Touching article on R.O. Mitchell

Two days prior to R.O. Mitchell's memorial service, the Memphis Daily Helmsman ran a very touching article by Stephanie Morton. The article revealed a side of Mitchell the chess world would not know. Oftentimes as chess players, we do not get to know the real person behind the board. It is also true that even "chess friends" do not always get to know a fellow player outside of the confines of chess.

The article showed that Mitchell lived a life full of purpose and ambition. He was as passionate about teaching Spanish as he was many other interests. Those included golf, chess and table tennis!
"RO was Forrest Gump-good at ping pong," said friend Nestor Rodriguez. "He even had a special paddle that he called 'The Bear' because it had a little panda bear on it."

R.O. Mitchell at the 2006 World Open. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

R.O. Mitchell's affable, father-like persona earned him the nickname "Daddy RO" from high school students at Northside High.

"Mitchell was planning to play in the Chicago Open May 25th-28th."
~ Carlos Sims, friend of Mitchell's ~

Many of us may only remember R.O. Mitchell as a name that will forever be etched in U.S. history as the 1990 U.S. Junior Open champion. However, the world will miss much more than a chess player. Mitchell was born the 8th of October 1971, a time preceding the "Fischer Boom" of chess.

According to the article, Mitchell received three degrees at University of Memphis: a Bachelor's and Master's in English and a Master's in Spanish. Quipped Rodriguez, ""RO knew Spanish grammar better than I did - and I'm a native speaker." Mitchell was a Spanish instructor in continuing education and developed ESL (English as Second Language) courses at the university.

There was also words from
Carlos Sims, a friend and member of the Memphis Chess Club. Sims once played Mitchell in a four-game "Clash of Titans" match. He also mentioned that despite Mitchell's considerable talent, he had put chess aside to concentrate on his studies and was just beginning to return to the game when he died.

R.O. Mitchell at the 2006 World Open. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

R.O. Mitchell at the 2006 World Open
(Photo by Daaim Shabazz)

Stephanie Morton, "Colleagues, friends remember teacher," The Daily Helmsman, 21 June 2007.

Daaim Shabazz, "RO Mitchell, 1990 U.S. Junior Champ, 1971-2007,"
The Chess Drum, 4 June 2007.

Posted by The Chess Drum: 22 June 2007

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