Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"A Note from Your Captain"

It's 3:30 a.m. I can't sleep and I'm heartbroken.

This would be a good post for young readers to skip.  (Text after the jump.)

Maret Thorpe forwarded me this email from this past February 16th....  Jon saw the chess board completely differently than I did, and had been giving me immensely helpful practical advice. In this email, he also shares a life lesson or two.

Jon's teammates are his immediate audience, but in retropsect, it's fairly clear that he was writing to himself as well. He should have listened to his own wise words more frequently.
We are now one day away from battling the other teams at the Team Champtionship !!!
First of all I would like to thank Maret (Who put the team together) , Evanston Chess [....]
Secondly I would like to thank all of you for joining the team and giving up your weekend in the name of chess !
I don't have a clue how many of you have played in team chess events before. When I lived in England I played in many teams events. If you were a member of a chess club the club usually had a team.
When I started playing chess in England when I was oh about 11 years old. I was hand picked to join a new club called Trafford Junior Knights. They picked the best players from the area and we formed a team. We joined the Manchester chess league in the bottom division which was Division 8 due to us being so weak compared to the rest of the league. That 1st season we won our division and got promoted and every year after that we got promoted higher and higher until we won the 3rd division at the first try and they said look your team is too strong for the 2nd division so they put us in the 1st division were they said we had no chance and you know what we won that too at the first attempt !!!
I have both individual goal and team goal this weekend. My individual goal is that I expect to win all 5 of my games. Some may say thats a bold statement since I will be outrated most rounds however I know that my chess ability is only limited to how I think and what I think I can do over the board. Obviously my team goal is that we beat everyone win the tournament and then go on to win the online playoff between the other winners of the other three tournaments. Some may say this is an unrealistic goals but you know what if you dont aim high to begin with then you will never get there.
All of you have your own goals for this weekend. It may be to win all your games, It may be to score 1/5 but that 1 win is against a strong player and means the world to you, It may be your playing just to have fun.
Whatever the goal you seek I wish you all well with it and I will be there to support you in trying to achieve your goal.
I remember playing in the Chicago Open in May 2004. I played in the 2 day schedule it was my first big tournament in the US. I was white and was playing GM Yury Shulman. Yury was rated 2606 and I was a lowly 2174 player. Many people would let the rating difference intimedate them however I sat down and I said to myself I am going to beat you. I am not going to stop until I win. I think Yury could tell when we started playing that I was more hungry for the win than he was. But I didnt just want to win I wanted to destroy him on the board that was my goal for the game. Stronger players are often not has hungry as weaker players because the weaker player is eager to get a scalp. I include a link to the game here. Many of you have already seen this game before. I ended on 4.5/7 for the tournament and gained 140 rating points. That included playing 3 GM's in the first 4 rounds. I defeated oe GM, one FM Alex Stamnov and a Master level player.
[link to Shulman game here]
My point is this anyone can beat anyone on the day do not be influenced by your opponents rating. What first decides if you will win is when you sit down at the board and either think yes Im going to try my best to win or oh no he has a high rating how can I possibly beat him.
Chess is not easy and yet chess is fun.
I will be available to analyze games over the weekend with any of you. Just come and find me.
I will be at the site aorund 6pm tomorrow night
If we win lose or draw this weekend I will be proud of every one of you in how you do. Try your best and even if you lose you can still be proud !
See you then
Jon Burgess
Evanston Chess Express:
Frank Lasch, Kent Cen, Isaac Braswell, Jon Burgess
(Not pictured: Bill Brock)
Sometimes Jon could give the impression of being self-confident to the point of arrogance, but in private, he was modest and self-deprecating.  Over the eight years I knew Jon, our relationship moved from a public alliance to a brief public feud, then to a private rapproachment, grudging respect, and in the past few years, true mutual friendship. Just last month, Jon was the guest master at an Evanston Chess Club event. He lost his game to a talented young player, then kibitzed the end of my game, in which another talented young player had the opportunity to create endgame difficulties for me, but ultimately let me off the hook. The post-mortem became an impromptu lesson in the importance of piece activity in rook and minor piece endings: both Jon and I always preferred pontificating to losing. :-)

This weekend, sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning, Jon Burgess hanged himself in his garage.  He is survived by his wife Colleen, his son, his family, and his friends.

We are all at a loss for words. It was sad to lose Ron Washington and Tom Fineberg, but we could take solace in knowing that they did not choose to die.  This is the way of the world: we bury our friends and move on with life. But losing both Isaac Braswell and Jon to suicide in the course of a couple months really hurts.  In the few hours I've been back in town, I've had the opportunity to speak to several of you, equally stunned.

Chess is a wonderful pastime for those who suffer from depression, but it certainly isn't a cure.


Ch1cag0Rob said...

Wow, truly devastating. Very sorry to hear this for his family, his friends, and the Chicago chess community. Isaac was no quitter on the chessboard, and I'm guessing neither was Jon. Just terrible to hear.

Anonymous said...

I found this very difficult to believe when I read it. And still cannot understand it.

I always looked forward to seeing Jon at the tournaments and learned a bit more about him when we chatted between rounds.

Jon will be missed very much from the Chicago chess tournaments.

Marty Wilber

Maret Thorpe said...

We are all heartbroken and will miss Jon tremendously. He was great company and a fun opponent and very helpful at Evanston Chess Club. He would be smashing one of us over the board (no surprise), while simultaneously kibbutzing the games on either side of AND talking about how his weekend was.

We'll be analyzing Burgess vs. Shulman (Chicago Open, 2004) at the club tonight.

Maret Thorpe

Frederick Rhine said...

I never met Jon, but that's a shame. btw, the link to his game against Shulman seems not to work.

Maret Thorpe said...

Here's the Burgess-Shulman game again; it appeared as part of Jon's lecture that was published on the ICA site. Sorry, I can't seem to get it to be a link.


Vince Hart said...

I am stunned. I last talked to Jon at the Chicago Open. He asked me if I wanted him to look at any of my games.

I know the pain of depression, but I know this as well: Life is not chess! In life, all resignations are premature. In life, it's always OK to play a couple more moves just to see what happens. In life, positions that look hopeless turn around all the time.

Vince Hart said...

I hope my last comment won't be taken as minimizing anyone's pain or suffering, because I feel nothing but the deepest sympathy for what Isaac and Jon were going through. I just wish that they both would have played the position out a little while longer.