Bernard Parham

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Bernard Parham
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Born(1946-10-00)October , 1946
Indianapolis, United States
CitizenshipUnited States of America
  • Chess player
  • Chess teacher

Bernard Parham (born 1946) is an American chess player and chess teacher of long standing. Parham is one of the few chess players to have a chess opening named after him, the eponymous Parham Attack. Parham is the only master level player to play the Parham Attack consistently, as White, throughout his career. Parham earned the National master title, awarded by the United States Chess Federation (USCF), in 1992.[1] Although the opening violates the often-quoted rule in chess not to develop the Queen early in the opening, Parham argues that the Parham Attack is based on sound strategic principles and, in that, is similar to the Hypermodern Openings of Richard Réti, which, though derided on their introduction, are now part of the mainstream of chess. In 2005, US Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura played the Parham attack against Indian GM Krishnan Sasikiran, in a tournament in Copenhagen/Malmö, Denmark. Nakamura obtained a promising position in the opening, though he eventually lost the game due to an inaccuracy.[2] Leonard Barden, British chess master and former British Chess Champion, wrote in his chess column in The Guardian that, if Nakamura continued to play the Parham Attack, there could be a “big rethink”, regarding early Queen development.[3]

Early life

Bernard Parham was born in October, 1946 to Afro-American parents Eddie Parham, a WWII veteran and Kathleen Parham, a nurse, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Bernard, one of five siblings, was introduced to chess by an uncle. Young Bernard played chess regularly at the local YMCA. Chess hustlers, who played speed chess for money in local parks, made a lasting impression on young Bernard. He noted that the most successful speed players tended to develop their queen early.

Parham attended Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis and met his future wife Lugenia Parham there. While attending Purdue University as a physics student, Bernard became Indiana State Chess Champion in 1967, about the time his first child, Lugenia (Little Genie) was born. Bernard held numerous jobs to support his chess activities and to provide for his young family. At various times, he worked at a factory in Lafayette, Indiana. After the birth of his son, Bernard Junior, he worked as a fireman, a Sheriff deputy and as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).

Chess career

In the 1970s Bernard was an active chess player in local tournaments in Indiana and Illinois and often prevailed in quick weekend tournaments. In 1967, Parham became the twenty-sixth Indiana State Chess Champion since 1942.[4] He also attracted a large number of young chess students, many being the offspring of Purdue University professors.

In the 1970s Parham opened a Chess Studio in West Lafayette, Indiana, which morphed into Chess Academy Parham in the 1980s. Chess Academy Parham also hosted Indianapolis chess tournaments, such as, the 2002 Challenge Preliminaries.[5] The application of Parham's Matrix System is described on the media site, 'Intake Weekly', where reference is made to Bernard Parham having once defeated Bobby Fischer.[6]

In fact, Bernard Parham's defeat of twenty-one-year-old Bobby Fischer occurred in a simultaneous exhibition in New Orleans, Louisiana. Bernard, who was registered for the simultaneous by his uncle, Fenner Parham, played Black.[7]

Parham also invested into promoting women's chess and had numerous adult and junior female chess students. His most successful female student, Judy Rippeth of Indiana was invited to play in the 1974 US Women's Chess Championship. She finished tenth, with a score of 3/11.[8]

Parham's participation and promotion of chess also extended to International venues. One of his illustrative games, a Parham Attack originates from the 1982 Indianapolis Scarborough (CAN) Peace Games:[9]


  1. US Chess Member Services. "'Bernard Parham'". US Chess Federation=. Retrieved 2022-01-12.
  2. Chess Opening explorer & Database. "'Nakamura-Sasikiran'". Retrieved 2022-01-10.
  3. Leonard Barden (2005-04-30). "'Barden on Chess'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2022-01-13.
  4. ISCA (2021-05-09). "'Indiana State Championship'". Indiana State Chess Association. Retrieved 2022-01-17.
  5. Jay Carr (2002). "'2002 Challenge Championship Cycle provides Thrills, "Controversy" & A New Champion!'". Chess in Indiana. XV (May)): 4–9.
  6. Jim Walker (2007-02-15). "'A check I can't cash'". Intake Weekly. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 2022-01-17.
  7. Chess games Services LLC (1964-04-26). "'Robert James Fischer vs Fenner Parham'". Retrieved 2022-01-19.
  8. batgirl. "'American Woman - Part VI'". Retrieved 2022-01-10.
  9. "'Bernard Parham'". Retrieved 2022-01-09.

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