Out here in New Orleans, the blogging convention had been going on all day, and the gang was kind of tired, so we decided to skip Colin Powell's closing speech "Defending America from Anonymous Flamers: Blogging in the Post-9/11 World."
On the way back to the hotel, we came across an elderly gentleman seated at a table with 2 chess boards and a sign that said: "Jude Acers, U.S. Chessmaster, $5/game." Since none of us had less than a $100 bill, I offered the least valuable thing I had on me, the deed to this blog.
He quickly accepted and the game was on. We (to clarify, we being Tom, al, Dan, Dan's assistant Rich, and Rich's assistant Jenevieve) soon found out that this was no ordinary bum. Rather, he was "The Man in the Red Beret".
Some highlights of the game and ensuing conversation:
* Multiple times, Jude cited the fact that he appears in the Guinness Book of World Records, presumably for the world's lowest number-of-homes-to-number-of-chess-victories ratio, which now bears his name.
* Jude was obsessed with the amazing ability of computers to teach even the slowest of learners the subtleties of the game. Take a hypothetical mental midget, say, any girl, for instance, Jenevieve. With careful study and extensive work, even Jenevieve could beat the most accomplished of chess prodigies, say, any man, how about Rich?
* Jude also predicted that chess had nowhere to go but up. Soon, online chess would easily eclipse online poker in both popularity and profitability, and would one day even challenge the silver tuna of online skill games, Literati. Jude was hazy on the logistics of all this happening, but there was one thing he knew for sure: "I think it will be Google. Yeah, Google. Yeah, I think it will be Google." When I asked "What about Yahoo, or MSN, I mean they already have networks built--," he cut me off abruptly: "Google. Definitely Google."
* Dan, Tom, and Dan's assistant were able to read the newspaper clippings taped to Jude's table. Two points of note here. In the general biographical article, we learned that Jude, after being orphaned at 6, "lived like a wolf on the streets--a chess-playing wolf." In another article, we learned that Jude, once played 24 prisoners simultaneously, only to lose to a convicted murderer. "I attacked him where it hurt the most," the winner explained. So it turns out that his strengths as a murderer were also his strengths as a chess player. Fun fact: to add insult to injury, the murderer's victim was Jude's mother, Gertrude.
* Don't get me wrong: while Jude was slightly (read: fucking) insane, when it came to chess, as far as I could tell he had the goods. However, he was a bit arrogant. After it was clear I was going to lose, I made a slightly sub-optimal move. Jude exploded. "Wow, I never imagined in my wildest dreams any one playing Kg2 there. That shows you have imagination. Wow, Kg2. Imagination, that's great, kid. Anyway, checkmate."
* While the Jude experience was humbling, it gave us a great idea. Later that day, Tom and I were set up on Bourbon St. with the following sign: "U.S. Taboomasters, $5/game, Accepting all Challengers". A quote from later that day:
Tom (to street urchin): "The Three ______" as a clue for "ninja"? Wow kid, you got imagination. Checkmate.
al and Jude going at it.