My Favorite Chess Story: Calling in the Wolf

Here is a chess story, that comes from my podcast, which you can listen to here:

The story starts 38 minutes into the recording if you want to listen to it.

The synopsis is that:

I was visiting my friend Pete in Florida, and we played in the “Space Coast Open”.  I am from Colorado, and was just there for the weekend.  We had traveled from St. Petersburg to go all the way to the other side of the state to play in this event.

Basically a kid stole my sunglasses at the end of the tournament, then with the help of my friend, who is a professional investigator and Director of Security for Ball, and his wife Audrey back in Colorado, we hunted him down, halfway across the state of Florida, just like Jack Bauer hunting down a terrorist lol :-)

Here is a transcript of the story….

Pete Short: Remember when we went to Florida? Yeah I’m living in Florida and I’m
trying to think of excuses why you people can’t come out and play chess. So, Tim wants
to come to the Space Coast Challenge in Coco Beach. So how that tournament go Tim?

Timothy Brennan: I don’t remember that much about the actual game, but there’s a
funny story and the end of the tournament which I just wrote about for Paul Anderson’s
email list. After my last round game, it’s kind of a long game.

It’s one of those things were like it was kind of drawish and there was no way for anyone
to make any progress, but the other guy was refusing to take a draw. I kind of drag it out and then finally we agreed to the draw.

Pete and I spent 5 minutes to get a picture at the beach, then played chess all weekend

So afterward, I went outside to smoke a cigarette and then I come back in and I just left
all my stuff at the board cause it’s pretty typical chess crowd, you know kids and dads
and you know people were running around in wheelchairs and all kind of stuffs. So, I
came back and I noticed that my sunglasses are gone and they were fairly expensive
sunglasses and I just gotten them. I was in Florida so I kind of needed them and I was
like where are my sunglasses?

Snoopy Sunglasses

I needed my sunglasses to feel cool

My opponent was standing right there and I’m like, “Hey you know have you seen my
sunglasses”? and he’s like, “Yeah, Carl picked them up.” And I’m like, “Carl? who’s
that”? “Oh it’s my son’s friend, he’s a good kid. He must have thought you lost them and
turned them in or something” and so I’m thinking “okay”.

So, I go down to the lost and found at the hotel.  I ask “did anyone turn in my sunglasses”?

To me, they weren’t lost. I purposely left them there along with my clock and my
set, and every thing else. They’re like no we don’t have any sunglasses and so I asked a
couple of other kids, “Hey, do know this kid Carl”? They say all “yeah, I haven’t seen

Right about that time, Pete finishes up his game and by this time I’d spent 10 to 15
minutes trying to find my sunglasses and at that point I was out of options. I didn’t know
what to do. So, I said to Pete and I’ll let you pick up the story from here Pete. I say
“Pete, I’m calling in The Wolf here”.

Hey Pete - I'm calling in the Wolf


Pete Short: And when you’re out of options that’s what you got to do, you got to call in
the Wolf. While I’m playing my game and quite literally the proof is in the USCF rating
page, I was having a really crappy tournament and then I played this guy and of course I
win my last round which is great about being a world class player that no matter how
badly you played somebody is playing worse. So, I’m feeling pretty good, a long game.

Pete finishing up his last round game, before the real adventure begins

I get through with my game and I see Tim. He’s been very active bouncing around, talking
to people, moving around and then he said he’s patiently waiting. So, he says I need to
call in the wolf and I asked him what’s going on?

He fills in the blank about the sunglasses as well. It was pretty evident to me that I
wasn’t going to allow my friend to come to Florida and have his sunglasses taken and
have my drive back ruin by some punk ass kid who has taken sunglasses. I’ve got to go
into action.

It’s evident immediately that Carl has flown the coop. He’s not there. He’s obviously an older scholastic player and not one of the cute little ones who wear the Teddy Ruxpin Tshirts, but one of the teenagers who think they can steal people’s sunglasses. He’s out of there. He’s going out.

He’s going out.

Timothy Brennan: And just a little background for people who may not know you, you
work as a professional investigator. You have a lot of experience in this type of thing.

Pete Short: Right. So, I didn’t give up my semi-pro status when I did this investigation,
but certainly I may have been around the block with perps before. So, the first thing you
got to do when you’re doing an investigation is you got to get the facts and I’m not really
concerned with the facts as much as I’m concerned with finding out where my perp is.
So, the first thing you got to do is you got to sweat somebody. So, if you’re going to
sweat somebody, sweat a kid. I pick out this kid who is kind of a little overweight and
goofy looking, and figured I can sweat him.

I pick out this kid who is kind of a little overweight and
goofy looking, and figured I can sweat him.

I took him off to the side and I was asking him about Carl. He admitted to me that he
went to school with Carl so that was pretty good. We all know that your big goofy fat
kid somebody is going to pick on you and fortunately for me that kid was Carl. So, I got
somebody I can sweat so I convinced the kid that he would be doing a big service to me
and certainly exacting some level of revenge on Carl my giving me Carl’s cellphone
number even despite the fact that his parents said

a) told him not to talk to strangers and
b) probably explained that things like phone numbers are probably considered private

Nonetheless, I had the cellphone number. So, I’ve got that part of him, but I don’t just
want to talk to Carl. I like to talk to his parents and so we had to figure out whose got the
kid’s parents and that’s always the tournament director. So, the tournament director’s,
he’s managing the last round and again lots of scholastic players there.

The parents are all gathering around. They’re going to have a trophy ceremony. You got
to show a good show because you need these people to come next year. He’s getting
ready for that then I popped in and basically say look you got a kid here who just stole a
pair of sunglasses.

Of course, he wants to ask me questions like how did you know the sunglasses were
stolen and of course I don’t have time for nonsense. So, I pretty much said it’s not
important why I know the sunglasses were stolen, it’s important that you know that I
know the sunglasses were stolen by this kid named Carl.

Jack Bauer from "24" on the Phone

Pete was in Jack Bauer mode

Timothy Brennan: You’re in Jack Bauer mode where every second is critical.

Pete Short: Absolutely it was and actually if you filmed that you’ll see a little clock on
the side ticking down.

Timothy Brennan: I was… [Chanting]

Pete Short: Exactly because I’ve going to catch Carl right. Wherever Carl is. I’ve got to
catch up to him. I’m the Grim Reaper at this point, I’m the wolf, I’m the shadow of his
future. So, I tell the tournament director I need Carl’s parent’s contact information.

I’m the Grim Reaper at this point, I’m the wolf, I’m the shadow of his future.

This is my favorite part of the story cause as any good tournament director and again I
am in the security organization, I’m an investigator, I understand the importance of
maintaining confidentiality of records and things that people give you.

So, the tournament director rightly told me, “I’m sorry sir, but I can’t release that
information to you”. So, I understood that. I respected that, but I also informed the
tournament director that a crime had been committed during the course of his event. And
then as such, that crime constituted the need to bring in law enforcement and law
enforcement especially in the place like Cocoa Beach, especially with someone like
myself completely connected to the “Aerospace Industry” would bring the full weight in
force of the Cocoa Beach Police Department, upon the hotel where the tournament was
about to have their trophy ceremony.

We let the TD know he needed to respect our AUTHORITY!

And that I would ensure that detectives would calm the audience, talking to scholastic
players one in all about the theft of the sunglasses in front of the parents so then would
probably be concerned that next year they would not want to return to this den of
iniquity that we call a chess tournament.

So, upon continuing to brawling him, he’s writing the telephone number out and handed
it to me with the hope of course that I will go away quietly so he may proceed with the

Timothy Brennan: Yeah we never didn’t involve the police. We took matters into our
own hands.

Pete Short: But we believe that we’re bringing the police.

Timothy Brennan: Yeah that was brilliant.

Pete Short: So then Tim and I for lack of anything other than the enthusiasm must make
up ground as we’ve learned that Carl is on the road.

Leaving the Chess Tournament

Carl had a head start so we had to make up ground

We have his home phone number, we have his cellphone number and we have something that no one, not even Jack Bauer would count on and that is my lovely bride in Colorado who was available to take our call and begin a nationwide search for Carl, his family, his residence, his history, and as we’re driving out of Cocoa Beach city limits we get a call back.

Audrey has a photograph of Carl who fortunately for us was the editor of the high school
that he was at and newspaper, the home address and real estate value of the home that he lived then, several other things, and so we began our drive. So now, we know we’re
going to Orlando which conveniently for me was on the way to Tampa where we were
heading for the end of the tournament. So as we’re driving.

Chloe O'Brien from the TV show 24

Pete's wife Audrey was our Chloe O'Brien gathering intel

Timothy Brennan: Yeah Audrey was like the Chloe O’Brian of the Jack Bauer, send an
info on the PDA. It’s like, “Dammit Chloe I need it now”.

Pete Short: We’re driving along. I’m throwing money at tolls. I got the phone in one
hand, I’m just doing the stuff, we’re half laughing about this, but then we begin calling
Carl as we get close to Orlando and nobody’s picking up phones. So, just through the
point of reference that I’m now heading to Carl’s home.

 I have every intention of showing up on his doorstep. Carl’s not answering his phone. I
leave a message with Carl basically saying, I’m coming to your house. You have my
friend’s sunglasses and you need to pick up the phone. The next time I call you it’s in the
best interest of you that you answer the phone because otherwise I will come with the
police and if you try to leave the house I will know it. I may have made that part of but it
sounded good, but anyway.

Timothy Brennan: You did threaten to involve the local police in Orlando.

We were ready to call the Orlando Police

Pete Short: Absolutely, I was going to show with the police. At that point, I believed it.
Then, I called the home number and of course nobody picked up there, but I knew the
parents would answer the home number because what kid is allowed to answer the
parent’s phone when he got a cellphone. So, I left a message there.

Timothy Brennan: And they may not even have been home yet because it’s a little bit
of a drive to Orlando from Cocoa Beach.

Pete Short: They probably went to a restaurant or something like that. So then, I left a
message to the parents, to the parents of Carl, your son has stolen a pair of very
expensive sunglasses from my friend, Tim. He was witnessed stealing the sunglasses.
I’m driving to whatever the address was I quoted it out to the zip code level, I’m coming
there to retrieve the sunglasses. If they are not immediately surrendered to me, I will
bring the Orlando Police Department there. I will press charges despite any subsequent
wish to return the sunglasses. So, I’m on my way. If you want to talk with me, you need
to call me at this number. And then a few minutes later, we called Carl back and Carl

So, I’m assuming that Carl may have listened to the message and I believed my message
to Carl was Carl don’t hang up. You stole my friend’s sunglasses and I’m coming to your
house to retrieve them. And you can take over from here.

Timothy Brennan: This is the funniest part of the story cause Pete is on speaker phone
and he’s like “Carl don’t hang up” and then he’s like “I didn’t steal them whatever,
whatever”. Then, here’s the mom and it’s kind of a thick Ukrainian accent like screaming
like “Carl, you told me you found those sunglasses”.

Pete sounded like Rambo telling Murdoch "I'm coming to get you!"

Then the mom gets on the phone and she doesn’t want any problem. She doesn’t us to

Pete Short: I think what I told Carl at that point when his mom was screaming at, I said
“Carl you might want to give your mom the telephone”.


Timothy Brennan: So the mom gets on the phone and she’s completely cooperative and
embarrassed. She gets my address and….

Pete Short: Only because I basically said I want those sunglasses now. I’m going to
your house, “Oh no sir, please don’t come over to the house, Mr. Man, Mr. Man please
don’t come over to the house. I promise to get the sunglasses back”. You better promise
because if you don’t I want you to know I live in Tampa and I would come back. You
got the sunglasses back?

Timothy Brennan: Yeah I did. I got them back, yeah that was great. that great, great
story out of it too, you know. Yeah that was awesome and that was awesome on your
part, that was fantastic.

In the end I got my sunglasses back, and all was cool again

Pete Short: You notice in my story that the chess tournaments are always better than my
performance in chess tournament.

Timothy Brennan: Yeah probably in that case it definitely was and I mean that story is not exaggerated at all, I mean that’s pretty much the way it happened, that was awesome man. Thanks Pete. This has been great.

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