Friday, September 8, 2017

The Pillsbury Rebels






"The Pillsbury," thats what most of the Memphis Chess Club players called the rival club in town back in the mid 70s; I did check out their organization twice.  Those fellows at "The Pillsbury" were the some of the best chess players of the day in Memphis.  There was no bad blood between Memphis Chess Club and Pillsbury Chess Club.  The only clash of opinions was the time the Pillsbury's Secretary, Jack Smith, wrote to the Memphis Chess Club's editor of the Mid-South Chess Advocate with a complaint about the Chess Advocate not publishing complete games.  

Most all of the members of the Pillsbury Chess Club were also members of the Memphis Chess Club.  Jack Smith, the founder of the second incarnation of the Pillsbury, gave me a large envelope one night at the Memphis Chess Club around the year 1983.  Inside the envelope was an application to become a USCF Club Tournament Director and a brochure for trophies from a local supplier.  Jack thought it was time I became more active in the Memphis Chess Club's management, in which I did as vice-president, president, and as a Local TD.  I appreciate Hunter Weaks and Jack Smith's dedication to the game.  [Blog Editor: D. Weaver]




The Opening


Chess Review, March 1955

150 N. Cooper
Tennessee: The Caissan Potpourri announces the formation of the Pillsbury Chess Club in Memphis at the apartment of Hunter Weaks, 150 North Cooper St.  The new club's president, Max F. Mueller, is hopeful of putting an end to the doldrums of Memphis Chess and invites all the city's chess lovers to join without regard to playing strength.  The first annual club championship is scheduled to begin in March. (The Cassian Potpourri was the official newsletter of the Pillsbury Chess Club, with its first edition in 1955.  Another mention of this newsletter was in the Tennessee Chess News, September 1963 featuring a reprint of a drawn simultaneous game between Samuel Reshevsky and Hunter Weaks on page 4.)


Chess Review, September 1955

Tennessee: At the Pillsbury Chess Club in Memphis, the winner of the first club tournament was R. S. Scrivener with a score of 9 1/2 - 1 1/2.  He was awarded custody of a handsome gold-plated championship trophy.  Max F. Mueller, 9 - 2, was a good second, and Hunter Weaks, 8 1/2 - 2 1/2, finished third.  A prize for the best-played game went to Albert D. Laehder.

Tennessee Chess News, November 1967, page 35

Members of various chess clubs in Tennessee gave reports on activities. Hunter Weaks said the Pillsbury Chess Club in Memphis was only occasionally active, particularly in the Summer time.  James Wright reported for the Memphis Chess Club saying they have about 30 members, they hold the city championship annually as well as the Mid-South (Open) tourney.

published by Memphis Chess Club

Hunter (Weaks) respected quality in all things and disliked mediocrity; so it was in his attitudes about chess and the teaching of chess. He believed that young players, beginning players of any age, should have a chess environment which would provide the maximum opportunity for the full development of their potentials.  During the early 60's, he was frankly dismayed by the seeming inability of the Memphis area to produce more strong players, and he felt that much of the blame lay with the Memphis Chess Club.  In his judgment, certain members of the club were more concerned with establishing themselves as club–masters, in the literal sense, than they where with the game of chess–and were still less interested in seeing young players develop to challenge their positions.  To be precise, Hunter did not feel that anyone was consciously inhibiting the growth of chess in the club; he simply felt that interrelated personality clashes were having an adverse effect that resulted in an unpleasant and unhealthy atmosphere for chess.  After much consideration spread over many months, Hunter decided to retire from the Memphis Chess Club; he did not re-enter the club for several years, until he had cause to think the situation had improved.

During those years of absence, Hunter of course continued his study of the game and played at the unofficial club at his home.  It was at this time that the old Pillsbury Club was reborn.  There had been some speculation among players in the Memphis Chess Club as to just what and who the "Pillsbury Rebels" were.  They were simply a few players who enjoyed chess in a reasonably congenial environment.  They irritated a few Memphis players by going to the state championships in Nashville in 1966 and 1967 and winning the team competition both times; they had the nerve, it seems, to engrave the victor's plaque "Pillsbury Chess Club"–which seemed appropriate since the Memphis Chess Club did not in fact win the competitions.  Aside from its Nashville excursions, the Pillsbury Club activities consisted of matches among its members, joint studies of openings (which included the thorough dissection of members' pet lines so that all might learn a little more), doing studies and exercise in the middle game and endgame, and attention to any specific problem a member might be having with the object of helping him overcome his difficulty–though it might cost another member a point at times.  The purposes of the Pillsbury Club were to improve the play of its members, to provide a pleasant setting for companionship as well as competition, and to make certain, when all its members could make it to Nashville, that the Tennessee team plaque would be properly engraved.  Hunter was, of course, the activity director for the Pillsbury Club and, as such, demonstrated that chess clubs could indeed be fruitful endeavors.  The Pillsbury Club, incidentally, was not a closed society; the chess players in Memphis at the time were well familiar with Hunter's home.

When Hunter rejoined the Memphis Chess Club in late 1971, no one could have known that he was to die of cancer in a year and a half.

The Middle Game


Memphis Reopens Pillsbury Chess Club
by Jack Smith

Jack Smith–Right, Gary Pylant–Left
I am writing to announce the formation of a new USCF affiliate in Memphis:  The Pillsbury Chess Club.  Actually the club began under the leadership of the late Hunter Weaks and has won the Team Trophy at the Tennessee Open twice in the middle 1960's but has been inactive for a few years.

Eddie Middleton, a close friend of Mr. Weaks, and member of the first organization, will serve as Vice-President.  Gary Pylant, (President of the Southern Chess Association), will serve as President.  Charles "Rick" Herbers is Treasurer, and I am Secretary.

Included are two games from the first two rounds of the renewed Pillsbury Chess Club Championship.

Jack  E,  Smith, Memphis




Here are the two games that Jack submitted: Dedicated to the memory of Hunter Weaks, Harry N. Pillsbury, the first Pillsbury Club, and of course, Caissa.



Pillsbury Chess Club Has Co-Champions
by Jack Smith


Eddie Middleton
The 1976 Pillsbury Chess Club Championship, a 12 man round-robin was won by Eddie Middleton and Mark Gilley with 9 1/2 points each.  Both had 8 wins, 3 draws and no losses!  Eddie, (rated) 1998–June, is also Memphis Co-Champion with Scott Mahlon Smith.  Mark Gilley, estimated rating 1999, made the championship his return to chess after being semi-retired for two years.  Third and fourth place was a tie.  Philip Morgan, 1719–April, and Scott Mahlon Smith, 1884–June, both had 7 points.  Fifth and sixth with 6 points were shared by Ron Minor, 1939–April, and Jack Smith, 1654–June, both had 4 wins, 4 draws, and 3 losses.  Seventh, with an even score of 5 1/2 was Charles "Rick" Herbers, 1596–April.  (For the cross-table and games from this event see pages #47, #51, & #67 in the September 1976 issue of the Tennessee Chess News. )


The Pillsbury Chess Club welcomes non-local competition: please write us if you would consider staying in one of our members's homes for a weekend in order to play in small round-robins, short matches, or small Swiss systems - preferably on a reciprocal basis.  Write to: Jack Smith, Secretary, 2768 Metrie, Memphis, TN 38114


Tennessee State Championship

The existing Team Plaque was retired by the Memphis Chess Club, since no team could equal or better their record for that (ten year) period.  A new plaque will be obtained by the Memphis Chess Club with the Pillsbury Chess Club being the first to have their name engraved on it (for the Pillsbury win of 1976).


Tournament Calendar

Nov. 13-14, 1976  

Pillsbury Incentive (Memphis), 5-SS, 50/2; Ramada Inn-SE, 3896 Lamar Ave., Memphis, TN 39118. EF Masters $10, Experts $12, A $14, B $15, C, D, E, Unrated $16.  TCA membership required (3), other states OK. $$ (based on 40 entries) 130-78-52; Most improved 70-42-28.  Informant #21 to top provisional or Unrated.  Trophies to 1st and 1st most improved.  Reg. 8-8:30 AM, reds 9-2-7, 9-2, HR 18-24.  Ent: Jack Smith. . . 

Results for this tournament were not found–games from the event are located at the links below:


https://web.archive.org/web/20170905013413/http://www.memphischess.com/files/1977/1977Mid-SouthAdvocateVol3N1pg11.pdf


Addie E. McFarland Community Center
Where to Play

Memphis: Pillsbury Chess Club, McFarland Community Center, 4983 Cottonwood Road, Tuesday, 7:30 PM; Pillsbury Chess Club gives lessons at 6:30 Tuesdays & meets some Saturdays.  Contact Gary Pylant. . .







Mississippi Chess Letter, December 1977/January 1978, page 2

March 18-19, 1978:

The North Mississippi-Pillsbury Incentive (#2), at Oxford, MS. At Student Union Building., 5SS, Time Control: 50/2, Max.  Entry: $17 (Combined USCF + EF: $27). Registration: 8-9:45 AM. Rounds: 10-3-8, 9-2.  $$(Based on 30 Entries) $140-70-36; Most Improved: &70-$35-$17.50; D, E, UNRATED: $35--$17.50; USCF Membership to top new player.  Mississippi Chess Association Membership Required, Tennessee Chess Association Membership Required of Tennessee Residents.  Advanced Entry to: Jack Smith, 815 Creekside, Memphis, TN 38117.  **This tourney is a great opportunity to improve one's rating BESIDES the financial "INCENTIVE". Let's make this a must on your CALENDAR!!!!

Mid-South Chess Advocate, May 1978, page 29

Marty Appleberry
Marty Appleberry (2199) of Memphis captured first place in the North Mississippi-Pillsbury Incentive #2, played March 18-19, (1978) at Oxford, MS.  Appleberry's 4 1/2 score earned him $90.  Oxford's Joe Sentef (2184) was second with 4 points.  Sent drew with Appleberry with former Memphian Robert Williams (1803).  The most improved player was another former Memphian, Buddy Fowler (1302).  Fowler won 3 games, laying 449 points over his rating.  Second most improved was John Gray (1553) of Oxford, who scored 3 1/2, and played 161 points over his rating.  New players won in the D, E, UNR categories.  Top scorer was Mohsen Beish (3-2) of Oxford.  Tied for second were Firooz Kehavarzi of Oxford and Mike Denzin of Memphis (2-3).

Crosstable:

https://web.archive.org/web/20170905154059/http://www.memphischess.com/files/1978/1978v4n3pg36.pdf
















Games from this event:

https://web.archive.org/web/20170905154253/http://www.memphischess.com/files/1978/1978v4n3pg42.pdf



Mid-South Chess Advocate, March 1979

Games from the Pillsbury Chess Club Championship of  1979:

https://web.archive.org/web/20170905155614/http://www.memphischess.com/files/1979/1979v5n2pg14.pdf

https://web.archive.org/web/20170905160315/http://www.memphischess.com/files/1979/1979v5n2pg23.pdf

https://web.archive.org/web/20170905160029/http://www.memphischess.com/files/1979/1979v5n2pg20.pdf

Mid-South Chess Advocate, March/April 1980, page 19

Appleberry Gets Incentive

Marty Appleberry, Memphis' lone chess master, won the Pillsbury Incentive III which was held at the McFarland Community Center February 23rd.  Marty finished the tournament with two wins and a draw–half a point ahead of the eight players who tied for second place.  The Incentive III, which was sponsored by the Pillsbury Chess Club of Memphis, proved to be one of he strongest open tournaments that Memphis has seen in recent years.  The average rating of the players was 1806!

Cross-table:

https://web.archive.org/web/20170905151355/http://www.memphischess.com/files/1980-1981/1980v6n2pg31.pdf











Games from this event:

https://web.archive.org/web/20170905151122/http://www.memphischess.com/files/1980-1981/1980v6n2pg29.pdf

https://web.archive.org/web/20170905151227/http://www.memphischess.com/files/1980-1981/1980v6n2pg30.pdf


Charles Herbers
Pillsbury vs Nashville

Sid Pickard


In 1980 the annual Memphis vs Nashville match wasn't played.  To uphold the honor of West Tennessee the Pillsbury Chess Club challenged Nashville to a six game, all vs all, postal match.

The Pillsbury team has included; Jack Smith, Gary Pylant, Rick Herbers, Kenny Thomas, Scott Smith, Sid Pickard, Mac Brown, Mark Gilley, Marty Appleberry, and others.





Nashville's team has been; Pete Lahde, Kent Meadows, Mark Ishee,
Bruce Stearns, Joe Jones, Johnson Moore, Curt Jones, Gary McMurray, Peter Cairlerlio, Gerald Larsen, Brian McCarthy, and others.
Peter Lahde - Mark Ishee
Curt Jones














Games from this event: 



Below is the only completed game found published.  The tournament lasted two years through the postal mail service.

The Endgame

Scrivener Team Plaque Retired 
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.

R. Felt, John Hurt, K. Thomas
Daniel Boyd
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 Pillsbury "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!

Gary Pylant
Scott Smith
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.





[Just as the first Pillsbury Chess Club passed away with its founder in the 70s, and so it did with its second founder, Jack Smith.  Many of Pillsbury's living members are scattered across the country, but there are few that remain in the Mid-South area –– most are no longer active in a chess club.  Blog Editor: D. Weaver]










4 comments:

  1. Thanks. I'd never heard of the Pillsbury Chess Club of Memphis. It made for both educational and fascinating reading

    ReplyDelete
  2. Kent Meadows was a member.

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  3. Another thing that I remember about the Pillsbury. Eddie, Hunter, Jack, and I were fans of Chopin Notcturnes. This was our favorite thing to do. Listen to Chopin and play chess. Man, that was fun.
    Nocturnes are so peaceful and serene. The top Chopin Nocturne was:

    Rubinstein (playing)- Chopin Nocturne Op. 9 - 72

    There was a major sense of calm and vigor at the same time. Eddie and I played a certain Chopin record many times while playing some serious chess games at his home in East Memphis.

    Thanks

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  4. I had no idea that the original Pillsbury Chess Club was formed back in the mid-1950s!

    I had the honor of meeting Hunter Weaks one time, when he and Eddie Middleton stopped into the Poplar-Perkins Gulf station where I was working during late 1972 thru roughly Spring 1973 one night to buy some gas. Eddie and I recognized each other from the Memphis Chess Club, where our old pal Mac Brown had begun playing and had brought me along a few times (we both worked at that gas station back then.)
    Hunter was kind and good with me, and I enjoyed meeting him. I was sad to hear when he passed away not long after I met him. Within a short time, I joined the Pillsbury scene through my pal Jack Smith, and found the following extracted from the MCC...

    ReplyDelete