Heritage of the Memphis Chess Club
The Western Chess Association: A Chess organization  founded in 1900.

It held its first chess tournament at Excelsior, Minnesota, in 1900, at which Louis Uedemann of Chicago and the inventor of the Uedemann code for telegraphing chess moves, won the top honors and was declared the first champion.  This Association held an annual tournament every  year from 1900 through 1933.

Among its champions were Jackson W. Showalter, Edward Lasker, S. D. Factor, Carlos Torre, Samuel Reshevsky, and Reuben Fine.  In 1934, this Western Chess Association broadened its scope and became the American Chess Federation.

Five years later, the American Chess Federation united with the National Chess Federation and formed the present United States Chess Federation.

The United States Open Championship:  Since 1900
an open tournament has been held annually for the title of Open Champion. Up to the year 1947 competitors played in a preliminary tournament and
qualified for either the championship finals or consolation finals, both of which were played on the all-play-all system.

In 1947 the Swiss system was adopted for the first time and has been used ever since.  To name a few titleholders:

1900 L. Uedemann
1901 N. M. Macleod
1902 L. Uedemann
1903 M. Judd
1904 S.Mlotkowski
1905 E. F. Schrader
1906 G. H. Wollbrecht
1907 E. Michelson
1908 E. P. Elliot
1909 O. Chajes
1910 G. H. Wolbrecht
1911 C. Blacke
1912 E. P. Elliot
1913 B. B. Jefferson
1914 B. B. Jefferson.

Each of those names were engraved on the tournament's trophy.

The Western Open aka The U.S. Open: The trophy was a silver loving cup, which had changed hands for 13 years.  The 14th championship was played in
Memphis TN., B. B.  Jefferson, also of Memphis, a founding member of the Memphis Chess Club, won for the second year in a row.

The Western Chess Association had promised the championship cup would become the property of the club the winning player belonged to, that is if he could win twice in a row.  Bradford B. Jefferson lived until May 14, 1963.  He was a friend of James Wright. Mr. Wright used to play chess with Bradford at the Y.M.C.A. on Madison up until the mid 1950s.  The Western Open (U.S. Open) trophy is still the property of the Memphis Chess Club and is one of our links to this country's chess heritage.

Dwight Weaver
by Dwight Weaver