History, written by John McCrary
Periodically, I like to remind new SCCA members of our state’s chess history. The following facts are all authenticated in original historical sources.
1795: Paul Morphy, who became the first true world champion in 1858, was of Charleston lineage. His grandfather, Don Diego Morphy, moved to Charleston to become Spanish Consul in 1795. Paul’s future father was born in Charleston in 1798. Paul’s future uncle, Ernest Morphy, was born in 1807, also in Charleston; he was destined to become a major national figure in chess in his own right before becoming eclipsed by his nephew’s world fame. The family lived on King Street and then Meeting Street, before moving to New Orleans in 1809. The headstone of a Morphy grave still stands in Charleston. It is located in the cemetery of the old Catholic Church on Hasell Street behind the Omni Hotel.
1800-1909: Four of the first five known women chessplayers in the US were playing each other in Charleston. The only other known American woman player that early was the wife of Aaron Burr. There is a plausible link between one of these Charleston lady players and the Morphy family there at that time.
1814: Alexander B. Meek, who became the first national president in American chess, was born in Columbia. Meek became the president of the First American Chess Congress in 1857. He moved to Alabama as an infant, and became a famous political figure and judge who helped found public education in that state.
1834: The "great chess automaton," billed as the world’s first chessplaying machine, was exhibited in Charleston starting on Dec.1. The "machine" actually had a man hidden inside so cleverly that he was never detected, despite the machine’s interior being opened to public view just before each exhibition. The exhibitor died on a voyage not long thereafter, and was buried at sea somewhere "off Charleston."
1846-1847: South Carolina was first mentioned in chess literature, in a complimentary reference to the growth of chess in our state appearing in The American Chess Magazine.
1859: The first US chess magazine published outside of New York appeared in Charleston. Called The Philidorian, it was a flop after two issues. However, one of its editors went on to found Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC. The first recorded tournament in our state was held at Charleston Junior College that same year.
1880: (approximate date) The first recorded SC tournament of more than local significance occurs in Spartanburg. Isaac Orchard, who played in the event, is called "the champion of South Carolina," and later the "champion of the Carolina’s." Orchard was a Columbia native who became nationally prominent, being mentioned in Steinitz’s magazine. A variation of the king’s gambit is briefly dubbed "the Palmetto gambit" (by a Philadelphia columnist) in honor of Orchard’s success with it.
1926: The South Carolina Chess Association was founded on July 26 at the Columbia YMCA, which is still standing and in use. Five of the eight founders had a Spartanburg connection. The first state championship was held on that date, and won by Spartanburg player, W.H. Morton. The organization lasted until 1933.
Early 1940's: The Palmetto Chess Club in Columbia was founded.
1948: The SC Chess Association was re-founded, and has lasted to the present.
1959: The SCCA starts an uninterrupted series of its magazine, continuing right on to this issue. Around 1977-1978, the SCCA was published as part of a regional magazine, with Georgia and other states. Professor Robert Brand of the Citadel was the first editor. Ironically, the first issue appeared almost on the exact centennial month of The Philodorian mentioned above.
Early 1960's: Columbia was the chess capital of the southern US, as the president and secretary of the Southern Chess Association resided on Greene Street by the University of South Carolina. The Southern Chess Association, which included a number of states, once rivaled the USCF in significance, and one of its tournaments was won by Dr. Hans Berliner of Washington, DC. Dr. Berliner later entered the US Chess Hall of Fame because of his convincing victory in the World Correspondence Championship, and his pioneering work in computer chess. He helped establish the academic lineage of Deep Blue. Lanneau Foster was president, and Professor Shaw secretary, of the Southern Chess Association; Professor Shaw was also one of its champions.
1974: The South Carolina Chess Association co-sponsored, with the USCF, FIDE, and Georgia, the quarter-final match for the World Championship between Korchnoi and Mecking. The match was held in Augusta, but was the result of tireless effort by Dr. M. Lee Hyder and the late Bill Dodgen.
1975: Dr. M. Lee Hyder became the first South Carolina resident to be elected to the USCF Policy Board, as national secretary.
1983: The first correspondence chess championship of South Carolina was held, being the brainchild of David Williams, with support from Don Lemaster and SCCA president Bill Floyd. The tournament was won by John McCrary, just ahead of Wayne Williams, Mickey Bush, and Bill Floyd. David Williams and Wayne Williams published a book of the games of that event; that book is one of only a handful of tournament books ever published of a state chess championship. (According to standard chess bibliographical sources.) Later, Wayne Williams became the first person to hold the state correspondence and OTB titles simultaneously.
1989-1990: The US Women’s Chess Championship was held two consecutive years at Converse College in Spartanburg. Spencer Mathews and David Williams were instrumental in staging this event.
1990: James Hill of Columbia, South Carolina, perennially one of the state's best players, became the first African-American to win the state championship. He finished as co-champion in the 1990 championship tournament.
1998-2001: John McCrary became President of the US Chess Trust in 1998. He became USCF Vice President in 1999, and USCF President in 2001. He is the only person ever to hold all three of those offices. The USCF set its all-time membership record of nearly 98,000 members during McCrary's Presidential term.
South Carolina Chess Champions: 1926-Present
|1926:||Dr. William H. Morton|
|1927:||James Henry Rice, Jr.|
|1928:||Col. Oliver J. Bond|
|1931:||Edward L. Dashiell|
|1933:||Edward L. Dashiell|
|1948:||Harold A. Mouzon, Jr.|
|1949:||Paul L. Cromelin|
|1950:||Harold A. Mouzon, Jr.|
|1951:||Paul L. Cromelin|
|1953:||Rea B. Hayes|
|1954:||Rea B. Hayes|
|1955:||Ernest E. Hoenck|
|1956:||Lanneau L. Foster, Alex Edelsburg|
|1957:||R. Grady Brown|
|1958:||R. Grady Brown|
|1959:||Harold A. Mouzon, Jr.|
|1960:||Peter Grant, Lanneau Foster, Alex Edelsburg|
|1961:||John G. Wallenburg|
|1962:||Lanneau L. Foster|
|1963:||Dr. Steven Shaw|
|1965:||John A. Chalmers, Alex Edelsburg|
|1967:||Lee Hyder, Alex Edelsburg|
|1972:||Otto Estenger, Charles Walter|
|1973:||Jeff Smeltzer, Charles Walter|
|1975:||Jeff Smeltzer, Lee Hyder, James Addison|
|1976:||Fred Scott Allsbrook|
|1979:||Edward McCauley, Richard Cohen, Patrick Hart|
|1983:||Klaus Pohl, David Erb, Joseph Zeimetz|
|1985:||Thomas Krause, Klaus Pohl, Wayne Williams|
|1987:||Dennis Fish, Randal Ferguson, Wayne Williams|
|1989:||Wayne Williams, Lee Hyder, Doug Holmes|
|1990:||Charles Walter, Dennis Fish, Mark Brodie, James Hill|
|1992:||Klaus Pohl, Lindsay Blanks|
|1993:||Philip Laren, Klaus Pohl|
|1995:||Patrick Hart, Wayne Williams|
|1998:||Dr. Miles F. Ardaman|
|1999:||Dr. Miles F. Ardaman|
|2001:||Dr. Miles F. Ardaman|
|2002:||Alex Guetchkov, James Burden|
|2004:||Keith Eubanks, John Curcuru|
|2006:||Timur Aliyev, Klaus Pohl, Wayne Christensen|
|2008:||Dr. Philipp Lamby|
|2010:||Dr. Philipp Lamby|
|2011:||Dr. Alexander Matros|
|2012:||Dr. Edsel Pena, Benjamin Caiello, Gene Nix|
|2013:||Dr. Alexander Matros|