National Chess Day: From Orlando to Des Moines
October 16, 2012
Andrew (left) and Erik Karklins, Photo Betsy Dynako from December 2010 Chess Life 

Organizers from Des Moines to Palm Beach hosted tournaments or festivals to celebrate National Chess Day, which also coincided with a big Grand Prix tournament, the Midwest Class. Take a look at our first round of dispatches and look for a second installment later this week. National Chess Day goes back to 1976 and Gerald R. Ford's proclamation.

Wheeling, IL (Chicago Area)
GMs Yury Shulman and Nikola Mitkov each won $1,248 when they tied for first with 4 points in the 20th Annual Midwest Class Championships October 12-14th, but Shulman edged out Mitkov on tiebreaks for the title of 2012 Midwest Class Champion, along with the additional $83 First Place Bonus Prize.

 GMs Dmitry Gurevich and Mesgen Amanov were held to a 3-way split of the 3rd and 4th place prizes, along with FM Carl Boor. They each won $222. The fourth player to tally 3½ points, NM Alexander Velikanov, brought home the $666 Under 2300 prize instead.  Five GMs in the 25-player Master Section spotlighted the field of 228 entries, including 3 re-entries.
But the highlight of the weekend once again belongs to Erik Karklins, who is looking forwarding to celebrating his 98th birthday this coming March. Erik turned a lot of heads by winning the Expert Class of the 2008 Midwest Class Championship at the tender age of 93. Four years later he outdoes himself again with his third-place finish in the same section, becoming one of the oldest players to win a prize in a Continental Chess tournament.
Most of the seasoned veterans of the Expert Section are already wary of playing someone half their age. But now they also have to worry about losing to someone twice their age as well!
Find full USCF rated crosstables here.

Des Moines
by Hank Anzis

IMG_2229.jpgWest Des Moines, Iowa celebrated National Chess day with free morning and afternoon family chess tournaments that attracted 51 players (many who played chess all day!). St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School donated the playing site and Central Iowa Chess Inc. donated the commemorative National Chess Day medals, trophies, and rating expenses.
Unrated Tournament prize winners

The rated youth tournaments were won by Augustus Glazier in the morning and Jasper Shogren-Knaak in the afternoon with perfect scores. The unrated youth tournaments were slugfests that left no player undefeated. Drake Starr, Steffen Osborn, Will Ryan, and Jay Chevuru won the morning session while Danny Oberender and brothers Adam and Andrew Ehler claimed the afternoon championships.

Parents & Friends tournament prize winners in West Des Moines

Christine Denison and Mark Brown swept the morning and afternoon Parents and Friends section, respectively.

Renaissance Knights in Chicago

By Jorge Barrera

Photo Shiela Heiser
In celebration of National Chess Day, over 200 students from 68 Chicago area schools participating in a very special chess tournament sponsored by Renaissance Knights Chess Foundation, Rickover Naval Academy (Chicago, IL), and Alderman Harry Osterman of Chicago’s 48th ward.  Many of these students had never taken part in a USCF Rated chess competition, so they were given a one day USCF membership in order to be able to participate and become rated players.
Before being able to play, however, each student had to contribute to the entry fee which, in this case, was quite special. Instead of money, each player had to bring in a non perishable food item. The food was collected from all the players and later it was donated to the Greater Chicago Food Depository in order to help those in need.  In this way, the students and the community alike were able to benefit from the event.

Photo Shiela Heiser
In the end though, some tough chess games were fought with students clearly battling on the board.  The tournament was divided into five sections (K-2, K-4, K-6, K-8 and high school), and after five rounds of chess, the winners were decided.  With a perfect score in the top section, Giorgi VanDerway took the highest honor.  In the lower sections, the winners Akash Mattu, Jeremy Margonlin, and James Zhang, had perfect scores, while Alex Yasumoto with 4.5/5 was the winner on tie-breaks for his section.  The students came representing 68 schools, and it was Argo High School that brought home the largest trophy when they edged out Walter Payton High School with just half a point more.  

Congratulations to all and see you next year.

Photo Shiela Heiser

Find crosstables here. (pdf)


By Harvey Lerman
Yilmer Guzman
The 1st annual Orlando Autumn Open and National Day Scholastic was held at the International Palms Resort on International Drive, in the heart of Orlando's tourist area. 107 players entered for a part of the $7,000 prize fund and for two special awards: two SeaWorld tickets ($180 value) to the top player, and a $50 gift certificate for all-you-can-eat lobster at Boston Lobster Feast for the player winning the largest upset.

This Grand Prix event was played over the National Chess Day weekend, October 12th to 14th and was organized by Harvey Lerman of the Central Florida Chess Club (CFCC). Steven Vigil, in training to take over after Lerman decides to retire, was the Chief TD.

 Top winner of the tournament was Yilmer Guzman, who admits to spending more time the past 18 months studying chess. And he has made steady progress, winning Class A in the 2011 Space Coast Open to regain his Expert rating; winning the Under 2100 section of the 2012 Southern Open; raising his rating to over 2100 in the Florida State Championship last month; and now winning the Orlando Autumn Open's Premier prize as his rating approaches 2200. He called the following win over John Ludwig his best:


CFCC tries to have a scholastic section in their major events that is run under the same time controls as the other sections and with money prizes beside a few trophies, as a transition for them to the "Adult" sections. This event was no exception and Christian Harris won this section giving him $188 and a trophy.
Christian Harris

Palm Beach
by John Dockery

The Weiss School celebrated by hosting its Fifth Annual Rated Scholastic Chess Tournament on Saturday, October 6, 2012. The Tournament was organized and directed by John Dockery, President and Tournament Director of Palm Beach Gardens Chess Club.
There were a total of 73 children participating in the tournament as well as several schools competing for Team Trophies. In honor of NATIONAL CHESS DAY, Mr. Dockery had 100 trophies available to the winners (top ten individual trophies and top ten team trophies in 5 Divisions).

All Other Participants Received A Commemorative Medal.
Several schools participated and top honors went to Elbridge Gale Elementary, Equestrian Trails Elementary , Palm Beach Public School, Ransom Everglades School, Suncoast High School, The Weiss School and Boca Raton High School.
Everyone had a great time including the parents. Thanks to the Head of School Dr. Denise Spirou and special thanks to Mrs. Ellyn Zarek and Bradley Zarek for all their help. Everything was very well organized and the children and the parents enjoyed the event.
Our next Scholastic Tournament will be held at The Weiss School on Saturday, October 12, 2013 located at 4176 Burns Road, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 33410. For more information please call the President and Tournament Director John Dockery at (561) 762-3377 or visit our website at

Look for more dispatches on National Chess Day later this week and share your own experiences with CLO editor at [email protected] or connect via twitter & facebook.