Queen Sacrifice: Ruth Haring, 1955-2018

by admin on November 30, 2018

I will be brief because I’m still in some shock. I got on Facebook this evening and read several posts saying that Ruth Haring, former USCF president and current US zonal representative, has passed away. The news is also confirmed by a release from the USCF and this article on chess.com, which has some wonderful quotes from her son Theo Biyiasis and others.

Ruth Haring last month in Reno.

One reason that this news comes as such a shock is that I saw Ruth at the Western States Open last month in Reno, and there was no indication that anything was wrong with her. She was as friendly as ever, and when we were paired against each other in round five she gave me a hard fight and we eventually drew. According to the USCF website, this was the fourth-to-last tournament game of her life. She played Megan Lee in the last round, and then she played two more games in a tournament in Sacramento this month.

Ruth plays against Megan Lee in the last round at Reno.

I hope that Megan Lee knows what a great opportunity this was for her, because she was playing one of the pioneers of women’s chess in America. Ruth played on five Olympiad teams and finished in second place in the U.S. Women’s Championship in 1974.

Although Ruth remained active in tournament chess to the very last month of her life, in recent years she made her greatest contribution to chess politics. What I liked about her was her absolute integrity. Many people get into chess politics to serve some agenda, or to bolster their own egos, but for Ruth it was just about promoting chess and bringing it to more people. This summer she was on Nigel Short’s “ticket” when the latter ran for president of FIDE. Ruth would have been general secretary if he had won.

Another person might have been very disappointed with the defeat. But for Ruth, that was never an issue. When I talked with her at Reno, she was very upbeat about the future of FIDE. She was glad that the crooks are finally out of office, and she thinks that the president-elect will make positive changes. She was enthusiastic about serving as zonal president and especially enthusiastic about increasing American representation in international chess. It makes me very sad to think that all of this positive momentum might be lost, and I hope that the USCF can find someone who can fill her shoes.

What am I saying? You can’t fill the shoes of a queen. You can only hope that another pawn will come along with the courage and persistence to promote itself to a queen. Someone with the courage and persistence of Ruth Haring.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Larry Smith December 1, 2018 at 7:54 am

Nice tribute, thanks.

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