Mechanics' Institute Chess Club
The Mechanics' Institute Chess Club in San Francisco is the oldest chess club in the United States. The first meeting of the Mechanics' Institute was held on December 11, 1854, and it was incorporated on April 24, 1855. At the time, San Francisco was a frontier city that had grown from the California Gold Rush.
The first world-class player to visit San Francisco was Johann Zukertort, who spent nearly a month in the city in July 1884. George H. D. Gossip visited the city and the club in 1888, writing an account of chess in San Francisco for the June 1888 International Chess Magazine. Many leading players have given exhibitions or played at the Institute including Harry Pillsbury, Géza Maróczy, Frank Marshall (1913 and 1915), Borislav Kostić (1915), Samuel Reshevsky (1921 and 1956), Arthur Dake (1937 among many others), Georges Koltanowski (1939), Svetozar Gligorić, and Tony Miles. The Institute has also been visited by many world champions, including Emanuel Lasker (1902 and 1926), José Capablanca (1916), Alexander Alekhine (1924 and 1929), Max Euwe (1947 or 1949?), Bobby Fischer (1964), Vasily Smyslov (1976), Tigran Petrosian (1978), Anatoly Karpov (1999), and Boris Spassky (1980 and 2006).
The Chess Room is currently staffed by 4 employees, Abel Talamantez (Chess Director), Dr. Judit Sztaray (General Manager of Youth Outreach and Events), GM Nick de Firmian (Grandmaster-in-Residence), and FM Paul Whitehead (Chess Club Coordinator).
The Chess Room holds regular USCF and FIDE rated tournaments, including blitz and rapid events. On May 2, 2019, the Mechanics' Institute Club Rapid Championship brought 13 Grandmasters and 37 titled players in total, making it the strongest tournament ever held in the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club. The event featured a 3-way tie for first between GM Fabiano Caruana, GM Jon Ludvig Hammer, and GM Georg Meier. The chess club also hosts free chess classes and scholastic programs.
Chess Room Directors of the Mechanics Institute
- Arthur Stamer (1951–1964)
- Kurt Bendit (1963-1964)
- Howard Donnelly (1964-1965)
- William Addison (1965–1969)
- Alan Bourke (1969-1971)
- Ray Conway (1971-1980)
- Max Wilkerson (1980–1996)
- James Eade (1996-1998)
- William John Donaldson (1998-2018)
- Abel Garza Talamantez (current)
- Frank Brady, Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness, Crown, 2011, p. 39. ISBN 978-0-307-46390-6.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-10-13. Retrieved 2009-11-11.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-09-06. Retrieved 2006-08-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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