Monday, November 8, 2010

An Idaho Chess Icon passes

January 19, 1930 - November 7, 2010
I am very sorry to find out that Dick Vandenburg passed away last night at around 5:30 p.m.  Dick has been fighting a spreading cancer for quite sometime and his health has not been very good as he told me last March at the Scholastic Championships.

Dick was a very important figure in Idaho chess history and in the success of the Idaho Chess Association.  Dick was the trustee for Scholastic Development which he had held since 2005.  Previous to that he was past President, Vice President, and Secretary and Treasurer from 1957 until 1988 of the ICA, and he began Idaho Scholastics and successfully ran it during the 1980s for roughly 12 years, as well.  He was President of the Boise Chess Club for about 20 years and wrote a quarterly newsletter during the 1950s - 1960s for the ICA.  These are uploaded on the ICA website.  Another passion was the Correspondence Chess League of America and he was President for 10 years of that organization - Vice President until last year.  During this time he organized international tournaments and was also captain of many teams.  Last year, the ICA gave him a lifetime achievement award as Scholastic Trustee Emeritus of the ICA.

Dick Vandenburg was a very successful player as well as organizer and supporter.  He held the Idaho State Championship for 6 years and in 1965 he won both the Idaho Closed and the Idaho Open Championships.    I noticed no other player has successfully done that.  He began playing chess in high school in 1945, and participated in the first organized Idaho Championship with Glen Buckendorf in 1947.  "So I've been around it for around 65 years (I'm 80 now)," he indicated in an informal interview with me in August.  He was the first chess player in Idaho to have a lifetime membership in the ICA.   He continued, 

"C. H. Stewart, who was the strongest player in Idaho since he moved here somewhere in the teens - maybe about 1916?  He was about 60 years old at the time."  Dick says he won his first Idaho title in 1955 and "was kind of lucky to do it, at age 25.  I was playing an experienced fellow from Utah or Nevada who figured I would screw up the end game.  I offered him a draw, but he refused it.  Finally, he was the one to make a mistake and I won the game and the tournament."

"I don't really have a favorite opening and have been playing only correspondence chess these past many years, where you can consult opening books.  Possibly the Sicilian Defense might be my favorite, but I play others.  At the moment, I'm fighting advanced prostate cancer and am not playing any games."

Dick loved chess and chess players.  "Glen Buckendorf has been almost a lifelong friend," Dick confided in me in one e-mail.  I remember watching him tool around the skittles room with his chess team from Washington Elementary as he helped players find their boards.  After the games were done, I witnessed the little chess players run into the room and actively search Dick out to tell him of their triumphs.  Dick sat with kids and helped them with their games, as well.

I hope the void that has now formed for the chess community of Idaho is filled by someone with the same kind of love, care, and patience that Dick provided everyone.  Dick's wisdom invariably transcends chess when he wrote, "we all have different interests, time and energy, and none are superior to what someone else may be doing."  We will all miss you, Dick!
In the Skittles Room at the Idaho Scholastics, 2010
Dick gives Dylan her first trophy at her first chess tournament, Idaho Novice, 2006
Dick is helping my daughter at the Girl's Scholastic Championship, 2007
Dick with his players at the Girl's Scholastic Championships, 2010
Please also see the Idaho Chess Association website.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive