competition held by the United States Army. The All Army Chess Tournament
is designed to foster the application of mental skills that relate to military strategy
. Any soldier who has been on active duty for 90 days is eligible to apply. Twelve participants are selected from the applications based on USCF
rating, active participation in USCF tournaments, and tournament experience.
Army chess tournaments are generally run through the recreation office (Morale and Welfare). Each army post, usually a Fort, will hold a tournament. If you win a tournament at a large installation and have a decent USCF rating -- say 1900 and above -- you stand a good chance of being accepted to play in the All Army tournament.
My first duty station in the army after basic training was Lowry Air Force Base. Yeah, join the Army and see the Air Force. Anyway, I entered the Base chess tournament and finished second. At that time the top two finishers were offered places in the All Air Force Chess Tournament. They reneged in my case since I wasn't Air Force, but Army. I didn't even get a lousy trophy.
The next year -- while stationed at Fort Stewart, GA -- I entered the Post tournament. Again I finished second, but I wasn't accepted to the All Army Tournament (my USCF rating was only about 1780). I received a really, really nice trophy though :)
Next I was on an unaccompanied tour of Korea. I entered the All Korea chess tournament, held in Seoul. The top two finishers were going to get a free trip back to the states to compete in the All Army Chess Tournament. A big deal. You'd have to have been there to understand just how attractive leaving Korea could be - especially on Uncle Sam's dime.
Heading into the final day I was sitting in second place, with a relatively weak opponent in my final match. Unfortunately, we had a going away party for a fellow soldier the night before my final match. The party stretched on until dawn. I woke up about 45 minutes AFTER my match was to start. Still practically drunk and definitely hungover, I raced to the recreation building. My chess clock had nearly an hour wasted before I'd made my first move.
I found that trying to concentrate on chess when you are unable to think, while chainsmoking cigarettes and trying to rehydrate your body is ...difficult. Especially when you are under extreme time pressure.
Still, I actually reached a position where I knew my next move was going to win or lose the game. It was a complicated closed postion where the pieces were going to be dropping like dominoes in one extended chain-reaction. But I just couldn't think. God damn alcohol. Even my opponent was semi-shocked that I couldn't find the winning move.
I lost, finished third, and never went to the All Army Chess Tournament