Michael Abron’s 50-state U.S. voyage complete!

In this year of the chess championships, we will witness the loftiest of goals of a chess player. Of course, each of us have goals whether it be modest rating target, earning a title, winning a tournament prize or playing in a famous venue. While IM Jay Bonin has set records for number of games played, Michael Abron had his eyes on a chess goal that is rare indeed. Back in October he became the 6th person to play in all 50 U.S. states.

Michael Abron visiting his 34th state of Idaho where he won the tournament!
Photo by Idaho Chess Association

In the 70s, Tennessee was not known as a hotbed for chess activity, but the “Fischer Boom” touched the state just as it spread throughout the country and world. When Abron was at Austin-East High School in his native Knoxville, Tennessee in 1972, he was bitten by the chess bug during the championships match between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky. He became intrigued as media coverage enthralled an entire nation. He picked up a few books and began his chess journey.

The first tournament I played in was in Austin-East High School where I ended up winning the tournament and a fabulous chess set by defeating the sponsor of the chess club in the final round. I started playing in USCF chess tournaments in 1978 and eventually won the Tennessee Amateur Championship in 1991 with a score of 6-0 undefeated!

Montana… 47th

It wasn’t until some 30 years later that he started to toss around the idea of playing in all 50 states. The June 2008 issue of Chess Life had a cover story on Jerry Dennison and mentioned other chess voyagers. Abron was mentioned along with Alan Kobernat, Joe Felber, David Cole, and Alex Relyea. Then residing in Maryland he set out to accomplish this goal.

Back in January 2019, Abron wrote The Chess Drum stating that he only needed to play in South Dakota and Alaska to complete his goal. When he finally completed the goal in October 2019, he also became the first person of African descent to do so.

“Chess is a sea in which
a gnat can drink and an elephant can bathe.”

~Michael Abron citing an old proverb

With his trip to Alaska in 2019, he completed the task during Alaska’s “National Chess Day” in October. What was interesting was that at the U.S. Chess Delegates meeting in Orlando, Alaska has just been given its state affiliate status. It was great timing for Abron.

Video by Channel 2, KTUU (Alaska)

When asked for his favorite play, he diplomatically said, “All the places were great, but I suppose that Hawaii was the most intriguing because of its warm beaches, beautiful women and Banyan trees.”

The 65-year old retiree is not finished. He now has his eyes set on conquering the world and is investigating places for visit in Africa. He has a quest to play in all continents. Antarctica may be a bit challenging, but he may be able to get the others. He summed up his experience by saying,

I know that life is a journey and that you ought to live it to its fullest! I met a lot of wonderful and generous people, stayed in a lot of marvelous places and had many fabulous experiences. If I can anybody, anybody can with inspiration, dedication and perseverance.

Mission accomplished!
Mission accomplished!!

2019-03-17 South Dakota 2019 JACKRABBIT OPEN AND RESER (SD)
2018-11-10 Wyoming 2018 NEW WYOMING OPEN (WY)
2018-09-16 Montana 2018 BIG SKY COUNTRY (MT)
2018-09-03 Hawaii 2018 HAWAII STATE OPEN (HI)
2018-07-22 Nebraska 2018 CORNHUSKER (NE)
2018-07-14 North Dakota MIKE ABRON INVITATIONAL (ND)
2018-07-07 Arkansas SEVEN MORE STATES (AR)
2018-06-25 Mississippi MICHAEL’S TOUR (MS)
2018-06-24 Louisiana 2018 US SENIOR OPEN (LA)
2018-05-20 New Mexico MINI SENIOR (NM)
2018-05-20 Arizona UNITY WEEKLY MAY 20TH, 2018 (AZ)
2018-05-05 California 18TH CHARLES POWELL MEMORIAL (CA)
2018-04-29 Washington CLARK HARMON MEMORIAL (WA)
2018-04-22 Oregon APRIL 2018 PCC SUNDAY QUADS (OR)
2018-04-15 Idaho 2018 IDAHO OPEN (ID)
2018-03-04 Colorado 2018 COLORADO SPRINGS OPEN (CO)
2018-02-24 New Hampshire 5TH QUEEN CITY TORNADO (NH)
2006-07-29 Wisconsin SCORCHING 15 (WI)
2006-07-23 Kansas KANSAS OPEN (KS)
2006-07-16 Oklahoma OKLA OPEN 2006 JERRY SPANN MEM (OK)
2006-06-25 Michigan 2006 MICH BOTTOM-HALF CHAMPION (MI)
2006-06-10 Indiana JUNE OPEN (IN)
2006-05-28 West Virginia UNITED STATES AMATEUR SOUTH (WV)
2006-04-23 Kentucky 2ND LOUISVILLE OPEN!? (KY)
2005-06-12 Nevada 2005 NATIONAL OPEN (NV)
2003-08-10 Vermont 13TH VERMONT RESORT OPEN! (VT)
2003-06-15 New Jersey 2003 SOUTH JERSEY OPEN (NJ)
2002-11-29 Massachusetts 2002 NORTHEAST CHESS FALL GETA (MA)
2000-09-04 New York 122ND NYS CHAMPIONSHIP! (NY)
2000-08-13 Minnesota 101ST ANNUAL US OPEN – 2000 (MN)
2000-06-09 Maryland FMCA EVERY FRI KNIGHT QUICK (MD)
2000-04-23 Connecticut 2ND ANNUAL FOXWOODS OPEN (CT)
1999-06-20 Ohio 1999 COLUMBUS OPEN (OH)
1999-06-13 South Carolina SOUTH CAROLINA OPEN (SC)
1999-05-31 Illinois 8TH ANNUAL CHICAGO OPEN (IL)
1999-03-28 Florida 7TH ORLANDO OPEN! (FL)
1998-12-29 District of Columbia 25TH EASTERN OPEN (DC)
1998-10-25 North Carolina NC OPEN (NC)
1998-11-29 Missouri US CLASS CHAMPIONSHIPS (MO)
1996-03-17 Alabama 1996 SPACE CITY OPEN (AL)
1994-07-04 Pennsylvania 22ND ANNUAL WORLD OPEN (PA)
1991-12-08 Georgia 21ST ANNUAL ATLANTA OPEN (GA)

Daaim Shabazz

Daaim Shabazz is the founder of The Chess Drum, while serving as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds a B.S. Computer Science from Chicago State University, an MBA in Marketing and a Ph.D. in International Affairs & Development, both from Clark Atlanta University. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.


  1. Mike Abron is a great guy! I lost track of him about 1997, but he was a long time member of the Greater Knoxville Chess Club in Tennessee. I no longer have an email address for him. If you could forward my congratulations I’d appreciate it.

    Somewhere I have a copy of one of Mike’s great games. It was on Sunday morning and Mike usually had to forfeit the Sunday morning round as he was a preacher. He won all three games on Saturday and it was killing him to forfeit. He ended up coming in, secretly planning to resign if it went on more than an hour. Mike got down to almost checkmate, when his opponent began to think think think. If he had just continued another minute or so, Mike would have had to quit. I still remember his opponent asking why Mike burned rubber leaving the parking lot!

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