tpstar: JOHN CHARLES THOMPSON (1910-1999) by Selby Anderson
John Charles "J.C." Thompson, founder of the Texas Chess Association and a USCF Master Emeritus, died at 8:00 pm, July 5  in Billings, Montana. He was 88, and had been in declining health since a stroke in 1996. Along with George Koltanowski, he was responsible for successfully introducing the Swiss System at events he organized, starting with the Southwest Open in 1942 and most notably, the U.S. Open in 1947.
Thompson was born on July 20, 1910 near Whitney in Hill County, Texas. He took up chess at the Dallas YMCA in the 1920s and won his first Dallas championship in 1930. Two years later the first Southwest Open was held in Dallas, and he finished in 2nd place. In 1935 he founded the Texas Chess Association and won the second Southwest Open, which became an annual event from that time forward. He established himself as the dominant player in Texas through the end of the 1940s.
In 1939 he started a chess column in "The Dallas Times-Herald," combining stories of local and regional interest with national and international news. Thompson won the Southwest Open seven times, and placed second five times. When the Texas State Championship was introduced after World War II, he won the first four titles in succession.
Thompson's greatest contribution to the game was the introduction of the Swiss System to American tournaments. The Swiss had been tried in Europe as early as 1895, but it did not take root and thrive until Thompson took the advice of IM George Koltanowski and used it in the 1942 Southwest Open. In Thompson's words:
"George Koltanowski came to Dallas in the early forties to give a simultaneous. I was President of the Texas Chess Association and told George about our troubles in managing the Southwest Open. In those days we used the so-called Holland System, in which we divided the entrants into groups and a round-robin was played in each group, the winners graduating to the championship flight, second players to Class A, and so on. It meant playing about 15 games in three days. So, George explained the Swiss System and we used it in the 1942 Southwest Open, played in Corpus Christi, making TCA the first organization to do so. TCA has used it in every tournament since."
Later, J.C. commented, "Seven games in three days! It was like heaven."
In 1984 he was given the title of Master Emeritus, which the USCF uses to honor the achievements of masters who made their mark before the ratings system was established. In 1997 he was honored with a Meritorious Service Award for his role in introducing the Swiss System to wide use, and for founding one of the major state organizations that preceded the formation of the U.S. Chess Federation.
"Chess Life" November 1999