Long-time Cleveland master Dr. David Allen, Sr. has passed away after a long battle with diabetes. He was well-known throughout Ohio and the Midwest for his chess coaching and was particularly passionate about the African-American plight in chess. Born January 31st, 1960, David was a couple of months shy of his 60th birthday. His son Jason Clinton made the announcement on social media Friday, November 22nd.
This morning, my father, David Allen Sr., passed away. He had been suffering from complications caused by Diabetes for the last year, but in the past few months his health had taken a bad turn. To everyone who knew my father, I want you all to know that he loved and cherished you with all his heart. Much of his life was dedicated around chess, and he taught many people from their early lives to their adulthood how to play. He used chess as a vehicle to teach life skills to young adults, and wanted nothing more than to give back to the community. His legacy lives on throughout the lives he touched not only in Cleveland, but America.
When The Chess Drum interviewed David in 2000 he stated that his journey started when he purchased a chess set in 1971. He grew up in the working-class industrial town of Cleveland where chess had a number of strong masters such as IMs Calvin Blocker and Dmitri Ghizdauv. He mentioned locking horns with some powerful players of his day including scoring draws with Larry Kaufman, Ed Formanek and Milan Vukevich.
Allen reached his peak rating of 2396 in 1991 and returned to 2300-level nearly 20 years later in 2010. He also enjoyed playing blitz on chess.com as “RuffumUP”. He famously participated in the Chicago-Cleveland blitz match. While his result was not up to previous form, he was one of the favorite personalities in the room and made quite an impression on those who met him. His last tournament was the Cleveland Holiday Open in December of 2018 and he ended his career at his rating floor of 2200.
In the end, he was a fixture in Midwestern chess scene and scored more than 100 tournament victories. He admitted that these tournament were of the local variety, but he was proud of his result in the U.S. Amateur Team Midwest where he score 5/6 against average opposition averaging 2350 USCF. Here are a couple of his games…
Those who had the opportunity to meet David knew how much pride he had in his sons and would always mentioned their development in chess. His oldest son, David Allen, Jr. was a scholastic standout in Ohio. Both Jason and Jonathan Clinton also earned accolades during their scholastic careers. However, he also shared his craft with many players and was a coach at John Adams High School were they won the state title in 1989.
David Allen, Jr. and David Allen, Sr.
Photo by Daaim Shabazz
Jonathan Clinton, David Allen, Sr., Jason Clinton
Photo by Nathan Kelly
There were also many other students he worked with including Diamond Shakoor who was a mainstay on these pages during her scholastic days. Allen also traveled to Detroit to train young talent and give simultaneous exhibitions. Kevin Fite of the Detroit City Chess Club reflected on how Allen “did Simuls at the the Detroit Institute of Arts, chess camps and gave lectures.”
Dr. Allen not only worked with kids in the Cleveland area but he would drive down often to work with our kids in Detroit. He did Simuls at the the Detroit Institute of Arts, chess camps and gave lectures. He also hosted many sessions with our kids in Cleveland.
~Kevin Fite, Detroit City Chess Club
Those who may remember Allen would remember him as a very humble servant, but he was one of the select Black masters who proudly extolled the virtues of chess. He enjoyed being a part of this movement and took pride in being a “Drum Major” for chess. He will be remembered for becoming one of the ambassadors of this great game.
Kneeling (L-R): FM William Morrison, NM David Allen, Sr., Daaim Shabazz, David Allen, Jr., NM Sulaiman Smith. Standing (L-R): NM Charles Covington, NM Frank Street, FM (later IM) Emory Tate, GM Maurice Ashley, NM Jones Murphy, Jr., FM (now GM) Kenny Solomon, NM Grace Nsubuga, NM Ernest “Steve” Colding. Photo by Frank Johnson
Dr. David Allen, Sr.
(January 31, 1960 – November 22, 2019)
Memorial Services for David Allen, Sr.
Saturday December 21, 2019 at 3:00 pm.
Pernell Jones & Sons Funeral Home
7120 Cedar Avenue Cleveland, Ohio 44103