Freshman Jon Frankle isn't exactly sure what happened, but when the dust had settled on his chessboard he found himself North American Individual Collegiate champion.
Not incidentally, he had beaten Norm Weinstein, former holder of the title and a grad student at Brandeis, at Weinstein's own kind of game. And certainly not incidental was the $230 he made on the venture.
"I was pretty happy with it," Frankle said yesterday. "It was close to the best I've played."
Teammate Mitch Tobin also made money on an individual prize by tying for first in class A. His take was $50. "It just about covered expenses," Tobin said. "We ought to be subsidized."
There's less time for chess now than there was back home in Des Moines, but it doesn't seem to have hurt Frankle's play. "Since I've come to college I haven't had a chance to practice as much as I used to," he said. "But sometimes a break from the game will help you out."
The Continental Intercollegiate Championship was his biggest win since the U.S. Junior Open this summer in St. Paul, Minn. The Harvard team also carried home a win from the New York tournament, tied for first with CCNY.
Prospects look good for Frankle and the team in the other big intercollegiate tournament in Columbus, Ohio, over Christmas.
Frankle did have to work for his money. The seven games in three days averaged out to five hours apiece including one--the third--which had to be adjourned because of time until two games later.
"Tournament chess is hard work," he said. "I tried to stay a little more relazed than usual, but the pressure is always on."
The sixth game, against Jeffrey Kastner of City College, was the only one Frankle didn't win. He was in hot water in the endgame, forced to defend against two passed pawns, but managed to save the draw.
But it is the final game that still has him wondering. Frankle played his usual Sicilian defense, but a weird position developed. "As far as I was concerned I was playing on my own after move three," he said.
The opening was too-slow for Frankle's liking: "more Weinstein's type of game," he said. The first exchange of pieces didn't come until move 16.
"(Weinstein) went after a pawn when he shouldn't have: moving his queen near the end was probably the losing move." Frankle said.
He responded to Weinstein's attack with one of his own in the center of the board. "Weinstein looked really surprised," he said. "I just broke through the center He was behind in material, and I had a good passed pawn and my bishop was better." A few move later Weinstein resigned.
"It's a really next game," Frankle concluded, "but I'm still not sure what was going on."