I shared this with some friends a few years ago, now the whole world can not read about it.


I played Howard Lederer, heads up.

At Chess.

25 years ago.

This ain’t no California-style Recovered Childhood memory Moment, it really happened.

It finally came back to me this week, after reading Katy Lederer’s “Poker Face”, a memoir about the Lederer Clan, and re-reading the HL chapter in “Aces & Kings”, a new poker bio book that I just finished. I mean, I knew he went to the prep school in my town, his dad was a grammar maven, yadda yadda yadda. But nothing I’ve ever read on HL ever mentioned his chess in detail, just him and his sister playing random board games as kids.

Until now. Per A&K, Howard was captain of the St. Paul’s chess team. On their way to the state championship, they played a little Catholic school down the road, Bishop Brady HS. Its chess captain? Let’s put it this way, it weren’t no gurl in a thigh-high plaid green skirt.

Then it all came together. Their captain, as i recall, was a biggish guy. Somewhat intense. No nonsense. Do the years match? Check. Goddamn, why didn’t I sort this out before?

Oh, yeah, he kicked my ass. He drew white, played English Opening, which I was totally clueless about defending (and still am), and I resigned about move 16, give or take a couple. He even did a post-game critique afterward, speculating that I could have opened my King-side rook file or something; gimme a fucking break, it was a quarter century ago so the details are fuzzy. (The A&K book also describes this HL-type behavior during his Mayfair days.)

Our similarities don’t end with a passion for games: He blows off stoopid NH burg for big city college; ditto. Middle of the night smokes on 14th and 6th; ditto. Sleeping in Washington Square Park; ditto. Weight “issues”? Yep. Somehow, my WSOP bracelets and millions in NFL line arbitrage went missing. Maybe they’re under the sofa cushions or something.

Anyway, thanks for listening. With luck, maybe Howard and I will have a rematch someday.

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