Chess Champion

Mentoring Youth

"I came to play chess."

Editor's Note: W.A. Scott's obituary in the Atlanta Daily World describes his chess legacy as follows:

"Well known in the area for his expertise in chess and rated an expert by the United Chess Federation, Scott was president of the Atlanta Chess Association for three years. He was proud to have won the Georgia State Open Chess Championship in 1963, followed in 1967 by three distinct honors: Atlanta Chess Champion, Speed Champion, and chairman of the host committee for the 68th Annual U.S. Open Chess Championship Tournament."

Editor's Note: In her 2019 Legacy Series interview with the Museum of History and Holocaust Education, Scott's daughter, M. Alexis Scott, reflected on her father's relationship with chess:

"I think he wanted to be a great chess player. I’m sure of that. He sometimes said that he could have been a grandmaster had he not had a family and business to run. Because he would have focused on that a lot more than he was able to. But he was rated an expert. And he got that rating from playing in tournaments. He taught himself how to play on a ship during World War II. After Buchenwald was liberated back in April 1945, they disbanded his unit. And they put him on a ship to go t some place in Japan, or the South Pacific. He was on the ship, so he didn’t have anything to do, so he taught himself how to play chess. And he really got into it, because it requires just enough thinking that you cannot worry about your stuff that you do every day, because you have to focus on the game. So I think that was a good escape for him. But he played in 1953, I believe it was, he went to play in the U.S. Open so he could get a rating. And it was in Nashville, Tennessee, at the Peabody Hotel, which was, of course, segregated. So when he walked in, they said, 'You can’t stay here! You can’t do this.' So the guy who was the tournament director came to the hotel and said, 'If he has to leave, then we’re all going to leave.' So that was like—so they flopped around for a minute and then said, 'Well OK. But he can’t do this. He can’t do this. He can’t do this.' And my dad said, 'I came to play chess.' So that was sort of the way he confronted the system. By just acting like he was a human being and doing what human beings do in spite of the resistance to it."