Rank & File

(Volume VII #2) March-April 1984

In Memoriam: Ed Tierney

(SCCF President Ed Tierney passed away unexpectedly December 18, 1983. Here are two appreciations of him by those who knew him well.)

By Kevin Burnett

Ed Tierney became involved in chess twelve years ago when Bobby Fischer put the game on the map in America. It was a fun thing to do with his two boys, Michael and Steven, who were just six- and five-year-olds at the time. As the boys grew and became better at the game, Ed made sure they had the opportunities to play. Everything was on a personal basis with Ed. Rather than grouse about the lack of chess activity in south Orange County, he helped create it.

He became active in the San Clemente Chess Club and founded a chess team at Marco Foster Junior High in San Juan Capistrano. Ed made a big deal out of any kind of achievement, for his own boys and for the others on the team. A simple chess medal became under Ed's spellbinding touch, bigger and brighter until it shown like Olympic gold. And a trophy, well, a trophy was a veritable Holy Grail.

In 1977, Steven Tierney won the National Elementary Championship, and the news hit the San Juan papers like Armstrong on the moon, thanks to you-know who. The next year Marco Foster won the National Junior High School Championship - Lindbergh lands in Paris!

When the boys moved on to high school, chess teams mysteriously sprang up all over the county. A high school chess league was formed, with a full season and playoffs just like in football. In 1981, Mike Tierney led the Capistrano Valley High team to a tie for second in the National High School Championship in Philadelphia - MacArthur marches on Manila!

Ed organized dozens of tournaments, scholastic and adult, and ran them with a warm, caring touch. The tables groaned with trophies and medals on display all during the tournament to inspire the kids. Ed didn't just hand out the hardware; he presented it, with ruffles and flourishes, and a personal introduction for each winner.

Ed was only 55 when he died December 18 of heart failure, but his magic lives on. In the memories of hundreds of Southland chess players and in the form of two tournaments he was working on when he died. Ed brought the National High School Championship out to the West Coast for the first time. It was held at Buena Park High School December 27 to 29. Ed also inaugurated a West Coast version of the popular U.S. Amateur Team Championship, to be held concurrently with the original East Coast version over the Presidents' Day weekend in February.

by Jerry Hanken

Ed Tierney was a bear of a man. A big friendly lovable Irishman who could charm the dew off the Blarney Stone. Ed could tell you that you were full of it in such a nice way that you didn't realize what he had said until the next day. And even then you couldn't get mad at him. Lord knows I tried to get mad at him enough times, but when I would see him, all that anger would be washed over by the warmth of his essentially loving nature. And it was loving. Ed loved people, he loved his kids, and he loved chess.

I came to know Ed during the last four years and it was a friendship which meant a whole lot to me. When I heard of his very untimely death in December 1983 I was devastated. He was full of plans and dreams. His vision of a U.S. Amateur Team West was about to come true and he had scheduled tournaments all year. Perhaps it is only with his passing that we all realize what a tremendous and irreplaceable part of the Southern California chess scene that he really was. It brings to mind Edwin Markham's description of Lincoln as a giant oak in a line of trees. When it falls, like Ed Tierney in Southern California, it "leaves a lonely place against the sky."

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