Thursday, January 13, 2011

Rosa B. Jefferson's "Chess News" logo used in the Memphis Newspapers

Rosa Jefferson
In 1990, 1993, and in 1997 was printed a club directory.  The covers featured some art work from the daily chess column that Rosa Jefferson published each week. This logo was redrawn on a computer as a reasonable facsimile of what was on the newspaper.  Please note that since then it was discovered that the Memphis Chess Club was founded in 1877.  Inside the 1990 pamphlet were written these words, "The front cover of this pamphlet features a logo containing a chess board with clematis flowers on each side of it.  This logo, used by Memphis Chess Club member Rosa Jefferson, introduced her chess news column each Sunday for over twenty five years.  Rosa's column ran in 'The Commercial Appeal' for almost thirty years with the first one appearing on December 6, 1903. 

Rosa's brother Bradford was just 25 years old when he won the city championship of Memphis in 1900." Bradford also won the U.S. Open, known then as "The Western Open," in 1913 and 1914. The 1914  Western Open was played in Memphis, TN.  The Memphis Chess Club still has in its possession the single silver loving cup used in the first 14 Western Open, (US Open) championships.  Rosa died September 5th, 1962 and Bradford died at the age of 88 on May 14, 1963.  

The 1900-1914 U.S. Open Trophy owned by the Memphis Chess Club since 1914

The following provides more information on Rosa Jefferson.  

"Although she was a significant historical figure in chess in America, Rosa Bradford Jefferson has remained largely unknown. Miss Jefferson edited a chess column for the Memphis Commercial Appeal for 30 years (as well a editing a music column). She won her games as a participant in simultaneous exhibitions given by Frank Marshall,  Emmanuel Lasker, Géza Maróczy, and Harry Nelson Pillsbury. She devoted a great deal of effort to supporting chess in Memphis and chess as an educational tool. She was honored for her chess skills by Theodore Roosevelt who was staying at the Peabody Hotel during a visit to Memphis.
   Rosa's brother, who was almost two years older, was Bradford Jefferson. Bradford Jefferson won the city championship of Memphis in 1900 and the U.S. Open in 1913 and 1914. Bradford was born around 1875, while Rosa was born around 1876. Bradford died at the age of 88 on May 14, 1963; Rosa died at the age of 86 on September 5, 1962.
The New York Times ran this article on Sunday, March 3, 1901
 Woman Beats Pillsbury at Chess
                        special to the New York Times.
Memphis, Tenn., March 2. -- Harry W. Pillsbury, the chess champion, was defeated here last night by Miss Rosa Jefferson, a young woman expert of this city. Pillsbury gave his customary exhibition of playing sixteen players blindfolded and simultaneously.   He had expected an easy contest from all, but, long after midnight,  Miss Jefferson declared a check on Queen and King, and Pillsbury bowed to defeat.
                                        Miss Rosa Jefferson, of Memphis Tenn., is visiting friends in Washington.  Miss Jefferson enjoys the distinction of being the champion woman chess player of the United States.  She also edits the musical and chess departments of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
           The New York Times also ran this article on Sunday, April 1, 1906 

First Open Competition Ever Held in America Planned for May

   For the first time in the history of chess in America, women are to receive an opportunity to compete in an open tournament during the second week in May.  At the suggestion of a permanent member of the Women's Chess Club of New York. which has its headquarters in the Martha Washington Hotel, 29 East Twenty-ninth Street, invitations are being sent to the fair players of the country to compete in the tournament in this city for handsome prizes. Souvenirs are to be presented to all the competitors irrespective of the scores they may make.
   Among the better known women players here are Mrs. J. W. Showalter of Georgetown, Ky., wife of the former United States champion; Mrs. Harriet Worrall of Brooklyn, winner of the third prize in the women's chess congress held in London several years ago; Mrs. F. W. Lynn of Chicago, a regular competitor in the championship tournament of the Chicago Chess and Checker Club; Miss Rosa Jefferson of Memphis, Tenn.; Miss L. M. Séguin of New Orleans; Miss Estelle Whitney, formerly of the Brooklyn Heights Chess Club, and Miss Eva Brenzinger of Staten Island, daughter of the Treasurer of the Staten Island Chess Club.

The Charleston W. Va. Sunday Gazette-Mail of June 13, 1976 ran an article entitled, "Playing chess Against Men Might Aid Women Competitors," which included the following: