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  • Tom Boyd

Statham Legacy

Lone Pine International was a series of chess tournaments held annually from 1971 through 1981 in Lone Pine, California. Sponsored by Louis D. Statham (1907–1983), millionaire engineer and inventor of medical instruments. The tournaments were formally titled the Louis D. Statham Masters.

Lone Pine, population 2,035 in the 2010 census, was not on anyone’s map before the chess tournaments or since. It is five hours from Reno NV and four hours from Los Angeles Airport. The chess tournament was a major event and had large cash prizes which attracted many grandmasters from all over the world. Mr. Statham was such a chess fan that he built and donated to Lone Pine a conference hall to house the tournament.

The Lone Pine International chess tournament was the premier event during the years it was held. The chess world was saddened at his death and that his wife and daughter had no interest in continuing his legacy tournament.

Louis Statham’s inventions ranged from instruments to measure strain and pressure in oil exploration to devices used to keep the country’s space shots on course. For medical use, he developed a blood-flow meter, patient monitoring systems and catheter instruments that are placed in the heart.

His inventions made him and his family rich and I think that his inventions are a more lasting legacy than his chess tournament could have been.

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