Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Little Effort, A Lot Of Chess, A Lasting Legacy








JUNE 18–24, 1978



1978 Program Guide:

It is a great honor that Memphis has been chosen once again as the host city for the U.S. Junior Invitational Championship.  Memphis first held the U.S. Junior in 1976.  Prior to that year, a national tournament had not been held in the Mid-South since the U.S. Open Championship was played in Memphis in 1914. (Editor's note: The U.S. Open Chess Championship was also in Memphis in 1920.)

The participants in this tournament will be the top eight U.S. players, ages 19 and under.  It is one of the three championships chess tournaments held annually in the United States and is the qualifying tournament to determine the young person who will represent the U.S. at the World Youth Chess Championship in Graz, Austria in September 1978.  The top four players will represent the U.S. at the Pan-American Junior Team Championship in Sao Paulo, Brazil in December.

Memphis Chess Club began in 1900 (Editor's note: A recent finding indicates 1877 as the founding year.) as the Memphis Chess and Checker Club after an exhibition here by Harry Nelson Pillsbury, then U.S. Champion.  Memphis Chess Club, as it is today, reorganized after the resurgence of interest in chess during the Fischer-Spassky match in 1972.  It has emerged from a group of quiet chess players to an active force in the community with chess instruction classes conducted weekly at the Shelby County Penal Farm, co-sponsorship of the Greater Memphis High School Chess League, and throughout the year it conducts classes upon request in area schools and weekly at the chess club.  Every fall, a ''Grandmaster-in-Residence'' program is held, bringing to our city a grandmaster who conducts lectures and simultaneous exhibitions in area schools.

This year, (1978), Memphis Chess Club will conduct five major tournaments, two one-day tournaments, ten inter-club tournaments, and the City Championship for a total of 92 U.S. Chess Federation-rated games available through the club.

We wish to thank Memphis State University Programs for joining with the Optimist Club of Northeast Memphis and the Memphis Chess Club to bring this event to our city.  We appreciate your support by attending the tournament and invite you to attend Memphis Chess Club on Friday evenings. . .

James C. Little
Memphis Chess Club

Tournament Directors. . .

Homer Jones, NTD: Chief Tournament Director

Mr. Jones received his National Tournament Director Certification from the U.S. Chess Federation this spring.  He previously directed such prestigious tournaments as the Region III Championship (composed of 5 states and the District of Columbia) on four occasions, the Turkey Shoot Open with over 100 players, the 1st Restion International Tournament with 365 players, and all the Washington D.C. Chess League tournaments since 1965.

Carol C. Little, ANTD: Assistant Chief Tournament Director

Ms. Little has directed tournaments in the Mid-South since 1975.  She received Certification as an Intermediate Tournament director in 1976.  (The title has since been changed to Associate National Tournament Director.)  She is one of five women in the U.S. who has reached this level of certification.  She travels throughout the Mid-South to direct tournaments and has served as Secretary/Treasurer of the Memphis Chess Club since 1975.  Among the tournaments she has directed are the Mid-South Open (three times), Arkansas Open Championship and the 1976 U.S. Junior (Invitational) Championship.

Players . . .

Richard A. Costigan, 18, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, received his Master's Certificate in 1975 at age 16. His first decisive showing was his placing fourth in the 1975 World Open. He was 1977 Philadelphia Champion, Montgomery County Champion, and the Eastern High School Championship with a perfect score of 6-0. He was a member of the 1978 Pan-American Intercollegiate Championship Team that represented the University of Pennsylvania.

John P. Fedorowicz, 19, is originally from New Jersey but now resides in Clearwater, Florida. His first place victories include: 1974 U.S. Junior Congress, 1974 U.S. Amateur Championship, 1974 Annual Westfield Open, 1974 New Jersey Junior Championship, 1974 New Jersey State Championship, Class A; 1973 New Jersey Junior Championship, 1973 New York Class A Championship, 1975 National High School Championship, 1975 Metro Chess Congress-Master Section, 1975 Manhattan Open Championship, 1975 Garden State Chess Association, 1976Virginia Open, 1977 World Open, 1977 U.S. Junior Championship. John also played in the 1975 Scandinavian Open Championship in Sandefjord, Norway and the 1976 Masters-Plus Tournament at Lone Pine and the 1976 U.S. Junior Championship in Memphis.

Mark Ginsburg, 19, from Bethesda, Maryland, was born in Louvain, Belgium. He will be entering his junior year at Princeton this fall. He received his Master's Certificate in 1977. His outstanding tournament results include: 1972 Eastern Chess Congress, first place - Novice Section (it was his first tournament, age 12), win over Bent Larsen in 1974 Simultaneous Exhibition, first place Washington Winter Congress: Masters Class; first place Eastern Chess Congress, 1975; second place Region III Championship, 1977; first place National Chess Congress, 1977; played second board on the Princeton University team at the Pan-American Intercollegiate Championship, placing second.

Steven M. Odendahi, is from Chevy Chase, Maryland and is rated 2290.  No tournament history information is available. (Editor's note: Steven Michael Odendahl was born in 1959 in Hartford, Connecticut, USA. He was awarded the IM title in 1980.)

Michael A. Rohde, 18, was born in New York City and was taught the game of chess by his father at the age of 4.  At 9, he played his first tournament and at age 10 won the New York Under 13 Championship and the Greater New York Junior High School Championship in 1970.  In 1972 he became the North Jersey Open Champion, playing as an 'A' Class player and beating a master and three experts who were the top four players in the tournament. In 1973 he won the U.S. Junior High School Championship in Chicago, to became the New Jersey Junior Champion, the Manhattan Open Champion, where he obtained his U.S. Master rating, and tied for first in the Metropolitan Chess Marathon. His accomplishments in 1974 were playing first board with a team of New Jersey Junior which took second in the U.S. Team Championship, won the Greater New York Open, the U.S. High School Championship, the New York City Championship, and tied for seventh at the U.S. Open. In 1975 Michael played in the Lone Pine Tournament, placed fourth in the U.S. Junior, tied for fourth in the World Open, and tied for first in the Scandinavian Open Championship in Norway. In 1976 he played in the Lone Pine Tournament where he scored 4-3, higher than any other junior except one, and was U.S. Junior Co-Champion in the tournament played in Memphis. As a result, he was invited to play in the European Schoolboys' Invitational Tournament at which he placed first. Michael has completed all performance norms required for the title of International Master; it is expected that the title will be granted by the International Chess Federation in September.

Yasserer Seirawan, 18, of Seattle, Washington, was born in Damascus, Syria. He played in the 1976 Masters-Plus Tournament at Lone Pine. He placed first in the 1975 Washington Open and was Washington State Champion in 1976 and in 1978. His performance at the 1975 U.S. Open Championship, and especially his victory over Grandmaster Arthur Bisguier was covered extensively by the national wire services in which his playing style was compared to Bobby Fischer. Yasser subsequently played three other Lone Pine Tournaments and received his first International Master Norm in 1978. He placed 4th in the 1976 U.S. Junior Championship in Memphis, and third in the 1977 Junior. He was 1976 American Open Champion, 1977 Montreal Open Champion, 1977 Canadian Open (second place), 1978 Alberta (Canada) Open Champion, and tied for third in the 1978 Keres Memorial.

Jay E. Whitehead, 16, of San Francisco, received his Master's Certificate at age 14. He has played in 5 Paul Masson Opens from 1973 to the present and in three American Opens. He was California State Champion in 1975, played in the 1977 Masters-Plus Tournament at Lone Pine, and has won or tied for first in Championships of Sacramento, Sausalito, Mechanics Institute, Sunnyvale, Cordova and Fremont, California.

Paul A. Whitehead, will celebrate his 18th birthday in Memphis. He is from San Francisco and received his Master's Certificate in 1977. He has annotated games and written articles for the CHESS VOICE, CALIFORNIA CHESS REPORTER, CALIFORNIA STATE CHESS ASSOCIATION BULLETIN, Paul's tournament experience includes: first place at Fiddler's Green Masters' Invitational (1976), Walnut Creek (1977), Berkeley May Day (1977), Lera (1977), Monterey Open (1977); eighth place in the Beklo, Belgium International Tournament (1977), third place U.S. Junior Championship (1977), and first place at the Northern California State Championship in 1978.

The XIII United States Junior Chess Championship (1978)

June 18:

5:30 p.m.

Opening Ceremonies
Presidents' Addresses . . . James C. Little–Memphis Chess Club, Inc.
 Bernie Mullikin–Optimist Club of Northeast Memphis

Introductions of Special Guests

University Welcome . . . Jay Anderson, Director–M.S.U. University Programs

Introduction of Players

Introduction of Tournament Direction Staff

Announcement of Players' Positions


June 18: 6:00 p.m.  Round 1*

June 19: Round 2

June 20: Round 3

June 21: Round 4

June 22: Round 5

June 24: Round 6

June 25: Awards Breakfast

* Time control will be 40 moves in 2 1/2 hours.  Any game exceeding that limit will be adjourned until noon the following day.

Mid-South Chess Advocate Volume 4, number 4  July 1978

Seirawan gains U.S. Junior Title in Memphis

This year (1978) the Memphis Chess Club was again honored to have the top rated juniors in the United States competing for the coveted U.S. Junior Championship.  These eight young men from all ends of the country again performed to the utmost for a week to decide who would represent our country in Austria for the World Junior Championship.

When the smoke cleared, Yasser Seirawan of Seattle, Washington tied with Paul Whitehead of San Francisco and John Fedorowicz of Clearwater Florida for the title.  On tie-breaks, however, Seirawan was awarded first prize which includes the representation of the U.S. in Graz, Austria at the World Junior and placement into the 1979 U.S. (men's) Championship.  Paul Whitehead will receive an all expense paid trip to the U.S. Open in Phoenix. John Fedorowicz will receive nothing in the way of prize with the exception of a trophy.  The three will share the title of 1978 Junior Co-Champions.

There was some rather heated discussion about prize division, but the USCF said that they would have to go by their previously stated method of prize division.  Unfortunately this does not make any provision for a third person in tie-breaks.  And, unfortunately for John this was his second year in a row to tie for first Place (and his last opportunity to play the U.S. Junior because of his age) and nothing to show for either effort other than Co-Champion trophies.

From the left: Thomas Costigan, Jay Whitehead, Yasser Seirawan, Michael Rohde, Paul Whitehead, Steve Odendahl, Mark Ginsburg, John Fedorowicz

Mid-South Advocate Volume 4, number 5  November 1978

It's "Go West" for Jim and Carol Little

James C. Little are moving from Memphis to Seattle, Washington, by early December.  The Littles have been the principal leaders of the Memphis Chess Club for more than five years.  All chess players in the Mid-South will miss them. 

Mid-South Advocate Volume 4, number 5  November 1978

We Will Miss Them
by Philip Maclin

Jim and Carol Little are leaving Memphis for Seattle.  Carol accepted an executive post as vice president in charge of development for Security Pacific, a bond dealer in Seattle.  She left in early November, and Jim and the children will follow in early December.  However, Carol will be back in Memphis during Thanksgiving weekend and will visit us at the Mid-South Open.

Jim joined the Memphis Chess Club in 1968.  He served as club president in 1973, and was vice president in 1974 and president from 1975 to the present.  Carol has been the club secretary for 4 years.

The Littles have been "the" leaders in chess in this area.  Their accomplishments include: bringing grandmasters to Memphis, organizing major tournaments, helping start this newsletter, encouraging high school chess, and helping maintain the Memphis club's membership strength when many clubs were declining.  They have directed more tournaments than anyone in this area.

Of course we will miss them.  We wish to say thanks to them for all the work they did and thanks for their friendship.  We'll publish their new address in the January issue so you may write them in Seattle.

June 14, 2011 response from James C. Little:
Thanks so much for . . . the MCC's recognition of my efforts for chess in Memphis on the . . . web site. I wished that we could have done more for chess in Memphis when I was there. I enjoyed the years that I resided there and the many friends that we had at the chess club. I think of them often and still miss them even now after so many years.

I left Memphis with my family and moved to Seattle in December of 1978. . . While I was living there I organized the Mercer Island Chess Club, originated the Sea Fair Open Chess Tournament and taught a free chess course at Bellevue Community College. IM John Donaldson, before he was an IM, came and played in a couple of my tournaments as well as many of the stronger players of the late 70's and the very early 80's from the Seattle area.

After a couple of tough employment years I left Seattle in very late 1981 and headed for Houston by way of Boise and Denver looking for work. I finally found work shortly after arriving in Houston with a local engineering firm. Not long after arriving I joined the Houston Chess Club and played in some local tournaments. I was asked to help as a referee in the U.S. Open held in Fort Worth, Texas, which was a great honor. . .  I lived in Houston for four years.

We then moved to Phoenix in 1986 . . .  We were there for a bit over two years. I joined the Phoenix Chess Club which was really needing some leadership at the time. I became the club president and tournament director. We got things moving again with regular tournaments and other organized chess activities.  It was shortly thereafter my local employment situation became cloudy again. I contacted a friend that I had worked with in Texas who had moved to Las Vegas. He put me in contact with his employer. I was actually hired sight unseen and moved to Las Vegas in October of 1988.

I worked at the same local engineering firm from 1988 until my down sizing lay off in November of 2008. I really haven't played as much chess here as I have played in the past. I joined and played some at the Las Vegas Chess Club, local weekend tournaments and qualified one year to play in the Nevada Closed Championship. Normally I play in the Annual National Open Tournament, Championship Division, every year. Usually I win or draw a couple of games by sneaking up on a master or two during the tournament. The highest board that I've ever played on is number 18, about three years ago. However, the last two years I haven't participated because of . . . critical finances . . .   Hopefully I'll still be here and play in the National Open next year. This will be dependent on finding work locally, which doesn't look likely . . .

I've been putting out resumes for over 2 years all over the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Middle East and Far East. So far nothing but a couple of telephone interviews that went nowhere. They really don't want to talk to someone over 65 without a B.S.C.E. degree. Even though I have over 37 years experience and training in civil engineering. Much of that time as a Senior Civil/Mechanical Designer, Assistant Project Manager or Land Survey Party Chief. . .

Well I will close this for now. Say "Hi" to all my Memphis friends for me.


Jim Little

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