Kornelijs (Neil) Dale, 1933-2016

Neil8-2-87USOpenassistantTDThe US Chess Federation presented Kornelijs (Neil) Dale with an “Outstanding Career Achievement Award” at the 2012 U.S. Open. For most of that chess career, Neil was Professor of Accounting at Mt. Hood Community College and spent his weekends directing tournaments for the Portland Chess Club. Neil donated his directing fees, which allowed the club to maintain a permanent, spacious location. Neil served on the Portland Chess Club Board of Directors, most recently from 2000 through 2014, until colon cancer forced him to give up chess volunteering.

The Portland Chess Club Board of Directors renamed the Portland New Year’s Open (formerly the Gresham Open) as the Neil Dale Memorial Open. The club’s Web site states, “Neil started and ran the Gresham Open many times. Neil volunteered countless hours to chess in the Portland area, including running hundreds of tournaments over many decades. We hope everyone can stop by to pay their respects and share some memories of Neil before the start of round 1.” The tournament is January 7-8, 2017 and will be held at the Portland Chess Club, 8205 SW 24th Ave, Portland, OR 97219. The Neil Dale Memorial Open will be an annual event at the beginning of each year.

Starting in 2009, Neil volunteered as a chess teacher at Fisher’s Landing Elementary School in Vancouver, WA. Neil and his wife of 19 years (Lynn Fromme) lived about 20 minutes from Fisher’s Landing. Neil emailed in March of 2011, “My grandson Justin (Rasa’s kid) goes to school there. While Lynn & I were on a cruise in February, they had a tournament & he tied for 1st.” In addition to his wife Lynn and grandson Justin, Neil is also survived by Justin’s younger sister Alyssa, both children of his daughter Rasa Keanini (husband Milton); and by his daughter Daina Hardisty (husband Dan; children Laila and Magnus) from Gresham, OR, daughter Mara Dale (husband Hugh Sakols) from Yosemite National Park, CA, and son Andrew Dale (wife Grace; children Kris and Katryna) from Santa Clara, CA. Daina, Mara, and Rasa’s mother Liga Dale née Cielena, Neil’s second wife, also survives Neil. Neil’s first wife Ingaborg Dale née Weiss and Neil’s grandson Brandon are deceased. Neil’s sister Sibilla Hershey and her husband Gerry (Davis, CA), and their sons John and Peter, also survive Neil.

In addition to travel (as noted above, mostly by cruise ship), Neil enjoyed cross-country skiing, crossword puzzles, reading, and writing. He composed detailed travelogues and mailed those to friends.

Neil was born in Latvia and immigrated with his parents, Viktors and Karola, and sister to the U.S. in 1951. In 1954, Neil joined the U.S. Army and became a U.S. citizen. He earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of San Francisco, before moving to Oregon in 1970 to teach at Mt. Hood Community College.

After learning of Neil’s passing, Original Life Master Carl Haessler posted on Facebook:

Neil was a great man and a lifelong chess friend. He will be remembered as a true legend of Oregon chess. Player, Promoter, Organizer and Director … he did it all, and did so for over 40 years. As a Chief TD his kind but firm demeanor was equally effective at the State Championship and at numerous local scholastic events.

Northwest Chess magazine plans a tribute to Neil Dale in its next issue. For that issue, I (Alexey Root) contributed:

I dedicated my book Science, Math, Checkmate: 32 Chess Activities for Inquiry and Problem Solving to Neil Dale, writing “For Kornelijs (Neil) Dale, respected tournament director, valued friend.” I first played in a tournament directed by Neil Dale in 1977, when I was 12 years old. His daughter Mara was the same age as me and we became (and remain) best friends. After that 1977 NW Junior tournament, I always stayed at Neil’s home when playing in Portland-area tournaments. After I moved away from the Pacific NW in 1987, Neil kept in touch by letters and remembered my children’s birthdays with gifts. Whenever I was in the Portland area, I enjoyed his hospitality, which often included him making Latvian pancakes. He was a gracious host as a tournament director and organizer, just as he was to guests in his home.



  1. Although I played tournament chess in the Seattle, Washington area for many years, I did not have the pleasure of meeting Dale during my competitive chess days.

    From reading this article it seems to me that he must have been a tireless advocate and ambassador for the game in the Portland area, that he had a significant effect on chess players and chess events alike, and that he’ll be greatly missed by those who had the good fortune to be a part of his life.

  2. I first met Neil in 1987 when he was helping at the US Open in Portland. I had recently moved to Portland and was just becoming familiar with the chess scene in Oregon. It seemed that Neil was the most prolific USCF Tournament Director in the region! When my children were old enough to play in the State Scholastic tournaments, there was Neil again, either directing or assisting in some way. I only got to play him OTB once – he was a very pleasant and graceful opponent. RIP Neil – you were appreciated and will be missed.

  3. For Neil’s 75th birthday several of us posted “thanks” in NW Chess, as follows:

    We want to congratulate Neil Dale on the celebration of his 75th birthday. We also want to publicly express our thanks for all he does for chess in Portland. Most people know him as the chief director of tournaments organized by Portland Chess Club. He selflessly donates his time many weekends so that the rest of us may have the opportunity to play.

    One example: the weekend of the recent Portland Winter Open found Portland paralyzed by a rare snow storm. Many players could not get themselves to the club to finish the second day pairings. But Neil did. Leaving early, he negotiated the treacherous streets, avoiding all the freeway pileups, and held the last rounds with a few other brave souls, proving that “the show must go on.”

    Neil has directed over 100 tournaments in the last 6 years. By donating his director fees back to PCC he has enabled the club to generate the revenue necessary to maintain a chess facility in Portland. For all he does we say, THANKS, NEIL.

    Nick Raptis, Mike Janniro, Grisha Alpernas, Dick Banner & Mike Morris

  4. Chess lost a long time TD with the passing of Neil. He will be missed by many in the Portland area. RIP Neil. Nice that a first weekend in January will have a chess
    tournament held in his memory.

  5. My husband and I met Neil Dale when we moved to Portland and joined the Portland Chess Club. He welcomed us as he did all new players to the Portland Chess Club. He was a supporter of Casual Chess NIght and later we learned that he had always supported scholastic players by helping them get to tournaments and also providing a place to stay at his house. Many great chess events took place because Neil Dale organized them and was the TD. He was the author of many articles in Northwest Chess as well. It was wonderful to be present when he received a LIfetime Achievement Award from the United States Chess Federation for his efforts. We will miss his gruff but gentle voice saying “I’ll give you a game”

  6. I remember playing in his tourney, Gresham Open, the first week of January, couple of times in 90s. He was always friendly and hospitable. Neil loved chess and was supportive of all chess players. May he rest in peace. Condolences to the family.

  7. Neil (Kornelijs) Dale was one of several Latvian-born players who settled in the Pacific Northwest after World War Two and did so much to help develop chess in the area. While Ivars Dahlbergs, Viesturs Seglins, Miervaldis Jursevskis, Elmars Zemgalis and Viktors Pupols (still alive and well and playing often!) were all strong players, Neil Dale was an organizer and tournament director of the highest level who directed events in his adopted hometown of Portland for over forty years. I have fond memories of playing in the 1977 Northwest Junior Open in Gresham which he directed. Neil Dale was an intelligent and kind man who believed in giving back to the community. He was a good friend of chess.

  8. I had occasion to play in tournaments Neil Dale ran when I lived in Oregon, and he was a friendly TD, and ran a smooth tournament.

    Some years after that, when I was editing NW Chess magazine he always got his tournament advertisements to Northwest Chess early and error free. A trait that was not always the case in others!

    The chess world lost a good friend. Condolence to all who knew him.

  9. Neil was my best buddy Mara’s dad, as well as my my very good friends Daina and Rasa. He was a tell it like it was kind of guy but I also felt a lot of warmth and affection from him. He truly wanted to know what was happening in my life. He was a very interesting man, and made one hell of a trivial pursuits partner. I’m glad he isn’t in pain, but I’m sad the world doesn’t have him any longer. Go in peace my friend!

  10. I have been playing chess in the Portland area since 2004, when I was 17. Neil probably directed the majority of the tournaments I played in, including several Oregon Chess Championships and Oregon Opens, among others.
    Even though I only knew him in the capacity of tournament director and chess player, it was evident that he was a very good and kind man. And after reading this article, I am glad to know that he lead a full and happy life outside of chess as well. He clearly cared very deeply for our community of chess players, and probably devoted more of himself to that community than any other single person. Rest in Peace Neil; you will be very sorely missed!

  11. I will miss Neil Dale. I have known him for over forty years playing in his tournaments. Neil was my instructor in accounting when I went to Mt Hood CC. I always enjoyed our discussions on multiple topics. Whenever I asked about his children he would smile and give me the family updates. He was very proud of kids. I owe a great deal to Neil for the opportunities to play tournament chess in Oregon.

      • Izsaku visdziļako lidzjutibu tev un taviem vistuvakajiem radiņiem.Man Kornelijs bij ļoti mīļsh un dargs.Es ar Korneliju sarakstijos ar vestulem.Viņsh manai omitei Livijai Rogulei bij bralens.Bet es esmu Livijas Rogules mazmeita.Ludzu atsuti Sibilas epasta adresi un kontakttalruni.Gribas ar Sibillu sakontaktet.Jo ar vina bij Malpili pie mums ciemos.

  12. I just wanted to say thanks to all of you for your comments. I see my dad made a good difference in life in other ways. Just being a good teacher is hard enough and having a family then this chess stuff never thought it meant so much to so many people my dad is a big part of it. Just another unfortunate note I am son of his first marriage and ended up my mom Ingeborg past away on Dec. 27

  13. The Neil Dale Memorial Open, scheduled for Jan. 7-8, 2017, is cancelled due to winter weather. Contact Portland Chess Club for more information about future plans to honor Neil. Also, as of Jan. 6, an obituary of Kornelijs Dale is posted in the local (Gresham, OR) newspaper. I posted a link to that obituary earlier but the comment was deleted. So perhaps links are not allowed in comments. You can search for “Kornelijs Dale Gresham Outlook” to find the obituary.

  14. I just learned of Kornelijs (Neil) passing from the Latvian newspaper.
    It is sad that I learned of Kornelijs whereabouts and his achievements in chess only now after sixty years from the time we were together in a German camp, Fulda, after the war.

    I would like to contact Sibilla, his sister.
    Please forward my address to her.

    Condolences to Neils family, and Sibillas as well.
    I have some pictures from Fulda that I would like to share with Sibilla.

    Aivars Vinters

    Living in Toronto, Canada

    • Hi Aivars,

      Thank you for your kind phone call and the condolences. I sent a Friend request to you on Facebook. I tried sending you email to the address you gave me but got notice from Mailer Daemon that it could not be delivered.

      I am learning a lot about my brother from his chess friends, things that I did not know. He was very modest. Did not know about his awards. BTW, both Kornelijs and I learned how to play chess from our father Viktors Dale, in Riga, Latvia, usually on Sunday mornings when our mother liked to sleep in late.

      To Andy Dale,

      My condolences to you. You lost both of your parents within days. My thoughts are with you. Aunt Sibilla

  15. Mīļa.Sibila!
    Es no visas sirds izsaku visdziļako lidzjutibu…Man Kornelijs bij ļoti mīļsh es viņu ļoti mīleju un ar viņu sarakstijos ar vestulem.Mīļa Sibilla ludzu sazinieties ar mani Agniju ar Livijas mazmeitu.Kornelijs bija manai omitei bralens.Es ļoti ceru,kad mani atcerieties.Vel kad abi ar Korneliju braucat uz Malpili ciemos.Mans epasts [email protected]

  16. Just learned of his passing. Have not played NW Chess for a number of years now. Was looking to play again soon. Will miss his presence at tournaments. He ran tournaments fairly and well. I always enjoyed playing in them.

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