2018 was a huge year for US Chess, as Fabiano Caruana competed for the World Championship just a few weeks after a thrilling Olympiad in Batumi. In the digital world, US Chess saw massive gains in social media as our twitter and instagram followings blossomed, while we also started two podcasts, with a third on the way. Our Events team debuted a Twitch broadcast at the U.S. Open, and a video we sponsored debuted in the New Yorker, earning a viral response, while another celebrated Timur Gareyev’s chess diving cover shoot.
We also shifted from US Chess News back to CLO, short for Chess Life Online.
Best of CLO celebrates the best in online prose and written interviews of the year, as the rapid pace of online journalism causes some pieces to be missed. Our illustrious panel of judges ranked the top ten articles of 2018, which we’ll unveil one day at a time starting on January 17th.
With no further ado, meet our judges!
Meet The Judges
Joshua Anderson is the current president of the Chess Journalists of America and has run their awards program for the past seven seasons. As a trained historian, Joshua has deeply researched two of his passions – chess and football, authoring several historic articles and book chapters. He is currently working on a book about the Byrne Brothers for McFarland Publishing and a collection of oral histories of US Chess members for US Chess Trust / Chess Journalists of America. He has worked for Shining Knights Chess for over a decade and currently lives in Exton, PA, with his wife Brandy, their 4 rabbits, 2 turtles, and 2 cats. Find his recent article on John Collins games in the January issue of Chess Life, with an online supplement here.
Michael “f-pawn” Aigner is an active chess master and coach from Sacramento, CA. He goes by the online moniker “fpawn,” referring to his longtime devotion to chess openings that involve the King’s Bishop Pawn, especially the Bird (1.f4) and Dutch (1.d4 f5). In fact, he first registered fpawn on ICC way back in 1994 when the server was still called AICS. Aigner was recognized as Accessibility and Special Circumstances Person of the Year at the 2018 Annual US Chess Awards. Check out his chess website http://www.fpawn.com/
Grandmaster Josh Friedel is quite experienced as a player, instructor, and chess writer. He won the 2013 US Open Championship as well as other strong open tournaments throughout the US. Friedel has written for Chess Life, Chess Life Online, Saint Louis Public Radio, and other publications. Josh currently resides in Brookfield, Wisconsin, where he teaches chess across a wide spectrum of ages and levels. He also produces the chess instructional series Autopsy on his YouTube channel.
Adia Onyango competes in tournaments all over the World and has been rated as high as National Expert and among the top 100 Women in the United States. With an undergraduate degree from Vassar College she went on to complete her master’s in clinical psychology and most of her Doctoral studies. Today she creates multidisciplinary chess programs for all populations of children, ranging from the most talented and gifted to those with behavior challenges. She has coached some of the top teams and students in the Nation and teaches adults and seniors.
She runs one of the most active closed chess groups on Facebook, Chess Connections with over 4K members and even more on the waitlist. She also runs a FB group called Women and Girls Do Play Chess. She has organized activities to bring women and girls in the chess world together, including Sunday Brunch and Chess, all women study groups, and pop up meet ups. With over 400 members, over 90% are women and girls. She is the captain of 4 teams in the Commercial Chess League of New York, two of which represent the first ever ALL women teams. She also has been active on many committees including, the US Chess Women’s Committee and the Marshall Chess Club Tournament Committee. When Adia is not teaching, coaching, creating programs, competing in tournaments, doing community work, or organizing new events, you can find her being an ambassador for chess, giving lectures, conducting Simultaneous Exhibits, and traveling the globe, combining her love for chess and travel. Follow her on Instagram as the Chess Traveler.
He is also an International Master and active on social media networks, including twitch and twitter. He recently appeared on the Perpetual Podcast to talk about the 2019 PCL season, as well as his innovative ideas on chess formats.
Greg is a frequent contributor to CLO, and recently took over our twitter feed while reporting on the K-12 Chess Championships. His most popular tweet was a record-breaker for US Chess on twitter, with over 40K views between instagram and twitter.
— US Chess (@USChess) December 14, 2018
Jennifer Vallens founded OFF da ROOK Entertainment in 2013. She runs scholastic tournaments in Southern California. Jennifer serves on the Board of the (SCCF) Southern California Chess Federation, the Karpov International Chess School and Chess Journalists of America. She is the author of several published articles in New In Chess and Chess Life magazines (including a recent cover story on Chess Parenting), as well as articles in Chessbase. She manages worldwide events, publicity and promotion for GM Timur Gareyev. Vallens has a background in marketing and enjoys creating opportunities to unite the chess community.
When she is not working in Chess, she teaches Yoga and runs Mental Health support groups for those in Treatment and Recovery. She resides in Westlake Village, CA with her husband, two sons and dog.