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    Entries in Jimmy Quon (2)

    Wednesday
    Feb022011

    Charles Slade on Jimmy Quon

    Charles Slade is a friendly acquaintance of mine from my days out west, and in the comments to my short notice on Jimmy Quon's passing he offered a nice remembrance meriting its own post:

    This is a terrible shame. I just heard about Jimmy's untimely passing myself, and found this link. (Apparently he was better known as "Jim Quon," so many of my google searches were in vain.)

    Although this thread has probably long since run its course, I thought I'd share a story or two.

    I first met Jimmy at my first or second chess tournament. I was probably about 9 years old, which made him about 17. (Curiously, I never knew how old Jimmy was until I saw this post... he had a zen-like ageless quality to him.) We didn't play much chess when we met, although we recognized each other as being in the tournament. Instead, we met in the arcade at whichever Downtown (!) Vegas casino was hosting the tournament... the El Cortez, I think. He showed me how to get free games on the Congo Bongo machine, and that won him my immediate friendship, respect, and awe.

    I would see him at the bigger tournaments that came to Vegas over the years. Even as a kid, he stood out to me because so mellow and willing to socialize with everyone... regardless of age or rating.

    In fact, I never knew how good he really was. Whenever anyone would ask him what his rating was -- usually after he destroyed the guy who was asking -- he would always say something like "about 1500... but I'm getting better!" As a kid, I took that at face value. But only once I earned the 1500 ... or 1600, or 2000... rating and still never beat him did I come to appreciate the joke. At a time when the local chess scene seemed to be socially stratified by rating, I really liked that he treated everyone with dignity and respect. (In that regard, he reminded me of you, Dennis.)

    I remember asking him constant questions on how to improve. I was always asking the wrong questions -- along the lines of "I've memorized the book x moves deep, but what's the best x+1st move if black does so and so?" (Of course, this was before I really understood what positional play was about). Rather than answer those questions, he would patiently explain the nuances of the positional struggle. But of course, this was done in his self-deprecating style, along the lines of "Oh, I don't know what the x+1st move is! You've memorized the book way more than me... but let's see if we can figure it out.")

    Fond memories.

    Tuesday
    Jan252011

    Jimmy Quon, 1968-2010

    Jimmy Quon may not have been a famous chess player (though he was a good one, a solid USCF master),  but he was so well-liked that a strong GM norm-event was held in his honor last week. I knew him in the late 80s and 90s, when I lived out west, and although I didn't know him well he was the sort of person you always enjoyed being around: upbeat and quick to laugh, self-effacing and free of pretension. It's a pity for anyone to die as young as he did, and if I feel a sense of loss twenty years on I know that not only his loved ones but his friends in the Southern California chess community felt it even more strongly when he passed away last June. (Unfortunately, I only learned about his passing yesterday from another acquaintance of that time, Dan Oakes. Had I know earlier, I would have mentioned it right away.)

    Readers curious about him can find a brief obit here (scroll down to the first picture, just above the picture of Larry Evans), and there are some links about the memorial tournament (won by GM Mark Paragua) just above that.