Tournament

U.S. Chess Center students recently played in the World Amateur Team Chess Championship in New Jersey

Two teams associated with the U.S. Chess Center played in the World Amateur Team Chess Championship in New Jersey over the weekend, and both returned with impressive awards. The Spring Hill Elementary team was the top elementary school team, and our team from the Theophilus Thompson Club was the top team with an average rating of under 1900. Congratulations to our students!

The World Amateur Team Championship, which was the US Amateur Team Championship when I was competing, was one of my two favorite tournaments (along with the U.S. Open) each year. Instead of scoring wins and losses as individuals, scores are based on the team results. Each team is four players, and they line up against the four players of another team. If a team scores more than two points (one point per win, a half-point for a draw) they score a win. With two points, a team draws that match.

Teams often decide on clever names, and the tournament offers special prizes for creative names. My favorite came from a group of women from the DC area about forty years ago. They dressed in nuns’ habits and called themselves Our Lady of Perpetual Check.

The team format relieves a lot of the pressure ordinarily experienced in chess tournaments, making the event more relaxed and fun. As a player in a team competition, if I lost my game but the team won, I could be happy. If I won my game and the team lost, I could still be satisfied that I did the best I could for the team. If I won and the team won, that was best of all. When I lost and the team also lost, we could accept that our team was out-matched and we would move on to the next round. In short, the result of each game and match was tempered and every round was a fun experience.

Both the Spring Hill Elementary and the Theophilus Thompson teams consisted of players who had experience in big tournaments, so being in a ballroom with more than 1,000 players was not daunting. The teenagers went 4.5/6; the elementary team scored 3.5 points in the six rounds.

“Cassia Rewards Those Who Endure Her Wrath” – Riley Dosh blogs from The Tyson’s Corner Action Tournament

I have always loved Pinball. A girlfriend in high school had many renovated Pinball machines in her basement which I would play for hours on end (the Terminator-themed one was the best). I would also play the Microsoft Pinball program, which introduced me to the concept of tilt. Tilting, or slam tilting, is when a player too aggressively handles the machine. This immediately ends the round or the game, and is generally considered bad sportsmanship. The term carried through to poker, and later chess. A player becomes tilted when they become too angry or upset to properly play the game. This results in more blunders, more loses, and more tilt. 

In my last tournament, I was tilted. I had quickly racked up two wins, which earned me the chance to play a National Master for the first time in a rated game. I played into a completely winning position, against someone rated over 800 points higher than me, before one bad move caused the whole position to go up in flames. I couldn’t focus, my eyes blurred, and thinking logically became impossible. The following two games are not even worth talking about. 

That was the losing streak I was on before the DMV Chess’s The Tysons Corner Action tournament. About a year ago, I won the U1500 section, so I felt confident enough to play in the Open Section, despite qualifying for both. 

Round 1
True to my principles, I didn’t check my opponent’s rating before the round. I had a strong start, catching my opponent off balance and creating a dense pawn majority in the center. However, more tension on the board means more complications, and I didn’t notice my Achilles heel until it was too late. He found it first, and my center evaporated. Only down a pawn, I already felt like I had lost – a prophecy which is always fulfilled. An [obviously] unsound tactic lost my knight and I was forced to concede a few dozen moves later. My 4th straight loss. 

Round 2
I was buoyed by the fact that my previous opponent was rated 1900, so I wasn’t likely to have won anyways. I rallied for another game. I didn’t want to play anything too fancy, just get out some solid development and play some chess. Instead, I was met by a prepared line whose 2nd move was already a novelty to me (1. e4 e6 2. b3!?). Unlike my opponent, I didn’t know what was coming. It was a crushing defeat, which might’ve been even faster if my opponent was looking for tactics. My 5th straight loss.

I sulked back to the skittles room and sat in my chair. I wanted to quit. Chess was a dumb game, and I clearly wasn’t any good at it. My losing streak was mirroring my recent online losing streak; no end in sight. Maybe today just wasn’t my day. I was ready to withdraw and go home early. But I didn’t. I wallowed in self pity, while continuing my doodle. I hadn’t even bothered to take my ear plugs out, preferring the silence. The pizza box near me made my stomach rumble, but I just kept on doodling. Die another day.

Round 3
For the only time of the tournament, I was facing a kid. I had the bad luck of seeing his much higher rating, but I didn’t let it faze me. He played what I’m told is a London, which is silly because that’s a city. But, like all London players, he preferred his memorized development, and didn’t give much thought to locking out his dark square bishop, or my queen on b6. I sacrificed development to get him out of his comfort zone, causing him to eat up a lot of time. After every move he’d jump up and wander around the room, waiting for this stupid 1400 to discover she’d been beat. 

But I hadn’t been beat. If I had just lost two games, so had he, and he was clearly more tilted about it than me. Experience has taught me to never underestimate your opponent, no matter her rating.  He long neglected the critical push in the center, and allowed me to untangle myself. Soon enough, his passive pieces ran out of options, and more importantly, his clock ran low. I allowed him to panic into a mistake. To his credit, he played out the endgame, surviving on only seconds and his delay. He took the loss well, and my losing streak was broken. 

Round 4
This round started at 8 pm, which meant I wasn’t getting home until almost 11 pm. My opponent played fast, so I did too. He opted for an unusual line, which allowed me a central passed pawn in exchange for a 2v1 majority on the queenside. If he wanted to quickly trade down into that endgame, fine by me. He let me blockade his pawns, which freed my rook from pawn duty to attack his king. I sacrificed Abby (my A pawn) for a rook on the 7th. The coup de grace came a few moves later, when my opponent, with still ⅔ of his time on the clock, blundered a mate in 1. It was the same mating pattern that I blundered (but wasn’t punished for) during a simultaneous game at White Oaks Elementary this past week. I not only finished with a respectable 2.0/4, but also clinched my highest rated win yet. 

Losing hurts. There’s no other way to put it. Some losses hurt worse than others, and some still sting to this day. But every lose is another’s win, and Caïssa blesses those who can endure her ire. The only way to win is to lose. So, I won’t be quitting chess today, and you’ll see me in my next blogpost.

Results from the first Bishops+Beers Blitz Tournament, Nov 7th

Nearly every Tuesday over the past year, the U.S. Chess Center has hosted Bishops and Beers at Silver Branch Brewery, an evening event for our grown-up clientele to gather in downtown Silver Spring for some good food, good company, good potations and good chess.

The first week this month, we added a competitive element, with the first Bishops + Beers Blitz Tournament kicking off at 6:30 p.m. on November 7. Our instructor Riley Dosh was on hand to make up the pairings, tally the results, and generally help facilitate the fun.

The tournament was well-attended with 16 total players, and the excitement also hooked in a few spectators. Don McLean (pictured below, right) won convincingly with 7.5/9, Christian (pictured middle) came in second place with 6/9, and Jason (pictured left) came in third, losing on tiebreaks to Christian.

Given the general success of the tournament, we’re looking into running more blitz events at future Bishops & Beers outings. If you haven’t come to downtown Silver Spring on Tuesday night (and you’re at least 21), come join the fun!

Spend National Chess Weekend (Oct 13-14) in Lanham, MD and meet Robert Katende

On Friday, October 13, you have a chance to meet Robert Katende and support Sports Outreach. On Saturday, October 14, the Washington Education Zone (Miles Hall at 8401 Good Luck Road in Lanham) will host its annual free chess tournament and a simultaneous exhibition by Mr. Katende.

Phiona Mutesi (seated left in the photo below) is one of the most inspiring stories to come from the chess world. As an under-nourished child in a slum of Uganda, Phiona discovered chess and became a champion of the African continent. Her story was written in The Queen of Katwe, then turned into a successful Disney movie.

We never would have heard of Phiona, however, had Robert Katende not created a chess program that welcomed her. Katende’s story, while not as well known, is equally inspiring. He also was brought up in difficult circumstances by his grandmother in Uganda. Through hard work and perseverance, he went to college, played soccer at a high level, and created a charity to help impoverished young people in his home country.

On National Chess Day this year, you have a chance to meet him and hear him speak.

Lessons and Memories From the 51st World Open

The 51st Annual World Open of Chess just concluded in Philadelphia. It was my first tournament in several months, and I looked forward to taking one of the top places in my section. It was, in a word: humbling. As chess players, we expect to study and see improvements in the form of wins and higher game accuracy. As an instructor, I felt I was in a good position to crush opponents at the rating that I’ve held flat for 2 years. Instead, I found that Caïssa comes for all of us. Of my 14 classical games, only 2 entered what could be called an endgame. Four ended because of significant blunders: 2 were mine, 2 were my opponents’—4 more than I had hoped, but I’ll take the wins with the losses.

I finished 2.5/5 in the women’s tournament (winning the U1400 prize), and 5/9 in the World Open. A supremely average result, in my opinion. I performed poorly in the blitz side tournament but did well in the rapid one. Both were extremely fun aspects of tournaments that I had never experienced before, but that I will seek out every chance I can. I learned some things about chess, and about myself. But what will stay with me forever is not Rxe6 in Game 9 (well maybe that too) but the time I spent with friends.

At the previous tournament that I competed in, the Eastern Open last December, I met a friend who has become my primary training partner. We’re evenly matched, but play very differently, which proves useful. Every Friday we’d meet to play a long time control game and analyze afterwards. At the tournament, we shared a hotel room and excitedly called each other after our games. When we got back to the room together after the round, we’d go through each other’s games and explain our reasoning to each other like sinners in a confessional. I met other new friends as well and exchanged numbers.

 

Chess can’t be learned in isolation, as so many are inclined to do these days. Meeting other people, with wildly different backgrounds and philosophies, adds diversity to our understanding of the royal game. Some of them have bad ideas, some ingenious, and some ideas have questionable merit but are fun to explore. What I do know is, I’ll be back.

Chess in the Park Closes Season With Another Big Crowd

The sun shone, the birds chirped, and 73 students came to Eastern Market Metro Park to play chess in the park. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (pictured below) greeted the players and their families at its conclusion, handing out a dozen trophies to winning individuals and teams and 16 medallions to those who won more games than they lost.

Today marked the final of three events sponsored by Barracks Row Main Street, which also hosts free chess play every Friday evening. It was an exciting day for the players. 41 different schools from across the District of Columbia, Maryland and northern Virginia were represented.  Washington Latin Public Charter School won the championship team trophy for the third consecutive tournament, and School Within School brought home the second place team award, edging out Brent Elementary and EW Stokes Public Charter.

We plan to continue these Chess in the Park events in the 2023-2024 school year.  Be sure to subscribe to our emails to learn about future tournaments and other events/programs.

Great day of Chess at DC Public Library’s Battle of the Branches

On Saturday, June 10th, the DC Public Library System held it’s first “Battle of the Branches” chess tournament at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.  The Chess Center’s own, Ms. Riley Dosh, served as Tournament Director and students from our Friends of Cleveland Park Library Chess Club were among the 57 competitors (of which 26 were children and 31 were adults).  Chess players were divided into two leagues by self-declaration – a Beginner League with 16 players and an Intermediate League with 41 players.  

Congratulations to Richard Wu (10 years old), representing MLK Library, who won the Beginner League with an undefeated 7 of 7 wins!  Meanwhile, Jesse Webb took second place and Elbert deGuzman, representing Bellevue Library, was third.

The Intermediate League was won by Jarock Davis, representing Cleveland Park Library (one of our students!).  Larry Jefferson, representing Benning Road Library, took second place; Nathan Pho, representing Southwest Library, was third; and Richard Aiken, representing Tenley-Friendship Neighborhood Library, took fourth place.

In the “Battle of the Branches” overall competition where the scores of the top three players from each branch were compared, Benning Road Library emerged victorious with 13 of their 17 games won.

DCPL Battle of the Branches 2023-06-10

Thank you to Dubian Ade, Carol Auerbach, and the rest of the DCPL staff and librarians for organizing the tournament.  Thank you to NM David Bennett for assisting Ms. Dosh in running the tournament, and thank you to Robin Ramson of ChessGirlsDC, for providing chess sets and other logistical support.

Congratulations to all the winners and players!

Another great day of Chess in the Park on May 20th

Our second drop-in tournament this spring at Eastern Market Metro was held under blue skies this past Saturday, May 20.  Staged in cooperation with Barracks Row Main Street and the DC Department of Parks and Recreation, this event had over 40 students showing up to play over the two and a half hours.  The players ranged from grades 2 to 8, and from experienced USCF tournament players to first-timers.  

On June 24 we will hold a third and final Chess in the Park Tournament at Eastern Market Metro Plaza with the same format and again we will present awards to the top players, including top girl and top DC school (so encourage others from your school to register and play).  Pre-Register online for June 24 at: https://chessctr.org/play/easternmarketmetro/

Chess in the Park Kicks Off 2023 Season at Eastern Market Metro

Despite the gray skies and raw temperatures, 37 students representing 28 schools (14 of them in DC) came to play in the first of three Chess in the Park events the U.S. Chess Center is organizing at Eastern Market Metro Park. Working in collaboration with Barracks Row Main Street and the DC Parks and Recreation Department, we were happy to welcome children in grades 2-8 to a friendly competition.

For some players, this was their first tournament. Others were experienced players, arriving with national ratings. The event is held using an informal method in which players are matched with others as soon as they finish each game. Keeping waiting time between games to a minimum means that some people played only two games while others played as many as eight. This makes it more fun for everyone.

Former ANC Commissioner Brian Ready not only provided a welcoming atmosphere for the event, at the end he provided half-price coupons for chess players and their families to come to Smoke & Mirrors, a magic show at Miracle Theatre on May 25.

DC Councilmember Charles Allen, himself a chess player, came to distribute trophies and medals to those who won more games than they lost. Mr. Allen has been a great supporter of activities at the park, located in his ward.

Washington Latin won the team championship trophy, with Brent Elementary winning the second place team trophy.

We will help with similar events at the same location on May 20 and June 24.

Upcoming Chess Tournaments This Month

Spring is turning into summer but the chess calendar is active year-round. 
 
After everyone had such a good time last June at the free Chess in the Park event at Eastern Market Metro, which drew students from all around the District of Columbia, Maryland and Northern Virginia, we will be hosting an additional three tournaments at the same location this year in partnership with the DC Department of Parks and Recreation.  The first such tournament takes place this coming Saturday, April 29.  Any student in grades 2 through 8 may sign up to participate.  
 
No membership in any organization is required to play, but students do need to be familiar with all of the rules of chess, including castling, stalemate, and the touch-move rule.  We also strongly encourage participants to sign up online in advance to secure their space.  We have additional tournaments at Eastern Market Metro scheduled for May 20 and June 24.
 
On May 21, Chess Girls DC will be staging a USCF-rated all-girls’ tournament at the headquarters of the Institute for Educational Leadership in northwest Washington.  The tournament is open to all women and girls, not just those residing in the District of Columbia, and there will be separate sections for children and adults.  All players must be, or become, members of the U.S. Chess Federation in order to take part.  (NOTE: This tournament has been rescheduled from its originally slated date of May 6 to Sunday, the 21st.)
 
Finally, two weekends from now is the National K-6 Championship, to be held in Baltimore from May 12-14.  It has been many years since the last time a national championship was held in the greater Washington area and we hope that lots of students from our schools decide to go to this year’s competition.  Regardless of how many games they win, playing in such a strong tournament is an experience they will remember fondly for the rest of their lives.  No formal qualification other than membership in the USCF is required to play.

U.S. Chess Center Students and Alumni at the Eastern Open

The 47th Annual Eastern Open wrapped up Thursday evening with a record-breaking turn-out. More than 400 players came to this year’s iteration, held at the Hyatt Regency in Arlington, VA.  The competition included a number of innovative additions (Mixed Doubles and Senior prizes, in addition to a rated blitz tournament) to the traditional 8-round main event.

Among the competitors were dozens of students of the U.S. Chess Center, including players from the Theophilus Thompson Club, and Kent Gardens, Spring Hill, Colvin Run, and Churchill Road Elementary Schools.

It was also wonderful seeing graduates of our classes and camps, including students returning from college and post-college adults. We saw players as young as six years old and another (a grandpa of one of our summer campers) at age 82.

Photos from the Tournament at Burroughs Elementary

This week, the second and third grade students at Burroughs Educational Campus in Northeast DC had what has become an annual Pawn Game tournament.

The students played well, had a wonderful time, and demonstrated the spirit that will serve them well when they start to play full chess in 2023. We hope to have both classes playing chess at a level that we can take some of the students to the National Elementary School Championships in Baltimore in May.

Five students (three from second grade and two from third grade) won all of their games. Most important, they used excellent sportsmanship and worked hard throughout the hour we had the tournament.

Record Turnout at K-12 Championships at National Harbor

2,463 students turned up to this past weekend’s National K-12 Grade Championships, held at National Harbor, MD for the first time ever.  The field size shattered the previous record of approximately 1,700 students from five years ago.  Students showed up from all over the country to compete for the national championships in their respective grade levels.

We had hoped for strong local representation, and were not disappointed as large contingents of students turned up from the District of Columbia, Maryland and Northern Virginia.  Spring Hill Elementary (pictured below) took home the 5th place trophy in the 6th grade section, as well as the 8th place trophy in the 3rd grade section.  Students at our clubs at Spring Hill, White Oaks and the Theophilus Thompson Club also won individual medals.

Win or lose, it’s always an incredible experience for kids to play an event with thousands of other young people who possess the same love for chess.

A full list of results is available on the website of the U.S. Chess Federation, here.

Jennifer Yu Wins U.S. Women’s Chess Championship

The 2022 U.S. Chess Championships have concluded in St. Louis.  A day after Fabiano Caruana won the open section of the championship, U.S. Chess Center honorary co-chair Jennifer Yu won the women’s championship for the second time, following on from her win in 2019.   Congratulations to both the winners!

Jennifer Yu’s victory in particular is a testament to one of the most fundamental values we espouse at the U.S. Chess Center: the value of not giving up.  Going into the late stages of the tournament, Jennifer led her closest opponent, eight-time U.S. Women’s Champion Irina Krush, before losing their individual matchup in Round 12 to fall half a point behind her in the standings.  Undeterred by the loss of that game, Jennifer battled back to win in Round 13 whereas Irina could only draw.  This forged a tie for first place and ensured that the championship title would be settled the following day with tiebreak games at a faster time control.

Jennifer Yu, U.S. Women's Chess Champion, pictured in September 2018 giving a simul at the U.S. Chess Center.
Krush-Yu 2022 Black to move 9....

Diagrammed here is a position during the opening of the decisive game of that tiebreak match, with both competitors knowing that the winner of this game would be the new champion.  Jennifer, as Black, made an uncharacteristically big error with 9…Bg4, hanging the bishop, which Irina quickly took on the next move with 10. Qxg4.  In tournament games, it’s sadly common for players to resign after making a mistake like this. Facing the prospect of playing on down a piece against a player as strong as Irina Krush, perhaps to some players it would seem less unpleasant to just give up.  But Jennifer chose to play on and keep trying her hardest, and what happened later on is a testament to the merits of doing exactly that.

 
Krush-Yu 2022 Black to move 22...

The players eventually reached the position in the second diagram on the left.  Irina, still ahead by a piece, had just taken Black’s knight, 22. Nxd6.  But instead of recapturing right away, Jennifer combined an in-between move (zwischenzug) with a discovered attack: 22…Bxh2+ 23. Kxh2 Qxd6+ 24. Kh1 Rxe2 25. Rxe2.  After the tactics, Black ended up with a queen and pawn in exchange for White’s two bishops and rook – still a material advantage for White, but a position with the kings exposed like this tends to create tactical chances for the side with the queen, and Irina felt compelled to use a lot of time on the clock. 

White’s time ultimately ran out after the 47th move, giving Jennifer the win in the game and the championship.  The lesson to our students, as always – don’t quit, because until the two players shake hands to end the game, no outcome is guaranteed.

Some thoughts on the recent tragedy during the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis

If a chess player is caught cheating, every notable accomplishment that follows is viewed with suspicion. The recent controversy during Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis serves as a reminder to our students that nothing good comes from dishonesty. If Hans Niemann had never been caught cheating before, his win over Magnus Carlsen would have been seen as a magnificent performance, perhaps a once-in-a lifetime accomplishment. That he has admitted cheating repeatedly in his young life, however, has caused this result to be viewed more skeptically.

Many prominent figures in the chess world have weighed in on the likelihood or lack thereof that Niemann broke any rules during the game in question.  This much is certain: in the third round of the annual elite Sinquefield Cup round-robin event, Niemann, the lowest-rated player in the tournament, defeated Carlsen, the long-time World Champion and highest-rated player.  The day after the loss, Carlsen withdrew from the tournament, the first time in his career he has pulled out in the middle of an elite event.  Carlsen’s only public explanation for the withdrawal was an enigmatic Twitter post that was viewed by many as a possible allegation that Niemann had received some form of outside assistance in the game the day before.

At the present moment, any evidence of foul play during that game is subjective and inconclusive.  What has truly amplified the contention is Niemann’s self-confessed history of cheating in online games, some as recently as three years ago.

Our experience shows that most people enjoy playing with strong players but nobody likes playing without confidence that the game will be played fairly. If players don’t follow the same rules, the game is no fun. Trash-talking diminishes the competition, as distracting or annoying an opponent is not supposed to be part of chess. Trying to get away with a touch-move violation, taking a move back, moving an opponent’s piece, or using a computer during a game, all are things that might tempt a player, but players of character resist those thoughts.

There is no game, and there is no tournament, so important that it is worth damaging your reputation or honor. Once either is lost it can take a long and miserable time to get it back.

Planning Ahead for the Nationals

Playing in big competitions is a rewarding experience for students no matter what the result.  Over the course of the next year, the greater Washington area will play host to three major national youth tournaments; this December the 2022 National K-12 Grade Championships will be held at National Harbor, followed in the spring by the National High School Championships in downtown Washington and the National Elementary (K-6) Championship at the Baltimore Convention Center.

The best way to prepare for a big tournament is to practice under the same conditions that the tournament games will follow, and this past Wednesday, over 20 of our students got together to do exactly that.  Based on the diligent efforts of theirs that we’ve observed so far, we are confident when the Nationals come to town that the local area will be represented well.

Photos From Our Friday Tournament at Churchill Road

We concluded our first week of summer camps with a tournament, during which the students had the opportunity to show off the skills they learned this week.

A champion is crowned.

We have no doubt that the students will put their knowledge to good use in other tournaments and in their school clubs when they resume in the fall.

This was our first in-person chess camp since 2019 and the students and teachers were very happy to get back into our summer routine.  There’s still time to sign up to join us at one of our later camps at the end of July or in August.
 

Chess in the Park Comes to Eastern Market Metro

40 students showed up to Eastern Market Metro Park last Saturday, June 4 for the latest event in our series of casual drop-in tournaments.  We had a wide range of experience levels represented – some of the students were already seasoned tournament players while others were taking part in their first chess competition.

As always, it was nice to see new friendships being formed over games of chess.  We hope participating in events like these helps provide the experience and confidence the students can carry with them into other competitions.

Photos From the E.L. Haynes Junior Open

Approximately 20 elementary, middle and high school students came out this past Saturday, May 21, to play in the E.L. Haynes Junior Open.  The tournament was another successful collaboration among the U.S. Chess Center, Chess Girls DC, and E.L. Haynes Public Charter School, who hosted the event on their campus in northwest Washington.

Congratulations to Our National Elementary School Championship Participants

More often than not, when students travel to compete in strong tournaments like the state and national championships, it makes for a fantastic experience.  It’s exciting when the kids bring home trophies, and it’s also exciting when they bring back things they’ve learned from competing that they can then share with the other students in their school clubs.

At the recent National Elementary School Championships, held May 13-15 in Columbus, our students at Spring Hill got to do both.  In all, ten Spring Hill students traveled to Ohio to play, and the school finished 6th in the K-5 Championship section, while also winning trophies in the K-3 U-900 section (17th place overall), and the K-3 U-700 section (9th place overall). 

Below, Principal Eck accepts the three trophies the school brought back from Ohio after last week’s tournament.  

When the Elementary School Nationals come to Baltimore in 2023, we hope to see even more of our students come out to represent the local region.

A full list of results from the 2022 tournament is available at USCF’s website at  http://www.uschess.org/msa/XtblMain.php?202205151282.

Chess in the Park at Eastern Market Metro on June 4

Chess In The Park continues the first Saturday in June with a free outdoor tournament at Eastern Market Metro Park, staged in partnership with the DC Department of Parks and Recreation.  Any student in grades 2 through 8 may register to participate.

The tournament will follow a similar format to the event we recently held at Fairview Road Urban Park in Silver Spring.  The first round of games will begin at 10 a.m. and the tournament will finish up around 1.  Students who play need to be familiar with all of the rules of chess, including castling, stalemate and the touch-move rule.  No membership in any organization is required to take part.

There will be areas where family members and non-participants to wait during the games, but owing to space constraints, we will be unable to accommodate more than 40 students at the tournament tables at any one time, so early registration is encouraged.   Online sign-up is available here: https://register.chessctr.org/a/easternmarketmetro
 

Results from the Rockefeller Qualifier on Saturday, May 14th

Eighteen DC elementary school students turned up for the DC K-5 Championship qualifier this past Saturday, May 14th, to determine who would have the honor of representing the District at this summer’s national Rockefeller Tournament of Elementary School Champions.  Congratulatons to Lenox Serrette who won the tournament with victories in all five rounds.

We were happy to see that, among the field of participants, there were ten children playing in their first nationally rated competition.  Playing in important tournaments is the fastest and surest way to improving your playing strength, no matter the result.

To view the full standings from Saturday’s event, click here.

A Fun Saturday of Outdoor Chess at Fairview Urban Road Park

Yesterday, fifty-five children ranging from second- to eighth-graders played chess at Fairview Road Park in Silver Spring, the largest urban park in Montgomery County and just a few blocks from our headquarters.

 

The weather was beautiful as experienced tournament players and beginners alike battled wits on tables and on oversized chess boards that Montgomery Parks laid out.

Some students played as many as eleven games during the three hours while others played only three. It was great seeing new friendships formed over the board and we look forward to seeing the kids playing more.

We will have another Chess in the Park on June 4, using a similar format, at Eastern Market Metro Park in Washington, DC.

DC K-5 Championship on May 14

In just over two weeks, the District of Columbia will select its representative in the national tournament of elementary school champions.  This year’s qualification tournament is to be held at the Kellogg Conference Center at 800 Florida Avenue NE, Washington DC 20002, on Saturday, May 14.  The winner earns the right to play in the Rockefeller National Tournament of Elementary School Champions later this summer.

The tournament is open to D.C. residents in kindergarten through grade 5.  This is a nationally rated tournament, so players must be or become U.S. Chess Federation members in order to play. The tournament starts at 9:30 the morning of May 14, but registration closes on Thursday, May 12 at 3:00 P.M., so players interested in taking part should be sure to sign up before then.

More information and online registration is available at https://dcscholasticchess.org/tournaments

 

Three Sunday Chess Students Competed in National High School Championships

Three students from Sunday Chess attended the 2022 National High School Championships in Memphis over the weekend. The tournament had been cancelled for the previous two years because of the pandemic, so there was a lot of pent-up enthusiasm for this year’s event.

 

This was the third Nationals Anish attended, but the first major national for Zach and Ret. All three had wonderful experiences and are more prepared for the series of national championships coming up in the DC area over the next few years.

The tournament was run exceptionally well, with professional staff handling every detail efficiently. The rounds started on time, the side events were fun for the students, and the conditions of play were the best ever for a scholastic tournament. We look forward to spectacular events at National Harbor in December and in downtown DC next March.

Posted below is a win of Zach’s from the first half of the competition.  Zach, playing the black pieces, managed to hold on against an intimidating attack during the first 25 moves.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. d3 b5 6. Bb3 d6 7. c3 Be7 8. O-O O-O 9. Nbd2 Na5 10. Bc2 c5 11. Re1 Re8 12. Nf1 h6 13. Ng3 Bf8 14. a4 Bb7 15. axb5 axb5 16. Nf5 c4 17. d4 exd4 18. N3xd4 Bxe4 19. Bxe4 Nxe4 20. Nxh6+ gxh6 21. Qg4+ Ng5 22. Rxe8 Qxe8 23. Bxg5 hxg5 24. Qxg5+ Bg7 25. Nf5 Qe5

White is down a piece, but looks as though he will regain it after 26. Ne7+ Kf8 27. Qxe5 Bxe5 28. Nc6 .  However, Zach’s 28….Ra6 kept him in the driver’s seat, since after 29. Nxa5 b4 30. cxb4 Bxb2, the pin on the a5-knight means that White can’t stop Black’s dangerous c-pawn without losing material.

Instead, White played 29. f4, and the game concluded: 29…Rxc6 30. fxe5 Nb7 31. Ra7 Rb6 32. exd6 Nxd6 33. h4 Ne4 34. g4 Nc5 35. Kg2 Na4 36. Kf3 Nxb2 37. Ke4 Nd3 38. Kd5 Kg7 39. g5 Re6 40. Rb7 Re5+ 41. Kd4 Rf5 42. Rb6 Nc5 43. Ke3 Na4 and White resigned.  0-1

The full set of results from the 2022 tournament is available here

Congratulations to the Denker and Barber Qualifiers from DC

The District of Columbia’s qualification events for the national Denker and Barber championships took place this past Saturday afternoon, April 2.  Students turned up from all around DC to compete for the middle and high school championship titles.

Ben Tyrrell (below left, playing black) won all four of his games to take first place in the high school section and earn the right to represent the District at the Denker Tournament of High School Champions later this summer.  Ethan Crawford (below right) put up the same perfect score to win the middle school section and qualify to represent Washington at the Dewain Barber National Tournament of Middle School Champions.  Both events will be held this July 30 – August 2 in Rancho Mirage, California.

We’re grateful to the DC Housing Finance Agency for hosting the event at their headquarters, and to Robin Ramson for her efforts organizing and promoting the tournament.  The full set of results from both the middle and high school sections is available here: 

US Chess MSA – Cross Table for DC BARBER DENKER QUALIFIER (Event 202204022192)

DC Denker and Barber Qualifiers This Saturday

The Denker Tournament of High School Champions is an annual invitational event for the champions of all 50 states  and the District of Columbia.  Named for the late Grandmaster Arnold Denker, a former U.S. Champion and a tireless promoter of chess among young people, the tournament has been one of the most prestigious national events for students in grades 9-12 since its inception 38 years ago.

The Dewain Barber National Tournament of Middle School Champions, now in its 12th year, is the corresponding annual event for students in grades 6-8.  This year both the Denker and Barber tournaments will be held in the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage, California, from July 30 – August 2.  This coming Saturday, April 2, Washington, DC will hold its qualification tournaments to determine who will represent the District in these events.

The qualifiers will be held at the DC Housing Finance Agency at 815 Florida Ave., NW., Washington DC 20001.  The event is open to DC residents only, and is nationally rated by the U.S. Chess Federation, so participants must join the USCF if they are not already members.  Proof of COVID vaccination is required to participate. 

The entry fee is $20.  This is a four-round Swiss system tournament with time control: Game/25 + 10.  Players should bring clocks if they have them.  The first round starts at 1 P.M.

Online registration is available at: https://dcscholasticchess.org/tournaments (scroll midway down the page).

 

 

Join us on April 30 for Chess in the Park

The U.S. Chess Center and Montgomery Parks are inviting students to join us on the last day of April at Fairview Road Urban Park in Silver Spring for an outdoor chess tournament.
 
Any student in grade 2 through 8 may register to take part.  This tournament is not nationally rated, and students do not need to have any tournament experience in order to participate.  We do require students who play to be familiar with all of the rules of chess, including castling, stalemate and the touch-move rule.  Students who are not familiar with the rules are welcome to come spectate, as are other family members and friends.  The first round of the tournament starts at 10 a.m. and the last of the games will finish around 1 p.m.
 
We will organize the tournament based loosely on the Swiss pairing system, which means that players who win in the first round will be matched against other winners for their next games, and players who lose will be matched against others with similar results.  Nobody is eliminated early.  
 
Registration on the morning of the tournament is permitted, but we recommend planning ahead and signing up ahead of time to beat the line. 
 
Online registration is available here: 
 
More details about the playing site are available here: https://montgomeryparks.org/events/chess-in-the-parks/

Photos From This Week’s Pawn Game Tournament at Burroughs Elementary

At John Burroughs Elementary School this past Thursday, we held a Pawn Game tournament for the second and third grade students.  Behavior was excellent and the skills both classes had learned were evident. The teachers were impressed by their students’ abilities to visualize, execute plans, and win and lose with grace and dignity.

Happy New Year From the U.S. Chess Center! Upcoming Major Competitions in 2022

We hope everyone is enjoying their holiday season and getting to spend time with loved ones.  Remember, whether you’re visiting in person or catching up through a video screen, a game of chess is a great way to connect.

Since chess players plan ahead, we’re posting some of the major competition dates for 2022 right here for folks who wish to mark their calendars.

The Virginia Scholastic Chess Championship is scheduled for the weekend of March 26-27 in Fredericksburg, VA.  State championship tournaments are exciting for children no matter their playing strength, and we hope many of our Virginia-based students will decide to attend this year’s event.  The Virginia Chess Federation has more information and online registration here.

Further ahead are the national championships.  The National High School Championship for 2022, open to all students in grades K-12, is happening in Memphis the weekend of April 8-10 at the Renasant Convention Center.  Online registration is available here.

 Three weeks later, from April 29-May 1, is the National Middle School Championship for grades K-8.  The venue is the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas (Dallas-Fort Worth area).  An entry form and additional details can be found here

Two weeks after that, from May 13-15, is the National Elementary School Championship for grades K-6, slated for Columbus at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.  Online registration for the elementary school Nationals is not available yet, but we believe it will be soon.  You can visit the USCF’s calendar of national events for more information, and the Chess Center will also be updating our tournament calendar as more details become open.

The Nationals - students from around the country united by a shared passion for chess.

Regardless of how many games they win, participating in these state and national championship competitions tends to be an experience that children never forget.  If you’re interested in forming a school group to travel to a tournament and you’d like to connect with other families who want the same, we encourage you to speak with your chess club instructor.

We wish you all a safe, healthy and happy New Year, and we look forward to seeing you in 2022!