Harry Sabine R.I.P.

Former commissioner, chess champion Harry Sabine passes

“Long-time Crossville attorney and county commissioner Harry D. Sabine passed away July 31. He was 78 years old.
Sabine grew up in Cumberland County, graduating from Cumberland County High School in 1958. He attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and returned to Crossville to practice law in 1968.
He also served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a captain, including one tour of duty in Vietnam.

He and his wife, Michelle Ann, had two sons, Steve and Jay.
Sabine was a champion of chess in the schools and community. He organized the Scholastic Chess program for Cumberland County beginning in 1973. The program garnered more than 20 state championships for the schools and top honors in national tournaments for Martin Junior High Chess Club in 1982 and 1985.
In 2003, Sabine began working to bring the U.S. Chess Federation to Crossville. The organization moved its national headquarters to Cumberland County in 2006.

Sabine also served four terms on the Cumberland County Commission representing the First Civil District.
Funeral arrangements have not been announced by the family at this time.”

https://www.crossville-chronicle.com/news/local_news/former-commissioner-chess-champion-harry-sabine-passes/article_8d917630-b48b-11e9-9eb5-ff3cf7e3178c.html

The last time I saw Harry was at the 2009 U.S. Open in Indianapolis, Indiana in 2009. I had travelled from Louisville with one of my older students, Rick Rothenburg, for a day trip. An old friend, the Legendary Georgia Ironman, Tim Brookshear, was the first to greet me in the parking lot. We talked for awhile before I walked inside. After entering the main playing hall the first person to greet me was Ryan Velez. He was playing but stood up and walked over to shake my hand and say hello. As he did so I noticed this large, hulking man break into a huge grin as he began ambling toward me from the front of the room. I, too, was grinning as I walked toward Harry Sabine, who had his outstretched hand pointing in my direction long before close enough to actually clasp hands. This was the first time we had seen each other since my publishing a post on the old, now defunct, BaconLOG, which follows.

Monday, June 1, 2009
Tennessee Senior Open

The Tennessee Senior Open was a wonderful event! Not feeling my best, I decided to play the first round Sat morning, in lieu of Fri night, but attended the opening ceremonies at the Fair Park Senior Center that evening. The Mayor, J.H. Graham III, welcomed us with open arms. I told him the following story: I left my hotel room after changing pants, as it was warm enough for shorts. After ordering a couple of burrito’s at Taco Bell, I realized the money was still in the jeans. I felt foolish, but the employee, Nan Turner, handed me the grub, saying it would be on her! I simply could not believe it! I mean, that does not happen in a large city like Atlanta. The next day I stopped by and gave her the money, which included a decent tip, which she attempted to refuse, to no avail. This is a perfect illustration of the difference between a big city and a small town. I learned that during my stay in Hendersonville, NC. My theory is that people are much more friendly in a small town because they realize the people they encounter one day at a restaurant may be the same person they encounter at the library the next day. In a big city, one thinks they will never see that person again. It is the people who constitute a community, whether Crossville, Tn., or our small chess community. This has to be one of the major reasons Crossville was chosen to be the new USCF HQ. A better place could not have been found. The next morning, upon my arrival, the Mayor greeted me, giving me his card and asking if I would send him the tale I told him the previous night via email. Then, when it came time for the picture, the Mayor asked me to stand beside him. Several others said a few words in greeting us, too, so the first round began a little late, which is very unusual for “Head ‘em up, move ‘em out” Harry Sabine, as he’s known for getting the round started on time. There was a drawing for prizes donated by the Crossville community, and I was fortunate enough to win one. There was free coffee, drinks and snacks for all the players, which was a real nice touch. Harry was the head TD, capably assisted by Susan Houston, an employee of the USCF, and her son, Charley, who kept us updated on the US Championship. Harry is training Charley; passing the torch, so to speak. Charley is quite young, and was, therefore, reluctant to tell we Seniors to be quite, so I told him he was a TD, and to say what needed to be said, since he was ‘The Man’. I smiled when Charley told a group, including me, to “keep it down.” Susan remarked the tournament had a different feel to it than any other she has attended, with the players acting more like a family reunion, or homecoming. Susan handled the ‘puter and also served as I like to think of her, as ‘Chess Mom’. She also coordinated trips for the players to the HQ. I went by earlier in the week, seeing old friends like Chuck Lovingood and Jay Sabine (and watching games from the US Championship!), Walter Brown, Alan Kantor, etc., and meeting new friends. The Fair Park Senior Center was a fine place for the tournament. The lighting was superior, far better than the recent Georgia State Championship, for example. Lighting is especially important for Senior players. Different folks from the Senior Center welcomed us, making us feel right at home. As I sat there listening to these wonderful people, I thought this is the kind of greeting I’ve read about on the web in European countries. It made me feel proud to be a chess player as they made us feel special. There were 35 players, far exceeding the small turnouts for previous Tennessee Senior tournaments, which were only a one day event with a G/60 time control. I think part of the reason was a tribute to Harry Sabine. We still miss the Fairfield Glade after all these years! One year it snowed heavily and we were stranded Sunday night but the Glade did not charge us for the room! Players came from half a dozen different states, with one player originally from England and one from the Netherlands. NM Henry Robinson took first, 4-0. The fine Chess Café historical writer, Jerry Spinrad, was clear second with 3 ½. Seven players tied for third with a score of 3-1. I was in that group, losing only to Henry. An ornate chess set was donated by the Fair Park Senior Center and it went to the biggest upset (I asked Harry if that meant the largest rating differential, or the player who got the most upset after a loss, which brought a smile to his mug). My first round opponent, Larry Grohn, rated 880, bested my third round opponent, Wieb Van Der Meer, 1420, in the last round to take the prize. Mucho Kudos to Harry Sabine for holding this event! Although Harry and I have had our differences over the years, I prefer to think of it as a disagreement with a TD, not the man. The man is someone with whom I have shared a drink of Jack Daniels (what else would Harry drink?!), and invited into the Atlanta Chess Center on a day it was closed for Thanksgiving, make a cuppa joe, and have a conversation while showing him around the House of Pain. The best part was the look on Harry’s face when I opened the door after his knock! I knew it was Harry after glancing out the window and seeing his orange tennis shoes! I must have been the last person Harry expected to see. Knowing Harry had been a Marine I mentioned a man from the old neighborhood who had also been a Marine during World War Two, Sloppy Floyd Bailey, who had said, “Once a jarhead, always a jarhead!” Harry smiled before saying, “Sloppy Floyd knew what he was talking about.”

The worst thing I heard about Harry while in Crossville was that he is a “fine man.” And I heard it not once, but many times. “Oh, you know Harry Sabine? He’s a such a nice man.” Or, “Harry Sabine is a wonderful man.” You must come to Crossville in order to understand what having the USCF HQ means to this community. These people are PROUD, and Harry Sabine, as the Mayor said, deserves much credit. The modest Harry pointed out the work of others. I can think of no one better than Harry to coordinate a Senior tournament in all 50 states! Senior chess is bringing players back to the game, in some cases after many years out of chess. I would like to thank Harry, Susan, Charley, and everyone else for a wonderful time here in the mountains…

The South Carolina Senior Chess Championships

The SC Senior was held April 19-20 at the Embassy Suites Golf Resort & Conference Center in Greenville. It was nice to see a Senior tournament in such a fine venue. It was unfortunate to see such a small number of players, with only ten playing in the SC Senior and eight in the ancillary “Section 2” tournament, called “Amateur.” I could not help thinking of something Klaus Pohl, the winner of the tournament, said many years ago about, “A Senior tournament ought to be only an open tournament because when one gets to be a Senior, any player can beat any other player.” He agreed when I mentioned another reason being that by the time one reached 50 there were hardly enough players for even one section.
I just checked the website of the South Carolina Chess Association (http://www.scchess.org/) to find the lead article is on the SC Scholastics Championship Tournament, held on Saturday, March 22, a month prior to the SC Senior. This, as much as anything, illustrates the sway held by scholastic chess not only in SC, but the US. If one skrolls down a notice for the coming SC Senior can be found.
I did not play in the tournament because of the time control, which was G/100 d5. The players with whom I talked about the tournament had not even heard of it, nor were they aware of the Chess for Seniors Website, which can be clicked on at the aforementioned SC website. Although I find this a shame, the fact is that organizers of Senior events continue to hold tournaments in which Seniors have little, if any, interest in attending. I am reminded of the quote by Albert Einstein, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
As I mentioned the forever young LM Klaus Pohl won the event with a score of 4-0, which included wins in his first three rounds and a full point forfeit win to his friend and travel partner Wayne Christensen. I have written about the duo previously and their love of the game, demonstrated when they stayed at the House of Pain after a weekend swiss ended, playing speed chess with any and everyone during a storm that caused the power to terminate. I could not understand what had caused such an event, so I sent an email to the Chess for Seniors website (http://chessforseniors.org/), and received this reply:
Apr 23
Hi, Michael

Please allow me to introduce myself. I am Bob Mahan, organizer/director of the 2014 South Carolina Senior Championships. I also serve as Chairperson of the USCF Committee on Senior Chess and am President of the Blacksburg (Virginia) Senior Chess Club. This year I am organizing and directing five senior chess tournaments, four of which (West Virginia, South Carolina, Kentucky, and North Carolina) are state championship events. Along with Mike Eberhardinger, President of the Chess For Seniors Association, I have also put together and operate the Chess For Seniors Challenge, a consortium of seven senior chess tournaments in the mid-Atlantic region that awards a travel stipend to a player in the consortium tournaments for travel to the U.S. Senior Open. So as you can see, I am very much committed to senior chess and am very open to suggestions from members of the community like you. Thank you very much for taking the time to contact the CFSA with your comments, questions, and suggestions.

First, concerning the 4th-round game between Klaus Pohl and Wayne Christensen at the recent SC Senior Championships. The round times were published in all pre-tournament publicity and were prominently displayed on the wall in the playing room. In retrospect, I probably could have been been more diligent in emphasizing in my announcements before Round 3 the starting time for Round 4. You can probably see where this is going. Wayne arrived ready to play at approximately 3:05 PM on Sunday, one hour and five minutes late for the posted 2:00 PM starting time for Round 4, which started on time. Wayne was the only person who did not arrive on time for the start of Round 4. By the time he arrived, he had overstepped the one-hour time limit by five minutes. To his credit, Klaus offered to play him anyway, with no time penalty. However, the rules give the TD very little discretion on this point. Also, it was the last round at the end of a two-day tournament, and starting more than one hour late would have extended an already long day for the organizer/TD. Wayne was gracious in accepting the inevitable, which will not surprise those of you who know him. When I told him he had lost on forfeit he said something like “oh!” and left the playing site without further discussion.

Concerning pre-tournament publicity. I am sorry that you did not hear about the tournament in a timely manner. I took over responsibility for the tournament at the last minute with only 8 weeks notice. As a result I was only able to get a TLA inserted in the April Chess Life. However, the tournament was advertized at the ChessForSeniors site and at the SCCA web site for the entire 8 weeks. Also, there was an ad in the March Chess life for the “Chess For Seniors Challenge” that listed the SC Senior Championships, with the dates, as one of the seven tournaments. Also, I attend a regional tournament essentially every weekend and post and distribute flyers advertising all of my coming tournaments. Finally, I sent out nearly 100 emails to my list of regional senior members of USCF. If you have visited chessforseniors.org you will have seen the postings of all senior chess tournaments that we know about, include international tournaments. We are trying hard to get the word out about this comprehensive listing, but we are a new organization (less than a year old) and it takes time to become known. We’ll do better next year.

Finally, concerning time controls. I have heard from others on this topic and agree that something like G/120 is more appropriate (Please see the Survey at chessforseniors.org) for senior chess. Unfortunately, our next two tournaments (Blacksburg Senior Open and Kentucky Senior Championships) are already advertised in Chess Life with the G/100, d5 TC, so I can’t change those two. However, I will increase the TC for the North Carolina Senior Open. In fact, I prefer the increment to the delay mode and may use that at the NC Senior.

Feel free to paraphrase and/or quote me in your blog, and thanks again for taking the time to write such a thoughtful message.
Best regards,
Bob Mahan
My reply to Bob:
It is I who should thank you, sir, for such a thoughtful reply. I would also like to thank you for what you are trying to do for Senior chess. I played in a few events after turning 50 and tried to boost interest with my blog(s), emails, and word of mouth while working at the Atlanta Chess Center and traveling to play in tournaments. I tried to get Rex Sinquefield interested, to no avail. All the interest,and money, has gone to chess for children. It is a shame, for me, you did not become involved a decade ago. I no longer have the desire, energy, or money to travel. I have seen first-hand the toll it takes on a player much younger than me. Two games a day now seems like torture. I simply no longer have the stamina for it at this time in my life. I therefore understand shortening the time limit for the game when more than one will be played. Honestly, I, and others, would prefer to play only one game a day now. It simply no longer sounds like fun…I will say that one thing I have heard frequently from my generation (I was a “pre-Fischer boomer,” having played in my first USCF tournament in 1970) is they would prefer to have a time control like the old days, at move 40. It does not have to be 40/2, as it was, but maybe 40/90, with a secondary time control, even if it is SD/30 with a 30 second increment, or some such. For example, I have never played in a tournament with a 30 second increment, and I resent the fact that everyone seems to be marching in lockstep to the dictates of Kirsan the ET and his G/90+ time control. Where was the discussion? Why are Seniors forced to adhere to regulations they do not want? And it is not only I who ask these questions…
It is late and I am tired…I will send you another email later with links to some of the posts I made concerning Senior chess. I will give you a link to a post that Harry Sabine sent to everyone he knows, I am told. Unfortunately, he changed the format the next year after asking my opinion. I told him I would not play if he insisted on including “drop-in.” He did and I didn’t…and have not played since. Evidently many other players agreed with me as the turnout dropped the next year, and maybe since. I cannot recall…
http://baconlog.blogspot.com/2009/06/tennessee-senior-open.html
All the best to you,
Michael Bacon
After sending the reply I sent Bob another email, telling him I saw Chris Ferrante, the only player from Georgia at the SCS, at the recent large tournament for children held in Atlanta at the Hyatt downtown and asked him what transpired with the last round game between Klaus and Wayne. I quoted Chris, “I do not know because I had withdrawn and left, but when I looked at the crosstable, I assumed there was some kind of deal between them because I have seen them agree to early draws in other tournaments.” At this point he turned and walked out the door, obviously in a hurry. For that reason I had no time to tell him about Bob’s email. For that reason I decided to post this, for the record.