Monday, February 07, 2005

Jesse Burke

Years ago, The Richmond Chess Club would hold their evening "get-togethers" at my "Home". Every few weeks the recreation room would be filled with card tables at which players sat, scrunched over their boards, silently studying and planning their moves. Sitting at a table amongst them would be Jesse Burke. Jesse didn't look like he belonged in this group. His body was shrunken, skinny and twisted, the back of his wheelchair positioned in a steep recline giving the impression of a mummy in a sarcophagus. He looked asleep most of the time, and you could see new players to the group look at him with pity. The old players knew better. They knew that Jesse didn't mind using his looks to his advantage, that behind those closed lids he was visualizing his next move, and that his opponent was to be pitied when Jesse suddenly "awoke" and made his play. Jesse was "Chess Champion" for many years.