Checkmate & Cake: National Chess Day Celebrations from Memphis to New York

US Chess members from all over the country celebrated National Chess Day on Saturday, October 13, 2018. Grab a slice of cake as we pick up from our last article and review some highlights from the weekend of chess.

Memphis, TN by NTD Korey Kormick

Among the most enthusiastic celebrations were in Memphis, where Arlene Kleiman of Mid South Chess, always brings a delicious cake.

For National Chess Day 2018, Shelby County Chess in Memphis, TN, decided to host not just one, but an eye-widening three tournaments.  Each “course”, that is tournament, of the buffet had a different time control:  Tournament “A for Action G/30, Tournament “B” for Blitz G/5, and Tournament “C” for Cwik (Old English for “Quick) G/10.  Players had the flexibility of participating in one, two, or all three “courses.  Over the day, players enjoyed a new pastry at the beginning of each “course” including the Annual Shelby County National Chess Day cake.  Candy, First Place gift card awards, and special prizes for all competitors were given out.

The “A’ for Action tournament was split into Quads or small Round Robins.  Adults & advanced scholastic players squared off, with expert DeVon Puckett going undefeated. 

  In the lower scholastic rating band, Tigo Le held off his competitors after ceding a first round draw.  Unrated sections were championed by Gervacio Gonzalez (a high schooler returning to his first tournament after a few year hiatus) and Shrivathsan Sivan (who won all games against other players who are beginning their tournament careers).

The “B” for Blitz tournament, a Swiss, started with upsets galore.  In the Rated section, after the first round, the only perfect score was the bye player! Catching form quickly, however, was Dr. Andre Duvall, Mid-South Chess Coach and professional musician, who went undefeated after splitting the first round to win his group.  In the Unrated section, it was one of the youngest players, who, after receiving a bye in round one, went on to overachieve against older players to win by a full point.

The “C” for Cwik tournament got an infusion of players who had other activities earlier in the day, so those who had been there all day played new opponents.  These new players had the opportunity to participate on even footing with the start of this new tournament.  By far, the most important lesson of the day, proved this format could be a successful one for future tournaments.  The Unrated section was won by Sai Harshil Konchada with a perfect score, while the Rated section went to a tiebreaker (as if these players needed even more games!) since the top three players all defeated one another.  Emerging victorious was Evan Wu, who takes top board for Memphis University School, which was the host for our National Chess Day Buffet.  

Shelby County Chess wishes to give thanks to Judd Peters, Director of Student Life at MUS, for his unending support of our National Chess Day event.  We also send a shout out to all parents and players who made this buffet such a memorable experience – of being stuffed with chess!

Springfield, Illinois 

The Springfield, Illinois Chess Club held a tournament in celebration of National Chess Day, which was won by Greg Whitlock, pictured (right). Find more photos and information on the club at or their Facebook page.  

Coloma, California by Clarence Lehman

In Coloma, CA, they have a two-day event celebrating the Gold Rush that commenced in 1848.  Here I am with a docent, playing on a Jacques set of the era. Here I am playing White against David Miklosko.

Salem, New York by Ralph Vecchio

The Blind Squirrels Club in Salem, N.Y (pop.  2715)  took  a break from play for a picture in recognition of  National Chess Day on Saturday, October 13. The club, with 20 regulars, though not usually at one time, meets on Saturdays at the Bancroft Hall Library in Salem and is open to anyone interested in a game of chess.There are no membership dues or fees of any kind and no equipment necessary; the club supplies chess sets and boards. The club also runs tournaments from time to time for club members  Matches are unrated and solely for the enjoyment and practice of the participants.

 Polk County, Florida by Steve Diaz

Polk Scholastic Chess started its 30th year off on National Chess Day, October 13th 2018, with a tournament that included 640 students in the Polk County, Florida school district. Polk Scholastic Chess is a nonprofit organization offering an extracurricular activity open to all students of Polk County, Florida, enrolled in Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade, including home-schooled students. Four regular tournaments are held from October through February with a Championship Tournament held in March.

We exist to encourage academic growth through the game of chess. PSC has been committed for over 29 years to “encouraging academic growth through the game of chess”. We believe the game of Chess is an exciting way to teach critical thinking skills, sequencing, sportsmanship, self-control, and many other skills important for academic growth and development. We have seen the progress of students who play chess and their improvement academically.

Additionally, we recognize graduating seniors who have had an extended length of participation with Polk Scholastic Chess and who have made active contributions to their school and community. As part of this encouragement for academic growth we award two scholarships to graduating seniors. Many of our players go on to play in US Chess rated tournaments. You can follow along with our tournaments at

To add your own #NationalChessDay story to this report, submit a photo and paragraph in the body of an email to [email protected] 

Leave a Comment

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Announcements

  • US Chess Press