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The 1907 World Chess Championship, Memphis TN

Did you know that in 1907 the World Chess Championship was held in Memphis, TN? The contenders for the title were Dr. Emmanuel Lasker the reigning World Chess Champion and the contender was Frank Marshall. Here you will find a review of the event.


Recognition for the research and presentation of this article goes out to Frank Wranovix and Dwight Weaver. Also, to leave comments on this article and for more on Memphis, TN chess history, go to: http://memphischessclub.blogspot.com/2014/04/world-chess-championship-in.html)


Chess on Reality TV

The game of chess has seen a number of attempts to make it on television, the best being The Master Game which ran on BBC from 1976 to 1982. Good, solid chess entertainment and instruction. Today we learn of a new TV series called American Chess Star featuring chess bitch Jennifer Shahade among others – a show aiming to compete in the crowded television “reality” genre. Apparently the show’s host will conduct players through several challenges, producing a winner. After watching the trailer below one might think the whole thing a hoax; after all, the atmosphere feels like a cross between Blue’s Clues and Pee Wee’s Playhouse. But the show is produced by the Xtreme Chess Champs, a group which certainly exists on Facebook and Twitter. Make up your own mind, but we rather hope this project confines itself to a series of obscure web episodes, the better to limit the embarrassment of all chess players.

Your Chess Club

Most serious chess players eventually join their city’s chess club, where strong competition can be found and lasting friendships formed. Some players become fixtures at these establishments, waging their silent battles and passing on our chess heritage to youngsters or beginners. Stories and anecdotes build up around such characters, the solid pillars of any chess club – and then they’re gone. That old guy who used to sit at the corner table, reading chess magazines and taking on all comers. What was his name again?

Chess Club Player

John Hurt, Memphis Chess Club

His name was John Hurt. He started winning chess tournaments in 1933, and when he moved to Memphis in 1961 Mr. Hurt became a dominant force there for the next 25 years. Many times city and club chess champion, this gentleman gave countless exhibitions for schools and youth groups. He published a pamphlet on gambits, and loved to attack your King. John Hurt handed the game of chess to a new generation of Memphis players; he was the guy at the corner table reading chess magazines, taking on all comers.

We know these things because the Memphis City Chess Club has done an excellent job of preserving their history. The club historian, Dwight Weaver, maintains a web page  to this end with lists of champions, past tournaments and notable events. We find that the Memphis Chess Club was founded in 1877 and that a 1901 simul by Pillsbury energized the members, growing their numbers and stimulating regular chess tournaments. We learn that a World Chess Championship game was played in Memphis, between Lasker and Marshall in 1907, and of other visits by famous Grandmasters.

US Chess Open Trophy

US Chess Open Trophy, 1900-1914

Even the US Open trophy used between 1900 and 1914 is housed here, and has been in the Memphis Chess Club’s possession for nearly 100 years.

Many such American chess clubs have a long and proud history, and not just the top names in big cities. This second and third tier history, this “secret” chess history, is where our royal game really lives – in that corner seat where the old guy reads chess magazines and takes on all comers. He’s there because another fellow sat there before him, and another before that. So sit down and have a game; it’s your club’s future history being made.

Chess Fractals

If you are not familiar with the chess work of Mark Weeks, you should be. We have known Mark since the beginning of the Internet when he started a web site called World Chess Championship. Check out the copyright date at the bottom of the site!

Next, we caught up with Mark when he became chess guide for About.com. He was one of the few volunteer writers that kept the world informed about the events happening in chess. he did a marvelous job for years and was sorely missed when he retired from that position.

Now we have just come across his blog called Chess for all Ages where he covers a plethora of chess topics.

This leads to the title of this blog post. Check out what Mark found. Chess Fractals. These images are in the spirit of Escher and will boggle the mind. Enjoy!

Thanks Mark for your tireless years of dedication to the world of chess.

Mining Chess Databases

It is difficult to imagine life as one of the world’s elite chess players, but occasionally we can glimpse the less glamorous side of their profession, the day-to-day work each member of this high level group must grind away at constantly. For example, we all know that these Grandmasters study what chess openings their opponent will play; they each take great pains to collect the latest chess games.

In 2005 Kasparov was asked if he’d ever play again, and replied, “I said that I’m not going to quit completely. I’m following the games, doing some analysis, renewing my database…”. Later he mentioned a willingness to train others, saying “We have a lot of experience, and a good database!” In a more recent interview (Oct. 19, 2010) Kasparov admits that he still follows top tournaments, adding “I like chess and I can guarantee you that my database is still up to date.”

Yes indeed, the best chess players – including this former World Chess Champion – are keeping their chess databases current! But rest assured that these chess prospectors don’t simply dig about in the latest Mega or Big database when they’re looking for a gold strike. They certainly own one of these products, but it’s merely the mine from which ore is extracted – only then does the work of refining and fabrication begin!

The rest of us (the “good” and “excellent” chess players!) ought to take example from these professionals. To get better at chess and do well in tournaments we clearly have to assemble a chess database – our mine – and it’s a forced move. That’s where we pick up next time!

Dream Chess Career

Most chess players only dream of making their obsession into a profession, but with the rise of the Internet dreams can come true. No longer must you travel the highways and byways to make a buck at chess, when often travel expenses outweigh the compensation. Now you can sit back and relax in your living room and make a decent wage from chess.

Take for example Gregory Kaidanov, a top Grandmaster who moved from the Soviet Union to Kentucky. He teaches chess students from around the world by Internet, and as you can see in this video has made a very successful career  from chess.

Watch the video here

We at ChessCentral have also been blessed with the ability to follow our dreams and make a career out of serving the chess community through the Internet. We would like to thank each of our more than 100,000 loyal customers for their trust and help in making us the #1 Chess Shop on the Internet.

As our way of saying “thank you”, we would like to offer this one time coupon code:


for a 10% discount on your total purchase price.

Many thanks from Steve, Sid, Janet, Jeremy, Jeroen,  Ryan and Tom (the ChessCentral Team).

Would you like to be a part of the ChessCentral Team? We are expanding! Please fax a resume to:

Toll Free: 1-866-576-9755

Let us know about your chess career dream.

Looking back at 20 years of Anand

Over the last couple of days I’ve taken a little time off (from writing chess blogs, producing chess videos, and writing the official auto tour for a major Civil War battlefield – yes, I’m a little busy lately) to think and reflect on Viswanathan Anand’s successful defense of his World Chess Championship crown. They say that time seems to pass more quickly as you get older, and I’ll verify that — it really doesn’t seem that long ago when Anand first burst like an A-bomb on the chess scene.

It was a far different world then, back around 1990 or so. The “Super K’s” (Karpov and Kasparov) were still the top dogs; in 1990 they were contesting their final of several world championship matches and even they were complaining about how they were sick of seeing each other across the chessboard.

Suddenly here came Vishy, this kid who was impressing (and scaring) everybody with his nearly Tal-like ability to rapidly calculate variations. Vishy really wasn’t “new” (check your database and you’ll find major games from as far back as 1984) and he really wasn’t a “kid” either (he turned 21 in 1990), but he started to really garner some major attention around the turn of that decade. For you young’un’s, Vishy really was the Magnus Carlsen of the day, the guy who most people thought most likely to snatch the crown away from Kasparov.

It took a while for Anand to get his shot. In 1993, Kasparov broke with FIDE and formed the PCA (which he later had a hand in destroying – that’s a long sad tale for another time), playing Nigel Short for the championship. The PCA really broke new ground for chess as far as the media was concerned. It seemed like chess was in all the newspapers and ESPN even carried major PCA events on TV (in a decent timeslot, too; while mid-afternoon wasn’t exactly “prime time” it was way better than 3 AM). A PCA innovation was a two-year World Championship cycle instead of FIDE’s three-year cycle, meaning that Kasparov would be required to defend his crown again in 1995.

I’d love to say that “we always knew that Vishy would become the champ”, but I’d be lying. In 1995, Kasparov and Anand squared off for a PCA World Championship match, a bout which seemed to please no one. The match was draw-laden; even mainstream media complained about the lack of drama (hey, I was thrilled that chess was even getting big media coverage, regardless of what they were saying). Even Don Imus was following the match (and rooting for Garry), but after several drawn games he complained on his radio show that Kasparov was playing “like a girly-man”.

Anand ultimately lost the match, and although I knew he wasn’t “washed up” by a longshot, I was afraid that he might not get another championship shot.  Vishy would have to wait half a decade to claim the crown, becoming world champ in 2000 (at a time when the world championship title was still split between federations, though the PCA wasn’t one of them). In 2007 he grabbed the (now reunified) championship again and has held it ever since. Unfortunately, chess has long since dropped off the media radar and Vishy hasn’t received nearly the amount of recognition that he deserves. He’s living proof that nice guys can finish first and he has the potential to become the game’s best World Champion “ambassador” since Capablanca. But “nice guys” generally don’t garner media attention these days, more’s the pity.

As I said, it’s a far different world now than it was at the time Vishy first came on the scene. Did I mention where the opening of the 1995 PCA World Championship was played?

It took place on the observation deck of the World Trade Center in New York City…