Kenneth Harkness


U.S. Chess

Hall of Fame

Inducted 1997








Originally from Glasgow, Scotland, Kenneth Harkness was central to the administration of U.S. chess for more than a third of a century, serving as business manager of the U.S. Chess Federation through much of the 1950s, and as an editor of Chess Review, the precursor to Chess Life. He created the U.S. rating system that bears his name, which was later adopted by FIDE and used in international competition until 1970. He also contributed significantly to the development of the Swiss system of pairings and rules of play, including a tiebreaking method that is also named for him. Later in his career, he was active within FIDE, and was awarded the title of International Arbiter in 1972. He also served as a member of the Permanent Rules Commission.

With Irving Chernev, he authored An Invitation to Chess in 1945, as well several rulebooks. His Official Blue Book and Encyclopedia of Chess and subsequent Official Chess Handbook and Official Chess Rulebook were considered bibles for a generation of chess players, organizers, and tournament directors. Harkness, who made his American home in Boca Raton, Florida, was dedicated to the game until the end of his life; he passed away on a train to Yugoslavia, where he was on his way to serve as an arbiter at the 1972 Chess Olympiad in Skopje.