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Chess Benefit for Autism Held in Cold Spring Harbor Lab Print E-mail
By Caroline Sagalchik   
January 29, 2013
Many scientists choose to get married under this archway overlooking Cold Spring Harbor topped by a copper molecule model. It's like their version of a Chupah!
The 3rd annual Chess Benefit at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), supported by NMS Management with assistance from LI Chess Mates founder and head-coach, Grandmaster Gennady Sagalchik, took place on Sunday, January 13th at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, NY. The event was held to bring awareness to autism and raise money for research. In a fantastic venue overlooking the harbor, forty-seven participants from the Long Island and NYC region tested their chess skills on the same grounds upon which world-class scientists test biological processes.

The day was filled with both chess and science for players, parents, and volunteers. Graduate students at the Watson Institute for Biological Sciences Colleen Carlston presented an overview of CSHL and her research-work at the Lab. Upon request she readily gave a tour of the beautiful grounds, home to eight Nobel laureates who discovered everything from “jumping genes” to the double helix structure of DNA, memorialized in various structures around the institution, including an actual winding staircase in what's known as the ATCG tower for the four molecules of DNA that are also the labels of the four walls of the tower.

Some kids gave their parents' the chess bug
The tournament consisted of five sections, two Non-rated, U1100, U1600, and Open, directed by one of the most active scholastic TD's, Shaun Smith. Additionally, an informal blitz tournament was held for parents who caught the chess bug and CSHL scientists. The success of the event would not have been possible without numerous dedicated volunteers.

Dr. Michael Ronemus
In attendance was luminary scientist Dr. Michael Wigler, who led a team of research investigators to the discovery of a “unified theory” of autism's genetic causation. Guest-speaker Dr. Michael Ronemus, a CSHL research investigator on this team, gave a fascinating lecture on the history of autism research and his personal work sequencing the human genome, leaving us with the questions that have yet to be answered in the field, for example, Why is autism so much more likely to be found in males than females?
IM Justin Sarkar giving a simul
International Master Justin Sarkar, and the highest rated Long Island junior, Alexander Fabbri both attended. IM Sarkar, a graduate of Columbia University who had previously given a talk on chess and autism, gave a simul to the top 4 players and came away undefeated, with 3 wins and a draw with Alex Pakh.

Awards were presented to the top finishers by CEO of NMS Management, Nancy Szigethy, who said, “The tournament was an inspiring event...Everything about the experience – the tournament itself, the facilities and presentations, were impressive.”
CEO of NMS Management, Nancy Szigethy (third from left in back row), said, “The tournament was an inspiring event."

The 1st place winners of the five sections were Aidan Visconti with a perfect score in K-2 Non-rated, Victor Lu and Luke Perciballi in 3-12 Non-rated, Alexandra Purdy in U1100, Oliver Liu with a perfect score in U1600, and Taner Ture in Open. And Max Izmaylov was the winner of the blitz tournament who got to make his daughter proud. All in all, money was raised for a great cause and everyone left feeling happier and more knowledgeable.