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  • Writer's pictureJames Neal

Iowa City Starbucks Chess Reunion

I met chess students at the library and trained with friends at Starbucks.

I started the day in Coralville, Iowa. My goal was visiting the library I had poured so many tutoring hours into over the years. I did not initially meet any friends but as I proceeded to make progress on a fiction I had been casually reading for about a month, one of my former students had recognized me and we engaged in serious dialogue aimed at revitalizing the chess scene in Iowa City.


During the second year of the pandemic (2021), I chose to preserve my sanity and left the state to appease my wanderlust. The journey was about 2 years but I found myself constantly being pulled back to Iowa as if I were drawn in by its gravitational pull. It was likely the desire for the familiar but I often felt like a stranger during my travels. My new plan is to create a weekend chess club for my students to play chess and possibly support some of my loftier goals. I will be publicizing those goals in the future…


Later that day, I reunited with a few of my friends from Iowa City. I engaged in some good humored provocation with Dan, earlier in the day, to let him know I was not planning to take it easy on him. He mentioned he would be playing at a Starbucks in Iowa City so I decided to make a trip. I met Jason as well and the both were engaged in a series of 5 minute games with bets to maximize the intensity.

For some odd reason, I was playing much faster than usual. I had not played a in-person blitz match in a long time but I was moving as though I was being guided by the divine. Dan had made it known many years ago that I had an issue of hesitating before I completed a lot of my moves and it had the negative effect of slowing my play down. I think the flaw in that was likely not having as much confidence in my decisions or a clear plan of action. I felt like I was bound to make a mistake and hesitated largely for that reason. Maybe my dietary changes had a positive effect in this area. My mind is much clearer than it had been years back and I have been more social since the pandemic.

It could have also been  attributed to my summer training in Kansas. I think I played around 8 games between the two of them and gave up only one draw.


NOTE: I am a master (~2200) and I have known the both of them to hover somewhere in the 1700 playing ability. I should be expected to win every game and 7.5 out of 8 is to be expected.


My next big event will come this weekend in the Chicago area. I will blog about that as well as show some short videos like the one I have added below.


I have officially added a blog shortcut to my iPad and I hope to make a habit of posting my raw thoughts on a regular basis.


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