Life Story for
Daniel Eric "Dan" Mayers
Chess champion Dan Mayers passed away at his home in Sun Valley on Thursday. He was 91.
Mayers (known locally as ‘Thunderbunny') grew up in New York City, raised by his father Lewis, a lawyer, and his mother May, a physician. Early in his life he devoted himself to chess, and won the New York City High School Championship in 1939.
In 1953 Mayers played against 9-year-old Bobby Fischer at the Brooklyn Chess Club, and won. It was the earliest recorded game of Fischer, who went on to become the world chess champion.
After graduation with a degree in geology from the University of Arizona in 1944, Mayers was drafted into the U.S. Army, and was assigned to work at the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos. While there he developed an interest in magic.
After studying at Harvard, Mayers set off on what would become a lifetime of traveling. During a business trip to Europe he met his wife Barbara, and they moved to Mexico where their first children Vanda and Randell were born.
In 1958 they moved to England, and it was here that Mayers embarked on creating a unique wilderness garden called Lorien, with a vast collection of azaleas and rhododendrons from around the world. Gayle and Darrel were born in Sussex.
Apart from chess, Dan had many other interests and passions. He was successful as a distributor of emeralds and amethysts from Africa. He was also an aficionado of the Japanese shakuhachi flute, and became the president of the International Shakuhachi Society.
After his wife Barbara had passed away he moved to spend his final years in Sun Valley, but continued playing chess to the end of his life. In 1996, he won the British Senior Championship, and in 2004, he won the U.S. Senior championship. Just days before he passed away he was competing in the North American Open at Bally's Casino and Resort in Las Vegas.
He is survived by his four children, Vanda Gerhart, Randell Mayers, Gayle Schumacher and Darrel Mayers, and ten grandchildren.
The funeral service will take place at 2 p.m. on Friday Jan. 10 at the Wood River Chapel. 403 N. Main Street, Hailey, Idaho.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Sierra Club or the Idaho Chess Association.