Random Posts

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dr. Erich W. Marchand

   When I was just getting into chess and started receiving Chess Life one name that kept popping up was that of Master Dr.Erich W. Marchand, a mathematician, from Rochester, New York. His name kept appearing far into my adulthood, too; he was around a long time.
     Marchand was born on July 07, 1914 and died on August 29, 1999 at the age of 85. He was a professor emeritus of mathematics at the University of Rochester and a pioneer in gradient index research. My understanding is that this has to do with the optical effects of materials and is important in the production of things like photocopiers. Sounds boring.
     A USCF Life Master, he amassed so many titles it's impossible to list them all. He was also involved in developing the U.S. Chess Federation's rating system and was also a columnist for Chess Life magazine for many years. He was the first inductee in the New York State Chess Hall of Fame and there is an annual tournament named after him in New York. It's unusual but this tournament was begun in his honor before his death so he had the privilege of actually playing in it.
     At one time he was also involved in correspondence chess and was president of Correspondence Chess League of America, he was a tournament organizer, an officer in USCF, President of the Rochester Chess Club, many times city and state champion, and at one time was the most active player in America. He was also the champion of Missouri prior to moving his family to Rochester, New York where he was State Champion several times. As a player he had a well deserved reputation as one of the best endgame players in America.
     Dr. Marchand left a legacy of integrity and a reputation for hard work in both chess and in his professional life.


  1. My father was also a Ph.D candidate in mathematics in Missouri back in the 1930's and he knew Eric Marchand quite well. They even played some chess, although Marchand was much stronger. My father said that Marchand was a goodand patient teacher and he learned a lot about chess from their games and postmortems.

    1. I met Dr. Marchand at a chess tournament in Rochester. He won the tournament playing the last round against International Grand Master Igor Ivanov of Russia. While waiting for that game to start after a lunch break I got to talk with Dr. Marchand and he invited me to take instructions at his house. As said he was a very patient teacher.

  2. I played Dr. Marchand once in a tournament. It was a small tournament in Syracuse sometime in the mid or late eighties. What I remember from that one game was how slowly he went about moving the pieces. Strange to say, but he seemed to play the game very gently.

  3. I grew up in Rochester and played chess at the Rochester Chess Club as a teen-ager during the mid- to late 1960's. Dr. Marchand was not only a fine player but a person of great dignity and gentleness who was respected by everyone who knew him. He was a role model for me and the other young players. I am glad you are honoring his memory on this website.

    Alan Plutzik

  4. I practically grew up at the Rochester NY chess club, and played dozens of games with Eric, and several at his home over his kitchen table. He was a very gentle man, well respected of course. Many times he drove me, a teen, to tournaments in the tri city area, very generous with his time. He and i picked up Reshevsky at the airport for Reshevsky's simul at the club. Wondering who Anonymous is in the above entry. I did wrestle with him several times for the city championship, and managed to do it at least once. Many players i remember in the club were colorful characters, king's gambit players, weird gambit players, Alekhine and Ruy players.