Mr. Barber learned chess in Norman, Oklahoma from his older brother Dwight, and shortly thereafter joined a school chess club in 7th grade. He played in his first tournament, a scholastic event, in Tulsa that year.
His favorite memory as a chess player happened at the Cerritos Chess Club in Southern California on December 19, 1975. This was a large chess club that often held simultaneous exhibitions (simul) with grandmasters. One of these simuls was with six-time US Champion Grandmaster Walter Browne. The simul started at 9 PM. At 1 AM Dewain looked around the room and notice many empty chairs. He had been concentrating so much on his game that he did not notice there were only seven boards still going. He was up an exchange and a pawn. Taking into consideration how tired he was, Dewain offered a draw and it was accepted. GM Browne’s result for that simul was 57 wins, 2 draws and 3 losses.
He played off and on over his school years. Upon graduation from Northern Arizona University, he started a teaching career in the Buena Park Elementary School District in Buena Park, California where he taught World and American History to 7th and 8th Grade students for 30 years.
During his teaching, the staff at his school was asked to provide a club for the students to volunteer to join. He chose chess and games. Later this was to become the chess club that he continued for 27 years.
Mr. Barber relates these stories about his chess teams:
“As chess coach one of my favorite stories was an encounter with a new student, Andrius Kulikauskas who was later to join my Buena Park Junior High Chess Club. As I had been playing tournament chess for several years, I had reached a level of 1410. During the school day I would play students before school and during lunch. On one particular lunch time Andrius (Andrew) walked in and starting watching my game that I was playing with one of the members of the chess club. While these games were in progress I usually answered questions about homework and graded papers, which was not disrespectful of the chess players whom I played. This multi-tasking kept me busy and able to have fun at chess as well.
When I finished the game I was playing, Andrew asked if he could play me. Usually I have new students play someone in the club first, but I decided to see what this young man knew about chess.
As the game progressed nothing was unusual and I graded papers and talking to students about their work. After several more mechanical moves I noted that I had lost the center and I was a Pawn down. Not to fear I was a “skilled” tournament player and I would pick up the Pawn in the middlegame. Continuing to multi-task I once again looked at the board and noted that I was now a Rook and a Pawn down with a gathering crowd of chess club members. Fortunately, they were not drooling, but seemed very excited. I was excited as well! What is happening here? A student who walked in off the playground had never to this point in my coaching career beaten me. I put aside the papers I was grading and starting really concentrating on the game. In addition, I asked students not to ask questions about their schoolwork till I finished this game. It was not looking good for the old coach. I began concentrating on the game at hand and with good play I won in the endgame. Later on Andrew was to become a US Chess Federation National Chess Master.
The best finish my National team ever achieved was tied for 5th Place at the National Junior High in Terre Haute, IN. Other teams have placed 14th or in the top 25.”
“One particular student who stands out is a young 7th Grade student who told me later in life that he only came to school because chess was available before school and during lunch. I do not know if this was the driving force in his life, but he later graduated from college and went on to teach chess and math. In addition, National Master Joe Hanley decided to open a chess center in Irvine, CA to support all the young people who wanted to learn about the game.”
“Another young 7th Grade student, Ed Motley that should be mentioned was active in Scholastic Chess through High School, received an appointment to West Point. Since I lost track of him I had no idea where he was. As it turned out I was at a National Junior High event nearly 20 years later where I was attending a coaches meeting. When the meeting was completed and I prepared to leave, I heard a voice from behind that said, “How are you doing Mr. Barber? I turned around to see my former student, Ed Motley, in the meeting. I was impressed when he asked me to meet his team that had come to that National event. As I arrived at the team room he introduced me to his players who were having a great time and then he introduced me to his son, a member of the chess team. This happened again in April 2011 at the event in Huntington Beach, CA called the Dewain Barber Scholastic sponsored by NM Joe Hanley.”
In 1974 Mr. Barber attended a meeting in the City of Orange, CA that brought together organized chess from throughout Orange County. Mr. Barber has assisted or organized the Bernard Morrison Scholastic Chess Tournament (Bernard Morrison taught chess to Orange County elementary students since 1974) and Miley Staser Scholastic Chess Tournament (who also taught elementary students since 1977) in Southern California.
As Scholastic Chess growth occurred in this country, Mr. Barber was part of that effort. He created “A Guide to Scholastic Chess” which provides information to school-based persons on how to start a chess club. Over 50,000 copies have been distributed and it is currently available on the “Teachers & Coaches” page of the US Chess website. This book is the basis for the US Chess Certified Local Chess Coach (Level I) test. This publication has been given away free since its inception. It is in its 11th Edition.
He has been a member of the U.S. Chess Federation’s Life Member Assets committee, Scholastic Committee, and former member of the Scholastic Council. During this time he asked the US Chess Delegates to create the Scholastic Service Award to recognize persons for their “Many Contributions to Scholastic Chess”. In addition, he helped create the National Girls Tournament of Champions (NGTOC). He has been chairman of the GM Arnold Denker Tournament of High School Champions. For more information on his involvement with the Denker Tournament see “GM Arnold Denker: The Legacy”.
Because of his life of teaching and coaching K-8 players, Mr. Barber wanted to create a national tournament specifically geared for the winners of State Championships who were in Grades 8 and under. In 2010 the US Chess Board of Delegates approved the “Dewain Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions”. The inaugural tournament was held July 30 to August 2, 2011 in Orlando, FL. The K-8 players played in the same room and at the same time as the players in the “GM Denker Tournament of High School Champions”.
In September 1982 Dewain started his company, American Chess Equipment. He began the company because he had found it difficult for schools to purchase chess equipment at reasonable prices. The company now does business in all 50 states and 10 foreign countries. He has committed his company, American Chess Equipment, to continue to sponsor the Denker and Barber tournaments. The company was recently sold to Shelby Lohrman and has continued to be a chess equipment supplier to the chess community.
When asked, “How has the game of chess influenced your life?” the following was his response:
“As a schoolteacher I was seeking something to enrich the lives of young people. Chess became that vehicle. I have seen the positive effects of Chess on thousands of Scholastic players, met dedicated coaches, organizers and had an opportunity to travel around the world meeting people and playing this game. When I was in China I went to a school and meet some teachers who were directing a school program in Chess. They valued Chess as a learning tool as much as I do. As Chairman of the GM Denker Tournament of High School Champions, it has been my pleasure to meet some of the nicest high school students that this country has to offer. The Denker Tournament has been one of the stepping-stones for numerous Grandmasters and I thank GM Arnold Denker and his son, Mitchell Denker for creating and supporting this event. The people I have met in my life in chess have enriched my life many fold.”
Mr. Barber has been a recipient of the following awards:
1995 Recognition for his 20 years of service to Scholastic Chess by the Southern California Chess Federation Board
2000 Teacher of the Year, Buena Park School District
2000 US Chess Scholastic Service Award
2002 US Chess Special Services Award
2003 Volunteer of the Year Award of Junior Achievement of Southern California
2008 U.S. Chess Trust Harold Dondis Award
2010 US Chess Meritorious Service Award
2014 City of Fullerton, CA 40 Year Achievement Award for Morrison Scholastic Chess Tournament
2016 US Chess Distinguished Service Award for Lifetime of Dedication to Chess
2018 US Chess GM Koltanowski Gold Medal for exceptional support to chess
2018 Honorary title, “Dean of Scholastic Chess”
2019 US Chess GM Koltanowski Silver Medal for exceptional support of chess.
Dewain Barber Given New Honorary Title: Dean of Scholastic Chess!
Written by WGM Jennifer Yu Simul
August 3-6, 2019
WGM Jennifer Yu, current Champion of the US Chess Women’s Championship, conducted a FREE 23 board Simul to begin the US Open in Orlando, Florida on Saturday, August 3. Participants were players from the Denker, Barber and Haring National Girls Tournament of Champions (Haring NGTOC) with up to seven participants from each of the three events. There was a special guest participant: Minnie Mouse. All the participants and parents had their pictures taken with the lady from the “Mouse House.” There were no wins. Because of the high ratings of the players there were 9 draws. One was to Minnie Mouse who was coached by WGM Jennifer Shahade. Minnie had to leave early because she had a lunch date with Mickey at the Cheese Factory. Congratulations to the following players: Best Game-Hayes Goodman (RI) and Longest Game-Cindy Jie (FL).
Game Analysis and a Meet and Greet
The Texas Tech University (TTU) students, WIM Iryna Andrenko, a graduate in Horticulture Science, GM Andrii Baryshpolets, graduate in Agricultural & Applied Economics Ph.D. and Jennifer Yu were available for game analysis and a Meet and Greet party for players. WGM Jennifer Shahade, 2 time US Women’s Champion and US Chess Women’s Director was also on hand to meet the players and help with game analysis.
2018 Barber Results
Written by Dewain Barber
August 3-6, 2018
Congratulations to CM Robert Shlyakhtenko (CA-S), rated 2394 who scored 5/6 for a tie for First Place. He received the $5,000 College/University Scholarship to the school of his choice on tie-break provided by the Barber Fund. The other Co-Champion was FM Jason Wang (OH). There was a seven way tie for 3rd Place involving FM Shunkai Peng (OR), NM Danila Poliannikov (MA), CM Samrug Narayanan (MN), NM Dimitar Mardov (IL), NM Raghav Venkat (FL), NM Gus Huston (NY) and IM Arthur Guo (GA) with a score of 4.5/6. There was a field of one IM, 2 FMs, 2 CMs and 10 NMs.
NM Dimitar Mardov (IL) was the winner of the $500 Barber K-8 Camp Award for best result under the age of 12.
See the full article in US Chess Story
Dean of Scholastic Chess
Written by Dewain Barber
September 8, 2018
As I sit at home thinking about all of the activities that took place at the 2018 US Open in Middleton, Wisconsin, I “Awonder” if it was skill or luck. Thank you to Awonder Liang for playing in the 2013 Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions as a young person. This year he became a Grandmaster and presented a simultaneous exhibition for participants in the Denker, Barber and National Girls Tournaments. This event was part of the opening activities of the 2018 US Open.
The story really began back in 1984 with a phone call that changed my life. We all will have these moments, but I could not have imagined back then all that would happen. I received a call from GM Arnold Denker, who was later to be named the Dean of American Chess. GM Denker simply said to me, “I want to do something for the kids.” At first, I thought he was going to donate his time to do a simultaneous exhibition or volunteer to pass out trophies at one of the Nationals. But as it turned out, he wanted to do a whole lot more than I expected.
He provided an idea or two suggesting an event that brought together every state high school champion. The question was how to select deserving players who would want to travel to this event. Would it be the highest rated player who qualified? Would it be based on age or something else?
As it turned out, we agreed to invite the champion from the high school tournament of each state to play. But, when? Since I was acquainted with the scholastic schedule, I knew that many of the months that might be considered would be out. Fall was the start of the school year, winter would present problems with travel, and spring was devoted to competing in state events and the Scholastic Nationals. The end result was a decision by both of us that summer would work best. But, where? There were few scholastic events available during the summer because most families were on vacation. This would mean starting a new event with no support. Arnold suggested the US Open as a possible site. He had been US Champion and had played in the US Open for many years so it seemed a possibility. The US Open was a very prestigious event with many strong players at all levels and ages wanting to compete so the fundamental question was, “Would the US Chess Federation accept a bunch of high school kids playing at their event?” Maybe yes, maybe no.
Because GM Denker was well known to the adult chess community and the Delegates, he created a motion that I co-sponsored and the delegates agreed by acclimation after he said the words, “This is good for chess.” This action created what is today known as the GM Arnold Denker Tournament of High School Champions.
This event has hosted 1,011 high school players, fourteen of which have gone on to become Grandmasters. One of those GMs was Alex Fishbein who won the first Denker event in 1985. What is unusual is that this year he played in the first National Senior Tournament of Champions in which he tied for first. In addition, Alex’s son, Mitch played in this year’s Denker! The Denker Legacy is alive and well.
Four events have followed this initial Invitational offering: GM Polgar Girls, Dewain Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions, National Girls Tournament of Champions and the National Senior Tournament of Champions. It has been quite a story over these last 34 years. I have been pleased to have been a part of this Legacy with the sponsorship of the US Chess Federation. I would also like to thank the US Chess Trust for their support.
The future is very bright for Scholastic Chess. We are all poised, youth and adult, to fulfill the mandate given to us by the Delegates of US Chess when they revised the mission of our Federation to focus on education of both youth and adults. To carry out the change in the mission mandated by the delegates, in the words of our Executive Board president, Allen Priest, “We have a legal and moral responsibility to change.” This movement of change to an educational organization for all ages started in 2008 with the delegates’ mission restatement. It continued with the filing of revised Articles of Incorporation in 2009. And the IRS recognized the change by granted US Chess 501(c)3 status in 2014, retroactive to 2009.
To further support this change, all we have to do is look at what Allen saw when he visited the US Chess Championship in St. Louis. He stated, “This is a very American Event with merit and opportunity for American participants who represent a diversity from around the world. We are an American institution. Just visit one of our National events and you can see who we really are.”
I have no problem embracing this future. As a retired school teacher with 30 years of experience, I had the pleasure of hosting a chess club at my school. During one of those years we had been planning to attend the US Chess National Junior High Championship when I received a note from the office to see the principal. I stopped by his office and was informed the trip was off. I was shocked to learn the reason why: The US Supreme Court had ruled that all public schools could not have events that were not “curriculum-based”. I then went into the Curriculum of the California Common Core State Standards and located 14 statements that supported what chess teaches. I presented the information to the school board of my district and our chess club was designated a “curriculum-based” chess club, the first in California to be given that designation. We were then able to take our trip. Chess can be an important educational component if the chess advisor chooses that direction.
In their Mission Statement one of the core values of US Chess is “Education. Chess is an educational tool aiding in the learning of planning, cause and effect relationships, pattern recognition, and research, all key skills for success in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).”
Another area of concern is the development of a strong Scholarship Program for Youth. President Priest said, “We now have in place a program that can support scholarships that are earned by scholastic players.” I look forward to working to assist with this goal. I hope that many colleges/universities continue to support scholarships for our chess youth. In addition, we need to seek out donors who clearly see that by donating to the US Chess Scholarship Program, we will be using these funds to support this goal. These funds will be separated and maintained for the future.
I would like to thank the Executive Board and Delegates of the US Chess Federation for honoring me with the title: “Dean of Scholastic Chess”. I will continue to work with everyone to promote scholastic chess.
Florida, SoCal and New York Tie for First in Team Competition
Congratulations to Florida on their First Place tie-break finish (13/18) with a team average of 2138. Southern California matched their point total (13/18), but lost on the second tie-break with a team average of 2243. New York was also in the hunt with a point total (13/18) and a team average 2268. The Florida state team was composed of their Denker representative, Ryan Hamley (4/6), Barber representative, NM Raghav Venkat (4.5/6), and Haring NGTOC representative, Tianhui (Cindy) Jie (4.5/6). The Southern California state team was composed of their Denker representative, CM Brandon Xia (4/6), Barber representative, CM Robert Shlyakhtenko (5/6) and their Haring NGTOC representative, Julia Sevilla (4/6). The New York state team was composed of their Denker representative, NM Max Jiahua Li (3/6), Barber representative, NM Gus Huston (4.5/6) and their Haring NGTOC representative, WFM Martha Samadashvili (5.5/6).
State Team winners in the Under Sections: (Under 2100) Texas. In the (Under 1900) it was Utah and in the (Under 1600) section was New Hampshire.
Interview with Dewain Barber
By Pete Tamburro
July 31, 2017
It was my good fortune to be able to sit down with Dewain Barber after the Denker/Barber/National Girls Invitational tournaments and talk with the motivating force behind the hugely successful youth tournaments, one of whom bears his name. If you want to know why this man has been so determined, read his story about Sergei Sazonov below. I cannot recall meeting someone so skilled at weaving a story, so the answers I recorded on the printed page below cannot do him justice. I can accurately tell you this. He does chess out of love. He does it for free.
PT: So, tell me about a junior high teacher who up and decided to change youth chess in America.
DB: Way back in the last century my principal said he wanted all the teachers to have an activity on Friday afternoon. I finally settled on a games club…checkers, chess, monopoly…sharing an opportunity to play different games…It became the chess club…I ended up providing time during lunch hour and the break in the morning. This was around 1972-73– Bobby Fischer time. The kids wanted to take it to the next level. I didn’t know what the next level was. In 1974, I went to a meeting at the Orange firehouse (a retired building) and met a few scholastic chess organizers. I became the rookie in the newly organized Orange County Chess Association. We hosted a free scholastic chess tournament K-12, playing only kids in your own grade. The kids enjoyed themselves. There were no championship trophies 3 ft. high.
PT: What else can you tell us about that time?
DB: We needed chess sets. Leo Cotter at Mission Viejo High School said there was a guy in Massachusetts, who sold them. So, we called Steven Dann. “Can you provide me 20 sets.” “They only come in boxes of 40. You must buy 40.” Twice the number we needed. They were a dollar a set with free shipping. “Man, that’s a lot of money. I have to check with my wife!” (in charge of finances) We would charge a dollar a set. As for the boards, that became an adventure. Leo told me, “We have thin vinyl stuff for 20 x 20 chessboards. We can make chess boards by silk screen.” My wife asked, “You have a roll 48” wide 20-30 ft. long. How will you do that?” “I’ll get my straight edge.” So here I am with my box knife…On my hands and knees I made up 50 pieces of material…got the silk screen…went to the high school…I’d never used it before nor had Leo.…We put ink on, etc., white and dark squares were solid green! We failed to ask how to do silk screening! We improved to blotches, then finally got it right.
Now our problem became 150 orders. Dollar a board, dollar a set. We had only 40 sets. Dann sent some more. We started to sell chess equipment to schools. Then people asked, “What’s a good book?” “What’s a good clock.” I didn’t know what a chess clock was in 1978. We found Jerger clocks in Germany. Our production of sets increased. My wife said we had to start a company. So, in 1982 we started American Chess Equipment.
PT: Do you still do that as well?
DB: We sold the business to Shelby Lohrman. We had $530,000 in sales that last year and never got out of our 3 car garage.
PT: How were you enjoying chess back then?
DB: I took teams to the national championship. I taught at Buena Park Jr. High School. That original tournament we started 43 years ago is still running. I make sure to return every year to direct it. There was this episode with the Supreme Court case. I was about to take our team to the national junior high championship. The principal said I couldn’t take the team as it was not authorized by the school board. We were not an official group according to a court case, and we were not curriculum based. I went through the California state curriculum for mathematics and cited line by line the deductive reasoning section. We were allowed to go…the first chess club in California to do so.
PT: Were there others that helped out in a big way?
DB: Yes, we named that tournament the Morrison Scholastic after Bernard Morrison, who was originally from New York. He was 80 years old when I met him. He would always call me up and tell me, “You’ve got to get excited.” I would drive him to and from after school programs where he taught chess as a volunteer. I always thought that if I could do 20% of what Bernie did for chess I would consider myself successful. About 50 years later, I think I’ve caught up with him.
PT: How did things go from there?
DB: In 1985, I, living in Anaheim, got a phone call from a lady in Florida. “I want to start a chess program at my school. I’m a teacher. Tell me What do I have to do?” I replied that there were about 500-600 hours of instruction involved down the road, but her first step should be to put a note in the school bulletin to come to Room 20. She called back. “Another question. What do I do with the 80 kids?” That’s when I sat down and wrote A Guide to Scholastic Chess. It’s been revised 11 times. Tim Just is the most recent editor. It’s always been free of charge and can be found online. It’s been sent to 40,000 school teachers, administrators or districts. From the simplest initial questions: “What do I do first?” “Do I need to know chess?” It was in such a language that a non-chess player could open the door. That was the key answer: just open the door. The kids will do the rest.
PT: How did you get involved with Arnold Denker?
DB: (he pauses) I get emotional when I talk about it. A friend of mine never leaves the stage at the opening ceremonies. If I get choked up, he’ll take the spot.
Arnold called me on the phone. I didn’t know him. I wasn’t the USCF president. I was just a guy. He was direct: “I want to do something for chess.” I figured he meant a simul or a talk. He wanted to create a brand new event. Questions came up. What time of year is best? The schedule is crowded. We could do a tournament, bringing together all the state champions. Where? Arnold suggested the US Open. In my mind, a bunch of old guys would not be tolerating a bunch of kids at the tournament. Arnold replied, “I’ll take care of them. You take care of the scholastic committee.” In 1984, at the US Open, I met with the scholastic people who wanted to give it a try. The motion appeared on the floor of delegates. I got up and explained that we’ll have a championship of champions. Dead silence. You have to understand that back then that most of the delegates had no connection to scholastic chess. It was adult this adult that. Arnold got up. “This is good for chess.” Then he turned around and walked away from the mike…no rah-rah speech. The question was called and every single hand had been raised…unanimous approval. I was thunderstruck. Then Arnold told me to write the rules. One child from every single state plus parents. I wrote 13 rules. 27 Kids from 26 states came. I required that the host state provide an alternate to play any state champion who would have gotten a bye. No champion should get a bye. We needed to go from the original five rounds to six on a 1-2-2-1 schedule over four days so the kids could play in the US Open. Arnold donated $100 to every participant who completed the tournament. The Chess Trust stepped up to donate a $500 prize fund.
PT: Did it catch on right away.
DB: One player didn’t come because the participants weren’t high enough rated, but we still went from 33 to 38 states, then 40 and 46, and finally all 50 states.
PT: So, it has been a huge success.
DB: Question trivia how many persons have played Denker since 1985 to 2016 –1038!! Plus 48 this year. Follow up question. How many became GMs–10. The first Denker winner was future grandmaster Alex Fishbein.
PT: Where did UTD come in?
DB: The University of Texas Dallas contacted us. Actually, Tim Redmond contacted us. “We like what you’re doing in the Denker. We’ll offer a 4 year all expenses paid scholarship to the Denker champion.” That’s about $140,000 in today’s money. We had a 4 way tie one year! I held my breath. No way we would get that. They contacted us: “Gentlemen ALL of you have scholarships to UTD.” The Denker matured with the quality of players. IMs are entered now. 16 or 17 masters now, 24 last year. 3 IMs.
PT: That takes care of the high school tournament. How did the rest come about?
DB: As the tournament prestige built up, we started getting calls from parents of 7th and 8th graders. “My son is the best. I want my kid to play in the Denker.” No, just high school. So, Arnold and I talked it over….why don’t we have a grades 6-8 tournament (Jr. high tournament) plus K-6. All different schools had different definitions of grades. I decided to go to the delegates for a K-8 tournament. 7 years ago. I went before the delegates with a K-8 tournament. Arnold got up once more, and once more his speech was “This is good for chess.” In the back of the room there was a motion to amend. I didn’t like the sound of that. From Minnesota David Kuhns go up and said, “I want to name it the “Dewain Barber K-8 Championship.” I was overwhelmed.Image
PT: What else pops into your mind from those years?
DB: In 2009 I got the list of participants who would be coming. All of a sudden, I noticed the name Abby Marshall. There were a few girls before 2009 for Denker. Abby was special at Orlando in 2009. We noticed the girl moving up the tables to board one in round six. For several rounds, she was a King’s Gambit player!! Had the boys bamboozled. They didn’t know how to handle it. She won the 2009 tournament. Abby graduated from an Ivy League school… The Denker medallions…one day I was watching the Olympics and their big thick and heavy medallions. Every one of these chess kids is a champion so why can’t our Denker and Barber champions get something so unique, solid metal with brilliant gold finish. The provider made sure it was at least 2.5 inches across with the knight taken from the “Ultimate Chess Set” which I designed. The Denker got the knight…Another time I noticed that Olympic soccer players trade their t-shirts with the other team. Wouldn’t it be nice if each kid came to play bringing six souvenirs from their city or state to give one to each opponent. What a beautiful experience to take home. We’ve done that six years now…Once 3 kids from Hawaii showed up holding their hands behind their back and said, “We’re from Hawaii. Mr. Guy Ontai (organizer of scholastic chess), wants you to have this pineapple. This year Mr. Ontai had his kids present me with chocolate covered macadamia nuts in a beautiful box. He’s fond of saying, “Never worry. Hawaii will be there.”
PT: So, it’s more than just a tournament?
DB: Oh, yes. One year a mother called to say that they couldn’t afford airline tickets to fly the family from Mississippi to Vancouver, Washington. I encouraged them to find a way. A few weeks later, the mom called to say they were driving all the way from Mississippi. I still wear the “Mississippi” pin he gave me. Another year a young man named Matthew Parshall from Alaska called and said that they didn’t have a state championship. Are you the highest rated? Nope. After everyone was on board with Matthew representing Alaska, he showed up. I still remember him holding the state flag like a cape. It’s never been about ratings. It’s about a young person who steps forward. Awonder Liang sent me a lovely thank you note. Never got one before that.
PT: What do these tournaments teach?
DB: They’re about building character, bringing the beauty of chess forward. I usually tell this story. Imagine the following scenario: old gentlemen in a rocker. Who comes in his room but his grandson. “I learned this new game pieces move around I know you’ll like it.” “That sounds exciting.” Grandfather goes into chest of drawers…”Let me show you something, grandson.” I know it will happen. Same with grandmother. Let me tell you about chess. It’s not about a bunch of kids moving pieces.
PT: The girls finally get a tournament of their own. How did that come about?
DB: In 2002, we were in a restaurant for breakfast in Nashville, and who walks in but GM Susan Polgar with her husband, Paul. They saw us and came over: “Tell me about the Denker. Can we do this for girls?” I became a co-author again! In support, I stood up at the delegates meeting and said, “We need to do this to promote girls’ chess.” Now, we had the Denker, Polgar and Barber. I was chair of the Polgar Committee for six years. In no time, she went to 40+ states. Then, the unpleasantness with the dispute between the USCF and Polgar emerged. Susan came to Anaheim where we had a heart to heart talk about how I couldn’t continue on her committee. She understood.
PT: What happened then?
DB: We had a big void financially. Texas Tech had withdrawn its financial support as well. A new woman, Isabel Minoofar from Beverly Hills stepped up and said we needed to have a girls’ events. We didn’t want to be in competition with Polgar, so, at Maureen Grimaud’s, suggestion, changed the National Girls’ Invitational Tournament to the National Girls Tournament of Champions (NGTOC). At the delegates meeting, Arnold showed up, “It’s good for chess.” I don’t think you’ll have a problem guessing a vote. I realized I had co-authored four national invitational championships. It took an hour to do it. I just kept cloning our original Denker rules. Jennifer Shahade had friends in Pennsylvania, Robert and Barbara Schiffrin. She asked them if they would agree to a $5,000 college scholarship to a college of their choice, and they consented. UTD had also withdrawn their scholarships, since, in 14 years, only four students had opted for that school. I personally provided $5,000 and asked the Chess Trust for matching funds. I am also donating $21,000 each year for four years to establish a trust for the future of the Barber Tournament.
PT: How did you get to be so determined?
DB: I was never a good student—pretty much average. I went through school knowing I had to read everything three times to understand it. I had to have that determination. I couldn’t quit. I went to nine summer schools from sophomore year in high school through graduate school. One year, in grad school, I had heard about Dr. Downum’s historical research course. There were only six of us there. An old man, 80 years of age, in a trench coat down to his ankles put an old, weathered, valise on his desk and reached down to pull out 3×5 cards. He laid them across the table and said, “Come up and pick a card.” “Your assignment is to list every book this person is in. See you in 18 weeks.” I looked at my card: Sergei Sazonov. So, I figured let’s get this out of the way and went to the library. I told the librarian I was looking for him. “You’re in Downum’s class, aren’t you?” No Sazonov, no Encyclopedia Britannica article, no card catalogue entry, no internet. I went back to the librarian. “It looks distinctly Russian. Check out the Russian books on the 2nd floor.” I found 400 books and had to check each index. I found him in one book, then six books more out of 430, but not much else. Then, I found a footnote in one of the books. He had written “My Life Story” for NYU Press in 1927. There were only two copies in existence in the US: NYU and Berkeley. I was in northern Arizona! We couldn’t get an inter-library loan. The book was too rare. I went to Berkeley. I didn’t have their student ID card, so they wouldn’t let me look at the book. I begged the librarian, “I have been through more pain than you can believe. I will sit ten feet away and you can watch me treat it carefully with white gloves.” She relented. I found 11 references. I said thank you and went back to Arizona and felt blessed with a B-. What is the significance of this story? I refused to quit. This is the same belief that drives me here in chess. Sazonov taught me never to quit. Years later, my wife and I, who do a lot of travelling, got off a cruise ship in Nice, France and went to find the cemetery where Sazonov was buried. We went to the main office and indicated the plot we wished to see. I wanted to pay homage to the man who had given me the determination to never quit. As we stood in the office, the man said, “The Russian Orthodox cemetery is not open today!” We had come thousands of miles for this, so we walked over to the cemetery and stood at the iron gate and peered through. I knew where it was– just on left hand side 3 up 4 to the left. I couldn’t see the inscription, but knew it was there.
PT: So that’s what drove you all these years?
DB: When I look back on my chess experience and career, I am driven by a legacy called Denker, and driven by a man called Sazonov. I can’t stop I’ve got to go on. Someone asked me if I get sick will I come to the tournament. I will be the only person on a gurney pushed in to the opening ceremony. It’s all about the legacy. Maureen Grimaud, and Jon Haskel know this about me. Other people, as I’ve mentioned, step up as well. Just to mention one more: Sunil Weermantry and Pete Nixon, who had teams to coach, came to the rescue at the 1987 national junior high tournament in Buena Park when the computer crashed and hand-paired the whole tournament! Eight rounds. 400 player tournament. How many people can pair by hand?
PT: You must like the recognition you get.
DB: Last year, I received the US Chess Lifetime Achievement award. I was surprised…it’s a lifetime and I’m still going. You know I don’t accept money…I know there are people who make a living and I’m good with that. I’ve been blessed not to have to worry about that. I always want to pay it forward. Coming back from Sidney, Australia to L.A., I played chess with two Romanian guys and told them to keep the magnetic sets we had (and I had designed)—for a price. The price was when they went home to Romania, they had to find 100 children and teach them how to play chess.
PT: Is there anything we’ve missed?
DB: I wrote the chess part of the script for Mighty Pawns, the movie. Wonderworks program created stories. I got a call: “We’re doing a story about three kids who get in trouble and end up in detention where the teacher says if you want to get out of here you have to learn chess. Can I send you the script?” The original writer had no clue about chess, so rewrite was necessary. We used Buena Park Performing Arts Center and the kids as extras and pulled it off. I created a tournament scene and prepped the extras how to behave as chess players. It was shown as a TV afternoon movie.
PT: What advice do you have for everyone in chess?
DB: Chess players can become very isolated. Meet and engage people about chess. If players are insular and don’t share, chess doesn’t advance. Volunteer teaching chess. Provide a tournament. Go to community centers. Each chess player is responsible to promote chess in their own way. Pay it forward, no matter your rating or skill level.
PT: And remember Sazonov research!
2017 Super Nationals - The Big Show
Written by Dewain Barber
June 14, 2017
As I boarded the plane to fly to Nashville, TN, I knew I would be attending the largest rated chess event in the world. The statistics were out and this SuperNationals would be bigger than any of the previous five I had attended. The number was really big—5577 participants!
Every four years since 1997 the SuperNationals had been held with the attendance increasing each time. Below you will find some pictures that were taken at the tournament.ImageImage
Since this event is held on Mother’s Day weekend I decided to provide some recognition for the Chess Moms who were at the event. We passed out Golden Keychain Queens to 160 of our Chess Moms and I wished I had more Queens to give to our Moms. Thanks to Karis Bellisario, a Chess Mom from Arkansas for helping out.ImageImage
One of the photos taken at the tournament says, “We are all in for our chess kids.” As you can see below, exhaustion over took many a parent. Note the Golden Keychain Queen beside the sleeping mom.Image
I want to take this opportunity to thank US Chess for providing the GM Denker and Barber banners. I had the chance to talk to many young people about playing in the Denker and the Barber as well as the National Girls Invitational.ImageImage
I spent a lot of time in the skittles room at the booth that was assigned to me. I had additional Golden Keychain chess pieces and spent time playing some of the young chess stars who were in the room. My rules were simple: 1) If you win the blitz game, you receive a Golden Keychain piece. 2) If you draw the blitz game, you receive a Golden Keychain chess piece. And 3) If you lose the blitz game, you receive a Golden Keychain chess piece. In addition, I met Steven who was the 2016 Denker representative from Arkansas. We took some time and looked at the game that he had just completed.ImageImage
Finally, I am happy to say I had a chance to see GM Timur Gareyev, the World Record holder in Blindfold Chess. I appreciate the t-shirt he gave.Image
9-11 Chess Board
By Dewain Barber
Revised September 11, 2016Image
It was a clear day in LA and the weather was comfortable. My wife, Susan had left to teach school that morning as she had since the start of the school year a few days before.
As I got up to check for orders and begin the packing process of chess equipment for some reason still unknown to me I turned on the TV and there before me was one of the worst days in our nation’s history unfolding with terrible consequences. That day 15 years ago is now known simply as 9/11 and it was upon us with tremendous ferocity.
As memorials and funerals took place for the many people who died in that disaster, I decided to do something that chess players would recognize as a remembrance of that day. I created the commemorative 9/11 chess board. I printed 1,000 copies of this board and contacted many vendors and distributors of chess equipment. I made a simple statement to them, “Please take these boards at no charge to you and sell them at your chess tournaments. With all of the money you receive, whether donations or the price you charge, send that money to the local fire departments in your communities. Tell these first responders that these donations should be forwarded to the families of those killed in this terrible event.”
On this 15th anniversary every player who purchased or gave a donation for this board should take it out and play a game in memory of those who died.
I would like to make note of information that came to me shortly after I gave away these boards: That morning several of our chess instructors in the area of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania sites were providing chess lessons for some school students. It was later learned that some of the parents of these students perished in this tragedy. As with other traumatic events in our nation’s history, we should always remember, “United We Stand and Never Forget.” A copy of this board is currently in the Chess Hall of Fame Museum in St. Louis, Missouri.
Parking It In Chess
By Steven Burroughs
July 8, 2016
As I rode along the street, I noticed the park on the right. As most parks go, it has a fair amount of trees and green grass to accommodate many activities. I entered the gate, and after parking I walked up to a group of tables under a shelter to set up a row of many chess boards. I opened the demonstration board, and just then Dewain Barber (age 70) handed me the tripod. The chess sets were being set up, and I was about to do something that I haven’t done before. I had invited 13 students from my homeschool chess group to come and play in a tandem simultaneous. This is not an easy task because one of the presenters was age 16 (me), and the other was age 70 (Mr. Barber). I had trust in myself at age 16, but that old guy looked like he could forget where he put his car keys. Only time would tell.
As the young people began to show up, I introduced Mr. Barber, and we agreed in advance that he would talk about the basic idea of controlling the center. I would follow by talking about development of the pieces to good squares. This worked out fine, and it was now time to play the simul. We explained to the kids that if you touch a piece, you must move it. We also told them that Mr. Barber would come to each board individually, make a move, then they would wait until I showed up to make their move. Once the kids’ faces produced the expression that a gunshot had just gone off, they understood the instructions. “You’re gonna play 13 games of chess all at once?!” “Yes, John Mark, 13 games of chess.” So the games started, and Mr. Barber shook each of the kid’s hands, and he made the first move on each board. Once he got about half way, I followed by shaking each kid’s hand, they made their move, then I would make mine. “Control the C file…”, I repeated in my head.Image
If there was one thing that I learned from Mr. Barber, it was to control the C file. Of course, after making my moves on each board, I would come back to the same board, and Mr. Barber would have made some super crazy move on the board. I’d think, “Um, Mr. Barber, I thought I had a queen on d3.” “What queen?” I guess he must have forgotten he was playing chess, and not sleeping on the couch. So we kept making our moves, and about half the kids were saying something like, “Oh, I didn’t see that knight.”, and I’d pause for a second, then I’d say, “Yes Liam, sometimes I forget about my right hand too. Move on.” Pieces on each board started to vanish slowly but surely. The look of confused faces began to steadily grow, and kings became more and more claustrophobic with the surrounding pieces sneaking closer and closer. Games started wrapping up. “That’s checkmate, my friend.” “Wow, I didn’t see that knight there on F3.” I’d say “Good game, man!” then hand them a golden queen.Image
Down to the last couple of games, kids wondered who’d be the last one to survive. Up to this point, Mr. Barber and I won each game, so it became their contest to see who could survive the longest. And as I was looking over the last two boards, I noticed one player set up a very strategic defense. I then shortly found a very small mistake the player made after Mr. Barber made his move, and took advantage of it, which ended the game. With one player left, Mr. Barber and I cracked our knuckles, and focused our sights on the last player. Nobody had beaten us to this point. The last player was down material, so he needed to focus as hard as he could. We alternated turns, taking chunks of material out of the player as often as we could. Finally, a pawn passed, and it was over. All of the kids watched the last game with their golden queens on their boards. We shook the last player’s hand, and congratulated him on being the “last one to survive”. “Good game, we have our winner!” We shook his hand, and gave him… the golden king. We all agreed that we had a good time. The sun was shining, and it was a beautiful day outside. The day had only just begun, so we decided to enjoy the rest of the day, and park it in chess.Image
A Chess Penny For Your Thoughts
by Dewain Barber
I just returned home from Washington State. Our trip north started in Anaheim, California, and our major stop was the 2012 US Open in Vancouver, Washington. Vancouver was a great city to host this year’s event, right on the banks of the Columbia River where Lewis and Clark traveled over 200 years ago. Portland, across from Vancouver, was equal to the task of providing a big city atmosphere for those who traveled south over the bridge.
As I walked in the park with my wife, Susan, and a friend outside the hotel thinking of the great quality and quantity of players in the US Open, the Denker, the Barber and Girls Junior events, I looked down and saw a penny. Not wanting to miss a lucky chance I picked up the penny that was face down. When I turned it over I saw the year: 1985. In everyone’s life there are monumental events that change their view and future. That was true of this penny.Image
The year 1985 was the first year of the Denker Tournament of High School Champions. This event has grown into a very prestigious event that now attracts many of the strongest high school players from around the country. The progeny of this event is the Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions which fields some of the best younger players from throughout the United States. The Barber had its first tournament in Orlando last year. I had expected about 32-35 participants representing their state affiliates, but we saw 44 show up and enthusiastically support the Barber event with Masters in the top slots of the field. I never expected Master strength players to be a part of the Barber. Likewise, this year’s Barber once again found Master strength participants on the top boards with a field of forty-seven vying for honors.
Now we have a recent addition which once again caused me to reflect back on 1985. The USCF Delegates have authorized the creation of a National Girls Tournament of Champions (NGTOC) that will take place in 2013 at the US Open along side the Denker and Barber.
I would like to invite everyone to the 2013 US Open in Madison, Wisconsin. It is rumored that some cheese chess hats will be available.
American Queen Riverboat Chess
by Dewain Barber and Frank WelshImage
I have always enjoyed traveling by riverboat. My trips on the Nile, Danube, Rhine, and Mississippi Rivers have always been a relaxing pleasure. On several of these trips I have encountered passengers who also enjoyed playing chess. On this occasion I was on the American Queen steamboat that sailed from Memphis to New Orleans on the Mississippi River.
As I walked through the Mark Twain Gallery on board the American Queen, I noticed a gentleman who was seated looking at a chess set made of glass. I recognized the set and paused to see what was happening. He turned to me and commented, “I would play on this set, but the dark colored squares have lost their color and you cannot easily see the difference between the squares.” I agreed and asked if he played a lot of chess. Frank introduced himself and said, “I used to play in the past when I was in the military.” I made further inquiries, and he answered, “Here are my recollections on how I learned to play chess back in the early 1960’s.
I was stationed at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kansas as a brand new Lieutenant assigned to the 381st Strategic Missile Wing. The Wing’s mission was to man, maintain and operate 18 Titan II missiles that were situated around the city of Wichita, some as far as 50 miles away. Each missile site was made up of one in-ground missile silo and a 3-story underground control center positioned about 150 feet away. Once they became operational in mid-to-late 1963, they were continuously manned by a 4-man crew consisting of two officers and two enlisted men. This was at the height of the Cold War where nuclear deterrence through a strategy of Mutual Assured Destruction (with a very appropriate acronym of MAD) was the national defense policy of our country.
Another Lieutenant by the name of Jack Cullen and I went through missile school together and became friends. It was he who got me started playing chess. So when we got assigned to our respective crews, we would check our work schedules to see when we would be pulling an alert tour, which were 24 hours long, on the same day. On those days we would be sure to take a chess set out to the missile site with us with the idea that as free time became available during the tour we would get a chess game started via normal telephone connection from silo to silo.
Although each crew member would normally get between 4 to 6 hours of sleep during the 24-hour stay, it was not always at the easiest time to catch some shut-eye. At least one officer and one enlisted man had to be alert and ready to copy the launch message at all times. I found that planning my next chess move was a big help in keeping my mind alert during the wee hours. Usually we would be able to complete one game during the 24 hours as long as our sleep schedules were somewhat compatible.
As you might imagine, this way of playing chess did not prepare one for playing tournament chess where time was an important factor. I, for one, have always been known as a slow chess player, and I blame it on these inter-silo chess games where one could literally take hours to execute your next move. Jack and I continued this mode of chess play for most of 1964 until it became impossible due to changes in our work situations. Of course, we would try to get a game in when we were off duty whenever we could.”
Frank’s story was completely unexpected as most persons learned from a brother, friend or school teacher. I told him that I had a folding magnetic set in my cabin. He agreed to play a game of chess and I made a new friend. As was pointed out, Frank was a slow, deliberate and accurate player. The game continued with me winning a couple of pawns and the game. I sent him six of my issues of Chess Life. How appropriate that we met and played chess on the American Queen!
by Dewain BarberImage
In the Olympics, each country is invited to participate and winners receive medallions. I created the Barber Medallion to honor all participants who represent their state affiliate in the Dewain Barber National Tournament of Middle School State Champions.
I remembered seeing a show that did an interview with one of our Olympic Gold Medal winners. As the interview proceeded, the commentator asked to see the medallion that had been presented to our national representative. As he held the medallion in his hand, the commentator said, “I did not realize how heavy this is.” I thought that if we presented medallions they should not be the thin, small award that is found in many scholastic events.We needed a medallion that had some size and weight to it.
I located a company that could make our Barber Medallion, but now the challenge was what design should I use? Would it be a king, rook, bishop, knight or pawn? Everyone knows the king is the most important piece in the game of chess so I started looking at different designs for the king figure. Using the chess figurine charts I came across many kings that were highly decorative and some that were ultra-modern. This simple task had now become very complicated. So, how did I decide?
At this point I decided to contact several members of the GM Arnold Denker Tournament of High School Champions Committee. I asked them to think about a design for the Barber Medallion that would look similar to the Denker Medallion provided by my company, American Chess Equipment, but have its own unique features.
As each suggestion came in, I realized that once again I was up against the challenge of what would work. Everyone agreed that the basic design should be a king, but king figures can be very fancy, especially the cross on the top. I did receive some very decorative and unusual designs, but something told me that these were all wrong.
I began to think about chess sets that are used in beginning and intermediate tournaments. The Staunton design is very plain and easy for a young player to identify. Thousands of these sets are used each year for all grades especially K-8. Thus, I concluded that the design would be a simple Staunton king. Since that time, ACE has provided a Barber Medallion to every player who steps forward when his or her name and state are called.
I'm From the Bronx!
by Dewain Barber
One of the things that has always fascinated me during my chess travels in one hundred twenty countries and all the States of the Union is the people who engage in chess and their cultural identity. I would like to share one story that is true and it happened on a trip that my Buena Park Junior High Chess team from California took to the National Junior High Championships.
I have always taught that introducing yourself to your opponent and shaking hands is important. It shows respect for your opponent and the game. This was the case when one of my players sat down at his assigned board before the start of his first round game. He leaned over the board and introduced himself when he said, “Hi, my name is Bill. I am from California.” His opponent shook hands and replied, “My name is Jamal and I am from the Bronx.”
At this point Bill began to ponder using his geographic knowledge. “Humm, I do not recall a state in the United States called Bronx.” As he prepared to make his first move, Bill spoke up and said, “Oh, you are from New York!” Jamal replied, “No, man I am from the Bronx, the Bronx!” Bill was taken aback by the strong reply and decided to carry on with the game.
Upon the conclusion of the game Bill returned to the team table and addressed me with a question, “I met this guy from the Bronx in my last game and he said he was not from New York, but the Bronx. I am confused.” I began to laugh knowing as a history teacher this was a good lesson to teach to my young players that went beyond chess.
I had them all sit down and began to explain the identity relationship that some persons have with where they live. I said, “Jamal sees his identity tied to the Bronx, a borough which is a section in New York City. That identity is very strong and no matter where he goes to live or relationships he has with other people he will always be from the Bronx.”
A Chess Hero
by Dewain Barber
Upon reflecting on my nearly forty years in Scholastic Chess, I have sometimes wondered how I got to this point in my chess life. Then, I think of Bernard Morrison of Stanton, California. Bernie, as some of his friends called him, came to Southern California from Poland by way of New York and New Jersey. He arrived in the US in 1923 at the age of 18 as a musician with a passion for chess.
He raised a family, and upon retirement, he became more active in providing chess instruction in the local schools. I will readily admit that at this point I could be describing one of ten thousand chess instructors in the United States. So how was Mr. Morrison different, and a chess hero to me? Let me go back a few years to 1973 when I first met him at a meeting of all the chess organizers in Orange County, California.
The group met in the old firehouse in the City of Orange, and there in the meeting sat an old man wearing a suit and tie. I would judge him to be in his late ‘60s with quite a distinguished look. I was later introduced to him and found he was very intense and excited about kids and chess.
At the meeting we created the Orange County Chess Association and agreed that a free K-12 chess tournament would take place every year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Later, that event would be called the Bernard Morrison Scholastic Chess Tournament.
As I continued to work with students at my school in the chess club, I also continued to stay in touch with Mr. Morrison. He began to get up in years and had to give up driving due to several health issues, one of which was his failing eyesight. This impacted his ability to go to schools and provide chess instruction to the eager third and fourth graders who assembled in a classroom to listen to this grandfather tell stories about faraway places and a game that is hundreds of years old.
One day I was grading papers in my classroom when I got a call from the office. I asked them for the number, and I returned the call. The voice at the other end was Bernie. As he spoke I realized that he had a concern he wanted to share with me. As I listened he said, “Dewain, you will not believe the opportunity WE have! I have just been invited to a school near my home to teach chess every week on Wednesday afternoon after school.” I replied, “So, how can I help you?” I was figuring he needed some chess equipment or a one-time drop off. But instead, he asked me to drive him to the school and pick him up each week after the lesson which would take an hour. That amount of time after school every week was a challenge for a full-time teacher. I knew that Bernie was also involved in the Gifted Program in several school districts and had been working with the Braille Institute to promote chess for the blind among youngsters in Orange County. So, I reluctantly agree to help out. But, the story does not end there.
I stopped by his house, not having seen him for several months, and knocked on the door. He opened the door and invited me inside. It was a home that had seen better days. As I stepped in and prepared to collect the chess equipment we would take to the school that afternoon, he said, “Come here to the demonstration board. I want to show you a position that I will teach today.” He stepped over to the demo board and I followed. At that point I noticed he had his eyes about one inch from the board reviewing the position. I was shocked. He was nearly blind, and yet he insisted on teaching these kids in a school setting.
I realized then that my dedication to scholastic chess was a small contribution in comparison to this man’s continued dedication. To this day I have said to others, that if I could do even 10% of what Mr. Morrison could do, then I would be a success. He passed in August, 1983, but he is certainly my Chess Hero.
Barber K-8: The Beginning
by Dewain Barber
May 12, 2012
When GM Arnold Denker asked me to assist with the creation of the Denker Tournament of High School Champions in 1984, I had many questions that needed to be answered. We were able to get the motion to create the event before the U.S. Chess Federation Delegates and it was approved. One question lingered in the back of my mind and it had to do with this comment: GM Denker said, “This is an event for High School Champions.” I asked several times the question, “What if a Grade 8 or below were to win the State Championship?” He replied, “We will select the highest finishing 9-12 player.”
Using the words, “High School Champions” is a very distinct group and back at that time stronger young players were showing their skills. Thus, we proceeded with the Denker and as it turned out that tournament has seen 847 players compete in the Denker Invitational at the US Open from 1985 till 2013. Our Denker Alumni reflects the Masters and GMs that appear today in many of our tournaments.
About three years ago I was reviewing how we could create a “Denker style” event for the lower grades. Several parents over many years have asked us to have their child play in the Denker when their child did not qualify based on grade. I continue to support GM Denker’s wishes and spoke to several persons in the Scholastic community about several invitational events for K-6 and 7-8. We settled on a K-8 event. It was approved by the USCF Delegates and the first installment of the Dewain Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions was held at the 2011 US Open in Orlando. Besides prize funds the First Place finisher on tie-breaks for the Barber event is qualified for the World Youth Championship.
I look forward to greeting the Barber K-8 Champions from each state at the US Open year after year. I know some of them will also play in the Denker event in the future. Thanks again to GM Denker for being the driving force behind a great idea!
- 2011 and Earlier
Dewain’s First Chess Lesson
by George Dwight Barber Jr.
My brother Dewain was first introduced to the game of chess by me. I returned from spending a day visiting our father, who taught at a Navy School in Norman, Oklahoma, where we all lived. On my visit to the Navy School, one of the sailors asked me if I would like to play some chess. After showing me how to move some of the pieces, we played a game. He won and then laughed. I learned later that he was a prankster and would use a Fool’s Mate on unsuspecting individuals. Our father heard about the prank and told me about the sailor. I was really mad and determined to learn how to play chess.
As brothers, Dewain and I have always been very close. When I got home, I told him what the sailor had done. At that point we both really wanted to learn chess. Our father bought us a chess book and set. We both studied the book and started to play chess together. This was in the fall of 1955. Dewain was 9 years old at the time. He was later to travel to his first tournament in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Way Up North
by Dewain BarberImage
In the course of my travels, I had an opportunity to visit my sister who lives in Wasilla, Alaska. As part of that trip, my wife and I flew up to Barrow, Alaska, to see the northernmost school district in the United States and visit the town.
We were given a tour of the town and a ride in the local tour bus which was also the school bus.We saw the local Mexican restaurant (to my knowledge the northernmost Mexican restaurant in the US or probably anywhere), the Bowhead whale exhibit, a location where seal meat was drying, and the Town Hall.Image
I asked the tour guide if they had a chess club in Barrow and he replied, “Steve Culbertson has a chess club for his 7th and 8th grade students at the school.”
After I returned home to Southern California, I contacted the Barrow school and ended up speaking to Steve.I asked if he would be interested in a match between his students and my students from Buena Park Junior High.He said, “Yes, but how are we going to exchange moves?”Since this was before the Internet, I suggested we fax the moves.We agreed that each week we would fax moves with 8 games to be played.No player was allowed to consult or be helped with his choice of moves.
Everything progressed nicely until March when I received a phone call from Steve. He said, “Our North vs South match will have to be postponed for two weeks.”
I asked, “Are you going to be on spring break, or do you have a personal problem?”
He replied, “No, nothing like that.It’s just that all the kids will be seal hunting and helping out with family chores so the school will be closed.”I was truly surprised at first, but recovered and then I wondered how I would explain this to my chess team of junior high players who lived in sunny Southern California.
I got the team together and explained that the match with Barrow would be postponed for seal hunting.I dare say that it was the most unusual adjournment in scholastic chess history!Chess truly has no boundaries.In case you are planning a trip to play some chess in Barrow, you will find the temperature for February 17, 2009 to be -15 degrees F with a Low of -36 degrees F.
Dewain's Lecture at the Citrus College Chess Club
by Stephanie "Passion" Mendez
November 7, 2010
On Nov. 4th, The Chess Club had the privilege of experiencing a wonderful lecture by a wise man named Dewain Barber. Dewain is the owner and CEO of American Chess Equipment and has previously been a teacher in High School and Middle School. Dewain has traveled most of the world and over 71 countries! He was talking about playing chess in other countries and that it didn’t matter what language he spoke or they spoke because chess is a language of its own. He has played in chess in countries such as China and Mexico.
He gave the chess club members some very helpful strategies and guidelines to success in the game of chess. Dewain stated, “Do you know I speak two international languages. The first one is Chess and the other one is Smile.” He was telling us that those two languages were all that he needed when he traveled the world! He then went on to talk to us about Chess strategy and really emphasized on having fun. Sometimes, having fun is the one rule that some players can tend to forget!
It’s important to not be so hard on ourselves and to learn from our mistakes as Mr. Barber had pointed out. He said to “Lighten up with your games.” The next tip or advice that he gave us was to make sure we control the Center! It’s very important to control the center and he mentioned that a lot of chess players forget that. He also stated, “If you ignore the center you are committing your own chess suicide!”
Dewain went on to some more advice about improving your endgame. Studying chess should be focused on studying the endgame. If you really know how to end the game, you can win mostly every time.
Dewain was telling us stories about his ventures in chess throughout the lecture. He told us many fascinating stories about him competing with Chess Masters but one that was really interesting and a story that most can relate to was a story about when Dewain had gone to a Simul with 64 other people to play against GM Walter Browne. GM Browne is a 6-time US Chess champion and he played against all 65 players at one time during this simul. As most of us have experience a simul, this one was definitely at another level. Dewain was very happy to report that in this match against Walter Browne he had the opportunity to draw; not too bad for playing against a 6-time US Chess Champion!
There was such a wealth of information at this lecture and I was glad to have attended. Dewain Barber was an excellent guest who was funny, kept us interested and provided so much helpful information for future games. In the future, if you unfortunately missed this lecture, I recommend that next time Dewain visits us everyone should attend.
You can view the original publication here
- Alumni List: 2011-2023
First Name Last Name State Years Joshua Alexander OK 2013 Aadil Ali SD 2020 Justin Alter CO 2016 Hardik Alwa AR 2022 Ryan Amburgy OK 2018 Aravindaswamy Anandakumar NM 2018 Danny Angermeier MA 2014 Akash Anumalasetty NV 2023 Neel Apte CA-N 2011 Mayhul Arora WA 2012 Charithra Arvind OH 2023 Om Badhe AL 2018 Gilman Bagga KY 2011 Vincent Jingwei Baker OH 2016 Praveen Balakrishnan NJ 2012 Aaron Shapiro Balleisen NC 2012 Siddharth Banik CA-N 2014 Chris Bao NV 2019-21 Rishabh Bapat KS 2021 Samuel Baskarraj AL 2021 Rishav Bhattacharyya WI 2018 Alex Bian IL 2013 Gatlin Black UT 2016 John Boylin WV 2020, 2022 Tony Brar ID 2014 Mika Brattain MA 2012 Triton Bren ND 2019 Avery Brewer MS 2012, 2014 David Brodsky NY 2014 Michael Brown CA-S 2011 Xavier Bruni AL 2022-23 Raghurama Bukkarayasamudram GA 2012 Ethan Burdettee WV 2018 John Burke NJ 2014-15 Joshua Campbell TN 2015 Elton Cao OH 2018 Kevin Cao MO 2011 John Capocyan TX 2018 Gage Carr AR 2021 Emmanuel Carter NC 2014 III Carter DC 2015 Manuel Castillo NM 2023 Troy Cavanah MN 2020-21 Ethan Chan NV 2022 Kapil Chandran CT 2011-12 Jeffrey Chang MD 2012 Nico Chasin NY 2021 Alex Chen NC 2017 Andy Chen NJ 2013 Forest Chen TN 2016 George Y. Chen NJ - alt 2021 Jackson Chen CO 2011-12 Justin Chen NY 2017 Kevin Chen NC 2011 Mark Chen HI 2018, 2020 Michael Chen MI 2014 Peter Chen MI 2011 Steve Chen AL 2012 Tony Cheng KS 2011 Jacob Chiang CA - N 2022 Srikar Chikkala AR 2011 Kyle Ching HI 2023 Arjun Choudhry SD 2012 Derek Clasby NJ 2017 James Clifford NH 2021 Alexander Collins VT 2023 Alexander Costello CA-S 2018 Christian Couvillion MS 2015 Daniel Cremisi NC 2013 Elijah Cummings VT 2022 Balaji Daggupati CA-N 2016 Arjun Dasari RI 2017 Pasha Dashti KY 2023 Nikhil Datar IN 2016-17 Christian Davis DC 2017 Oliver Davis NH 2023 Nicolas de Checa NY 2013 Colin Dean CT 2022 Diego Delgado MS 2022 Henry Deng CA-N 2023 Aditya Dias SC 2014-15 Thomas Diep MD 2022 Vincent Do IL 2016 Richard Wu-Huan Dong LA 2016 William Donham AR 2019-20 Gabriel Eaton ME 2021 Dalton Eckmann SD 2015 Max Egan IN 2018 Liam Farrell ME 2017 Aidan Fejzulai SC 2013 Eric Feng MA 2022-23 Maggie Feng OH 2012 Roland Feng WA 2012-13 Owen Fiedorowicz IA 2018 Matthew Fishbein ME 2011-12 Aden Fisher MT 2020 Tara Fisler RI 2022 Max Friedman TN 2012 Alexander Fuhs SD 2013-14 Jacob Furfine IL 2015 Aiden Gandhi UT 2021 Finn Garside NH 2017 Nicolo Gelb WA 2011 Luke Gentile WY 2022 Sanjay Ghatti GA 2013-14 Grant Giovannetti NV 2015 Sho Glashausser KS 2016 Vidu Godage KY 2015 Jonathan Gollapudi MO 2016 Hayes Goodman RI 2019 Turner Gough TN 2017 Abhinav Govindaraju NH 2018 Aaron Grabinsky OR 2012 Jacob Graham VT 2019, 2021 Gabriel Gronski IL 2021 Christopher Gu RI 2011 Rohit Gundam TX 2019 Arthur Guo GA 2018-20 ARNAV GUPTA VA 2021 Aryan Gutla TX 2021 Kiana Hajiarbabi KS 2014 Stewart Hall TN 2021 Qiyu Han MS 2013 Brewington Hardaway NY 2022-23 Brady Harder WI 2011 Bill Hartt ME 2016 Anthony He WA 2018 Eric He RI 2021 Justin He ID 2019 Tommy He TX 2012 Pieter Heesters MD 2017-18 Luke Hengen NE 2023 Liam Hereford KY 2017 Angel Hernandez-Camen PA 2014 Craig Hilby CA-S 2012-13 Truman Hoang FL 2014-15 Zachary Holecek IL 2011 Allen Hong SC 2021 Oliver Houchin KY 2020 Margaret Hua MO 2012 Andy Huang VA 2018 Yixin Huang UT 2018 Ayden Huang MO 2023 Ryan Hunter AK 2020 Gus Huston NY 2019 Will Hutchins MS 2023 Udit Iyengar CA-N 2012 Brandon Jacobson NJ 2016 Jr Jalem TN 2018 Kai Jenkins-Mui VT 2018 Austin Jiang TX 2011 Dylan Jiang NH 2019, 2022 Nathan Jiang ID 2012 Raymond Jiang OK 2022 Andrew Jiang GA 2023 Boylin John WV 2022 Donald Johnson NC 2020 Nicolas Johnson AZ 2011 Vaibhav Kalpaka MN 2023 Suganth Kannan FL 2012 Vishwaa Kannan KY 2021-22 Avi Kaplan IL 2020 Jeevan Karamsetty VA 2011 Eli Karp LA 2012 Gabriel Katz VT 2011-13 Ivan Ke CA-S 2017 Joey Kelly KS 2015 Sawyer Kenney ND 2013 J Michael Kidd AR 2013-14 Benjamin Kim HI 2019, 21 Yoon-Young Kim CT 2014 Jacob Klein ME 2022 Ishaan Kodarapu OR 2022 Kaustubh Kodihalli ID 2022-23 Sai Kolli NE 2021-22 Cameron Koziol RI 2016 Stevan Kriss KY 2012 Aidan Krueger IA 2020 Matthew Kubisch IN 2014 Arya Kumar NC 2019 Krish Kumar OK 2016-17 Nikhil Kumar FL 2016 Vijay Kumar NE 2019 Havish Kunchanapalli AR 2023 Jared Lassner FL 2011 Benjamin Lauer NJ 2019 Harry Le NE 2016 Harry Le GA 2021 Conrad Lee MT 2011-15 Jayden Lee AZ 2022 Joseph Levine WA 2019 Ben Li MI 2016 Brandon Li NE 2011 Dennis Li CT 2015 Henry Li DE 2015 Kevin Li WI 2015 Max Li NY 2016 Zhaozhi Li IL 2012 Joshua Li OK 2023 Adream Liang WI 2013 Albert Liang GA 2016 Awonder Liang WI 2013 Ethan Liang WI 2021-23 Jason Liang NY 2020 Justin Liang MI 2017 Evan Ling VA 2015 Andrew Liu MA 2013 Aristo Liu OH 2015 Bovey Liu TX 2014 Connor Liu SC 2016 Eric Liu TX 2022 Parker Liu AL 2020 Anish Lodh IA 2017, 2019 Anjali Lodh IA 2021 Justin Lohr VA 2013-14 Amanda Lossef DC 2018 Maximillian Lu CT 2016, 2020 Ming Lu CA-S 2020 Yiding Lu WA 2023 Ryan Luo DE 2017 Terry Luo DE 2018-2019, 2021 Benjamin Lyons NE 2015 Sullivan Mac CO 2020 Suhas Madiraju NC 2015 Rushaan Mahajan WA 2021 Jayant Maheshwari MD 2019-20 Atharva Makode NJ 2021 Harsh Mali CO 2022 Karthikeya Malireddy NC 2023 Dimitar Mardov IL 2018-19 Isaiah Mares WY 2018-19 VEDANT MARGALE CO 2023 Arden Markin AL 2014, 2016 Samuel Mason UT 2014 Nickolas Mathern ND 2015 Ashrith Mathiyazhagan MI 2021 Rithwik Mathur WI 2016-17 Nastassja Matus MN 2018 Sullivan McConnell CO 2017-19 Owen McCoy OR 2015, 2017 John McGrath SD 2022-23 Samuel Mehlhaff KS 2023 Logan Mercer AL 2015 Evan Meyer MA 2015 Suren Mikoyan CA - S 2022 Apramay Mishra KS 2013 Marcus Miyasaka NY 2015 Benjamin Moon GA 2011 Eli Moore SC 2019-20 Grant Mu IN 2019, 2021 Divyam Mukherjee NV 2017-18 Advait Nair FL 2023 Ford Nakagawa HI 2011-12 Vaseegaran Nandhakumar KS 2022 Samrug Narayanan MN 2015, 2017, 2019 Suhaas Narayanan CO 2015 Madhaven Narkeeran PA 2018 Asher Nathan NM 2015-16, 2019 Jacob Nathan ID 2013 Krishna Nathan CA-N 2019 Jackson Neme VT 2016 Matteo Nero MT 2021-23 Bach Ngo FL 2019, 2021-22 Darian Nguyen AZ 2015 Emily Nguyen TX 2016 James Nguyen TN 2022 Trung Nguyen VA 2016 Anson OYoung NH 2014 Coby OYoung NH 2011 Bendeguz Offertaler MD 2011 Neo Olin WA 2015 Tamm Omar KY 2016 Rohan Padhye OH 2022 Nicholas Palmer WV 2015-16 Vignesh Panchanatham CA-N 2013 Elijah Pancoast AK 2023 Aaradhya Panda AZ 2023 Surya Parasuraman MI 2015 Sanjay Parhi WV 2012 Evan Park PA 2019, 2021 Wesley Parker ME 2013 Aayan Patel NV 2016 Advait Patel WV 2011, 2013-15 Parth Patel IN 2022 Jhavin Patil RI 2023 Justin Paul VA 2017 David Peng IL 2014 Shunkai Peng OR 2018-19 Royce Pereira NV 2012-13 Hayden Peters WY 2023 Prateek Pinisetti AZ 2012 Danila Poliannikov MA 2017-19 Donald Poston NM 2012-13 Henry Poston NM 2014 Lilia Poteat NY 2012 Kapish Potula GA 2015 Naveen Prabhu NC 2018 Pranav Prem VA 2019 Julian Proleiko MO 2013 Cael Province KS 2018-19 Devon Puckett TN 2014 Naren Pullela OK 2019 Arjun Puri MO 2021 Alexander Qi UT 2015 Alexander Qin TN 2013 Matthew Qu MN 2014 Colton Quirk MT 2017 Joshua Rajadurai MN 2022 Vignesh Rajasekaran VA 2012 Sanjay Rajjan NE 2018 Arjun Raman IN 2023 Abhinav Ramaswamy OH 2011 Architsai Ramnath MD 2023 Sarah Ramson DC 2023 Ananth Rangan NH 2015-16 Anjaneya Rao IL 2022-23 Ujan Ray UT 2017 Jesse Ren MI 2023 Cory Riegelhaupt FL 2011 Ricardo Rivera AR 2017-18 Danilo Rivero FL 2013 Andrew Roach UT 2012-13 Jonah Romero NM 2017 Bennett Ross ND 2021 Matteo Runge LA 2021-23 Alexander Rutten GA 2017 Gagana Sadineni WV 2023 Arshaq Saleem IA 2014 Gabriel Sam CA-S 2015-16 Shreyan Sarangi UT 2022-23 Kevin Schill ND 2022-23 Peter Schillinger AZ 2016 Zachary Schuh KS 2012 Sandeep Sethuraman AZ 2019 Logan Shafer TX 2023 Botao Shan LA 2011 Henry Shannon ME 2023 Chengyue She AR 2015-16 Arthur Shen NJ 2011 Christopher Shen OH 2017 Joshua Sheng CA-S 2014 Ankith Sheshappa KS 2017 Jason Shi CT 2013 Tinglin Shi WI 2012 Asim Shivapur IA 2022-23 Robert Shlyakhtenko CA-S 2019 Benjamin Shoykhet MO 2017 Justin Siek ID 2015 Hersh Singh WI 2018-19 Aarman Singhvi TN 2023 Sahil Sinha MD 2013-14 Ragulan Sivakumar VT 2014 Kent Slate VA 2022 Evan Smith ME 2018-19 Will Snyder SC 2022 Kiran Soma KY 2014 Anaiy Somalwar CA-N 2018 Edward Song MI 2013 Isaiah Soori ND 2014, 2016-18 Aiden Sowa RI 2012-13 Ryan Sowa RI 2014-15 Vivek Srinivas PA 2016 Vikram Srivastava OH 2014 Kenneth Su AZ 2018 JASMINE ZHIXIN SU CT 2023 Maxwell Sun OR 2013 Rick Sun AZ 2015, 2017 Ryan Swerdlin CO 2013-14 Marcell Szabo WA 2014 Rayan Taghizadeh CA-N 2015 Seth Talyansky OR 2014 Sean Tan OH 2021 Andrew Tang MN 2011-13 Arthur Tang NH 2012-13 Henry Tang LA 2019 Zoey Tang OR 2021 Austin Tang OR 2023 Arthur Tao SD 2016 Sihan Tao CA - S alt 2022 Sihan Tao CA - S 2023 Andrew Titus MN 2016 Nicholas Tomlin TN 2011 Alexander Tong NC 2016 Rohun Trakru TX 2015 Jacey Tran NE 2017 Minh Tran LA 2018