13 June 2017

Thomas Emery

One of my first posts this year, January 1967 'On the Cover', demanded a follow-up:-

'Thomas Emery Trophy', 'Thomas Emery Awards dinner' -- who was Thomas Emery and what was his connection to the American Chess Foundation?

The June 1957 issue of Chess Review (CR) carried a two page feature 'Thomas Emery: Amateur Extraordinary' by T.A. Dunst. It started,

An amateur chess player who stands off U.S. champions, assorted grandmasters, ex-world champions and the like, is certainly a rara avis. That distinction belongs to genial Thomas Emery of New 'York, who, at 62, is a man of many interests, including world travel, the study of medicine and delving into the mysterious topography of the chessboard.

When Frank Marshall in 1942 wrote My Fifty Years of Chess, summing up an international chess career and 27 years possession of the United States chess championship, the book contained a great deal more of Thomas Emery than the preface which he supplied; for the friendship between the two men was of the Damon - Pythias variety, and they spent endless hours in philosophizing and in analyzing openings, endings and middle-game intrigue.

Half about Emery's life, half about Emery's approach to chess, the article focused on his three major interests: his military career, his medical career, and his chess.

Thomas Emery, Chess Review, June 1957, p.177

Of his military career,

Emery, a native New Yorker, stems from ancestry which is about 80 per cent English. He attended tutoring school in England, where the brother of a schoolmate named Buffer became a member of the British chess team in 1910. Young Emery threw himself into chess about this time and, within a year, was taking the team player's measure.

Soon after the United States entered World War I, Emery found himself in the Officers' Training Camp at Plattsburg. Scoring 98 per cent in his studies, he was called to Washington to be commissioned a captain at the age of 21 in the Quartermaster Corps. [...] Emery turned down the captain, and enlisted in the U.S. Marines, in which organization he served with distinction. Because of his knowledge of French. he acted as interpreter. He was wounded in 1918 and later recommended for bravery. He was honorably discharged in August of 1919.

Of his medical career,

It was during World War II that Emery pursued intensive medical studies, an interest which has never flagged and which is second only to his enthusiasm for chess. He has lectured on hematology at the North Country Community Hospital in Glen Cove and, in 1943, was appointed Senior First Aid Instructor for the whole of Long Island. In this connection. Emery takes justifiable pride in the knowledge that many of his students continued in the field of nursing and medicine. Perhaps, there is a hereditary influence in all this. for Emery's grandfather. Brig.-Gen. Charles Tripler Alexander, was a surgeon under Custer and a chief-surgeon under Sherman.

A few years after CR's 1957 article, the cover of the May 1960 issue of Chess Review featured a photo of the 'Thomas Emery Armed Forces Chess Trophy'. Inside the magazine announced,

On the occasion of the first tournament for the Thomas Emery Armed Forces Chess Awards, scheduled to be held in Washington, D.C. from May 15th to May 21st, the American Chess Foundation salutes:
The Selected Finalists: [12 players named]
Mr. Thomas Emery, distinguished American, internationally-famous chess player and generous patron of the Awards.
The Department of Defense.
The United Service Organizations (U.S.O.) and its affiliated agencies.
The NAVY TIMES for its Special Award.
Mr. I.S. Turover for his Special Award.
Colonel John D. Matheson, Chairman of the ACF-USCF Joint Committee for Armed Forces Chess, for his magnificent direction of the project, together with those associated with him on the Committee: Col. E.B. Ely; Thomas Emery; Dr. Eliot Hearst; Sgt. Bob Karch ; I.S. Turover and Sidney Wallach.

For more about the series of tournaments, see Wikipedia's United States Armed Forces Chess. Emery is mentioned only once, in passing. The 1957 CR article included three scores of games by Emery: draws with Bisguier and Euwe, and a win against Menchik. It also mentioned three amateur chess players who made their names in other fields.

This brief sketch of an amateur who plays chess in the tradition of Henry T. Buckle, the historian, Moritz Rosenthal, the pianist, and Charles Schwab, the steel king, would not be complete without a word about his wife, Constance. [...]

Does this mean more follow-up posts ahead?

No comments: