Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chess Players En Passant

Tonight I was preparing to visit Joe Spiegel, a former Memphis Chess Club president for the years 1960 & 1961, and talk with him about the very old days of chess.  Last month I noticed his name was on our USCF mailing list as residing in the Hickory Hill area of Memphis, so I was hoping he would be able to share with me some interesting stories of our club's chess players from the past.  I typed in his name on the internet to retrieve his phone number, but I ran across his obituary instead.  He died Tuesday September 21, 2010, almost one year to the day that I was going to pay him a visit.

Something like this happened to me once before when I was trying to track down Bradford B. Jefferson's son Dudley.  I was still president of the club, the year may have been 1988, and at that time I was in possession of the two trophies that Dudley's dad had won at the Western Open in Memphis back in 1914, so I wanted to interview him.  My search for Dudley Jefferson ended at the last nursing home that he resided in.  The receptionist looked up his name and said he had passed away just a few months before.  I told her, "Goodness, I just missed him!"

From the September 25, 2010 Commercial Appeal:

"Joseph W. Spiegel, 88 of Memphis, retired Director of Hunter Division of Robbins & Myers, Inc., died Tuesday, at Kirby Pines Retirement Community. Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, October 1st 2010, at All Saints Episcopal Church with burial in Forest Hill Cemetery, Midtown. He was a long time member of All Saint's Episcopal Church where he had served as treasurer, vestryman and lector-chalice bearer. Mr. Spiegel, widower of Beatrice Darnell Spiegel, was a graduate of Bentley College, a life member of the United States Chess Federation and a WWII Army Veteran. He was the holder of the Bronze Star Medal and 5 European Battle Stars. It is requested that any memorials be sent to All Saints Episcopal Church, Memphis Humane Society or CFC International. (CFC International, 183 Brown Rd, Vestal, NY 13850."

Joe was president of the chess club when he organized and directed the first Mid-South Open in 1960, a tournament which is still held each year; next year's Open in November will be the 53rd.

It has been a little over a year and a half since I started back playing chess at the club, and I am very disappointed that I missed meeting Mr. Spiegel.  It would have been a great honor to have had fellowship with him.  If you know of any old timers in your chess club that have faded away from play, you might want to get in contact with them before they too are gone from this world.

Tennessee Chess News May-June 1960

James Wright Wins Memphis Tourney by Half a Point

James Wright edged out Bob Scrivener by half a point to win the (1960) Memphis City title with 9½-2½.  He won nine games in this double round robin event including a game from Scrivener, but lost to Troy Armstrong and Joseph Spiegel.  His other game with Scrivener was a draw.  "Uncle" Bob Scrivener won eight and lost to Spiegel.  His other draw was with Carl Spies.

The victory of James Wright was a mild surprise as Bob Scrivener is considered a little stronger.  Joe Spiegel surprised everyone greatly by taking third place ahead of Armstrong and Spies.

The "B" tourney (reserve) was won by Mark Gilley with 9½ points even though he lost both games to second place winner Peter Snider who scored 8.

(Using the USCF rating system following the City Championships)

1.  Wright         1950
2.  Scrivener     1934
3.  Spiegel        1886
4.  Armstrong   1854
5.  Spies           1806
6.  Darnell        1758
7.  Kennedy      1742
8.  Wiseman     1694
9.  Gilley           1678
10. Snider         1678

There are two Joe Spiegel games below.  Click the bar above the Black pieces to view the 2nd game.

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