I began to play Chess when I was confined to a wheelchair for one year at the age of 14 (1964). I watched George Koltanowski's chess program on Channel 9 (San Francisco), and read his column in the SF Chronicle. My aunt called him to find out what chess clubs there were in the area, and I was thrilled when he called me to join his club, the "Kolty" club, which I attended every Thursday evening.
In my first USCF tournament I tied for first in the B section and achieved a rating of 1730. After that, I played in the Expert/Master sections of local tournaments, because those were the only USCF-rated tournaments in town - the lower sections in these tournaments were rated by Koltanowski's CFNC (Chess Friends of Northern California). In one tournament (CFNC), I won two games on no-shows, so Koltanowski felt sorry for me and played me himself! One-on-one with a GM (though back then he was only an IM -- he was later rated a GM by someone in power who thought he should be a GM as he told me much later) and who had played Alekhine, Lasker, etc.! My openings were at Master level, endings at Expert level and middlegame lower (I preferred closed games and was consequently not as good at tactics).
My one real accomplishment came when I joined one club, and beat the reigning champion (a USCF Expert) four games in a row, and he stopped coming.
I retired from serious chess in 1969 at the ripe old age of 19, but in 1990 I began working as a programmer for Heuristic Software in Berkeley, owned by Julio Kaplan (yes, the World Junior Chess Champion), and staffed by such players as IM Marc Leski (speed champion of France and on the same French national team with Boris Spassky at the time), and Craig Barnes, national high school champion. Back then we did most of the programming for the Saitek chess computers. Watching the World Champion matches between Kasparov and Karpov and hearing the GM analysis of the staff was part of my job! Needless to say, I learned a lot.
It was during that time (in 1991) that I attended the Pan Pacific Grandmaster tournament in San Francisco, where a first saw new men's GM Zsuzsa (Susan) Polgar, aged 22 at the time (she lost to Torre that day), and Mikhail Tal. I actually managed to get a greeting from him. I also renewed my acquaintance with George Koltanowski, and worked with him in conjunction with my work at Heuristic Software. One day I picked him up at his house in San Francisco to drive him to Heuristic Software. On the way I asked him about some of the old masters, and he would tell me about them. Keres: "a good friend of mine;" Rubenstein: "afraid of his own shadow." He and the Heuristic Software staff all went to lunch, where he regaled us with more stories. I particularly remember him discussing Alekhine: "I should have beaten Alekhine!" (He agreed to a draw in a won game against him.) Also, I first learned from him that Alekhine actually died from choking on his food. He said that Alekhine did not eat, he "slopped," meaning he gulped his food down whole. He said he made a special trip to Portugal to verify this: "Back then choking to death in Portugal was viewed as suicide," so they couldn't put that on the death certificate, so they put heart attack or something. I was pleased to see in Kasparov's book on his predecessors that he discusses this as well, so I know there is something to it.
He also told us how Lasker took an interest in him as a young man, and they played a game that took three months to finish (Lasker would take time to explore the variations as they played). "I learned a h___ of a lot," he said,
That's pretty much it for my Chess bio. I learned from Marc Leski that the best way to study the middlegame is to study whole games of a particular opening and see how they transition to the middlegame. My chess goal now is to understand Grandmaster Chess (annotations of the sixties were really poor, just dealing with variations), and I am making good progress. Perhaps somewhere else I will recommend some books.
My favorite player was Lasker (because he was also a Ph.D in mathematics, something at the time I was aspiring to. His game against Capa in 1914 is still my "Game of the Century." However, Alekhine's games were my favorite to play over. In my opinion, he is the only one of the early masters who would have a chance in one of today's Super Grandmaster tournaments (once he came up to speed on the openings). I won't go into the reasons for the opinion here, though.