by Tom Brownscombe
I met Michael A. Thomas in 1982 at the Laurel Colonial Chess Corner in Laurel, Maryland. At that time I was just a teenager discovering the world of organized chess, and Mike was one of the club's officers. I joined the club soon after, and I also joined one of the club's DC Chess League teams. Mike was the club's director of teams, and one of his responsibilities was finding a team captain for each of the club's teams. In 1984 Mike asked me if I would serve as team captain for one of the club's teams, and I said yes. Mike eventually became one of my closest friends. We spent many evenings and Sundays together with friends, eating pizza, watching the Washington Redskins (they were a good team back in those days) and playing a wide variety of games. Mike was a board game enthusiast. He enjoyed any board game that involved strategy and long term planning.
In 2000 I moved to New York to take a job as USCF Scholastic Director, and I started to lose contact with my friends in Maryland. But of course Mike's involvement with chess continued. According to the USCF member services area (www.uschess.org/msa), Mike played in 166 USCF rated tournaments. The actual number is quite a bit more than that, since the MSA records only go back to 1991. Mike played his final chess game two weeks ago. It was, not surprisingly, a DC Chess League game.
On Thursday, November 10, 2011, Mike Thomas was admitted to the hospital with a pulmonary embolism. He seemed to be recovering. But, unfortunately, he passed away on the morning of Saturday, November 12.
The chess community has suffered a loss. Mike Thomas served as an officer of the Laurel Colonial Chess Corner, the Good Hope Chess Club, and the Long Branch Chess Club for many years. He helped to keep these clubs going and always made sure that the clubs were well represented in the DC Chess League. He encouraged people to play chess, and he devoted his time and efforts to ensure that there would be opportunities for league play. The chess community needs more people like Mike Thomas. His passing leaves a void in our community. I hope that others will step up to fill that void.
I would like to thank Elias Mallis for his contribution to this article.