North Carolina Chess Fixture Ron Simpson Dies
September 21, 2013
Ron250Simpson.jpgFM Ron Simpson, a beloved member of the chess community, died on Thursday September 19th after a battle with cancer. Ron was also a fixture on the North Carolina chess scene, and a very active player (see his MSA for evidence).

Simpson's friend and US Chess League Carolina Cobras team-mate Craig Jones said, "Ron was the rare Master level player who would play anyone anywhere. He played in local events for years where he would be be 300 + rating points over anyone else. He just enjoyed the chess and analyzing and sharing. North Carolina chess will never be the same without Ron."

The first African-American GM in history, Maurice Ashley once said, "I wouldn't be the player I am today without him." For more on his games and the "Black Bear" group, see Daaim Shabazz's profile of Ron on the chess drum.

In an autobiographical essay on, Ron writes about how he learned to play chess:

I was competitive and very hungry to play chess but there weren’t many kids playing chess in the late sixties. I was about ten years old when my mother took me to Melvin Brady’s barbershop for a haircut, and to my surprise this was where the men in the community played chess.  It was like a local chess club.  Many of men in the neighborhood would stop in just to play a quick game before going home. I remember many times they would keep one eye on their watches and the other eye on the board, while constantly glancing out of the barbershop window (hoping their wives wouldn’t catch them playing chess).

Details on memorial service and funeral arrangements were also posted by Gary Newsom:

There will be a viewing at Mitchell Funeral Home (7209 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh, NC) on Sunday, September 22nd from 2-4pm. The body will then be shipped to New York (where his mother lives) for a formal service. After the funeral, players in North Carolina are having a chess memorial service for at Caribou Coffee, 3300 Duraleigh Road Raleigh, NC 27612 (919) 787-9611. It will start at around 4:30pm. Players are encouraged to bring chess sets and memories of Ron to share. If there are any questions, call Gary Newsom at 704-618-1259. 

L to R: Craig Jones and Chris Mabe (Back, L-R) Andrey Chumachenko, Ron Simpson, Maurice Dana and Neal Harris.


Find many more games by Simpson on the chessdrum and feel free to post memories of Ron in the comment thread.