Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My Friends Armand, Emil, and Andy—especially Andy

My tribute to Anders Tejler (April 13, 1920 - December 25, 2001) which was printed in Virginia Chess, Number 2, 2002 ...

In 1976, at a tournament in Atlanta, I hap­pened across a Chess Digest booklet and discovered a chess opening and a gentle­man that were both destined to become lifelong friends. The opening was the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. The gentleman was Anders Tejler.

Between rounds of that Atlanta Swiss I studied Andy’s little book and alternately confused myself and any available skittles opponent with my newly­ discovered weapon. When Andy’s column appeared shortly thereafter in the American Postal Chess Tournaments News Bulletin I knew further resistance was futile. I wrote him and we began a correspondence that continued off and on over three decades.

Andy loved chess, correspondence chess, and just plain correspondence. I don’t know which he en­joyed the most. He came to chess a bit late. He was 14 before he learned the game from his fa­ther. And it was not until his service in the US Coast Guard in World War II that he discovered the Correspondence Chess League of America, and succumbed to the lure of that form of the game.

In 1954 Andy met Nikolajs Kampars in a CCLA correspondence section. “Nick trounced me roy­ally with a BDG,” he wrote. “This encounter led to a long correspondence, which lasted until Nick’s untimely death in August 1972.” From 1962 to 1967 he assisted Kampars in writing his BDG newsletter (first Blackmar Diemer Gambit and then Opening Adventures). Andy then worked with Nick to put together the Chess Digest booklets on specific BDG variations. From 1970 to 1973 his column on the BDG appeared in Chess Digest magazine Later Andy served Virginia chess as editor of and contributor to its newsletter, and as vice president of its federation.

From the beginning of our correspondence 35 years ago Andy stimulated and encouraged my in­terest in the BDG, generously sharing his ideas and material, including games and original letters from Diemer, Kampars, and others. More than any other person or event, Andy’s influence was re­sponsible for my little magazine, BDG World. Its model was admittedly Opening Adventures, and through Andy I have always felt a kinship and continuity with that paper. Although we corre­sponded for over three decades, and collaborated on a small book of his friend David Gedult’s BDGs, we never met face to face.

Andy once wrote me that “there is room in chess journalism for other than the analyst.” He never claimed to be one, and made that clear in the in­troductions to the Chess Digest booklets he wrote with Kampars. His approach was that of a true lover of the game, a fan. “For so we must count those who play and enjoy the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit: the true fans of chess, who play not for rating points or tournament glory, but for the thrill of a good fight, the adventure of an exciting game, the once-in-a-lifetime ecstasy of pulling off an im­mortal mating combination.” (Euwe Defense, Chess Enterprises, 1979).

From one fan to another, Andy, many thanks. Play on, old friend—as I know you will, for that immortal combination yet beckons.