Our October Player of the Month was born in Blackwell, Oklahoma. At age 11 he taught himself chess by reading the directions inside the box of a plastic chess set. He quickly became better at chess than anyone he knew, and it was a challenge finding competition. He is a Life Member of the United States Chess Federation (US Chess), the Texas Chess Association (TCA), and the All Service Postal Chess Club (ASPCC).
He served our Nation honorably during the Vietnam War. He achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant and served tours in Vietnam, Korea, and Japan. The Fischer Boom of 1972 made him aware there was such a thing as tournament chess. He joined US Chess, but tournaments were scarce in Japan where he was stationed. He returned to civilian life after eight years, earned an associate degree, got married, and started raising a family.
In 1974 his real chess story began. He started playing in tournaments and became a US Chess Life Member. He returned to the Army as a Private First Class and quickly regained his rank of Staff Sergeant. He organized and directed tournaments in his Company’s training room. He became a role model and inspiration for chess-playing Soldiers throughout Germany. One of those Soldiers was a chief warrant officer with a knack for organization and communication with people of all backgrounds. The warrant officer was intrigued with the logic and simplicity of the Swiss pairing system. They talked and became friends. He encouraged the warrant officer to direct tournaments. That was like planting a seed that grew into a mighty oak. The warrant officer quickly progressed to National Tournament Director and FIDE Arbiter status. He volunteered wherever chess needed him. He became the President of two state chess associations. He served several years as US Chess Executive Director. Today he is Franc Guadalupe, the North American Interzonal FIDE President.
Our Player of the Month has dedicated a lifetime of planting seeds for chess. He designs the cover of King’s Korner, the ASPCC magazine dedicated primarily to veterans. He served in several of its officer positions. He is consistently ranked among the club’s top postal players. He taught chess for a time in Grapevine, Texas and developed creative courses and lesson plans to inspire new chess players. When he talks about those days, one group of ten adult students come to mind. Extremely confident, some might say a little cocky, they chose to skip his introductory course and advance immediately to the intermediate class. They even challenged him to a ten-board simul. He accepted. The result was a 10-0 sweep by their instructor. The lessons they learned from him were long lasting. They each progressed to become fine chess players, playing mostly in TCA Regions II and III.
He is an Honor Graduate of the US Army Academy of Health Sciences in Patient Administration (1982). He often served in positions of great responsibility above his rank and paygrade. At Camp Chaffee, Arkansas, he served with distinction as the Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge (NCOIC) of an entire field hospital, built from scratch, to accommodate the health needs of 50,000 Indochinese refugees from the Vietnam war. After the crisis ended and the refugees were resettled, he supervised the dismantling of the same hospital. His leadership and management ability proved essential for the successful accomplishment of the mission.
Upon leaving the Army, he earned a Doctor of Biblical Theology (ThB) degree from Frelandia Bible College and Seminary. He is a voracious reader with many interests. His home library consists of nearly 2,000 books on all subjects. 159 are his favorites; chess books meticulously organized on four shelves. The walls of his home are lined with memorabilia of chess and his Army days. In his study the American flag hangs on a window, strategically placed so it can be backlit by the morning sun.
Today he is retired. He continues planting seeds and inspiring chess playing veterans at the Fort Worth Veterans Chess Club. His eyes twinkle, and a mischievous smile appears whenever he says, “Checkmate.” For so many reasons, we at Texas Chess Association proudly salute Robert “Doc” Shearer as our October 2020 Player of the Month.