23 April 2021

USCF Awards 1986-87

Last week I looked at USCF Awards 1984-85 (April 2021), comparing reports from that time period against the official, ongoing record. Two years at a time turns out to be manageable, so in this post I'll continue with the next two years in the sequence.

The 1986 awards were reported in the November 1986 Chess Life, 'Chess Achievers Feted At Awards Luncheon, Koltanowski Delivers Keynote Address' by Jennie L. Simon, Assistant Editor, Chess Life.

SOMERSET, N. J., Aug. 9 -- Outstanding contributors to chess in the United States were honored here at the annual USCF awards luncheon. After USCF President E. Steven Doyle's welcome, the guests tucked into an Italian buffet which had the crowning thematic touch of a tiered, black-and-white chess cake.

But the real centerpiece of the event was the awards presentation. E. Steven Doyle opened the ceremony by announcing the winners of the inaugural USCF Outstanding Career Achievement Award. Bob Dudley of Pennsylvania, Robert Erkes of Maryland, Helen Hinshaw and Allen Hinshaw of Virginia, and George Mirijanian of Massachusetts each received this honor for their long-time devotion to the royal game.

The Lincoln Chess Foundation (Nebraska), Ben Munson (Iowa), and Sunil Weeramantry (New York) were awarded the USCF Meritorious Service Award. Fred Gruenberg (Illinois), Richard O'Keeffe (Virginia), Norman Peacor (Massachusetts), and Ron Warnicke (Arizona) were winners of the USCF Special Service Award. Retiring Policy Board member Jerome Hanken received a Certificate of Governance Award for 1983-86.

The National Grandmaster title was conferred upon Donald Byrne and Edward Lasker, while the cities of Charlotte, North Carolina and Somerset, New Jersey received Chess City of the Year honors. Charlotte was a winner because of its outstanding scholastic chess program, and Somerset divided the honors for hosting both the U.S. Amateur Team East and the U.S. Open in the same year.

Five Koltanowski Medals were also given. This award honors the 1986 luncheon keynoter George Koltanowski, and his pioneering efforts to promote and to finance chess in the United States. The gold medal (for financial contributions of national significance) went to NCR Corporation for its 1985 contribution of $25,000 to Shelby Lyman's World Championship series on PBS. Silver medals (regional contributions) were awarded to Faneuil Adams, Jr., for his work in the New York schools; The Prudential Insurance Company of America; The Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States; and Paul Arnold Associates, Inc. These last three were recognized for their support of the U.S. Open and the 1986 Tournament of High School Champions.

That 1986 report matches the official record except for one item: the official record lists Glenn Meachum as having received a 'Meritorious Service Award'. A web search revealed nothing else about the man [Meachum]. A 2008 obituary for 'Glenn Raymond Meacham Jr., 64, of Toms River, N.J.' [Meacham], mentioned,

Born in San Francisco, he was a self-employed artist. He was the 1963 California State Chess champion; he once played Bobby Fischer.

Another discrepancy in the 1986 awards is the mention of a 'National Grandmaster title' for D.Byrne and Ed.Lasker. A few years ago I posted Fischer's IM/GM Titles (November 2014), where I noted, 'There are FIDE grandmasters and, once upon a time, there were USCF grandmasters. Fischer was both.' That was in 1957/-58. The tradition continued for at least another 30 years, although based on different criteria.

Missing from the 1986 report is any mention of the 'U.S. Chess Hall of Fame'. That year saw the first inductees and the 1987 report (below) shows that later inductees were included in the awards ceremony. For the record, the original 1986 inductees were Paul Morphy, Robert Fischer, Reuben Fine, Frank Marshall, Isaac Kashdan, George Koltanowski, Harry Pillsbury, Sammy Reshevsky.

The 1987 awards were reported in the November 1987 Chess Life, 'America's Chess Best Honored At Luncheon' by Larry Parr, Editor, Chess Life.

NEW WINDSOR, N.Y., Aug. 20 -- The tradition is that the U.S. Chess Federation honors its own at an annual awards luncheon held each year during the U.S. Open. And the 1987 U.S. Open in Portland, Oregon, proved no exception.

As America's chess people enjoyed a multi-course luncheon this last August 8th in the downtown Portland Hilton, they put aside for a time divisive debate to take note of those who do this country's chess chores. Keynote speaker GM Arthur Dake set the tone for the ceremonies by providing a mellow remembrance of things past -- of the "glory days" of American chess in the 1930s and of his own chess youth in Portland. "Did you know," he asked the audience, "that I learned the moves at the local YMCA, which in those days was just across the street from this great modern hotel?' The year was 1927, and Dake was 17 years old. Three years later, after the most meteoric rise in American chess history, he would be playing third board on the U.S. Olympiad team, which was then the world's top squad.

GM Dake also spoke about the people who provide chesspiayers with the opportunity to practice their art -- those get-go organizers who keep the pieces moving. And immediate past president E. Steven Doyle was among those who presented several different awards to the best in American chess. To Leroy Dubeck of New Jersey went the Distinguished Service Award, the highest individual honor bestowed by the USCF; to Alan and Phyllis Benjamin of New York went Career Service Awards; and to chief tournament organizer Dr. Ralph Hall and to the Oregon Chess Federation went the former USCF president's "special thanks for showing us all how it is done." Finally, two remarkable towns got in on the act when Steve Doyle presented Chess City of the Year honors to Terre Haute, Indiana, and Chess Community of the Year honors to Pulaski, Virginia.

Former USCF president Tim Redman presented the 1987 Koltanowski Award (gold medal) to Frank P. Samford and family for financial contributions of national significance to chess. Mr. Samford and his family have endowed a series of chess fellowships for outstanding young players. Those who would like to know more about this program can consult the January 1987 issue of Chess Life.

Policy Board member-at-large Helen Warren presented Special Service Awards to Don Maddox of New Jersey and to Jules Stein of Illinois; and GM Arnold Denker handed Vivek Rao the first-place trophy for his victory in the third Arnold Denker National Tournament of High School Champions, which was held from August 3 to 8 during the U.S. Open.

USCF executive director Dr. Gerard J. Dullea spoke in warm terms of the services of retiring Policy Board member Myron "The Rock" Lieberman, who served as secretary, treasurer and vice president over the past nine years. The former vice president received a Certificate of Governance Award.

Now and Back Then • Harold Winston, the recently elected President of the USCF, and Robert McCrary, the chairman of the USCF Hall of Fame Committee, dealt with now and back then. President Winston presented the annual awards given by the Chess Journalists of America (for an account of these awards, see elsewhere in the U.S. Open Gazette), and Mr. McCrary announced the induction of Wilhelm Steinitz (1836-1900) and Sam Loyd (1841-1911) into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame and Museum. Steinitz, the first official world champion, moved to the United States in 1883 and became a citizen in 1888. He spent the peak years of his career playing as an American. Sam Loyd composed and published hundreds of chess problems. He contributed greatly to the early popularity of chess in this country.

The 1987 report also matches the official record except for one item: the official record lists Charles Pashayan as having received a 'Meritorious Service Award' in 1987. Were these awards often made after the fact? Here the record is clearer than it was for Glenn Meachum/Meacham in 1986. Pashayan Jr. is on record as the sponsor of the 1986 'H.J. Res. 545' Joint Resolution Recognizing Bobby Fisher As The Official World Chess Champion. 'Fisher'? No wonder it died in committee.

Next stop in the saga of USCF Awards: 1988-89.

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