The Tennessee Chess Association proudly honors individuals who have made a significant contribution to chess in Tennessee either through their accomplishments over the board, or through their efforts at organizing, and/or promoting chess activity in Tennessee. If you know of someone you would like to nominate to the Hall of Fame, please contact the TCA Board of Directors. TCA Hall of Fame Procedures
Tennessee Chess Hall of Fame
2005 Albert Hodges
2003 David E. Burris (1944-2001)
David Burris was a United States Chess Federation Absolute Postal Chess Champion and the Director of the Greater Knoxville Chess Club’s Community Outreach Program. Dave founded, funded and directed the program as an initiative to teach chess to children and senior citizens. Before all this, Dave had a lifelong interest in chess. A member of the Knoxville Chess Club since he was in high school, Dave won many Knoxville City Championships throughout his career as well as Tennessee State Open Championships in 1965, 66 and 67. He was also a writer for the Atlantic Chess News for which he won several awards and an avid collector of chess art, stamps, software, and sets which he allotted to be donated to the University of Tennessee.
2002 Dr. Martin Katahn
Dr. Martin Katahn is the founder of the Nashville Chess Center, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit charitable organization and supporting organization of the Tennessee Chess Association. His visits to the Marshall Chess Club in New York inspired Dr. Katahn to create a place to serve as the focal meeting point for the Nashville chess community. In 1995, his vision came to fruition at great personal expense. He had bought and restored a beautiful three-story house in a central, historical location and furnished and supplied it to meet the needs and comforts of chess-players. Then, as an additional crowning, Dr. Katahn contacted and arranged for a “Grandmaster in Residence” to serve as teacher and organizer of the NCC. The finality of Dr. Katahn’s dream came in 2001 with the creation of The Foundation for Tennessee Chess. Dr. Katahn donated the house to the Foundation and set up an endowment fund to keep the club going strong on its own.
1998 James A. Wright (1920-2003)
James A. Wright earned the nickname “Iron Jim” for the skill he displayed at the Memphis Chess Club. He was one of Tennessee’s best, winning State Championships in 1964 and 1970 and the Mid-South Open in 1973. Alongside his chess career, James was also a farmer in Millington, TN and a WWII veteran.
1997 Rea Hayes (1915-2001)
Rea Hayes had already made quite a name for himself in the chess world before moving to Chattanooga in 1990 and becoming an active player for the Chattanooga Chess Club. He had won South Carolina Championships in 1953 and 54, the Southern Championship in 1955, as well as many other state and regional championships throughout his career. During his time in Chattanooga in the 90s, Rea fulfilled the role of “Chessmen of the Area” serving in almost every club capacity from President to News Editor. His accomplishments and contributions prompted the Chattanooga Chess Club to hold a Memorial Tournament in his name each year.
1993 James Sweet
1992 John F. Hurt (1915-1993)
John F. Hurt came to Memphis in 1960. From then on, he became known as “Godfather of Chess” from his work as President of the Memphis Chess Club, setting up a High School Chess League through the Optimist Club, and creating large weekend tournaments like the Mid-South Open. John was a master chess player and had many first place victories in tournaments throughout his chess career beginning as early as 1934 including TN State Champion in 1965 and eleven Memphis City Championship titles.
1990 Joseph “Jerry” Sullivan
1990 Martin Southern
1990 Robert Scrivener (1881-1969)
Robert “Uncle Bob” Scrivener of Memphis was President many times of the Western Chess Association. In 1913, he placed 4th in the US Open, and later in 1920 he finished 5th. Throughout his remarkable chess career, he won the state chess championships of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. In 1961, at the age of 80, Robert won the Mississippi State Championship making him possibly the oldest state champion in US history. The United States Chess Federation recognized his achievements in 1963 awarding Robert the title of Master Emeritus.
1990 Peter Lahde
Peter Lahde played in his first TN Open State Championship in 1956. With his growing interest in organized chess, he started the Tennessee Chess News in 1959 and was the editor for eighteen years. When Peter handed the News down to other chess players, he continued his service to the Tennessee Chess Association as either President or Vice President for the next twenty years. Peter was an active tournament director for decades, a chess teacher, 3-time Nashville City Champion and the author of many chess books. In 1996, he wrote the book A History of Tennessee Chess with all earnings going towards the future of Tennessee Scholastics.
1990 Thomas Finucane
1990 Robert Coveyou (1915-1996)
Robert Coveyou was the winner of the very first Tennessee Open State Championship in 1947, then went on to win seven more times throughout his chess career. He was one of the early presidents of the Tennessee Chess Association and helped to create and organize many tournaments including the 1948 US Junior Championship held in Oak Ridge, TN. Robert was a true “Tennessee Volunteer” with his service to education and chess over the years lasting until his retirement in 1977, but his early efforts still show and continue on through the growth of Scholastics in Tennessee chess.