Patrons of Chess

Faneuil (Fan) Adams, Jr. (1923-1999) was a former senior executive with the Mobil Oil Corporation and former president of the American Chess Foundation (ACF) which later became the Chess-in-the-Schools.  He was also the Treasurer and Director of the Manhattan Chess Club.  He served as a delegate to FIDE, representing the USA.  He was an unpaid, full-time volunteer for chess.  He set up chess programs for 160 schools, mostly in inner-city areas, and helped send teams to national scholastic competitions.  He was a direct descendent of Samuel Adams.  When he died of a brain tumor, he bequeathed a donation of 80% to Chess-in-the-Schools, which he founded, and 20% to the Manhattan Chess Club.  His will stated that if the Manhattan Chess Club were to go defunct, this 20% would go back into the Chess-in-the-School for their general use.  A year after Adams’ death, Chess-in-the-Schools evicted the Manhattan Chess Club from its building.  After 124 years, the Manhattan Chess Club went defunct, and the Chess-in-the-Schools got their additional 20%.  Chess-in-the-Schools conducts chess programs in about 200 inner city elementary and middle schools (13,000 students) and sends teams to national and international scholastic competitions.

Erik Anderson is a venture capitalist (WestRiver Capital, LLC) and chess patron.  He is the chief executive and founder of the nonprofit group America’s Foundation for Chess (AF4C), which sponsored the U.S. chess championship from 2001 to 2006.  AF4C is based in Seattle.  Erik also began the First Move program, which was designed to incorporate chess into U.S. elementary schools. 

Magnus Victor Anderson (1884-1966), a Melbourne accountant, was Australia’s first chess philanthropist.  He started collecting chess books in 1918.  When he died, his chess library of 6,700 volumes went to the State Library of Victoria.  There are now over 13,000 chess books in this collection. 

In 2013, actor Alec Baldwin donated $2,500 to a chess team at Central Falls High School in Rhode Island to pay for the cost to travel to a national chess tournament in Nashville, Tennessee.  The team took 8th place out of 64 teams.

Clare Benedict (1870-1961) was an American writer and probably the first woman chess patron.  She made possible the Clare Benedict Cup, and annual West European team tournament, which was held from 1953 to 1979, when funds ran out.  There were 23 Clare Benedict Cup tournaments.  She also sponsored the Zurich 1954 tournament.  Her great-grandmother was Fennimore Cooper’s sister.

Frank K. Berry (1945- ) is an American chess patron and International Arbiter.  He sponsored and directed the 2007 and 2008 U.S. Championships in Oklahoma.  In 2007, he put up $50,000 of his own money to sponsor the U.S. championship in Stillwater, Oklahoma (his home town).  He is the twin brother of Jim Berry, former President of the USCF.

Al Blowers made millions with his company, Tax System Services.  In 1999, his organization, the HB Foundation, was founded to promote scholastic chess (the HB stands for Hilda Blowers, his mother).  In 2005, his company sponsored the largest open chess tournament in the USA, the HB Global Chess Challenge.  The total prize fund was $500,000 and held in Minneapolis.

George W. “Bill” Church, Jr. of Church’s Fried Chicken was a chess patron.  He created the American grand prix circuit and sponsored several GMs to give simultaneous exhibitions throughout the United States.  He sponsored the 1972 San Antonio International tournament.

Ludvig Collijn (1878-1939) was a wholesale merchant and Swedish chess patron.  He ran tournaments over a period of 40 years and organized the Stockholm Chess Olympiad in 1937.  He was president of the Swedish Chess Association from 1917 to 1939.

Job Nightingale Derbyshire (1866-1954) was a Nottingham manufacturer and chess patron who underwrote the Nottingham 1936 tournament.  He was a past president of the British Chess Federation.

Julius Finn (1871-1931) was a businessman and chess philanthropist.  He once won the New York state chess championship.

Mikhail Gorbachev (1931- ), last head of state of the USSR and the 1990 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is a patron of the FIDE Chess in Schools program.  He has been active in promoting Karpov’s International School of Chess and the Chess for Peace program.

Jules Grevy (1807-1891) was the President of the French Republic (1879-1887) and a chess patron in France.

Frederick Gustavus Hamilton-Russell (1867-1941) was a chess patron who donated a solid gold cup to FIDE to be the trophy for its international team tournaments (the chess Olympiads).  In his last years, he was president of the British Chess Federation.

Ignatz Kolisch (1837-1889) started out as a strong chess master, then became involved in banking for Baron Albert Salomon von Rothschild and became a millionaire.  He was soon organizing and sponsoring many chess tournaments in Europe.  He sponsored the Baden Tournament in 1870 and the two Vienna Tournaments of 1873 and 1882.

E. Forry Laucks (1897-1965) was a wealthy patron of chess.  He founded the Log Cabin Chess Club at his home in West Orange, New Jersey.  He formed chess teams that traveled around the USA and other countries to play chess.  He financed many of Bobby Fischer’s trips around the world to play in chess tournaments.

Prince Leopold (1853-1884), 8th child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Duke of Albany, was a chess patron.  The London 1883 tournament was held under his patronage.  He was president of the Oxford University Chess Club.

Julio Lobo (1898-1983) was a powerful Cuban sugar trader (the most powerful sugar broker in the world) and financier, as well as chess patron.  He put up $25,000 for the 1921 world chess championship between Jose Capablanca and Emanuel Lasker.

Eric Moskow (1958- ), a Florida medical doctor, has sponsored and played in several strong chess tournaments.

Dato Tan Chin Nam (1926-  ) is an entrepreneur and developer in Malaysia.  Since the 1970s, he has donated large sum of money in Malaysia and China (the Big Dragon Project) to promote chess.  He was the first chess sponsor in China.  He sponsors the Malaysian Chess Festival every year in Kuala Lupur.  He was president of the Malaysian Chess Association.  He served as FIDE Deputy President (1982-1986).

Leo Nardus (1868-1955) was a wealthy Dutch artist and chess patron who sponsored many European chess tournaments and matches.  He sponsored the Lasker-Janowski matches.

Sir George Newnes (1851-1910) was a newspaper and magazine publisher and a member of the British Parliament.  He sponsored the Anglo-American chess cable matches from 1895 to 1991.  The winner won the Newnes Trophy cup, which was eventually owned by the British after they had won three times in a row.  He served as president of the British Chess Club for many years.

Joop van Oosterom (1937- ) is a Dutch billionaire and chess patron.  He sponsored the annual Melody Amber tournaments in Monaco (named after his daughter) and the yearly Women vs. Veterans tournaments.  He won the 18th Correspondence Chess World Championship (did he pay a grandmaster to help him?).

Gregor Piatigorsky (1903-1976) was a Russian-born American cellist and chess patron, along with his wife, Jacqueline (1911-2012).  He organized and financed two Piatigorsky Cup tournaments in 1963 and 1966.

Isaac Rice (1850-1915) was a U.S. inventor, industrialist, and a chess patron.  He was president of the Manhattan Chess Club and sponsored many chess tournaments, such as the Rice Gambit tournaments.

Josef Resch is a successful businessman from the Ukraine, chess patron and philanthropist.  He organized the 2008 World Championship in Bonn.  He uses his money to create chess schools for children.  He has financed matches with leading players and has organized tournaments in Moscow.

Lessing Rosenwald (1891-1979) was the son of Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears, Roebuck and Company.  Lessing succeeded his father and donated money to support American chess.  He sponsored the U.S. Chess Championship in the 1950s (named after him).  He also acquired and collected a number of historically important and beautiful chess sets and boards.

Armand (Marc) Rousso founded a company manufacturing 3D shutter glasses.  He became a chess patron and organized a rapid chess match between Kasparov and Karpov in Times Square.  He sponsored the Kasparov vs Deep Junior match and the Kasparov vs X3D Fritz.

Baron Albert Salomon von Rothschild (1844-1911) was a leading banker and chess patron who funded many brilliancy prizes.  He sponsored the Vienna tournaments of 1873, 1882, 1898, 1903, and 1908.  He served as president of the Vienna Chess Association for 11 years.

Yury Shulman (1975- ), who won the 2008 U.S. chess championship, is a chess patron who founded Chess Without Borders, an organization that uses chess as a medium for philanthropic causes.

Frank P. Sadford. J (1921-1986), of Birmingham, Alabama, was CEO of the Liberty National Life Insurance Company.  He established the Samford Fellowship, which is given to elite young chess players to assist in their training and living expenses.  It is the richest and most important chess fellowship in the US.

Sid Samole (1935-2000) was the owner of Fidelity Electronics (makers of hearing aids and chess computers) and a chess philanthropist.  He founded Excalibur Electronics, which housed the World Chess Hall of Fame in Miami, until it moved to Saint Louis in 2011.

Rex Sinquefield is a businessman (formed Dimensional Fund Advisors) and chess patron.  He is the major contributor to the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, founded in 2007, and the World Chess Hall of Fame that moved from Miami to Saint Louis in 2011.  In 2009, he purchased a large collection of Bobby Fischer memorabilia.  The collection of valuables and belongings of Bobby Fischer was offered by the auction house Bonhams and Butterfields, composing of over 320 chess books, 400 chess periodicals, three sets of proofs of My 60 Memorable Games, and other items.  Sinquefiled paid $61,000 for the collection.

James Slater (1929- ) was a British chess patron who added 50,000 British pounds ($125,000) to the 1972 world championship prize fund between Fischer and Spassky.  He founded the Slater Foundation which pays for coaching of young players.  He offered 5000 pounds (worth $167,000 today) to the first English player to gain the GM title, which was won by Tony Miles.

Louis Statham (1907-1983) was a millionaire engineer and chess patron.  He sponsored the Louis D. Statham Masters tournaments in Lone Pine, California from 1971 to 1981.  These events had a $45,000 prize fund, paid by Statham.  He paid for all the travel and living expenses for all participants.  Statham was the original owner of the Playboy Mansion West, when he sold it to Hugh Hefner.

Viktor Tietz (1859-1937) was a chess patron who sponsored the great Carlsbad tournaments of 1907, 1911, 1923, and 1929.  He was the co-founder and first president of the Carlsbad (Karlovy Vary) Chess Club.

Leopld Trebitsch (1842-1906) was an Austrian industrialist and became a generous chess patron.  After his death, there were 20 Trebitsch Memorial tournaments from 1907 to 1938.

Isaac Turover (1892-1978) was a wealthy lumber dealer, chess patron and philanthropist.  He sponsored Bobby Fischer’s attendance in the 1962 Stockholm Interzonal.  Throughout his life, he offered cash prizes for brilliancies in chess games.

Jezdimir Vasiljevic, president of the Jugoskandic Bank, sponsored the 1992 match between Fischer and Spassky, donating $5 million in prize fund.   He later went to prison, accused of stealing over $130 million in a Ponzi scheme.

Maurice Wertheim (1886-1950) was an American investment banker and chess patron.  He financed much of the activity in American chess during the 1940s.  He conceived and financed the 1946 chess match between the USA and the USSR, held in New York.  He served as president of the Manhattan Chess Club.

Alain Campbell White (1880-1951) was an American problem composer and patron. 

John G. White (1845-1928) was a prominent Cleveland attorney who donated his large collection of books to the Cleveland Public Library to form the John G. White Chess and Checkers Collection.   He funded this collection left the bulk of his estate as an endowment to maintain and develop the largest chess library in the world, with over 33,000 volumes of chess books.