A Weekend of Chess
By Eric Vigil
A hectic chess weekend. I woke up at 0530 quickly showered and dressed. My daughter made me a cup of espresso, and I hopped in the car to drive to Ames. It was a sad day in Iowa Chess, our 20 time USCF delegate, chess coach, and former president passed away. I went to honor my memory of Roger.
My first memory was when I decided to run for the presidency of the Iowa Chess Association. I hadn’t been playing chess long, I still had a provisional rating. I declared my candidacy, I gave a speech, and then we were going to vote…. Not so fast implied Roger. “Who are you?” he questioned. I can’t remember all the questions he asked. I felt I was at a police interrogation. But with the lack of other candidates (Tom Hesse who had previously announced his candidacy met me in the stairway and said he had decided not to run once he heard I was running.) I guess I was it. My answers seemed good enough for Roger and he voted for me. But I don’t think he was sure of me yet. Two years later I went to the 28th Ames Chess Festival. Going into the 4th round, Roger pulled me aside and asked me to double check his pairing cards. WOAH! I knew then he thought I was OK. Maybe the fact I brought 10 extra clocks and all my tournament directing equipment to the tournament just in case anything required me to run the tournament, might have shown Roger I was serious. Roger once told me of a tournament where Steve Young was supposed to have ran it, and didn’t show up. Roger said he collected money, and ran it.
When I went to the US Open as alternate delegate from Iowa, Roger gave up his seat and let me be delegate, he also was so proud that someone else besides Randy Bauer from Iowa was coming to the delegates meeting. Where ever we went, Roger would introduce me to the other delegates and then he would give me a history of how we stood chess wise with these people and explained the history of certain decisions and articles of contention of the past. It was very helpful, and helped me be a better delegate and committee member.
Being there in Ames brought back memories, and many chess players were there to share stories of Roger. Randy Bauer, Dr Kapke, John Herr, former IASCA president Tim Mc Entee, Christine Denison, Matt Anzis and many others. It was fun to hear of all of what was going on with people and their fun stories of Roger. I had never met Barb Rogers girlfriend. She was so sad, and kept being pulled in many directions trying to be a great hostess while not breaking into tears every time she heard a story that struck a cord.
I left about noon forgoing a luncheon with many of Rogers Elk, Moose and American Legion friends as I had to get back for rounds 3 and 4 of the LeatherJackets reserve section. In the Open Jim Hodina had set a picture of Roger on Board 1 and that is where he played all day.
I made good time back to Cedar Rapids and got a quick lunch at the Vietnamese restaurant down the block from the playing hall. At the tournament I was happy to see Dan Brashaw on Board 2 2-0 on the day, taking steps to defend his crown. Arshaq Saleem was there securing his spot in the closed, and James Neal was putting down some more games to make him tied for first in number of qualifying games for the closed. It felt good to honor Roger by playing chess in a tournament.
Board 1 was left empty at the Cedar Rapids Leatherjackets in honor of Roger Gotschall