American chess icon hit by Katrina

by ChessBase
9/7/2005 – He taught chess on a "Gazebo" sidewalk terrace in the middle of the French Quarter in New Orleans. With a rating above 2500 Jude Acers, 61, has been promoting the game for decades. Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent breach of the levees destroyed everything. At least, as we have just heard, the man himself appears to be alive.

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"Famous New Orleans Chess Master and author of the Italian Gambit, Jude F. Acers is missing after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, Louisiana," wrote Michael Ciamarra. "Mr. Acers' whereabouts are unknown at this time. He played and resided in New Orleans’ French Quarter, which has been evacuated and lies in ruins. I am setting up a fund for Jude Acers so that he may be assisted in the next few months. Mr. Acers is in his 60s and in very good health – but his ability to make a living at chess is stopped."

And one family wrote: "My husband and I brought our 6 year old son who had just learned how to play chess to New Orleans in July. We couldn't do anything until our son got to play chess with Mr. Acers. We are concerned about his well being since Hurricane Katrina hit one of our favorite places to visit. Would you please post something on your website to let us know how he is doing and let Mr. Acers know his fans and an anxious six-year-old boy wish him the best and that he and his city are in our prayers. Thank you. Mike, Shari and Garrett"

On September 6th Keith Halonen of Hidden Valley Lake CA wrote: "Jude is listed as 'alive' on the Gulf Coast News, but there were no contact fields filled out on the page. Many friends would like to know his location and most important would be his well-being." Keith sent us a number of pictures used in the article below.

Finally, when the above letters arrived our web master, Ben Bartels, said that he was sure he had played against the man. At home he checked his family album and found a couple of pictures.

Ben Bartels getting a lesson from Jude Acers back in 1992

Ben was on a holiday with his parents in Houston, Dallas, Memphis and Tennessee. "Jude Acers sat in the middle of the French Quarter of New Orleans and was playing chess. I watched for a while, and at some stage he invited me to play. The lesson cost a couple of dollars. He said I was pretty good and told me which chess books to buy in order to improve."

US Chess Master Jude F. Acers – Alive!!

By Michael Ciamarra

Breaking news has come to our attention that New Orleans, Louisiana chess master Jude F. Acers is alive. At this writing we do not know where he is and all efforts are being made to locate him. He doesn’t have a family or any relatives that can help. Jude’s livelihood as a professional chess master is going to be greatly impacted and his ability to play and teach will be almost non existent for the foreseeable future. We are calling on chess players world wide to assist Jude in his time of need with any resources, chess books, help to book simultaneous exhibitions, etc. A fund has been set up for Jude Acers to get him through these difficult months ahead. Jude had an extensive chess library, clothes and some furniture. We do not know at this time whether these items are safe or have been destroyed.

Contact: Michael Ciamarra
Email: michaelc (at) alabamapolicy (dot) org
Call in Birmingham, Alabama: +49-205-914 3248
Donations can be made to “Jude Acers fund” – Michael Ciamarra, Alabama Scholastic Chess Resources, 116 Oakmont Road Birmingham, Alabama 35244 USA

Jude is reknown for his chess promotional skills and his chess coaching abilities. He is one of the United States’ most colorful and entertaining professional chess masters. Known for his extensive knowledge of chess theory and chess history, Jude is an accomplished chess teacher, having introduced literally thousands to the game through these efforts.

Children listened intensely to an Acers lecture in San Francisco 1969.

Jude, whose surname is pronounced like the land measurement "acres" (i.e. ay-kers), was born in 1944. He learned to play chess when he was age seven, and became a rated Chess Master at age 17. Jude honed his playing skills in New Orleans and San Francisco, California. He has devoted himself exclusively to promoting, playing and teaching chess.

Oh the intensity! A young opponent in an Acers simul.

Jude Acers is author of "A Guiding Repertoire for White-e4! " and co-author, analyst, and main annotator for the "Italian Gambit". He has contributed analysis to many chess publications throughout the world including the Chess Informator, Chess Life, Chess Lab, etc. Jude wrote the notes to the Lone Pine 1975 tournament book which is a collectors item today and demonstrated his deep analytical skills. Jude could be normally found, as he has for the last quarter of a century, at his “World Chesstable” ("Gazebo" sidewalk terrace), 1018 Decatur Street (the French Quarter) in New Orleans.

In New Orleans, millions of motorists and passersby have seen the "man in the red beret" play ALL challengers daily-giving Chess lessons to all levels of players, analyzing games with beginners and international masters. Jude has dedicated his life to chess promotion.

Jude has the unique distinction, in his long and venerable career, of being the only match player to face both Bobby Fischer (Baton Rouge, 1964) and Walter Browne, six time U. S. Champion (Baton Rouge 1967 & Berkeley 1970).

He was published World Record holder in the Guinness Book of World Records--having played 117 opponents simultaneously (Lloyds Centre, Portland Oregon) and 179 (!!) opponents, again in simultaneous play (Mid Isle Plaza [Broadway Plaza] Long Island, New York) on July 2-3, 1976.

Featured in the London Times, Associated Press, Oxford American Magazine, the New York Times and others, along with more than a thousand Chess appearances in 46 States, Jude estimates that he has played over 100,000 simultaneous chess exhibition and blindfold exhibition games. Jude's Elo during his competitive days of World Class tournament play was 2554 FIDE. He was the winner of the Stamer Memorial, San Francisco, the winner take all, Paul Morphy Memorial, FIDE Match Challenge Cup, New Orleans.

Acers' career highlight (and most memorable game) was his drawn match with six time U.S. Champion Grandmaster Walter Browne (Berkeley in 1970). A first round win by Acers was selected by a panel of six Grandmasters in the Chess Informant as a "Top Ten" theory game for that year. "It changed my life forever," said Acers, who by his own account "rode the Bobby Fischer chess craze years of 1970-1978, like the Lone Ranger riding Silver”. It was during these wonder years that Jude met Washington Chess promoter, Russell Miller.

Known worldwide for his promotional work at commercial malls, colleges, and prison chess exhibitions (more than 100 appearances in all), Acers developed a rapid fire ten-minute lecture known as the "Four Must-do Chess Tips" plus introducing chess fans to two classic must-read chess books. After that it was down to business, giving 20-40 opponent “simultaneous” exhibitions in 46 States and five countries.

Jude was the first chess master, after Bobby Fischer, to be featured on national TV in the United States. His five appearances include an eight board simultaneous blindfold exhibition on July 21, 1981, seen by millions on “P.M. Magazine”. The program won a National Media Award for TV Newsman Eric Paulsen (WWL Channel 4), and brought worldwide attention to David Compton, an imaginative chess promoter who made the moves as Acers called them out. Recently, New Orleans media cameraman Steve Alfortisch (Channel 8 Fox) won national honors for his February 2001 coverage of Acers' Louisiana-Angola State Prison appearance.

Jude Acers is unique in American chess, and chessplayers worldwide have benefited from his selfless devotion and promotion of the game. I ask chessplayers around the world for their help for this great talent.

Michael Ciamarra is vice president of the Alabama Policy Institute, a chess coach, a long time associate of Jude Acers and former resident of New Orleans, Louisiana.

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