters), that when she comes, if I happen to be at home, I have to hide in the closet until she leaves.

Three weeks ago, I was on the Internet. Since we have only one phone line, when the dear sister called, the phone was busy because I was online, so she came anyway. She rang the bell outside, but I was not dressed. I grabbed some clothing and scrambled to get out the door. Somebody had let her in the building. Just as I escaped out the door, she came out the elevator. I escaped less that two seconds before she could have seen me. Less than two seconds more and the wrath of Sister Theresa Courtney would have come down upon us again.

So, today, at 9:00 AM, when I heard that the sister was coming (she often comes on Sundays) I quickly dismantled my computer and hid it in my closet. Otherwise, how could my kids explain that they have their own computer? I then left. In order to escape the wrath of Sister Theresa Courtney, I hid out at the Marshall Chess Club.

As it turned out, Sister Theresa Courtney did not come today after all. This is because we had a blizzard today. (Can you imagine that, on April 9th?) The dearly beloved sister was not going to trudge through the snow just to harass my family, so she decided not to come. Had I known this, I would not have made it to Class A at chess today.

While I am on this subject, does anybody know of a way how I can find out the mother superior of Sister Theresa Courtney, so I can have her de-nunified or defrocked or whatever it is that they do to errant nuns?

Anyway, at the Marshall Chess Club, there was a tournament as usual underway, and Steve Immitt, the director, asked me if I could play as a filler, because they had an odd number of players. I am running for something (I am not sure what it is that I am running for) so naturally I had to agree. Thus started the conspiracy.

They sat me down at last board (naturally, since I was a filler). My opponent exuded weakness. I mean to say, this guy just looked weak. I did not bother to look up his rating. What would be the point?

I did not find out until after the game was over that he is only 16 and is the New York City High School Champion. I trotted out my strong, solid opening:

[Event "New York April Open"] [Site "New York (USA)"] [Date "2000.04.09"] [Round "2"] [White "Miarena, Marcus"] [Black "Sloan, Sam"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C40"] [WhiteElo "2090"] [BlackElo "2025"] [PlyCount "64"] [EventDate "2000.04.08"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 f5 3. exf5 d6 4. d3 Bxf5 5. Nc3 Nf6 6. Be2 Nc6 7. Bg5 h6 {

Had I known that my opponent is a strong player, I would probably have played 7. ... Be7. However, I wanted to finish off this guy quick!

} 8. Bxf6 gxf6 9. Nh4 Be6 10. Bh5+ Kd7 {

After the game, he said that he thought he was winning here. He was wrong. Little did he know that I like to march my king out into the middle of the board.

} 11. Bg4 Nd4 12. Bxe6+ Kxe6 13. Qg4+ f5 {

The point! Now, White cannot protect both the knight on h4 and the rook on a1. White must lose something.

} 14. Qg6+ Kd7 15. Nxf5 Nxc2+ 16. Ke2 (After this game was over, I showed this game to Figler, a strong player from Moldova. Figler said that best was 16. Kd2. Then, after Nxa1, White continues the attack and does not bother to capture the knight on a1.

} Nxa1 17. Rxa1 Qe8 18. Qg4 Qe6 (

Now, White has lost most of his attack. Black is the exchange up and is clearly winning.

} 19. Qf3 c6 20. Kf1 Rg8 21. d4 Rg5 {

Figler said that I should have played 21. exd4, a move I never even considered, either here or on the next move. This appears to lead to a quick win for Black.

} 22. Ng3 Be7 23. Nce4 Rg6 24. dxe5 Rf8 25. Qd3 Qxe5 {

Did I forget to mention that this game was played at sudden death game in 30 minutes? Here, I plotted a deep trap. I figured that my opponent might try to win back the exchange with 26. Nc5+ Qxc5 27. Qxg6, forgetting about Qxf2 mate.

} 26. Rc1 Qxb2 {

Again to keep an eye on the f2 square, thereby preventing the knight from moving. However, this is a bad move. It gives White good chances. I should have played simply Kc7, securing my king position. Then, I do not see how White can keep his attack going.

} 27. Rb1 Qxa2 28. Rxb7+ Kd8 {

Black is now in trouble, but is still winning.

} 29. Nd2 Rg5 30. Nge4 Rd5 31. Qe2


Two commentators after the game asked why White did not play Qh3, threatening Qd7 mate. Can you see the reason? This was one of the many traps I was hoping my opponent would fall into.

} Qa1+ 32. Rb1 Qd4 {

And now the game is obviously over. I am going to force a trade of queens with Qd3, leaving me with an easy win, an exchange and a pawn up.

Did I forget to mention that this game was played at sudden death game in 30 ? You guessed it. At this point, having less than a minute left, I lost track of the score. This sort of game is just too complicated to play in 30 minutes. A few moves later, I saw that I had only 20 seconds left, which guaranteed that I was going to lose this game because I am a slow player anyway and even if I had a queen more I could not play an entire game in 20 seconds.

I offered my opponent a draw and, even though I had a clearly winning position, he declined the draw offer for obvious reasons. I blitzed off a bunch of moves, during which I put almost all of my pieces en pries, and then my flag fell.} 1-0

This is about as strong as I am capable of playing. I did not make any blunders. I only played one bad move, 26. ... Qxb2, but I still had a clearly winning position after that move. Nevertheless, I lost the game.

According to my calculations, that puts my rating down to 1992. Going into this tournament, my rating was 2025. However, yesterday I played another game as a filler, this time because Dorchen Leidholdt, the lawyer for Sister Theresa Courtney, was coming to see my kids. There was no blizzard yesterday and the dear attorney at law actually did show up. Meanwhile, I was hiding out at the Marshall Chess Club. I lost that game as a filler too. Here is that game:

[Event "New York April Open"]
[Site "New York (USA)"]
[Date "2000.04.08"]
[Round "2"]
[White "Rose, Michael"]
[Black "Sloan, Sam"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A40"]
[WhiteElo "1979"]
[BlackElo "2025"]
[PlyCount "75"]
[EventDate "2000.04.08"]

1. d4 e5 2. dxe5 Nc6 3. Nf3 Qe7 4. Nc3 Nxe5 5. e4 c6 6. Be2 d5 7. Nxe5 Qxe5 8.
exd5 Bb4 9. O-O Bxc3 10. bxc3 Qxd5 11. Qxd5 cxd5 12. Rb1 Ne7 13. Ba3 b6 14.
Bb5+ Kd8 15. Rfe1 Be6 16. c4 dxc4 17. Rbd1+ Kc7 18. Rxe6 fxe6 19. Rd7+ Kc8 20.
Rxe7 a6 21. Bxc4 g6 22. Bxe6+ Kd8 23. g3 h5 24. Bd6 h4 25. Rg7 Ke8 26. f4 g5
27. f5 Rd8 28. Re7+ Kf8 29. Rd7+ Ke8 30. Re7+ Kf8 31. Rd7+ Ke8 32. Rxd8+ Kxd8
33. f6 Rh6 34. f7 Rxe6 35. f8=Q+ Kd7 36. Ba3 Re1+ 37. Kg2 Re2+ 38. Kh3 1-0

Note that both games were played in the second round of the same tournament. This is not a typo. Such is the life of a filler.

My last three rated tournament games have all been as a filler. The one before these two was against Mike Cavallo at the 1999 US Open in Reno. I lost all three of these games, thereby dropping my rating down from 2041 to, according to my calculations, 1995.

The last time I can remember that my rating ever fell below 2000 was in 1978. That was 22 years ago. In 1978 I was in a very unhappy marriage and I would use the excuse of wanting to play in a chess tournament just to get out of the house. I played frequently and lost almost all of my games. My rating not only dropped below 2000 but it went down to around 1900. However, by 1980 or 1981 I was back to mid-expert again.

I first officially became an expert in either 1965 or 1966. I was easily expert strength by 1963. So, except for a few occasional dips below 2000, another occurred in 1969, I have been a rated expert for 35 years.

Due to a vast right-wing conspiracy by Tim Just, the 100 point rating floors were abolished in 1996. I was rated 2107 going into the 1999 World Open, which was my last regular tournament where I actually paid an entry fee. I did badly there and even lost to a 1745 player, which caused my rating to fall from 2107 to 2041.

Now that I have finally made Class A, after more than 20 continuous years as an expert, I feel like a new man, a man who has just gotten divorced and wants to try young fillies again.

What should I do now?

Sam Sloan

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