Friday, August 17, 2012

RIP Jon Burgess

National Master Jon Burgess took his own life last weekend in the garage of his home near Prospect High School. He is survived by his wife and young son. I have known Jon since he moved to the United States from England nearly a decade ago. I played him several times, but never managed better than a draw. I also played on a couple of teams with Jon. As both an opponent and a teammate he was generous and supportive.

I last saw Jon at the Chicago Open chess tournament in May. He and Michael Auger were going over a game they had just played in the U2300 section. It was a wild tactical battle and they were having great fun exploring the possibilities. After they were done, Jon asked me if I wanted to go over any of my games with him. I wish I had taken him up on his offer.

I never would have guessed that Jon suffered from depression, but sometimes its hard to tell. It saddens me that he didn't know how much fun it could be to hang around with him.

Chess players are prone to see life as a chess game, but it's important not to forget the differences:
  • In life, all resignations are premature.
  • In life, it's never a bad idea to play a couple more moves just to see what happens.
  • In life, no matter how overwhelming the attack may seem, there is always a chance to turn things around.
  • In life, even if you feel like all your pieces have been captured, there is probably a pawn somewhere that you haven't noticed.
I wish that Jon had played out the position a little longer.

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