Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Simultaneous Exhibition and the Memphis Chess Champion

Memphis simultaneous exhibitions encouraged the city's club players and helped the general public become aware of the the local chess club.  Harry Nelson Pillsbury's visit in 1901 inspired the original founders of the Memphis Chess Club to reorganize and to make the club better known and thereby generating more public participation.  When John Hurt started playing chess in Memphis he captured the city championship and had to run the gauntlet of a club tradition, the simultaneous.  It gave a chance of revenge for the defeated city championship's candidates, and to the city's amateurs a moment of honor.  John and others, through the years, also promoted chess by many more selfless acts and sacrifices.

Tennessee Chess News May–June 1962

John Hurt Again Memphis Champ

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For the second straight year John Hurt captured the Memphis City title by a score of 12–2.
The event was an 8 player double round robin and USCF rated.  Hunter Weaks took second followed by James Wright for third.  Surprising was Eddie Middleton's failure to score higher than fifth behind Mark Gilley.  John Hurt as city champ gave a simul against all comers.  Despite heavy odds he won by 10–9, and yielding three draws.

Tennessee Chess News March 1963

News In Brief

John Hurt gave several simultaneous exhibitions, winning at Greenwood without a loss, and at Jackson with 8 wins, 2 draws, and 3 losses.  He barely won at Memphis as Hunter Weaks, Mark Gilley, and Eddie Middleton were coaching weaker opponents.

Tennessee Chess News September 1963

News In Brief

John Hurt has taken it upon himself to instruct thirty youngsters ranging in ages from six to sixteen at the Optimist Club in Memphis.  A very commendable thing and we hope rewarding experience and a challenge.

Tennessee Chess News May 1966

Chess In High Schools

That chess in high schools is taking place in two major cities of Tennessee was probably unheard of only a few years ago.  But since promoters of chess in Memphis and Nashville have taken an interest this has become a reality.

Under the sponsorship of John Hurt, TCA proxy, the Memphis High School Chess League began on November 20, 1965.  Some ten high schools, each having five members on a team, met for nine consecutive weeks at the Memphis Public Library to determine the best team.  As winner, the Catholic High School of Memphis emerged.  The organization sponsoring this event was the Optimist Club.

November 20 – February 26


1. Catholic H.S.

2. Overton H.S.

3. Christian Brother H.S.

4. White Station

5. East High School

6. Central H.S.

7. Whitehaven

8. West Memphis

9. Kingsbury

10. Tech

Below are qualification articles used in the old, now defunct, Memphis & Shelby County Chess League: