Monday, August 1, 2011

The Battle of the Indoor Sunglasses

Over the Labor Day Weekend at the Winchester Plaza Hotel, Memphis hosted an event that hasn't graced its streets in 40 years: The (1984) Tennessee Open.  Over a hundred contestants exercised their brains and displayed their pawnmanship in this first installment of the migrating (TN) Open.  Familiar faces from East and Middle Tennessee proved that distance was no obstacle to their dreams (though East Tennessee was surprisingly unrepresented with but two players showing.)  Nonetheless the spirit and competition at the tournament was intense and invigorating

Boasting an average rating of 1990 for the 41 player open section, this hard fought tournament of equals produced three co-winners: David Timberlake of AR, Johnson S. Moore of Nashville, and Leonard S. Dickerson of Knoxville.  These three combatants each garnered $250 for their 5-1 efforts, with an additional laurel going to Moore and Dickerson as they were declared Co-Champions of Tennessee.  Johnson Moore was awarded the State Champion Trophy on the basis of his better tie-breaks.  

Tied a close third was Brian McCarthy, Paul Harless, and defending champion Sid Pickard with 4.5-1.5 scores.  Dale Flickinger of Memphis clinched Class A clear first with a highly respectable 4-2 score.  Other Class A winners were James A. Wright, Leroy Brown, and Guy Thompson (Southaven, MS) who had 3.5-2.5 scores.

Ron Burnett won the State Jr. Champion Title for an unprecedented 3rd time (3 years in a row.)  With 16.5 points, the Memphis Chess Club edged Nashville by a half point to win the Team Champion Award.; As a further result of this win,  the Scrivener Memorial Team Plaque was retired to the Pillsbury Chess Club, as the club had captured four of the ten places.

The Amateur Section saw Ray Gatten of Memphis take a convincing first with 5.5 out of six, crowning himself Champion. Second was taken by Mabry Fowler, Jr. of Clarksdale, MS with a 5-1 score.  A three way tie for 3rd with 4/5-1.5 magnified Peter Lahde, Ron Fader, and Bill Orgain.  Class C Champion Jeff McAdams of Memphis scored 4-2.  Tieing for Class C 2nd/3rd was David Wilcox and David Corbitt, both Memphians with 3.5-2.5 scores.  The Amateur Team Championship was won by the Memphis Chess Club with 14.5 points.

The Novice Section's well-fought battles produced two bloodied Co-Champions with 4.5-1.5 each:  Billy Courtney of Memphis and Clinton H. Pearson, Jr. of Crossville.  James Alsobrook actually dominated the field with 5.5 points but wasn't eligible for top honors as he was unrated–but not any longer, as he now sports a fat 1654 rating!  A two-way tie for third place saw Todd Kay and James S. Cook achieve 4-2 scores.  With a 3.5-2.5 score, Russell Brooks of Madison, Alabama took a clear Class E. 1st.  The below 1000 1st place was captured by Elian Levatino of Germantown, TN.  Auberndale Chess Club surprised no one by securing the Novice Team Championship with a 14.5 score.

It deserves mentioning that all section winners and class winners have State Titles.  The nice trophies complemented the winners and were motivation in themselves for excellence.

The tournament took a loss of $750, twice the 1983 loss.  Thankfully, though, the Memphis Chess Club under wrote the $300 payment for the tournament site.  Thanks is definitely due the Winchester Plaza Hotel for avoiding what could have clearly been a catastrophe with a stereo sale scheduled for the same day–and in the adjoining room to the proposed tournament location!!  They graciously–and apologetically–provided suitable sites (empty hotel rooms) throughout the hotel for the players' convenience.  Though this situation was sort of awkward, after initial adjustment was made it turned out to be fairly agreeable.  Thanks–tripled!!!–goes to Harry Sabine, Rick Igou, and the other assistant tournament directors for coordinating these unusual settings!

A Fun Game at the Open
Smith-Sentef Game from the TN Open–1984
by Jack Smith

This one is of the most amusing games from the 1984 TN Open.  It ranks with Timberlake vs. Herbers encounter, which is known by Memphians as

"The Battle of the Indoor Sunglasses
 (David Timberlake won, but Charles Herbers had the superior shades.) 

The Smith vs Sentef game also ranks with Flickinger vs. Smith where white offered a draw; then black offered one; then white offered three more draws; then black dropped a piece to end the suspense. "  (As soon as the mentioned games can be found they will be posted here. ___Editor)

by Jack Smith

Among the things at stake at the 1984 Tennessee Open was the "Uncle Bob" Scrivener Memorial Team Plaque.  There were 10 slots on the plaque:  Pillsbury Chess Club had four; Nashville had two-and-a-half;  Memphis had one;  and Knoxville had one-and-a-half.  If any other team but Nashville won this year, the Plaque would be retired to the Pillsbury Chess Club next year.

This year Nashville had only four representatives – but what players they were:  McCarthy, Burnett, Moore, and Meadows!  Memphis had the maximum seven at Round 1 but were down to five by Round six.  Pillsbury fielded a team, and Memphis had a second team, but Knoxville had only two players.  It was clearly to be a Nashville versus Memphis Race.

This projection was borne out during the rounds.  For most of the tournament it was dead even, but finally Memphis won by a half point.  Thus, the team plaque was retired to the Pillsbury Chess Club.  Through the years (1976, 1978, and 1983 previously) the team included Kenny Thomas, Robert Felt, Mahlon (Scott) Smith, Jack Smith, Gary Pylant, Charles (Rick) Herbers, Sid Pickard, Marty Appleberry, Leroy Boyd and others.  The Pillsburry "boys" also have defeated Nashville's Music City Chess Club in a postal match 4 to 2 in all-vs-all two year contest.  For several regular team members this may have been the last Tennessee Open for awhile, as Thomas, Scott, Smith, and Herbers all have moving plans.  After nine years, the group's goal has finally been achieved.  What the original Pillsbury Club could not do in the late 60's and early 70's, the second incarnation has done!  BRAVO!

A new team's first place will be at stake next year.  Now, who has the stamina to retire the next one?  Nashville? Memphis?  Knoxville? Cumberland County? Auburndale Alumni?  A new Pillsbury?  We'll know in a few years!  Congratulations to Memphis for their 1984 win, and to the Pillsbury for retiring the plaque.

Crosstables link #1:

Crosstables link #2:

Best Game of the Open
Judged by Dave Truesdel


  1. Great games and nice comments. I toyed with the Richter-Veresov Attack a long time ago.

    This is a great entry and well commented.

    I particularly enjoy the game interface. It makes analyzing the games very easy.

  2. I thought this was going to be about Pal Benko and Mikhail Tal back in 1959 (just joking). I liked both of the games. I think I've been on the Black side of the opening in game 1 several times, results unremembered.

    One picky little comment: it looks like squares of the previous and current moves are highlighted in red in the neat little game viewer. I find the highlighting very distracting (so I figure others might also). I there some was to disable that feature?