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Friday, December 11, 2015

Rea B. Hayes, Legend in Several States

     Rea B. Hayes (October 31, 1915 - February 15, 2001) was born in Weston Ontario, Canada. He was taught to play at age eleven by a neighborhood friend. He joined the St. Clair Chess Club in Toronto and became its champion a few years later. Hayes played in the Canadian Championship in 1936, 1947 and 1951 and authored a book on the 1937 championship. His best result was in1947 when he finished 3rd scoring 10.5-2.5. The Championship was won by Yanofsky. Hayes also finished first in the 1949 South Saskatchewan Championship in 1949 with a perfect score of 9 out of 9. 
     In 1953 Hayes moved to Greenville, South Carolina where he won his first tournament and two trophies: one for being the South Carolina Open Champion and one for being the highest scoring South Carolina resident. Why two trophies? At that time no one actually expected a resident to win the state championship! The following year when he again won the championship he only got one trophy. 
     After a brief two year job assignment in Chattanooga, Tennessee, he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio where he remained for the next 30 years working as an actuary for Union Central Life. Hayes organized the Parkway Chess Club and the City League, a team competition. He revived the long dead city championship and won the city and club championships many times over the years. He was also instrumental in organizing the popular Cincinnati Open tournament. I played in a couple of those tournaments and remember them being held in a decrepit old YMCA building...creaky wooden floors and no air conditioning, but room rates were only $3.00 a night which is about $22-23 in today's currency. In 1963 Hayes won the Ohio State Championship and several times tied for first. 
     He spent 1980-1981 touring New Zealand. After returning to the US he continued taking part in tournaments and in 1981 he played in the 1st US Senior Open tournament which he won. In the process, he also won the upset prize by defeating the favorite, veteran master Dr. Eric Marchand. His prize was a wristwatch. The trophy he won was eventually donated to the US Chess Hall of Fame
     He again moved to Chattanooga in 1990 and regularly played in Tennessee events. In 1992 he won the Tennessee State Championship. 
     Hayes was the first player rated over 2000 I ever faced in tournament play; that was in Cincinnati, Ohio back in the early 1960s. I had him on the ropes, but ended up losing when I let him slip out of my grasp and then resigned in a position where I still had some play! It was a strong motivation to work harder at improving.

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