CHESS CHAMP

I was the youngest granchild of Albert Union White Jr. (Bert) and Bertha Triffit White. There were a total of thirteen grandchildren. My grandfather was a constant companion and friend when I was growing up. He always hid my play guns, walked me to the corner and never failed to warn me about not looking both ways for cars and trains. His baseball stories about Babe Ruth and his visits with Connie Mack and the A's kept me entertained for many hours. Bert, always a gentleman, dressed in a suit and tie and walked with a cane for style. Harry Davis, the barber, always gave Bert a shave, haircut and shampoo for 25 cents, much to the amazement of other customers. Harry always defended the action as he was a close and loyal friend and often had done him favors during their lifetimes.
I did not know my grandfather when he operated A. White and Co. Drygoods. The business was started by his father, A.U. White and moved to New London from Fitchville around 1850. There were two generations before them in Huron County, Union White and John White. Bert played many chess games by mail and worked on moves in the papers. He played chess by mail with 15 to 20 players around the world and often took on all comers at various meeting places in New London. His play books disappeared but some of his moves and games are legendary in the history of chess.
Bert's father saw that he was able to play in many big tournaments when he was a teenager. He was known to play in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Indianapolis. Because of his youthfulness he grew a mustache in order to look older when appearing with the older generation. Bert won the Ohio State Chess Championship in 1895, early in his 16th year. He thus earned the right to compete in the National Chess Championship that same year. Bert became the runner up for the National Championship.
The final game was played between White and a man by the name of Ripley of Indianapolis. Both had easily won their previous matches and in the final it soon appeared White had an advantage. Ripley offered a draw game, but White refused electing to continue play. White lost, for in his haste he made a careless move which cost him the match and the U.S. title.
I will always remember my grandfather White as a kind man who always let me beat him in chess except once. Bert suffered from dementia, hardening of the arteries (probably Alzheimers) and a few weeks before his death, he requested his chess board. I never saw him play so well. He trimmed me real good! So, some things you never forget. I will never forget my Grandad White. The young man with the mustache in the white suit was 16 year old Albert U. "Bert" White of New London, Ohio in this photo taken at the National Chess Championship of 1895 [accompanied original article on New London Web site].

Many thanks to Bill Dunn for this story he says came from a story by Henry Parnell in a 1962 Mansfield News Journal.