Chicago’s Tyrone Lee killed in car crash

Tyrone Lee, a long-time Chicago resident and chess player was killed in a car accident while traveling to Tennessee last weekend. “Ty Lee” (as he is commonly called) was a chess player known to those primarily in the Chicago area, but had chess associates around the country. He spent a number of years in the Los Angeles area where he was an active player.

Lee’s easy-going nature endeared him with his peers and his passion for chess was evident. A student of the game, Lee was serious about chess and made many attempts to organize casual events among his friends throughout the Chicago area.

Years back in the early 80s, Lee was one of the many shareholders of the “Pawn to King Four” chessclub on the northside of Chicago. It was a place serving as a gathering spot for blitz players and there were also tournaments held at the club. Lee had self-deprecating humour and a glimmmer in his eye when discussing chess. He reached 2100, but when it came to his strength he quipped that he was “going backwards.”

Lee’s final rating was 1974 and his last tournament was at Tuley Park a couple of weeks before he was in the fatal accident. According to long-time friend Sam Ford, funeral arrangements are set for Brownsville, Tennessee.

Tyrone Lee (standing right) chats with John Porter while Frank Johnson (seated left)blitzes with Kent Williams. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

Tyrone Lee (standing right) chats with John Porter while Frank Johnson blitzes with Kent Williams. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.


  1. Thank you for the information Daaim. On behalf of the Jamaican Chess fraternity, may I say condolences to the family and friends of “Campo” and “Ty Lee”, our chess warriors who have made their transition but whose contribution to chess has been indelible and who will forever be remembered in the annals of chess folklore.

    Ian Wilkinson
    Jamaica Chess Federation

  2. Ian,

    You would have appreciated Ty’s spirit. Yes… he was one of those warriors who’d play chess wherever and wherever a battle was staged. I remember him calling my house one night. He wanted to set up a tournament to see who was the strongest Candidate Master of African descent in Chicago. There were a number of us in the city and I was a young and promising player at the time. I almost told him (straightaway) that I was the strongest and no tournament was needed. However, his spirit was so genuine that I decided not to “trash talk” and ruin the mood. 🙂

  3. Tyrone Lee, was my friend. It was he, I and Eugene Scott who started the Pawn to King Four Chess Shop in uptown Chicago, which we ran for several years. Later on Sam Ford and couple of others that I cannot remember joined the club and promoted it on the South Side of Chicago. It was a great club/shop during the late 70’s and early 80’s. And this promoted our chess comraderie.
    I once visited Tyrone when he lived with his wife in Los Angeles in the mid-90’s. Tyrone had a son with her. I believe that she still lives in Los Angeles with his son.
    Tyrone was a great A/Expert player and the chess community has lost a real friend in the passing of Tyrone Lee.

  4. Larry,

    It is so great to hear from you. You were a player I admired… you came off as a player with a humble demeanor. I remember when I was coming up, I had heard people speak highly of you. I was unaware who started the P-K4 club. I thought Ron Washington was involved as well. If you’d like to send me more details to capture the history, I’d be glad to include any of this information in a story. (

    We had a great bunch of guys in the Chicagoland area and a good group of strong players. We had the northside crew and the southside crew. I was part of the southside with Marvin Dandridge, Roger Hickman, Angelo Armistead and Melvin Alsberry. All of us came from the scholastic tradition and played primarily for pride and trash talk was fierce. We played at Tuley on Saturdays with Tom Fineberg and also at Harper Square along with Gene Scott, Ty Lee, Sam Ford and Larry Evans (a known hustler). I also remember Tyrone showing a position from a game he was playing Gene as part of a match they were playing.

    I remember coming down to Pawn to King Four on few occasions with Dandridge. I remember playing in a tournament there and losing to Ty Lee with black. He was 1772 at the time and I was 1908 and a youngster. I just looked at the game and it was a rook ending out of a Nimzo-Larsen. I played him again at Tuley Park several years back and beat him very badly. However, I never saw him flustered or upset.

    If you have any pictures of Ty, please send them.

  5. Hey Daaim, I live in the New York area now. You know that I was the president of the Banker’s Athletic League for about 5 years from 2000 through about 2004 or so. We had a lot of fun with that then. I expanded the competition from just Wall Street teams to include teams from Midtown (Marshall Club and others), the Brooklyn Kingsmen and the St. Nicholas Unknowns from Harlem, which was headed by Ken Moody. We had some great competition in 2003 when we had such players on the teams as Pascal Charbonneau, Anna Hahn, Irina Krush,
    Gerald Times and other 2400+ and even a couple of other 2500+ players that I cannot remember.
    Dr. Frank Brady ran the St. John College team and it was a true pleasure to meet and talk chess with him. You know he wrote that best seller chess book in the mid 70’s about Bobby Fischer, “Bobby Fischer; Profile of a Prodigy”. We did some nice chess promotions together at Citigroup.
    Ron Washington opened a chess shop earlier in Chicago, sometime in the early 70’s. He did that by himself. It was a great spot for Chess, the 2nd floor of a really rich area in the Rush Street area (Chicago’s Rush Street area is like New York’s Greenwich Village area). I believe that he lost that shop in a Backgammon game. I have not seen or heard from Ron Washington since then. Finally, Sam Ford please email me at when you read this blog.
    Hey Daaim you are doing a great job with this website. People here on the east coast are referencing it all the time. Keep up the good work. I knew when I met you about 30 years ago during our chess match that you were headed for something special. Hey who won that game? Do you have the score?
    Take care Daaim, talk later. Larry J Agee

  6. Thanks for the information. I don’t remember visiting Ron’s shop, but I heard of it. I remember you were involved with the Banker’s League, but I thought you were in Maryland. Here is the game you mentioned. It was a wild affair! I have added two games with Ty Lee.

  7. Sorry to hear about Ty’s passing.
    At his best, he was an expert chess player and a really sharp guy.

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