First-round action gets under way at the 2016 Alabama State Chess Championship.

Featured Events

  • October 29, 2016 - Huntsville - The Halloween Classic features four rated sections and a non-rated section for novices. Flyer
  • November 5, 2016 - Birmingham - The Bob Rieves Memorial Chess Tournament will be held at Samford University. There will be six rated and 4 non-rated sections. [Flyer link available soon]
  • November 12, 2016 - Birmingham - The Dancing Knights Scholastic IX takes place at the UAB Business and Engineering Complex. It features two rated and two non-rated sections. Flyer
For more tournaments, see the ACF Calendar

New ACF Board of Directors Elected

October 10, 2016 - ACF welcomes three new officers to its Executive Board. The new positions are the result of elections at the ACF Membership meeting and a subsequent meeting of the new Executive Board on October 9 to fill vacant offices. Officers and members of the new Executive Board are:

  • President: Neil Dietsch
  • Vice-President: Charles A. Smith
  • Secretary, Director of Public Relations: Michael Ciamarra
  • Treasurer: Paul Nager
  • Education Vice-President: Nancy Johnson
  • Scholastic Vice-President: William Nash

In other positions Gerald Larson was elected as the state's US Chess Federation delegate. Scott Varagona continues as Antics Editor. Jonathan Rasberry is ACF's Membership Administrator. Neil Dietsch continues to fill the roles of webmaster and content manager.

The Education Vice-President is a new office created in response to the growing importance of the Alabama Chess in Schools program, the office will focus on oversight of scholastic chess programs, coordination of chess education programs across the state. The Scholastic VP is responsible for the organization of ACF-sponsored scholastic individual and team events. The intent to split these duties was originally announced at the annual ACF membership meeting.

Paul Nager was originally elected Secretary at the annual ACF Membership meeting, but the position of Treasurer was left vacant. At the October 9 meeting of the new ACF Executive Board, Paul was elected to fill the vacant Treasurer position. He resigned as Secretary. Michael Ciamarra was then elected by the Board to fill the Secretary position.

In Passing: Bob Rieves

September 5, 2016 (updated 9/25/2016) - Birmingham - It was been reported at the state championship that Bob Rieves, a long-time supporter of chess in the Birmingham area, died earlier this year. Bob was active in the ACF for many years and a friend to many of us. He cared deeply about the ACF and its mission.

ACF Secretary Balagee Govindan remembers him as a mentor and driving force behind his own involvement with the ACF and Chess Kids Nation. Chess Kids Nation will be sponsoring a November 5 tournament in Bob's honor. He will be missed.

Alabama Chess in Schools (ACIS)

Sponsorships & Donations

September 16, 2016 - The Alabama Chess Federation (ACF) has recently received a total of $4,500 in sponsorships and donations in support of the ACIS Initiative.

The Alabama Association of Resource Conservation and Development Councils, Inc. has provided a sponsorship of $2,500 for the Alabama Chess in Schools Initiative. Chess Kids Nation has donated $1,000. We have also received on two $1,000 donations from individuals. These follow a donation last year from Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama for $2,500. These donations have made it possible for ACF to launch a new chess in schools service organization to serve the expanding ACIS program. [See story below.]

Chess in Schools LLC

September 16, 2016 - At the September 4 annual ACF Membership meeting, ACF announced the formation of Chess in Schools LLC (CIS LLC) to provide chess in schools services. CIS LLC is currently in operation providing services such as teacher training, consulting (from persons with a blend of chess and education credentials), curriculum licenses, and support to schools participating in ACIS. This involves approximately 9 school districts, 27 schools, and over 2,700 students, up from 1,500 last year.

In addition to the ACIS growth, there have been changes to the ACIS business model. Operational control of most ACIS services has passed from the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) to ACF. ACIS funding for 2016 controlled by ALSDE was allocated via grants to the ACIS school districts.

CIS LLC in turn offers each district a reasonably priced ACIS service & support package. The start-up company is managed largely on a volunteer basis by ACF President Neil Dietsch and Chess in Schools Liaison and Operations Manager, Nancy Johnson. ACF Treasurer Bradley Denton fills the role of chief financial officer. Services are provided by paid independent contractors trained in the ACIS principles and methods for blending chess and education. CIS LLC reports to the ACF Executive Board.

Chess News by Michael Ciamarra

Alabama State Championship Results

Open Section: Bill Melvin is the 2016 Alabama State Chess Champion.

September 8, 2016 - Huntsville - Between 1990 and 2001 Melvin was the top active player in the state, claiming the state championship title seven times, making him the current record holder for most Alabama state championships. At this year's event, fifteen years after his last state championship, Bill extended his record to eight, winning clear first with a score of 5.5/6.

The final round drama featured Melvin defeating six-time champion Scott Varagona. Mathew Puckett finished second.

Reserve Section: Why is Krishin Yerabolu Smiling?

There was drama in the reserve section as well as Krishin Yerabolu ranked 28th in a field of 30, took first place with a score of 5.0/6.0 to become this year's Reserve champion. Krishin's rating rises an astounding 324 points in one tournament!

More State Championship Coverage

The Madison City Chess League provided a great facility and coverage of the state championship. Check out their report and photos as well as Michael Ciamarra's detailed coverage of the event.

Championship Series

This is the first year that ACF has awarded a prize for overall points scored in the open section of the state championship series: blitz, quick, dual, and regular time. ACF Vice President Charles Smith reports:

I am very pleased to announce the winner of the Championship Series prize is Scott Varagona. Scott a deserving and dedicated Master chess player led the series all the way taking clear first place ahead of Jonathan Rasberry and Stephen Adams his closest competitors. Adams who was only two points behind Scott before the Alabama State Chess Championship declined to play and went to the Auburn game instead. His is attending Auburn so who could blame him. That left only Raspberry with a chance to catch Scott. However it was not to be and Scott finished way ahead of the field to claim the beautiful chess set from the House of Staunton and a magnificent hand-made board. Next year we hope to have prizes for the lower sections also.
Thank you to all Alabama chess players on behalf of the Alabama Chess Federation for playing in our tournaments and we are hoping that more players on every level participate as much as you can to make Alabama a more vibrant chess community. Congratulations to Scott Varagona, again a true champion!!

Chess Antics by Scott Varagona

August 14, 2016 - The Summer Antics magazine features three games from some of Alabama's top players.

National Scholastic Championship Tournaments

August 4, 2016 - Rochelle Wu won the Ursula Foster Award as the top finisher under age 13 at the National Girls Tournament of Championships. She tied for 3rd place overall (6th place on tiebreaker).

Arden Markin tied for 7th in the Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions.

In a side event, Sijing Wu scored a perfect 5.0 / 5.0 in the US Open Weekend Swiss, taking down a master and two expert-level players.

Alabama Dual-Rated State Chess Championship

July 25, 2016 - Montgomery, AL - 36 players from Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Florida competed in the 2016 Alabama Dual-rated State Chess Championship on July 23 at Evangel Church in Montgomery, AL. The tournament was four rounds at a time control of 45 minutes + 10 seconds increment per move. The Dual-Rated Championship was directed by Doug Strout at Evangel for the fifth consecutive year.

The open section was won by Jonathan Rasberry (trophy winner as Champion) and Scott Varagona. The victory is Scott's third at the Dual (2013, 2014, 2016). Since Scott has finished first in all three championships so far in 2016 (Quick, Blitz, Dual), the possibility of another "Scott slam" (2013) will be in play at the State Championship in Huntsville over Labor Day weekend. The victory is Jonathan's first in the Dual-Rated Open section, but he did win the title in the U1600 section of the Dual in 2012.

The U1800 championship was won by newcomer Tejas Thorat, a half-point ahead of co-runnersup Christian Friedman and Mohak Agrawalla. Mohak and Christian finished first and second, respectively, in the Reserve section of the 2016 Quick championship. The U1200 championship was won by Kristian Jordan, and Joseph Jacob Hayes of Florida tied for first place in the U1200.

Alabama Chess in Schools Prepares for 2nd Year Expansion

July 15, 2016 - Montgomery, AL - In late June 45 teachers took part in training offered by the Alabama Chess in Schools (ACIS) Initiative. Teachers preparing for their first year of teaching chess received four days of training. Returning chess teachers took two days of classes.

The teaching is intended to prepare teacher to teach chess in the classroom in the coming school year. ACIS teacher training is a mix of chess training and teaching methods for integrating chess into the teaching of core educational material. Teachers also learn about the latest internet-base chess training curricula and are introduced to the ACIS support network provided by the Alabama Chess Federation and the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE).

National Chess Education Consultant Jerry Nash led the training with a team that included an array of volunteers from the chess and education communities: Neil Dietsch (chess coach, ACF president), Nancy Johnson (former ALSDE lead and current ACF Chess in Schools Liaison), Caesar Lawrence (chess coach & tournament organizer), Pat & Steve Schneider (principals of Championship Chess out of Atlanta), and Charles A. Smith (National Chess Coach and ACF VP). Andy Meadows and Michele Matin participated as ALSDE representatives.

Returning ACIS veteran teachers Telura Hamilton (Montevallo Intermediate School), Christina Purdy (pictured right, Huguley Elementary), and Brenda Scott (W.O Parmer K-2) were on hand to provide tips to teachers about teaching chess in the classroom for the first time. More

Alabama Chess Championship Results

Quick Chess

June 30, 2016 - Birmingham - Scott Varagona continued his dominance in Alabama chess tournaments winning his 4th Alabama Quick Chess Championship in the past five years. Stephen W. Adams, who has two Quick Chess Championship titles during that period (he and Scott were co-champions in 2012) finished in second place this year in a tie with Sijing Wu. 55 players played in the Quick Championship.

Blitz Chess

June 30, 2016 - Birmingham - Stephen W. Adams shared the top spot in the blitz chess championship with Scott Varagona. This is Stephen's 3rd consecutive state blitz championship. 28 players played in this year's competition.

Rapid Growth of Alabama Chess Continues in 2015

# of Players in Alabama Rated EventsJanuary 16, 2016 - Rated chess play in Alabama grew by 12% in 2015. North Alabama, South Alabama, and Montgomery had significant gains to offset a decline in the Birmingham area, which has been the hub of past growth.