My youngest brother came home from school and was bragging he beat his teacher at chess. The teacher was supposed to be really good. I was 21 and fresh out of the Air Force. He taught me the game and beat me soundly. I think I finally won one after about ten games. The we started breaking even, then I started to win the majority, then all the time. My brother quit playing and I started playing all our friends and anyone else who would play.
Then one day I saw a story in the newspaper about the Riverside Chess Club. They said it was one of the strongest clubs in the country. This was 1976. Among the members there were GM Larry Christiansen (3-time U.S. Champion), California State Champion IM David Strauss, 15-year old master and winner of the American Open Perry Youngworth, and many other masters.
Thinking I was good since by then I beat everyone in town (Sunnymead, CA), I went to the club and got humbled badly. I later found out I played an expert. I went home discouraged but started reading books at the library on openings, mates, endgames, and games from the greats. I also read back issues of Chess Life Magazine.
I went back to the club and almost qualified for the club championship, losing to a 1300 in the final round. I was placed in the lowest section and went 5-0.
I qualified for the championship every year after that but never won, finishing in the bottom half every time.
In 1979 I played James K Williamson a 6-game match and scored 3 wins and 3 losses. He was 2-time South Dakota State Champion and had moved out here to Riverside. Overall however he doubled the score on me in all our games. He was a rated expert and after that match I reached my highest rating of 1963, which I matched again later.
I soon started working for the Post Office and worked the graveyard shift. I got mixed up in things to stay awake and my game went south from there, they eventually becoming non-existant.
I started playing again recently online. I'm not nearly at the level I used to be, thanks to old age, inactivity, and those other previously mentioned 'things'.
Been clean now for close to ten years. 🙂