On May 22, 1901, American Chess Champion Harry Nelson Pillsbury was in the middle of one of his nationwide tours, giving blindfold chess simultaneous exhibitions in major US cities.
While Pillsbury was stopped in Memphis between May 20 and 22, members of the Memphis Businessmen's Club, (now the Chamber of Commerce), invited him to play a blindfold simul.
The exhibition, on Thursday evening, May 23,inspired Dr. D. D. Saunders to revive the Memphis Chess Club. Saunders had founded a club in 1877, but that group presumably fell prey to one of the epidemics that plagued the city during the late 19th century. Saunders' 1901 effort, imbued with the spirit of the immortal Pillsbury, was destined to endure, however.
Starting with 50 players, according to the following morning's Commercial Appeal, the club is now the nation's second oldest chess club, after only the venerable Manhattan Chess Club of New York.
The Memphis Chess Club invites all area lovers of the royal game to join us and help continue the rejuvenation of America's second-oldest municipal chess club.