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Forum Home > Everything Else > A story about Steve Dillard

Russ Billings
Member
Posts: 7

This is a paraphrased story from 30 years ago

 

When I met Steve Dillard, his primary across the board rival was a man named Don.  Their games were intense, both while playing 5-minute speed chess on Tuesday nights or when playing across the board when they met in tournament play.

 

One Tuesday night at chess club, Steve had a story to tell.

 

Don and Steve had met across the board in tournament play the previous weekend.  It was the usual tense affair, closely balanced tactical position, time pressure, et cetera.  Then Don made a speed-chess mistake.  He moved his king immediately next to Steve's king, shouted "Check" and punched the clock.

 

Steve could not stop laughing.  "He looked so serious."  Three days later, Steve still could not control his mirth.

 

Steve said that he left the floor of Davidson Hall to calm down, so he could finish the game ... but when walked through the door and saw those two kings side by side, he lost it, again.

 

The tournament director ultimately had to toss Steve out because of the distraction.

September 9, 2015 at 12:41 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Ryan Velez
Member
Posts: 272

That is awesome! I bet it was Don Lutz haha

--

KCA Scholastic Coordinator

September 9, 2015 at 1:43 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Lutz has Returned
Moderator
Posts: 256

Nope... For the 1st time in my life ... I am innocent..


I was still a kid when playing at Davidson.. ( Which was a rare in itself )

 

Really funny story though.


September 9, 2015 at 3:39 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Mike Thomas
Member
Posts: 29

It was Don Ifill. who. if I recall, has since passed away.

September 9, 2015 at 3:57 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Russ Billings
Member
Posts: 7

Mike Thomas at September 9, 2015 at 3:57 PM

It was Don Ifill. who. if I recall, has since passed away.

Yep.  Don passed in the mid-1990s, if I recall correctly.

 

Althought apparently I had already posted that story.  Oops.  I apologize for the duplication.  Still, I had a reason - I'll be posting the second story I have to share in a little while.

September 9, 2015 at 6:57 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Russ Billings
Member
Posts: 7

And now for the second "Steve" story that I have.  The day I got him to throw a chess piece across the room ... in a game he wasn't even playing in.

 

I started playing chess at the clubs in Louisville in the early 1980s, when I was in middle school.  Steve was one of the group of class A / B players that was willing to play with us kids, and was an absolute riot to talk to.  I will always appreciate the amount of time he spent with us, even as he was trying to improve his own game.

 

(omninous music) ... but in 1983, things changed ... (cough, hack)

 

Anyway. I started attending Trinity High School, and met up with several other strong players already there, and joined the school's chess team.  Most teams were lucky to have one student that had played in the local tournaments - we had three, and a fourth that could take me about a third of the time.

 

The year after that, Steve started coaching one of the other schools that was participating in the local chess league.  Of course we gave him grief about being "the enemy", all the while jokingly trying to convince him to jump ship and come teach at our school.  When it came time for our two schools to play, I am very sure that Steve took the opporunity to train his team how to play each of us - he was their coach, after all.  It did not matter the first year we played, but that prep became a factor in my junior and senior years.

 

Larry and Ken had gradutated, so I held my school's top board in 1985/6.  We had two matches against Steve's team that season - but I only remember one of the two matches - the one held in the Trinity High School library.

 

Steve's top board was a solid player.  This day, I think he decided to try to psyche me out - he came up to the board wearing a leather jacket, mirrored sunglasses, and leather gloves - and did not take them off.

 

I immediately thought to myself, "He's afraid of me!  He's mine!"

 

Stupid thing think, though.  I got in trouble in the middlegame with his pawns on my king 5 and queen 4 cramping my position, and his rook on my third rank.

 

The move I wanted to make was to push my king up to capture the king pawn, then capture the queen pawn - except his rook would slide to my king 3 and checkmate me.

 

Steve was hovernig nearby, watching the progress of the game, and scanning the other games, and then returning to watch ours.

 

I thought long and hard about what I was going to do, and then decided to find out if he would notice that the rook would protect the far pawn or not.  So I intentionally moved into the position that allowed a one-move checkmate.

 

Steve tried very, VERY hard to suppress his reaction whan he saw what I did, but I don't think I have ever seen Steve cross his arms so quickly and freeze still.

 

My gambit worked.  His student noticed Steve's reaction, and started looking at the board ... and he overlooked the checkmate.  Steve turned, and threw the knight he had in his hand the length of the Trinity High School Library, then he went to go pick it up.  It also wrecked the games of all seven of his players.

 

With those pawns gone, I tore the other guy apart.  I wish I still had a copy of the game so I could remember if I was playing black or white ... but it has been nearly 30 years.

 

 

Now, I did not name the other student involved in this, as I suspect he may be watching.  If you are, and if you are willing to share, I would like to know the rest of the story - how did Steve react when he was out of earshot?  I never had the nerve to ask him, myself.

 

 

Oh, and Steve got his revenge.  In my junior year, he had trained one of his players to play me in the league games.  That week, Joe Dale challenged me and kick me down to fourth board.  I did not realize how convenient that was until Steve was shocked to find out I was fourth board that week, instead of third.  Two years passed, and I was the highest rated scholastic player in the state of Kentucky ... and them met Steve's third board in the open state scholastic championship.  That prep work must have paid off, as I went down in flames that game.

September 9, 2015 at 7:39 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Ryan Velez
Member
Posts: 272

What a fantastic story. I am going to post a Steve story tomorrow - about to go to bed. Thanks for sharing! 

--

KCA Scholastic Coordinator

September 9, 2015 at 11:18 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Ryan Velez
Member
Posts: 272

I remember I was directing at my first tournament only a couple of years ago. Steve was helping me make decisions. One of them was a touch move question. So of course I go over and try to figure out who is telling the truth or if it is just a misunderstanding.

It was impossible to know what happened: one kid was very eloquent and seemed aware about what was going on while the other kid was calm, listened, and denied it happened without tears or tantrums. However, I did manage to discover a small flaw in one of the arguments that logically allowed me to determine what happened. 

Essentially, I was faced with telling one kid that they had to lose their queen. I explained this to them and explained the logic I discovered. Neither was upset or cried and the game was about to proceed.

What I did not know was Steve was behind me listening. He interrupted my ruling and got both players to admit that they both recognized one position. They both agreed "Yes, this position occurred." Whereas in the controversial position they did not agree.

Afterward Steve agreed with me that my ruling was reasonable and my logic was sound based on the arguments that were made. But he informed me that his decision was also good stating that the game must proceed.

In the end, we disagreed. But he did show me that a big part of being a tournament director is to look at the range of rulings you could make instead of finding the only ruling because more often than not there is more than one way to handle a situation.

Steve did not throw any pieces in my story, but Steve equally lives on in us both!

September 10, 2015 at 12:18 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Russ Billings
Member
Posts: 7

I do not remember Steve ever throwing anything - except for that one, singular time.  That is why it stands out in my memory.


September 10, 2015 at 4:32 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Russ Billings
Member
Posts: 7

A third (and final) "Steve story", from early in his tenure as a scholastic chess tournament organizer - back in the days when he was assisting Dr. Wayne Bell, rather than leading the charge, himself.


So, call it 1990 (or so), at a well-attended event at a high school located in either Elizabethtown or Bowling Green.  I was not personally at that one, but I heard afterwards that maybe 80 students had shown up to play - certainly more than the adult tournaments were drawing at the time.


I was hearing the details from Steve, himself, during the followng Tuesday chess club meeting.


He told us that he had been standing at the wall charts, filling in scores and results, when he felt someone tug on his sleeve.  He was surprised; because he had not seen or felt someone walk up to him, so he quickly turned around.


That was when I understood the horrified look Steve had on his face, when said that the little kid (maybe waist high) had gotten in very close, and that he had accidentally bumped the kid on his head.  "tears streaming down the kid's face, so I'm trying to apologize ... and then I feel a tug on my other sleeve.  Two in one day."


I think he was Confessing that Tuesday night.  He knew it was a mistake, but it was his mistake and he still felt terrible about it.  Steve was always much, much more careful at scholastic events after that.  When he convinced me (and others) to help him when he ran a couple of those tournaments, he made a point to warn us to look out for and pay attention to knee-height chess players, and not to make and sudden moves or changes in direction."

September 10, 2015 at 5:02 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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