A Tribute to Dr. Tony Palmer

by the West Michigan Chess Community

Posted by the HollandChess.Com Facebook Page

From Hollandchess.com Facebook Page

It is with heartfelt sorrow, that we have to announce the passing of our beloved Coach Dr. Tony, who passed away on Saturday August 22, 2020, in St. Joseph, Michigan. He touched a lot of young and old chess players through his love of chess. Funeral arrangements will be posted this week.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time.

Coach Mark

A Tribute from Michael Brooks

I was saddened by the news of Dr. Tony Palmer’s death. I knew of him better than I knew him personally. But that didn’t limit me from understanding the impact he has had on this community. I was able to attend a few tournaments he was playing at and enjoy some conversations together. I was able to see his skill and tenacity over-the-board in those events. But even better, I was able to see him at his yearly Holland Junior Open. This is where I saw just a glimpse of the impact he had on the West Michigan Chess Community.

The best way to get to know Dr. Palmer was when he was in his element at the Holland Chess Scholastic Program. This and his different individual efforts for players involved in the program is where Dr. Palmer’s incredible impact truly shown through. You could tell everyone respected him and enjoyed him immensely. He was dedicated to Holland Chess and to making it the premiere scholastic program in the region. For years, that dedication and vision was a reality.

In my conversations with Dr. Palmer and in my conversations with others regarding him I always heard about how helpful, polite, kind, and consistent he was. Holland Chess and Dr. Palmer were synonymous with each other. I did not know him well personally but truly felt–that in my years since becoming part of the West Michigan Chess community–that Dr. Palmer was a man of great reputation and held in high regard.

He will be truly missed by our community because of his impact on people. That is what truly makes a difference in this world and Dr. Palmer centered his impact on kids from West Michigan. Dr. Palmer’s impact goes beyond chess and for that we are truly thankful.”

A Tribute from FM Joshua Posthuma

Today I received the heartbreaking news that my childhood chess coach, Tony Palmer, has passed away.

I would not be where I am today without Tony’s tremendous generosity and support. For years, he would meet with me every single week to teach me about chess. We would play two games every week, and with him being a chess expert, he would beat me every single game. But from every crushing defeat, I learned a little bit more about how to play chess like Tony. After years of learning and practicing with him, I finally beat him in a game. I don’t know that any other win I’ve had could compare with the joy I felt in that moment.

Tony also drove over an hour every Saturday morning, even through the treacherous Michigan Winters, to teach chess to dozens of kids at the Holland Chess Academy. He helped transform Holland Chess from a casual club for beginners, to the strongest scholastic chess program in West Michigan.

Tony did all this work for the chess community never asking for anything in return. He taught me and the Holland Chess Academy for all these years at no charge, simply out of the goodness of his heart. For the countless hours he invested into me and the other students at Holland Chess, I am forever grateful.

Now, as the Michigan State Champion and a chess coach myself, I can only hope to selflessly pour into future generations the same way Tony did for me. Rest in peace Tony Palmer. The tremendous impact you’ve had on my life and the lives of so many others will never be forgotten.

A Tribute from Dr. Tim McGrew

I learned just this morning that my friend Tony Palmer has passed away.

I knew Tony through our mutual love of chess. For many years now he has coached some of the strongest Michigan juniors, including current Michigan champion Joshua Posthuma, often driving hours from his home in the southwest corner of the state just to give a weekly lesson or put in hours of coaching. He transformed the Holland Chess Academy from a minor club into a powerhouse that fielded some of the strongest scholastic teams in Michigan, bringing home numerous trophies.

Tony was a USCF Expert, a regular participant at Michigan tournaments, and a frequent contributor to state chess magazines. His opening preparation was particularly deep and thorough, and he would sometimes co-author articles with his students in which they would untangle the mysteries of a particular variation and lay them all out very cleanly. I recall watching some of his games and seeing all of that preparation pay off as his opponents would try some quirky sideline only to find that Tony had analyzed it all and could reel off a whole string of theoretical moves leading to a solid plus — and generally a solid win.

Two of my daughters crossed swords with Tony in tournament play. Win or lose, Tony was a consummate gentleman, always ready for a postmortem analysis session, never gloating in victory or making excuses in defeat. He had a dry and sometimes wry sense of humor which he was as ready to apply to himself as to others. But what I remember most from those sessions was his gentleness.

Tony Palmer was a strong player, a gifted teacher, and a generous friend to everyone who was fortunate enough to know him. May he rest in peace.

Notable Accomplishments:

These accomplishments do not define the person that Dr. Palmer was but show his ability and talents on the board. The first accomplishment mentioned is the one most of us will remember him for despite strong local accomplishments.

  • Led the Holland Chess Academy for many years and designed a program uniquely geared toward serious and excelling students. Many talented students came out of this program. Star student FM Joshua Posthuma was mentored and taught by Dr. Palmer through that program.
  • Tied for 2nd Overall in the 2009 Michigan Open, Top Section
  • Tied for 3rd Overall in the 2016 Michigan Open, Top Section
  • Winner of Calvin Memorial Day Tournament, 2017
  • Tied for 2nd Overall at the 2018 Grand Rapids Spring Classic
  • Tied for 3rd in the 2018 Michigan Master/Expert and Class Championship
  • 2018 Spencer St. Chess Club Blitz Champion
  • 2018 West Michigan Champion
  • Tied for 3rd in the 2018 Michigan Open

2 thoughts on “A Tribute to Dr. Tony Palmer

  1. Dr. Tony Palmer was our very first chess coach and he nurtured our dawning interest in chess into a lifelong passion. Tony’s ability to explain the complex game of chess to young kids impressed us at the time and still amazes us today. For over five years, Tony dedicated his time, rain or shine, to coach us and help us improve. Through his tutelage, we learned more about the game of chess than we could have imagined when we first asked him to coach us. While Tony provided immeasurable help with improving our chess game, he also managed to teach us valuable lessons off the chess board. Through his example, we learned to treat every player and every game the same, to examine every game and learn its lesson win or lose, and to offer the opportunity to review every game. His humility and sportsmanship, as well as his willingness to lend a helping hand, often times preceded him in the chess community and will be carried on in his legacy.
    Peter and Michael Chen


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