Wednesday, 8 May 2019

More Memories of the Mighty Mish

How the years have flown by since my great friend Mike Closs unexpectedly left us.

It was on this day 2010 when the awful news came through about Mike. It was an event that changed my way of thinking in many aspects.

I have written many times here at Marsh Towers about my times with Mike, playing alongside him for the chess of both Guisborough and Elmwood, during the respective clubs' most successful tenures. It is another sign of the passage of time that those two former giants of Teesside chess no longer exist.

We had so much fun over so many years that I still hold many previously unshared memories. Such as...
  • The times he berated me for being a fan of 'those dinosaurs' the Rolling Stones, which were negated when I went to his house one day and found 'Start Me Up' on his turntable.
  • Playing pranks on anyone who dared to come to a tournament with us - especially when they shared the same hotel. The incident with the watch alarm, the affair of the fake Russian names, the shenanigans where we tricked a worse-for-wear colleague into ordering himself triple fish and chips late at night, all of which he ate...with explosive consequences the very next morning.
  • The almost imperceptible looks we gave each other when we made eye contact during tough matches, conveying in an instant how we both thought we doing during the game. 'I'm winning; you make a draw and the match is ours!'
  • Playing a tandem simultaneous display (alternating our moves) against 30+ juniors and meeting in the middle at one point to discuss why one of us kept blundering away our queens and other pieces - only to conclude the children had simply been removing our pieces, thinking we wouldn't notice.
  • Hearing the fire alarm go off at 2.30 a.m. while we were away at the York Chess Congress. As I was still up, listening to music and reading, I left my room to help people evacuate the building. First of all I knocked on Mike's door but he said he couldn't be bothered to get up. I said, You might burn and he replied, 'Well, so what if I do?' (His standard reply when told the possible consequences of his inaction)
  • Watching him trying to very quietly resign a game against an opponent he always used to beat very easily so he could slip away without experiencing the other's fanfare, only to have his plan foiled when his opponent shouted out to the whole club: 'I never thought I'd ever beat the great Clossy!' The impact was augmented by the fact that it was the pivotal game of the annual County Championship - and the defeat virtually handed me the title on a plate...
  • ...and then me, trying to console him later. It's not so bad; just one bad game after another excellent season. 'Not so bad!? I've just lost to a ******* half wit!!'
How he would have enjoyed being a part of the new successes of The Buffs chess club this year. He would definitely played alongside me again.

He would also have laughed at my choice of Jeepster by T. Rex for his funeral. We used to sing along to that on the way to our chess matches; so excited, so full of fire and enthusiasm - and a very strong desire of not wanting to be the one having to explain away a defeat on the way home.

We are still reunited, all these years on, in my vivid dreams. We still play alongside each; we still exchange the virtually imperceptible glances.

Soon we will play the 10th Mike Closs Memorial tournament, a series of events like no other. The previous nine editions of the tournament have helped the event to develop a long and distinguished history, with many experimental formats and venues.

I don't believe in the afterlife - I don't believe in anything - but as long as I am still around I am determined to keep alive the memory of my great friend.

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