United States—Inducted 1995
While he never attained higher than an expert rating as a player, Edmund Edmondson was a master organizer and promoter of chess on a national scale. After joining the Air Force during World War II, Edmondson made his career in the military and for the next two decades used his influence to promote chess in the communities where he was stationed. During his later years with the Air Force, Fred Cramer, then-president of the U.S. Chess Federation, noticed Edmondson’s talents and recruited him for the organization. He was appointed national vice president from 1961 to 1963 and was then elected president in 1963. After his term of office expired in 1966—and following his retirement from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel that same year—he was appointed the USCF’s first executive director, a position he held until 1975.
During his time with the USCF, Edmondson was a key architect of the modern organization. Combining extraordinary vision with tireless energy, he created new national tournaments, a mail-order operation, a vibrant postal chess wing, a national chess magazine, and a professional staff, increasing membership from 9,000 to a peak of 50,000. He is perhaps best remembered as the navigator on Fischer’s precarious journey to the world title, when he asked Pal Benko to resign his spot in the 1970 Interzonal. He would serve as Fischer’s manager in that competition, as well as during the 1971 Candidates Tournament.