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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Charles Powell

     The annual Armed Forces Chess Championship, also known as the Inter-Services Chess Championship has been held annually since 1960 by the Department of Defense and the USCF. 
     The United States Armed Forces has studied chess in a number of different applications, from the understanding of psychology, game theory, problem solving, tactical decision making, risk taking and leadership, not to mention in computer programs, artificial intelligence and algorithms. The Defense Technical Information Center lists over 1,500 civilian, contractor and military reports dealing with chess, chess theory and other applications of chess research. In fact, you can visit the Center and search for “chess” and all kinds of stuff comes up. 
     The first tournament was held in 1960, and continued uninterrupted until 1993, when the support of the Department of Defense was withdrawn. The USCF and the US Chess Center supported the tournaments until 2001, when the support of the Department of Defense was resumed. 
     Emory Tate won the Armed Forces Chess Championship five times, in 1983, 1984, and three times in a row from 1987-1989, an unequaled record. In 1968, the winner was Army Private First Class Charles Powell (1944-1991) with an impressive 11-1 score.
     In 1964, Powell defeated Bobby Fischer in a simul in Richmond, Virginia. He won the Virginia championship seven times (1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1971, 1972 and 1976). Powell was a USCF Senior Master (rating over 2400) and was sometimes known to read a newspaper if his opponent was taking to long to move. His play, even against weaker players, was complex and tactical which occasionally resulted in his losing to them. 
     Powell lived the last decade of his life in San Francisco. His widow, Lynne Murray, has authored a number of mystery novels. She wrote that when she met Powell in 1980 he was a law student and when they were married in 1983 within six months he became ill and for the rest of his life battled chronic illness. She described him as “very brave and good natured about being sick and all the things he was never able to do.  He passed away at the age of 48.
     The following game against National Master Rusty Potter is typical of Powell's play.
 

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