Harry Sabine, a Major Figure in Scholastic Chess, Dies at Age 78

US Chess has learned that Harry Sabine has died at age 78. Harry Sabine was a giant of scholastic chess in both his home state of Tennessee and nationally. It was Sabine’s idea to create the quadrennial spectacle known as SuperNationals, and he was instrumental in US Chess’ move from New York to Crossville, Tennessee in 2005. He held leadership roles in the Tennessee Chess Association and US Chess in many years of service to both organizations. Sabine was a National Tournament Director and a long-time chess coach in his community, helping Cumberland County School chess teams win dozens of championships in both state and national competitions. NM Alex King played in many of Sabine’s tournaments over the years, and in a post on Facebook, he writes that:
Sad to hear of the passing of Harry Sabine, [a] towering figure in Tennessee chess for my entire career and decades before that. [Sabine] was a huge man with a stentorian voice and a by-the-book, sometimes gruff manner, but also a generous and hard-working spirit. I still remember him and his signature "Big Orange" sneakers at my first State Scholastic Team Championship in 2000 when I was in fifth grade; the last time I saw him was this past March, also at the State Team, wearing the same sneakers. We will all miss and honor the legacy of this great man!
A lawyer by trade, a Cumberland County Commissioner, and a veteran of the Vietnam War, Sabine is survived by his wife, Michelle Ann, and their son Jay, a former employee of US Chess. Sabine is preceded in death by his son Steve. Our thoughts are with his friends and loved ones.

Comments

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I played in many of Harry’s tournaments during the 80s and helped with the super nationals in Knoxville in the 90’s . He also helped us with some fun fest chess tournaments in the Tri Cities. Lately he ran the winter tournament at Dream More resort in Pigeon Forge Tennessee. He was always ready to help with chess in anyway. He will be greatly missed

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

My condolences to the family. Harry, R.I.P.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Harry was innovative. His one day events in Crossville, along with the annual Fairfield Glade, gave us aspiring masters the chance to play often. Fairfield Glade bought strong players from other states to challenge Tennessee's best. He was instrumental in starting Tennessee's version of the Church's Fried Chicken Grand Prix, which was dubbed the Turkey Tour. I used the money from winning the first tour to move to New York to play chess professionally. His pun showed Harry could bring a sense of humor to chess. We talked over the years that he helped direct the New York Open. It is a long way from those days to the Super Nationals, one of the most amazing events in chess. Thank you Harry for your major contributions to American chess. God bless Harry and his family.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Harry was a walking definition of the word Integrity. He was an attorney with a sense of humor or, rather, a funny, kind and respectful man who happened to work as an attorney. His tireless pro bono efforts to get the best package of free land, tax breaks and fee/rate concessions from local architects, banks and others is the main reason that the US Chess corporate offices relocated to Crossville, Tennessee. His thousand of hours of volunteer work to promote the game of chess were priceless. He will be missed.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

When my family moved to the US (Nashville, TN) my sophomore year of high school, I became more interested in studying chess. The tournaments Harry (that feels funny to write, I always thought of him as Mr. Sabine) directed were a huge part of my chess 'career'. He ran the TN State Scholastics, the High School Section of which served as Tennessee's route to the Denker. After a good result, I told him I had finally played well in one of his tournaments! Thank you to Harry for his selfless service to adult and scholastic chess, in Tennessee and beyond.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Harry Sabine was a fine man and I feel blessed to have had some professional contacts with him during my time at the US Chess Federation office (1994-99).

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

The perfect gentleman. Many used US Chess politics for personal gains or for collecting titles. Harry spent 9 years on the national board to bring innovative ideas into reality. After serving, he continued that innovative approach. His creation of the SuperNationals, still the largest chess tournament in the world at one site, is his greatest legacy. After I directed in Knoxville for the first SuperNationals, I walked into my regular drinking hole. All my non-chess friends had the front page of the Sunday New York Times. "Is this where you were last weekend?" The only time chess made the front page without being a World Championship report. According to the late Ira Lee Riddle, longtime Chairman of the Tournament Director Certification Committee, Harry is one of only two to get a perfect score on the National Tournament Director exam. With Harry, well that is just how he went about doing things.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I took part in the TN Senior Open in May--my first tournament in Crossville in a quarter century. I'm glad I put forth the effort, to play one last time under the direction of the great Mr. Sabine--I will hold some good memories from his events. May God bless his family and friends in their season of grief.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I grew up next door to the Sabine household. Harry introduced chess to my family in the 1970's. My father and brothers were more into chess than I was, but I did learn how to play when I was young because chess was being played in my home. I recall Harry coming over to our home and playing blindfold chess one evening. He was lying on the floor while he and my father played a game calling out each move. My oldest brother is still an avid chess player, and has introduced chess to his son. I have not played in years, but am really thinking about starting back. RIP Harry Sabine....

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

We got to meet Harry when we began a chess program in the schools here in Overton County. He was a fantastic resource and provided many hours of help getting our group started. I sure enjoyed the short time I was able to spend getting to know him. Thanks Harry you will be missed. Will think of you whenever we are playing chess.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

[…] Harry Sabine, a Major Figure in Scholastic Chess, Dies at Age 78 […]

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Harry was a tremendous asset to chess in America, to scholastic chess, and to our federation. He was my Vice President when I served as President and filled in as Acting President when I had a heart attack in 1987. His idea of the SuperNationals has been a great success for scholastic chess. He was devoted to scholastic chess. Harold Winston

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