Friday, May 20, 2011

The Year Before "1984"

1983 was a year of tremendous chess strength with players from many generations taking part in Memphis Chess Club tournaments.  John Hurt's book The Wing Gambit was published in 83, though now out of print, you can find used copies on the net.  In 1983 Memphis Chess Club and Pillsbury Chess Club players were active board members of the TCA;   Jack Smith was the Vice-President of the Tennessee Chess Association, the Tennessee Chess News editor was Gary Pylant, the Tennessee Chess Association Director for West TN was Dale Flickinger, and many covers and tournament advertisements for the Tennessee Chess News were drawn by Randy Cope.  Kenny Thomas submitted several analyzed games to the TCN in 83, and even did a book review of John Hurt's new book already mentioned.  At the Memphis Chess Club the year began with Greg Hood coming back from a hiatus and winning not only the City Candidates tournament but also the City Championship with a score of 6-0.  Let's take a look around the 1983 chess club with a few photographs taken sometime in January of that year by Randy Cope at the University Christian Church at 685 South Highland. (Click on the pictures below once and then a second time to enlarge.)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

0-07⟣ From Memphis With Love ♖♔

On January 23, 2011, I was watching From Russia With Love, when the chess tournament scene caused me to realize something I had not noticed before.  The chess set that Memphis Chess Club member James Mitchell had sold me in 1985 was a close copy of the one in the James Bond film

In the 007 film, Grandmaster Kronsteen, from Czechoslovakia, is battling Canadian, Macadams.  The game played out in the film was a variation of an actual game between Boris Spassky, White, and David Bronstein, Black, in 1960. 

The Mitchell set.  Click on Picture to Enlarge
I do not  recall all of the history of the chess set that Mr. Mitchell owned, except when I first played a game using it.  On November 5, 1976 James and I were paired in the 4th round of the Ralph King Memorial on board 5. The chess set King was just over four inches tall with the base measuring one and three quarter inches.  The pieces loomed over the board, and I lost the game that night.  Mitchell actually finished 2nd in the tournament, with 4 points just under John Hurt, who captured first with 4 1/2 points.   Going forward to the year 1985, I overheard James Mitchell and James Jones negotiating the sale of the set.  Mr. Jones wanted the set in order to replace the Knights for another similar set he owned.  I waited for Jones to leave and then I approached Mr. Mitchell and appealed to him to sell me the set.  I told him I wanted it for a keepsake to remember him by and that I would pay him his asking price.  He sold it to me the next week.  After the set purchase, I ordered a "Texas" size chess board from Ken Smith, Chess Digest, that perfectly fit the pieces.  For years I would randomly show up to the club with this chess set, and it would always receive complements.