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Saturday, October 11: National Chess Day

National Chess Day has been an unofficial celebration since Gerald Ford acknowledged it in 1976.

This column appeared on St. Louis Public Radio on Oct. 9, 2014


This Saturday, Oct. 11 is National Chess Day -- though only unofficially, because nobody cares.

That’s not from a lack of continued effort on the part of chess players, however, as plenty have cared about such a recognized holiday dating all the way back to its inception in 1976.

During a time when American chess was witnessing explosive growth as part of the “Fischer boom,” a man named Bill Dodger set out as chairman of National Chess Day-76, a project within the U.S. Chess Federation. Dodger was a regional vice president. Beginning with a handwritten letter to South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond, Dodger requested that President Gerald Ford proclaim a National Chess Day in October, stating that America harbored more than 30 million chess players and that ours was the only major nation in the world that had not honored the game; we hadn’t even issued a chess postage stamp ... (Read more on St. Louis Public Radio)