Remembering Walter Harris

Pursuing some memories, I happened to search "Walter Harris chess" on Google. I found your interesting WWW page on Black Chess masters. I was a math major at UCLA from 1963-67, and used to play a lot of chess (once had a 2137 USCF rating). I had read about Harris, and once he showed up at UCLA, at a room where the chess was played. Someone told me (later) who he was, and we played a five minute game. I just happened to win the first game, but Harris slaughtered me in the remaining games, about 15 as I recall!

Several of us went to a private chess club in Beverly Hills when the UCLA rec center closed down, to continue playing. I don't know why Harris had come out to Los Angeles. He was a nice guy, and way outclassed me in chess. But at the time I was a pretty good 5 minute player, and had beaten
Sholomson two games in a row (another master, who played in the national junior championship against Fischer).

After those games with Harris, I decided I should concentrate more on math and less on chess! At the time I knew he was a master, but did not realize he was the first rated black master in the US. I hope he is doing well now. Thanks for the history. If you know Harris and think he would be interested, send him this email - maybe he remembers that trip out west.

Daniel VanArsdale

Posted by The Chess Drum: 17 November 2004