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Dr. Lou Marinoff - Deutchland to Sherbrooke on the Road to Quebec’s Top 10

November 17th, 2007 - By Sabre_in_Virginia

Sabre_in_VirginiaCarlo Bossio was asked to provide some stories here and not just direct people to websites. Well, I’ll help Carlo. I know taking time to do write-ups takes time and effort. So, Carlo, let me help you buddy. Here’s two contrasting stories. One as seen by me from afar and the other up close and first hand experience.

Dr. Lou Marinoff is a member of the NYCTHA. He’s not a youngster. Recently at our NY league date at Coney Is., NY, he recounted life in the 1950s travelling from Montreal (his childhood home) to Coney Is., NY to visit relatives. So, you get the idea on age.

For those of you who already know the information in this paragraph has been repeated before. He was a three-time Canadian Open Coleco Champion in the early 1980s. Out of the game since the 1980s, he returned to the sport in 2006. His short term goal was to crack the Top 10 in Canada.

He, told us at our league date he was going to “try” to make it to Sherbrooke, but he would be coming back from Germany with little room for flight delays and whatnot. I told him when I’ve gone to tournaments or our playoffs on little sleep, I just get my butt whooped

I know from regularly flying to Denver and St. Louis, running around airports, flight delays, aircraft problems, rocking and rolling in the air in bad weather, tight seating, security wanting to go through all of your stuff when you are running late, or you have a jerk behind you kicking your seat, or someone sick… is tiring! Even when you are waayyy early, you end up running around.

Lou Marinoff knows this, experiences it and yet made it to Sherbrooke. What Lou accomplished in Sherbrooke is impressive. Why? Well, here’s a contrast for you.

Before I tell my story, I am not nor was I ever a national or tournament “A” group champion. I didn’t know about tournaments in the 1970s until it was too late (I’d joined the Marines in 1980). I did, however, win the NBTHL Championship in Buffalo (a decent sized league by today’s standards) numerous times in the 1970s. I do not, per se, aspire to win a tournament “A” group championship, as that takes more practice time than I have available. I think I simply want to be able to hang with the big dogs to demonstrate that a guy from Buffalo and my old league mates were pretty damn good in our day and still have some “stuff.”

I realize my story is a bit long, but I know my story first hand. I don’t know Lou’s first hand. I am trying to paint a picture in my story, such that when you get to my story about Lou you can clearly see what he accomplished.

I do not idolize the man, as some do. I don’t always agree with him, as some do. Frankly, he gets way to wound up at tournaments, so focused he is that he’s almost impossible to talk to during a tournament. I am so tired of losing to him, I crave to kick his butt in TH repeatedly someday, which I almost did at our NYCTHA tournament in Sept ‘07.

That said, he’s a great guy away from a tournament venue, has a great memory and grasp on history in context. And, the bottom line and reason why I wrote this is that it is truly impressive what he accomplished. Now that he’s broke the Top 10, I think he’s in a group that will no longer praise him, nor write about him (it has been eerily silent on all the boards), but strive only to beat him back out of the Top 10.

My Story
I did well in tournaments this past year: Brampton’s Johnny Goodguy (#7), good in Chicago at the US Open (#6) and very well in the NYC Int’l Classic (#10) against top N. American TH players.

But, when I went to Montreal Classic III, I had three or four hours sleep. I’d done that three times before in 2006 and didn’t do well. But, I didn’t own a game to practice on and was really just enjoying going to the tournaments, meeting the people and checking out the scene. In January 2007, I got a game and have since tried to do well. Though with travelling I don’t get many opportunities to practice.

So, think about this when you think about what Marinoff accomplished against guys who have more time than he to practice and are 20+ year younger. Okay, 30…ha, ha, ha!

In Montreal 2007, I managed to do well in the early round. After Round One, I was in 3rd place in Pool Three, with only Carlo Bossio and Burt Brassard ahead of me and eight good players below. (Burt by one point and I’d beaten Burt). In Round Two, I had my butt handed to me. I was then ranked #20 going into Round 3, B Pool playoffs. We broke for lunch.

Ah, I can hear some say, “well going to La Belle Province you are playing the creme de la creme as a group”, so of course you (an American) wouldn’t do well. A Murderers Row they might call it in the States. It is arguable, but more less true.

Well this past year, I managed to earn victories against such Quebec Top 25 players as: Francois Cote (in Chicago), Lou Marinoff & Daniel Bordeleau (in NYC), Burt Brassard, Richard St. Laurent, Pascal Leclerc, Remi Lemieux (in Montreal). I’ve had close one goal games with Martin Labelle (in Brampton) and Denis Begin–I was up by 2 goals at one point (in NYC). I’m proud of those accomplishments. But, my point here is only to point out that while I am somewhat capable at this point, travel, fatigue and what you eat and drink (diet) the day before and day of a tournament is important.

After lunch, picture dropping from the sky with a rock tied to you. It really went downhill match after match. I tried to compose myself and not comment out loud about my terrible play. After all, my opponent can rightly say to me, “hey, it is not that you are playing bad, it is that I am playing well.” How do you sort that out? Well, you measure your past performances against the same people or group. Also, you try to keep your mouth shut to allow your opponent to have a good match and not look like a complaining jerk.

A few Canadians who know me, played against me, watched me and commented. Dave Kraehling commented, “man, you’re a full second or two behind the play on defense” and taking too long setting up your plays on offense –allowing the defense to set up.

As the day wore on, I wore out. I lost a ton of consecutive games. Players of all ranks DESTROYED me. Absolutely destroyed me. I vowed to never travel to any tournament where I cannot get a full night’s sleep before a tournament.

Now let’s contrast my experience with Lou’s experience going into and coming out of the Sherbrooke tournament.

Lou’s Story - A Contrast
Now I can’t write his story as well as he might. First, he knows what he went through, he knows the details and he’s actually a writer. But, here goes:

Lou…Lou flew in from Germany….got off the airplane…went through US Customs, (jet lag, time difference and all the annoyances)…drove to Canada, went through Canadian Customs, played in the Sherbrooke tournament, somehow maintained his energy all day long, beat almost all-comers and obviously overall just kicked butt.

I don’t care if he got a few zzz’s or not, because you are disoriented for a day or two after flying great distances. He finished SIXTH in the tournament!

That’s a story. That’s IMPRESSIVE!

In the end, Lou also cracked the Quebec Top 10, moving up in the Quebec 2007 Rankings to Ninth! — That’s another story for another day and for him to tell. I look forward to Lou’s next installment at his website,

Kudos to Lou!–and to players of the NYCTHA who are helping to sharpen his skills by getting better themselves! And to anyone else who traveled from afar to Sherbrooke. I hope to see you all there next year.

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