Chess Man in the Red Beret returns to N.C. Wesleyan College


Chess master to return to city


Staff Writer

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Local chess enthusiasts will have another opportunity to test their skills against a legendary international chess master.

Jude Acers will return to the area for the second annual CheckMate! Rocky Mount chess exhibition that will be held starting at 9 a.m Oct. 6 at the Dunn Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of N.C. Wesleyan College.

Acers, who is a former Eastern North Carolina resident, is known for being the “man in the red beret” and his world chess table on Decatur Street in New Orleans’ French Quarter is where he brings chess to the masses.

Rocky Mount native Gary Sharpe, creator of CheckMate! Rocky Mount, who has been invited for the past several years to New Orleans to play against Acers in an invitation-only tournament, said Acers has been a figurehead in the chess world since 1960. At 19, Acers played Bobby Fischer, who many consider to be the greatest chess player of all time, to a draw.

Acers has twice held the Guinness World Chess Record for most games played simultaneously, while playing 117 opponents in 1973 and 179 in 1976. The author of several books and articles and a chess showman extraordinaire has done chess tours and exhibitions around the world, from big cities and small towns to prison complexes and middle schools.

“He does not simply play chess but lives it and breathes it,” Acers said. “Chess has seen him through countless adversity and has taken him around the world. Jude continues to be driven by the belief that a passion for chess can universally lift all people to live better and more independent lives.”

Sharpe invited Acers to Rocky Mount last year. Sharpe said Acers fell in love with Rocky Mount and has agreed to come back as many times as he is offered to come.

“Jude was so impressed with the hospitality and enthusiasm at the inaugural event last year that he wanted to return,” Sharpe said. “Also, among almost 50 games, the chess community of Rocky Mount delivered five draws against the master, which is quite a showing.”

Kristen Brabble, event manager of CheckMate! Rocky Mount who is the chief administrative officer at First Carolina Bank, said chess is in a renaissance all across the world and it’s not often a person will have the honor to play a chess legend.

Brabble believes this is the first time Acers will ever play in a “staggered simul,” which means staggered start times for games. Acers will contend not only with simutaneous games against multiple players, but each game will be in a different stage of play.

Anyone who pre-registers as a competitor will have the opportunity to play Acers in the exhibition. Brabble said people like Wesleyan President Dewey Clark have already signed up to play and people as far away as Mooresville will compete and measure their skills against the chess master.

“We wanted to bring people from all over North Carolina to Rocky Mount, and that’s exactly what we did our first year,” she said. “This gives the players a true chance at beating one of the world’s best chess players because who doesn’t want that bragging right? This is a unique event for our community. Whether you’ve been playing all your life or just begun, this event is for you.”

Tickets for the chess event can be purchased by going to