Which US presidents played the royal game?

8/20/2011 – Here's an August weekend puzzle for our readers: which of the 43 presidents of the United States, over the last 222 years, have played and enjoyed the royal game of chess, as a form of recreation or distraction? It may surprise you that some were pretty good, and that one in fact won a battle because of a love of the game (though not his own). The answer will be given on Monday.

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List of all presidents of the United States of America

# President Chess?
1 George Washington (1789-1797)  
2 John Adams (1797-1801)  
3 Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809)  
4 James Madison (1809-1817)  
5 James Monroe (1817-1825)  
6 John Quincy Adams (1825-1829)  
7 Andrew Jackson (1829-1837)  
8 Martin Van Buren (1837-1841)  
9 William Henry Harrison (1841)  
10 John Tyler (1841-1845)  
11 James K. Polk (1845-1849)  
12 Zachary Taylor (1849-1850)  
13 Millard Fillmore (1850-1853)  
14 Franklin Pierce (1853-1857)  
15 James Buchanan (1857-1861)  
16 Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865)  
17 Andrew Johnson (1865-1869)  
18 Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877)  
19 Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881)  
20 James A. Garfield (1881)  
21 Chester Arthur (1881-1885)  
22 Grover Cleveland (1885-1889)  
 
# President Chess?
23 Benjamin Harrison (1889-1893)  
24 Grover Cleveland (1893-1897)  
25 William McKinley (1897-1901)  
26 Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909)  
27 William Howard Taft (1909-1913)  
28 Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921)  
29 Warren G. Harding (1921-1923)  
30 Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929)  
31 Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)  
32 Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-1945)  
33 Harry S Truman (1945-1953)  
34 Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)  
35 John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)  
36 Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969)  
37 Richard Nixon (1969-1974)  
38 Gerald Ford (1974-1977)  
39 Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)  
40 Ronald Reagan (1981-1989)  
41 George Bush (1989-1993)  
42 Bill Clinton (1993-2001)  
43 George W. Bush (2001-2009)  
44 Barack Obama (2009-present)  

Print out this page (there is a print assistant to the left) and put an X or an O behind each name. On Monday we will update this page with the solution.

Note that it is unfair to use Google to solve this puzzle. On the other hand it is fine if you consider the IQ of each of the candidates to influence your choice. You can also click on the above names for comprehensive material on each president. In addition here are a few hints:

  • One president credits a success in a war to not his own but his enemy's fondness for chess.

  • One president, before he was elected, had been a member of a chess club in Paris.

  • One founding father and presidential ambassador particularly enjoyed playing chess with beautiful French women, and in fact played one of them while she was having a bath (no, not via the Internet on a tablet, in person).

  • One president lost three games in a row against his Major General because, he said, his concentration was distracted by Indians lurking in the bushes.

  • One president played chess exactly like he ran his presidency: cautiously, with defensive strategies, until aggressive moves were clearly justified.

  • One president would travel long distances to find a suitable opponent and then keep playing him until the latter was tired out and started to lose.

  • One 20th century president was clearly the strongest of the lot; another took up the game seriously after his presidency but in spite of study never became very proficient at it.

  • One invited all the participants of a big US tournament to the White House.

  • One recent president played on his university's chess team.

  • Two chess playing presidents have met with Garry Kasparov, who as likely as not can recite the names of all 43 presidents in correct order in about two minutes.

  • One of them plays with his wife Michelle (but now we go too far).

As mentioned above we will bring you the answers to this report on Monday.


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