On October 4, 2017, four Special Forces soldiers patrolling in Niger, West Africa, were ambushed by enemy insurgents, killing Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, a 35-year-old Puyallup son. Fellow soldiers Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright and Sgt. LaDavid Johnson also died.
Bryan Black graduated from Puyallup High School in 2000 and enlisted in the Army nine years later as part of the elite Green Beret unit, where he served as a medic. During his military service, he was awarded many medals and distinctions. Prior to enlisting, he also won many awards as a beloved hometown chess champion.
From a very young age, Bryan was obsessed with chess. Incredibly strong-willed and competitive, he spent an entire summer after 4th grade studying and learning it like a master. According to his good friend Phil Watson, "Bryan was a great friend and one of the most talented players I’ve ever met. His playing style matched his personality—methodical, novel, dedicated and fun-loving."
A prolific player, Bryan won many notable tournaments, scoring results against some of the best players in the world (in chess lingo, that means he beat master-level players and future Grandmasters). He dominated scholastic chess in Washington state, where he tied for 2nd in the nation when he was in 6th grade and in high school. He won the state championship trophy for Puyallup High School in 1999 and finished 7th in the national team tournament. He handily won the 2000 Washington Junior Open with a perfect score.
To honor Bryan's military service and pay tribute to his chess legacy, the Puyallup community is trying to raise $7,500 to buy two outdoor chess tables. Each double concrete table with built-in metal benches costs about $3,610. The City of Puyallup has agreed to build a permanent monument with these chess tables in Pioneer Park across from City Hall. This tribute would mean a great deal to his Gold Star family (parents, surviving wife, and two young boys). Bryan's memory would forever be etched in stone so that future generations of Puyallup's families and children can learn to play the game he loved so much.
The talent he had was only eclipsed by his larger-than-life personality. On October 4, 2017, we lost one of the nation’s best. We would be so grateful if you can help us reach our goal by March 1, 2018. We intend to have the project completed before summer arrives in the beautiful NW. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your generosity.