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Alabama Dual-Rated Championships

July 26, 2014 - Montgomery - Scott Varagona, renewed his 2013 title as Alabama's Dual-rated Champion with a score of 3.5/4.0, ahead of a group of players tied for second with 2.5 that included Rex Blalock, Stephen James Graveling, Jonathan Rasberry, and Kevin Wang. In the Under 1800 section William Sherrill, Jayashree Sekar, and Jerome Flowers tied for first with 3.0/4.0. Joseph Jacob Hayes won the U1200 section.

The tournament featured an innovation in Alabama chess championship tournaments: incremental time control. Incremental time control, the standard used in FIDE international play, differs from "delay" time control which is most common in the US. For example, under 5-second delay time control, a chess clock delays 5-seconds before a move before starting to decrement a player time. In these dual-rated matches, games were played with a base time allowance of 45 minutes per player with a 10 second increment added after each move.

Featured Tournaments

August 9, 2014 - Montgomery, AL - The Chris Bond Memorial Chess Tournament features an open section as well as a rated scholastic section for players with ratings below 1200. There is also an unrated scholastic section for novices. Flyer

August 23, 2014 - Birmingham - The Alabama Power Company is hosting Back-2-School Scholastic Chess Tournament. It will have two rated sections and an unrated section for novices. The tournament is free, but you must register in advance. Pizza and snacks will be provided by the sponsor for lunch. Flyer

Click here for more tournaments (including those of non-ACF affiliates) and the complete Tournament Calendar

Chess in Schools

Alabama Department of Education Establishes Steering Committee for Chess in Schools Initiative

June 14, 2014 *** Update ***

  • After taking a first dive into detailed planning, the target for implementation of initial pilot site programs will be the start of the 2015-2016 school year.
  • A first meeting of the steering committee is scheduled for June 23. Copies of the USCF/ACF's Alabama Chess in Schools Initiative proposal has been sent to steering committee members as background.
  • Some school districts are taking the lead. In this two minute video Birmingham City Schools Superintendent Craig Witherspoon promotes chess in schools: Birmingham Chess Initiative. It features students from W.J. Christian K-8 School. Charles Smith of Magic City Chess U is their chess coach and a steering committee member.
  • USCF Members: show your appreciation for USCF co-author Jerry Nash and his work on Alabama's Chess in Schools Initiative by writing his name and USCF number (12406202) in on your USCF ballot for its Board of Directors!

May 22, 2014 - Birmingham - In a May 22 meeting with USCF and ACF representatives, Dr. Tommy Bice, Alabama Superintendent of Education, announced the Alabama Department of Education is forming a steering committee of educators, students, parents, and chess community representatives to implement pilot chess in schools programs in several school districts across the state. This move comes in response to a proposal prepared by representatives of the US Chess Federation and Alabama Chess Federation in 2013.

The program will be led by Nancy Johnson, Gifted Education Specialist for the Alabama State Department of Education. She has already started work to form the steering committee and schedule meetings. An initial meeting between Ms. Johnson and the proposal's authors (Jerry Nash, Michael Ciarmarra, and Neil Dietsch) is scheduled for May 29. Dr. Bice hopes to see district planning and professional development for teachers taking place in the fall. If everything falls into place, the pilot implementations could take place as early as January, 2015.

Read more about the ideas behind the state Chess in Schools Initiative in the story at the bottom of this page.

Alabama Chess in Schools Initiative

USCF and ACF Meet with AL Superintendent of Schools

January 28, 2014 - *** UPDATE *** The Alabama Chess in Schools Initiative proposal was prepared and submitted to the Department of Education on October 1, 2013. The Alabama Superintendent of Schools has indicated that he wishes to personally lead this initiative when his schedule allows. Given the nature of the Chess in Schools Initiative, ACF views this is a positive development. Dr, Bice's involvement as well as his judgment regarding the appropriate timing for a Chess in Schools pilot is crititical to its success.

September 14, 2013 - The state Board of Education hopes to prepare a chess in schools pilot program for the 2014-2015 school year. In August USCF and ACF representatives met with Alabama Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Tommy Bice. Dr. Bice reported that he found the evidence for the benefits of chess compelling and wished to take the next step forward: a chess in schools pilot program. To do this Michael Ciamarra (al.com Chess columnist and ACF member), Jerry Nash (USCF Director of Scholastic Research), and Neil Dietsch (ACF President) will lay out a recommended approach, suggest pilot locations, and provide educators with an inventory of chess community resouces available in the pilot areas. Balagee Govindan and Frank Chamaratta, Jr. also took part in the meeting.

The pilot approach will include professional development for teachers to learn how chess contributes to children's learning, how it supports specific educational performance goals, and how it can be worked into daily lesson plans. They will receive basic instruction in chess from someone with teaching credentials. This approach is critical to gain the trust, support, and enthusiam of teachers. The reason a teacher-driven approach is considered best-practice for a broad-based program is that the highest priority goal is to develop learning skills in many children, not necessarily to fill trophy cases, though some schools in the pilot may choose to pursue that as a secondary goal by bringing in outside chess coaches.

While the pilot is intended to be educator-driven, the Alabama chess community will provide optional support and services that most schools are not equipped to provide themselves, including leading after-school programs, organizing school chess tournaments, assisting teachers who may be less than confident in their chess understanding initially, and perhaps offering follow-up technical training to teachers. A few organizations may bring various scalable, technology-based chess teaching options involving DVD and Internet-based instruction; The Knight School and ChessKidsNation are two examples.

The ACF is reaching out to Alabama Chess coaches to compile a chess resource inventory of coaches and chess organizations (for-profit and not-for-profit) that it will include in its report to Dr. Bice in late October. If you are a chess coach (or considering becoming one) and would like to be a part of this exciting initiative, get on the ACF's chess coach mail distribution. If you have not already received an email from the ACF president, contact president@alabamachess.com and request to be added. Dr. Bice has specifically asked the ACF to recommend locations for pilots where there are available chess community resources to help make the pilot successful. This shows that the he is serious about seeking chess community involvement. The response the ACF gets from you will have a bearing on where we recommend pilots be held.