The Weekly
Chess fanatic ‘on comeback’ for live play

As I chat with Bob Balaban in his home on Rockford’s northwest side, I find myself searching for a word that fits, as a whole, his unique life of work and play.

“Contradictory?” “Incongruous?” No. Perhaps “variegated” (multicolored) is the word.

The 59-year-old Balaban is a full-time letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, a part-time chiropractor, a former concert pianist and now a piano instructor — but, most of all, a chess fanatic.

…And he says he’s “on a comeback” to competition against real, live humans sitting across the board from him. It began in August with his participation in the 107th annual U.S. Open Chess Championship in Oak Brook.

Balaban didn’t come away from the tournament with any trophies, but he had what he says was “one of the most exciting experiences I’ve ever had in my life.” The reference is to his having met Susan Polgar, a native of Hungary and, at age 37, perhaps the greatest female chess player ever.

Balaban says he was browsing through chess books at the tournament hotel when he posed a question to a woman he didn’t recognize.

“I said, ‘Do you read any of Susan Polgar’s books?’ ‘No,’ she said. ‘I write them.’”

The rest of the story can be read here. Posted by Picasa

Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar