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National Chess Week Round-up: Part II Print E-mail
October 21, 2013
1 vs. 100 to Help 1000: A Simul in Bellevue, WA
by Breck Haining

On National Chess Day, October 12, 2013, in Bellevue, Washington, National Master Elliott Neff brought to life his idea: “one versus one hundred to help one thousand.”  Elliott played 96 challengers in a simultaneous exhibition to raise money for chess supplies at Huaheng Elementary, an inner city school in Nanning, China, which was featured in the December 2012 edition of Chess Life for Kids.  It is an extraordinary school with about 1,500 students, over a third from very poor families.  The school decided in 2005 to start teaching chess to all students as an experiment to help them improve academically and better prepare for the dynamic world they will be facing.  The results are favorable: Not only are grades improving, but students’ behavior is improving as well.  The means for teaching all these children, however, are quite limited.  The students are taught on miniature chess boards, because the school cannot afford tournament sized equipment.

Learning of the school’s objectives and hearing of their needs resonated with Elliott, who has devoted his life to teaching life skills to children through chess.  Those skills include “the value of perseverance through adversity and the priceless experience of achievement after putting in consistent effort.”  Elliott’s organization, Chess4Life, in addition to providing academic enrichment and teaching chess in dedicated centers, teaches chess at more than 100 schools in the greater Seattle area.  “By encouraging students in a positive manner, chess teaches sportsmanship, good decision making, patience, planning, and learning from mistakes.”

A special “thank-you” to Crossroads Bellevue mall in Bellevue, Washington which hosted the event. Additional thank-yous to Lori Davis who donated nearly 1/3 of the funds raised, and to Yogurtland (Bellevue and Redmond locations) which donated 10oz of frozen yogurt per participant, as well as the many participants and volunteers that donated in time and dollars.  Elliott was on his feet for 7 hours moving quickly from board to board versus the 96 competitors.  At the end Elliott’s score was 90 wins, 2 draws, and 4 losses.  After all that, was he tired?  Elliott said, “I was actually not too tired - though my neck was a bit sore from looking to my right for 7 hours! :)”  $1,577.10 was raised for the school!

Helping others by playing chess . . . now isn’t that a grand way to spend National Chess Day!  Thank to Elliott Neff for his hard work and to all those who supported this effort!

Veterans & Children Celebrate National Chess Day in Alabama
by Michael Ciamarra

Visitors and patients walking through the Birmingham Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC), in downtown Birmingham, Alabama were treated to an unusual sight on Saturday morning, October 12th.  A number of tables in symmetrical rows were set up displaying chess sets and seated were dozens of chess players quietly focusing on their game. The veterans had gathered to celebrate the VAMC First Annual National Chess Day.  

These players were local veterans who had served in the nation’s armed forces, or who are patients participating in one of the VA health care programs. They were young and old, low vision and disabled, men and women.  While they had served in different branches of the armed services – together, they were all united in their desire to play and support chess.  

National Chess Day is the perfect public relations opportunity for chess organizers and clubs to be highly visible playing chess in public places. Chess players can share with interested and curious spectators information on where to play, online chess sites, the US Chess Federation, answer questions about the rules, movements of the pieces and so forth.   With chess players already engaged in their games, chess  brochures as handouts, a demo board, extra sets to play on very prominently displayed, all contribute to a time-tested, solid, low cost way to attract interest in chess.

It was with that objective in mind that the Atrium (also known as the Garden Room) of the Birmingham VAMC was chosen as the site for the veterans National Chess Day event.  It is readily accessible to all. Foot traffic is steady throughout the day. Families, visitors, and personnel are coming and going. 
Watching their fellow veterans play chess drew lots of attention.  Complimentary copies of Chess Life, brochures about the US Chess Federation, and ‘how to play’ pamphlets were given out to all. 

The event was enthusiastically supported by the Birmingham VAMC administration. Michelle Davis, CTRS Recreation Therapist for the Southeastern Blind Rehab Center of the Birmingham VAMC, worked tirelessly to secure a location, networked with other departments within the VA and area veterans support groups.

“Chess brings lots of joy to these veterans. I know many of them who are in our rehab program look forward to their weekly chess playing and lessons. Today’s event was an opportunity for everyone just to fellowship, play chess and get to test their skills,” said Michelle Davis.  “I am very pleased with the feedback and we will plan another full scale event and tournament next year.”

 “Chess definitely helps me concentrate and it is a game that fascinates me so much,” said Ernest Fearce, retired Air Force, who is currently in the VAMC blind rehab program. “I may not always win but I sure learn a lot from every game I play,” he said with a smile.   “I will eventually have to use a tactile chess set, but for now I can ‘see’ the pieces and distinguish them. Your move,” Ernest whispered to another older veteran as they continued their game.

VAMC volunteers Robyn Murphy, David Cole and John Davis were on hand to assist elderly and blind players, help answer questions from some of the beginners, kept things moving, and played lots of chess themselves! Local veterans support groups provided coffee and cookies for the chess players. 

Your reporter opened the event with reading a proclamation from Alabama’s Governor Robert Bentley proclaiming October, 12th, as Chess Day in Alabama. 

 I then gave a short lecture before a large demo board using the famous king-hunt game, Edward Lasker v. George Thomas, London, 1912.  This short, easy to follow game always pleases a general audience.  Veterans who could not see the demo board very well had the game played over for them on their chess sets by a volunteer.

James Bush, a retired Army veteran who operates the VAMC information desk, played a number of games at the VAMC National Chess Day event, and is dedicated to helping veterans learn how to play chess.  “Imagine if every VAMC facility hosted a National Chess Day tournament? What a boost for chess that would be and I know the veterans around the nation would really appreciate the opportunity to play,” said Bush. 

I overheard one veteran excitedly explaining to another ideas behind the King’s Gambit.  “Now, that is something you just don’t hear every day around the VAMC,” said David Cole, chess player, veteran and one of the blind rehab volunteers. “After today, we are going to need lots of chess sets here!” 

Kids Helping Children’s Hospital
On another side of town at the Brookwood Village Mall, in Homewood, young chess players gathered to play in the annual National Chess Day Scholastic Chess Tournament sponsored by Children’s of Alabama, Books-A-Million, and Brookwood Village Mall.    The tournament was organized and directed by Caesar Lawrence, of Caesar Chess, LLC. 

“Shake hands and let’s play chess!” is Caesar Lawrence’s trademark way of beginning all his chess tournaments.  Hundreds of shoppers throughout the day pause to watch as the players are carefully navigating through the game and watching their clocks. 

Caesar handles it all with great ease and is glad to do this event to very visibly promote chess and to help a really important center for low income children’s health care.   

While a shopping mall is not conducive to a more formal event, this tournament was designed to maximize chess promotion and hit a home run! 

All proceeds collected from entry fees goes to the non-profit Children’s of Alabama hospital. Children’s of Alabama treats children with afflictions ranging from cystic fibrosis to cancer and no child is turned away. 

Samson Sands: 1st Place (K-12); Rahul Boddupalli: 1st Place (Middle K-8); Hudson Markin: 1st Place Elementary (K-4); and Issac Snow won first in the Novice section. 

After Caesar Lawrence finished handing the trophies out, several of the youngest scholastic players still wanted to play.  The ubiquitous ‘Scholastic Opening’ (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.OO OO) was blitzed out by these young players in no time. Their parents were patient and were willing to stay just a bit longer – after all it was National Chess Day!  Nor was it the first or last time that these chess parents heard, “Just one more game, please! Just one more!”

Michael Ciamarra, lives in Trussville, Alabama, is a FIDE certified Chess Instructor and US Chess Federation certified advanced coach. He writes for al.com and teaches chess to blind and low vision, disabled, and TBI veterans and is involved in research on chess as an intervention to ward off Alzheimer’s.

Northern California 
by Ted Castro 

NorCal House Of Chess decided to celebrate the national chess day with a party at Laser Tagging with a special challenge “Kids vs. Coaches”. After an epic battle of laser tagging, the kids embarrassed the coaches.  Everybody had a blast! After laser tagging the kids enjoyed pizza, played chess, foosball, air Hockey, and few even tried the laser maze. NHC Coaches who participated in this fun event: IM De Guzman, NM Hayk Manvelyan, Ted Castro and Tigran Darbinyan.

NorCal House Of Chess has produced several top players who have made it into the Top 100 Nationwide List including State Champions, National Champions, Silver/Gold Medalists in North American Chess Championship, Silver/Gold medalists in World Youth Chess Championship & Pan American Youth, not to mention National/FIDE Masters! This year, NHC Coaches won the US National Amateur Championships.

Memphis, Tennessee 
by Arlene Kleiman 

National Chess Day 2013 was honored when Shelby County Chess teamed up with the University of Memphis over this special weekend.  Players of all ages and skill-levels (Kindergarten to FIDE-rated) reveled in the festive atmosphere and fun competition.  Saturday’s Scholastic players enjoyed face painting, cake, and door prizes (bags of cotton candy & popcorn).  

The young players' chess games were uncompromising as several games concluded with only Kings or insufficient material to win left on the board.  Maybe it was the sugar in the red, white, & blue cake frosting, but the players just refused to let up on their play.  The two- day Open section players enjoyed not only the cake, festivities, and strong chess play but also the guaranteed and sweet prize fund.  And that is how the best of Memphis players celebrated National Chess Day.

Atlanta, Georgia
by Frank Johnson 
Atlanta celebrated National Chess Day in style with the 1st Annual Woodruff Park Rapid Open. Grandmaster Alonso Zapata played a 10 person simul before the event kicked off. His score was 9-1. He was upset by Atlanta Scholastic prodigy Devin Nash who caught GM Zapata hanging his queen. 

Devin Nash went on to come in 2nd in the Rapid Open. GM Zapata did not have enough chess and also participated in the 3-day Georgia Open. His final score in this event was 4.5 out of 5 giving him 1st place on tie break.

Eighty players registered in advance for the free event in the park. The event was hosted by Georgia Chess Association, Chess-Coach.net and Woodruff Park.

Tucson, Arizona

It was an action packed National Chess Day for 9 Queens and Bookmans Entertainment Exchange in Tucson. Chess mastermind Matt Noble headed off our simul while guests learned chess moves at our passport table, enjoyed face-painting, and played on our lawn chess board!

9 Queens also hosted a tournament at the Murphy-Wilmot Branch Library. Thanks everyone for making this day a success!

Find more photos on the 9 Queens facebook page.  

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The Hales Corners Challenge XVIII was held on Saturday, October 12, 2013. 66 people in two sections participated in this popular semi-annual event.  The open Section was won by NM Ben Smail with a perfect 4-0 record.  The key encounter occurred in Round 3 when Ben, the #2 seed met #1 seed FM Alex Betaneli and won with the Black pieces (see photo).  He went on to win his final round game as well. Xavier Loomer won the Reserve Section with a perfect 4-0 record.  

Noteworthy was the participation of 12 female chess players, a substantial 18% participation rate.  This event traditionally attracts many female chess players.  A large part of that is because of the generous support of Jan Newton's Goddesschess organization.

Rapid City, South Dakota
The SDCA (South Dakota Chess Association) held their annual championship at LaQuinta Inn & Suites over the weekend of October 12th & 13th.   Seventeen year old Jerry John Casteel III of Rapid City won the SDCA Championship with a perfect score.  Jerry won all 5 games during the contest that drew 20 participants from around the state.  Jerry won the Junior Championship in 2007 but this is his first win of the annual chess tournament that is open to South Dakota residents of all ages.  

Jerry attained his USCF (United States Chess Federation) Chess Coach Certification in July 2013 and has been a USCF Tournament Director since 2012.  Jerry is the head coach at several elementary and middle schools in Rapid City and can be found on-line playing atchess.com under the handle JCTEAM10.
SDCA has records of South Dakota Chess Champions dating back to 1922 on the website: www.sdchess.org. The tournament was directed by Watertown resident Terry Dean Likens, ANTD and assisted by Jill Way Likens.  

One noticeable tread this year was a spike in female participants with 25% of the field.

Jerry won the SD Scholastic Championship in the past and was the state representative for South Dakota at the Denker Tournament of High School Champions for 2012 and 2013. Jerry has played in over 13 tournaments rated by the US Chess Federation in 2013. Some of these tournaments include the National Open Championship in Las Vegas, NV in June and the 115th Annual US Open in Madison, WI during August. His most recent rated tournament was the Colorado Open in Denver where his chess rating surpassed 1900 in September. Jerry plans on attending the American Open Chess Tournament over Thanksgiving holiday in Los Angeles, CA.

Springfield, MO 
By Martin Stahl
We had 16 players at the Springfield National Chess Day Open (15 plus the TD as a house player). We even had chess piece shaped cookies.

Edil Karabiev swept the field with a perfect 4.0. He was closely followed by James Long, Robert Talbot and Chris Talbot at 3.0.

In the U1400 group, Robert Briggs and Andrew Schauer tied for 1st/2nd with 2.0 points. Find the USCF Crosstables on MSA and photos from the day on facebook. 

Orlando, Florida 

There was a National Chess Day event held in Orlando at the Hialeah Gardens Middle School. Find a full gallery of photos from the day by Evelyne DaSilva on the Florida Scholastic Chess League’s facebook page.