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The Origins of National Chess Day Print E-mail
By David Heiser   
July 4, 2010
Over a year ago I was curious about the origins of National Chess Day.  Many websites refer to President Ford proclaiming October 9, 1976 as National Chess Day, but none of them referenced a source.

I called the USCF office and was told they had no records for National Chess Day.  So I decided the best thing to do was to go to the source; in this case this was contacting the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum in Ann Arbor Michigan.  My request was over the phone and I was told I would hear from them.

After a month went by I had given up hearing from them.  Then one day I received anenvelope in the mail with the return address of Gerald R. Ford Library.  Enclosed were the documents below, which provide a lot of historical information on how October 9, 1976 became National Chess Day. 

These documents are relevant to the ongoing discussion on the USCF forum and proposal to request President Obama to proclaim this October 9th as National Chess Day.  As stated in the December 22, 1975 memo from Max Friedersdorf, Assistant to the President [Ford] to the Honorable Strom Thurmond “except in unusual circumstances, it is not customary for the President to issue a proclamation setting aside a particular period for special observance unless he is authorized and requested to do so by Congress.”

As October 9th falls on a Saturday this year, we have a great opportunity to “give special recognition to a game that generates challenge, intellectual stimulation and enjoyment for citizens of all ages.” 

David Heiser is the president of Renaissance Knights. After reading the documents below, you may be inspired to host a National Chess Day in your community. See more details on the benefits that the USCF is offering to organizers hosting tournaments on or over October 9, 2010.


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