March 9, 2014 - Opelika, AL - The Opelika Classic will be a 4-round G/70 d5 event and two non-rated scholastic sections. Flyer & Entry Form
March 15-16, 2014 - Montevallo, AL - The Alabama State Scholastic Championships are Alabama's biggest tournament of the year. See below.
Who Will This Year's State Scholastic Champions Be?
Alabama State Scholastic Championships
January 6, 2014 - Montevallo, ALA - Each spring young players from across Alabama compete for trophies and honors of being among the state's best scholastic chess players. This year's competitions will take place on the beautiful University of Montevallo campus 35 miles south of Birmingham. Over 200 students are expected to take part.
Saturday, March 15: Individual Scholastic Championships
The grade groupings for this year's sections have changed slightly from the past. The top two sections have been changed to align with the grade ranges used in US Chess Federation national scholastic championships. The Open section is intended for high school students with the winner likely to represent Alabama in the prestigious Denker Tournament of High School Champions. The Jr. High section is intended for grades 7-8, though entry is open to highly rated younger competitors who wish to compete for the nomination to be the Alabama representative to the Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions. The Elementary grade group is changed from grades 4-5 to 4-6, but will include two sections: an Under 600 section for students who either have no rating or whose rating is less than 600, and a second section for students with ratings of 600 or greater. The Primary section remains the same as previous years (K-3).
Past individual champions have included:
|Open||?||Stephen W. Adams||Kelly Chen, Stephen W. Adams||Jeffrey Byrd||Jeffrey Byrd, Ryan Brown|
|Jr. High||?||Alexander Lay, Ethan Hugh Smith||LeeAngelo Groves, Jonathan Rasberry, Joshua Anders, J. Wesley Brown||Joshua Anders, Tyler J. Anthony||Dennis Dergunov|
|Middle School||?||Logan Mercer, Colin Jay Bamford, Samson Sands||Steve Mengxi Chen||Xhuowei Xu||Sydney Morris|
|Elementary||?||Arden Markin||Logan Mercer||Logan Mercer||Vikhram Balagee|
|Primary||?||James Hongjie Shi||Arden Markin||Samson Sands||Cheng Zhou|
Sunday, March 16, 2014: Team Championships
Most scholastic students play with either a school or club team. For most students and Alabama chess coaches, the State Scholastic Championship is the ultimate test of their teams' chess prowess. Separate prizes will be award for school teams and club team. The grade grouping for each section remains the same as prior years. Note that the team grade groupings are different that those for the individual competition.
Past team winners have included:
|Open||?||School: Huntsville High; Club: ChessKidsNation||School:Bayside Academy (tiebreak), Indian Springs; Club: ChessKidsNation||ChessKidsNation||Indian Springs School (Pelham)||Bob Jones High (Madison)|
|Jr. High||?||School: Huntsville Middle School; Club: ChessKidsNation||School: W.J. Christian; Club: CaesarChess||W.J. Christian (Birmingham)||ChessKids Nation||Christ the King School (Daphne)|
|Elementary||?||School: Vestavia Central, Randolph; Club: ChessKidsNation||School: Vestavia Central, Randolph; Club: ChessKidsNation||The Knight School||Huntsville Chess Club||Bayside Academy|
|Primary||?||School: Liberty Park; Club: ChessKidsNation||School: Vestavia East Elementary; Club: Magic City U||ChessKidsNation, The Knight School||ChessKidsNation||--|
Alabama Chess Growth Continued in 2013
January 6, 2014 - Despite a dropoff in in December, chess continued its strong growth trend of the past three years. Participation in rated tournaments in Alabama was up 21% over 2012. Since 2010 tournament participation has increased a whopping 78%. Anecdotal evidence suggests that non-rated scholastic play has grown even faster as more schools thoughout the state establish chess programs.
Scott Varagona Scores A Chess Grand Slam
Completes Sweep of All Four 2013 State Championships
December 7, 2013 - Montgomery - Scott Varagona won the Alabama Dual-rated Championship on Saturday. This marks the first time that one person has won all four state championship events in a single year. In March Scott took first in the state blitz championship tournament held in Madison (8.5/10). In May he took the state Quick Chess Championship in Tuscaloosa (4.0/5.0). In September at the Alabama State Chess Championship he scored 5.5/6.0 to become the official Alabama State Chess Champion for the fourth time in his career. Saturday's Dual-rated Championship victory completed the sweep. In all four competitions he won first place outright.
For those unfamiliar with the different times, the blitz chess championship is played with each player having five minutes on their clock. Such games effect only the players' blitz rating. The Quick Chess Championship has game times under 30 minutes; only the players' quick chess rating is effected. Dual-rated championship times are between 30 and 60 minutes and effect both the players' quick chess and regular ratings.
Dr. Varagona is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the University of Montevallo. He has been instrumental in arranging to have the 2014 Alabama Scholastic Chess Championship held there in March. He is a past editor of Antics.
Congratulations to a great and highly respected competitor for a remarkable accomplishment and a demonstration of great chess flexibility. Look for one of Scott's games from this tournament in the next issue of Antics magazine.
The reserve section of the Alabama Dual-rated Championship was won by Neil Dietsch (4.0/4.0). More about this tournament and the Huntsville Open.
Alabama Chess in Schools Pilot Planned
USCF and ACF Meet with AL Superintendent of Schools
January 28, 2014 - *** UPDATE *** The Alabama Chess in Schools 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.