Tuskegee University makes mark in Collegiate Chess!

Tuskegee, Alabama (USA) is well-known among amongst the Black community as the home of the famous "Tuskegee Airmen," and also the famous university founded in 1881 by the legendary Booker T. Washington (1856-1915). It was also a place where George Washington Carver (1864-1943) put his ingenuity in the agricultural sciences on display as a faculty member. Before his death in 1943, Carver had produced more than 300 inventions (most were not patented) including peanut milk which was used as an alternative to cow's milk to save hundreds of lives in West Africa.

Booker T. Washington, founder of Tuskegee University George Washington Carver, agronomist extraordinaire

Tuskegee Giants
Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver

With such a venerable history, it comes as no surprise that Tuskegee University continues to develop intellectual talent and is one of the most celebrated historically Black institutions in the land. In the March 2003 issue of U.S. Chess Life magazine, Dr. Steven Dowd penned an article about the chess club at Tuskegee.  He recounts the benefits of chess to a college students and discusses the key to running a successful collegiate chess club.

Dr. Dowd's approach encompasses the Three "E"s which are: enthusiasm, experience, and evolution. In the article he discusses the challenges, but also mentioned that more successful programs like
University of Maryland-Baltimore and University of Texas-Dallas have been able to build a successful model on these principles.  However, even these programs need a support mechanism to combat the usual high attrition in chess club leadership.

Tuskegee has enjoyed an emergence led by chess club President
Jack Wilson and the school has held tournaments in conjunction with University of Alabama-Birmingham, and has participated in the National Collegiate Chess League and the Pan-Am Intercollegiate Team Championships. Dr. Dowd has also encouraged the members to join the U.S. Chess Federation and compete on a larger scale. Also mentioned in the article was the inspiration drawn from GM Maurice Ashley. Tuskegee has an interesting legacy because it is also where IM-elect Stephen Muhammad played in his first chess tournament. Tuskegee appears to be making more chess history of its own! Keep up the good work!

Posted by The Chess Drum: 21 February 2003

Tuskegee University