Vaux Junior High School chess team with President Jimmy Carter in 1979.
One of the most storied teams in scholastic chess has been relegated to the annals of history, but their name lives on. Recently Steve Rasmussen, a former teacher at Vaux, noted some of the history during the school’s magnificent run of national titles.
Checking The Chess Drum’s article on Vaux, he noted some inaccuracies and offered some corrections. He then pointed to an article on a historic trip that Vaux players took to Yugoslavia on the invitation of the Belgrade Chess Association.
After a trip to the White House to be honored by President Jimmy Carter, the Philadelphia chess delegation took a two-week goodwill trip to Belgrade. This historic note was highlighted in the May 8, 1979 edition of the Washington Afro-American newspaper.
Roberts Vaux Chess Team – 1981: (Front row, L-R) Jamal McDaniels, Jeffery Moore, Daniel Lewis, Alvin Green, Debbie Leftwich, Kevin Jiles, Michael Allen, Delbert Rhodes, Marvin Edmonds, Terrance Heath. (Back row, L-R) Dr. Bernard Kehrer (Associate Superintendent), Frank Devine (Principal), Jeffrey Chesin (Coach) and Dr. Michael Marcase (Superintendent). Photo courtesy of Johnson Publishing Company.
Vaux would win national championships from 1977-1983 and produce talented players including Howard Daniels who set the age record for Black players making National Master at 15 years 4 months. That record would hold up for more than 30 years and finally be broken by Kassa Korley. This record has since been reduced by another three years.