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Friday, May 8, 2015

The Denkers: Mitchell and Arnold

   Mitchell R. Denker (1947-2013) passed away at age 66 on Saturday, August 24, 2013, in Leland, NC. He was born in New York City and lived on Long Island until his college years. When his parents, Arnold and Nina, moved to Florida, he followed and lived in Florida most of his life; he completed college, studied law and practiced in Key West. In 1994 he and his wife Jaye and their sons moved to Belleview, Florida where they lived for over 13 years.
     Chess was one of his passions and at one time he served as a Trustee of the U.S. Chess Trust for several years, honoring his father’s memory with sponsorship of the annual Denker Chess Tournament for High School students, which provides a scholarship to the University of Texas to the winner. During his time in Belleview, Florida he served as the President of the Haas Fund, a charity for children in need of financial support for the arts and athletics, a member of the Belleview Zoning Commission, Chairman of the Grievance Committee of the Florida Bar Association, and as President of Shepherds Lighthouse, a live-in facility for battered women.
     He was also a traveler, taking every chance he could to see the world, particularly places not normally visited by tourists. After moving to Wilmington, North Carolina in 2011 he served at the Cape Fear Volunteer Center for the Big Buddy Program.
     Mitchell also played chess, but, of course, not at the same level as his more famous father. I was unable to find any of his games and, as far as I know, he never had a rating. An interview with Denker can be found here: READ 
     He appears to have had his share of legal troubles and intrigue:  Here is an interesting CNN report that mentions him in connection with a missing person. Additional information from the KMM Blog with true crime writer Robert A. Waters’ analysis of cold unsolved cases and commentary about modern and historical crimes.  Facebook accountReal Crimes. Florida missing persons casesUnited States vs.Mitchell DenkerFlorida Bar vs. Mitchell Denker

    His father, GM Arnold Denker (February 20, 1914 – January 2, 2005), virtually disappeared from the U.S. chess scene in the late 1940's and became a millionaire in the business world. Arnold tried being a full-time chess player but after getting married to Nina Simmons in 1936 family responsibilities eventually took precedence. By 1948 he determined that with a wife and two children he could no longer play regularly. He accepted employment offered by a friend who owned a meat-packing company and when his friend died, Arnold took over the company and found that he had a knack for business. He was very successful and when he retired in 1974 the company was doing over $38 million a year in business.
     Denker returned to tournament play in 1971 at the age of 57 and tied for seventh place in the U.S. Open; he continued to play in tournaments into his 80's, tying for sixth place at the U.S. Open in 1995 at the age of 71. An interesting article on Arnold by Don Schulz can be read HERE.

1 comment:

  1. Denker also played in the late 1950s. One of his opponents in that time frame was Fischer.