National Chess Day Festivities from Memphis to the Amazon

Find an assortment of National Chess Day dispatches from around the US and beyond below, and also check out coverage of major events held over National Chess day in our reports on Millionaire Chess, the Isle of Man International, the Washington Chess Congress and the Midwest Class.

Southern Hospitality and Chess Made for a Special National Chess Day Celebration in Memphis

by Arlene Kleiman

fullsizerender-8National Chess Day, as celebrated by Shelby County Chess, took place in Memphis on the weekend 0f October 8-9. Although it was Fall Break for most area young players who were traveling to destinations such as Disney World, the Smokey Mountains, and other points of interest, many chose as their destination this chess tournament hosted by Shelby County Chess where Southern hospitality and fine chess play abounded. With a scrumptious chess decorated cake, complimentary sodas and soft serve ice cream plus trophies for top players and prizes for everyone else, chess players reveled in the celebration.


IM Jake Kleiman presents Tennessee Chess Association West Regional Director, Michael Robertson, a plaque for his volunteer spirit. After all, Tennessee is known as the “Volunteer State”.

Memphis based International Master Jake Kleiman visited with the players, their parents, and Shelby County staff adding to the excitement of the day and offered suggestions to aspiring young masters. A special thank you goes to Tournament Director and Tennessee Chess Association West Tennessee Director, Michael Robertson, who drove almost 200 miles roundtrip to make this tournament possible.

Top winners were:
Unrated K-3: 1st place Sricharan Kosanam, 2nd place Rene Smith, 3rd place Selena Baligar
Unrated K-9: 1st place Jason Wang, 2nd place Arthur Chorier, 3rd place Michael Higgins
Rated U500: 1st place Zeon Wang, 2nd place Danny Dong, 3rd place Frances Condori
Rated U900: 1st place Ray Wu, 2nd place Sunny Cui, 3rd place Adithya Suryaram
Rated Open: 1st place Uddish Sood, 2nd place Jason Shen, 3rd place Kartikeya Bomb.
Question now is: What color will be next year’s cake?



Photo: Duncan Lamb

Alabama by Michael Ciamarra

Chess Day in Alabama’ was recognized by the State of Alabama. The proclamation commends the many volunteers, teachers, parents, and chess coaches for their work in promotion of chess as a mind sport, educational tool and enrichment of the culture.

The Alabama Chess Day Scholastic was held at Brookwood Village, in Homewood. Throughout the day hundreds stopped to watch the young chess players as they quietly made their moves and pressed their chess clocks. “That is what we like to see,” tournament director and organizer Caesar Lawrence said. “So many people ask about chess, how they can get involved or how their child or grandchild can join.”

Find the full story, with lists of winners at

Chess in the Amazon 

by Vincent Roazzi Jr

As a photographer and teacher currently living in the Peruvian Amazon, I teach chess in a small jungle village called San Francisco. This is the largest settlement of the Shipibo-Conibo tribe. The Shipibo tribe is most famous for its mystic shaman and ayahuasca ceremonies.

I am a photographer but I am also teaching chess and English as part of my stay with one of the shaman here. In celebration of Chess Day, the first chess class was held in a small classroom. I am very impressed with their immediate intuition for strategy and thinking ahead. They are very excited to keep playing. The pawn game is featured in the picture attached. Thanks to the Chess Forum in New York City, who donated the chess sets and boards.


Arkansas vs. Oklahoma 


by Karis Bellisario

The 1st AR/OK Friendly Feud was a 15 Round contest between top OK and AR players. The day consisted of six rounds of G5 Blitz, 5 rounds of G10 Blitz, and 4 rounds G20 Quick Chess to determine the winning state to capture the travelling Team Trophy.

Top Scoring individual from each state will also leave with a very unique clock as a memento of their victory. Additionally, each player will receive a pen and ink illustration with a famous quote about blitz, as a reminder of their participation in the 2016 Friendly Feud to celebrate the National Day of Chess. The event will take place at Big Jake’s Cattle Co in Van Buren, AR. TD Karis Bellisario.

Congratulations goes to TEAM OKLAHOMA!

The final overall total was Oklahoma 109.5 points and Arkansas with 65 points.

However, it should be pointed out that Arkansas’ bottom 6 players were beginners to rated chess, and blitz.  In contrast, Oklahoma’s bottom 6 players were experienced and formidable blitz players with previous tournament experience. If we were to compare the top 6 players only from both teams, Arkansas would have won: 54.0 compared to Oklahoma’s 52.5. So some very competitive chess. AR is already looking forward to a rematch to bring the Travelling Trophy box back home.

Here is a link to the photo album from the day:

You will find the cross tables for each of our three time controls posted here on MSA.  Thank you for your patience.


In addition to the team competition, we recognized the INDIVIDUAL champions in each time control for each state:

G5 – OK: Dylan Campbell and Oscar Wang; AR: Steven Bellisario

G10 – OK: Ryan Amburgy and Loucas Miller; AR: Blake Tanner

G20 – OK: Matt Miller; AR: Steven Bellisario

We also recognized these top overall players for the day: Steven Bellisario (AR) and Oscar Wang (OK)

We want to thank everyone who came to participate in the AR/OK Feud, along with parents who came to support their child.

2 states

3 time controls

16 rounds – that is a LOT of chess in one day

24 players; 12 from each state (that made things nice)

Team Arkansas: Steven Bellisario, Hon Chung, Joshua Chung, Brandon Crabtree, Charles Homolka, Tyler Madsen, Blake Tanner, Mark Towery, Skyler Towery, Sterling Towery, Chloe Towery, and Sky Williams.

Team Oklahoma: Shaurya Aggarwal, Chris Amburgy, Ryan Amburgy, Maxwell Barnes, Dylan Campbell, Tommy Hay, Matt Miller, Loucas Miller, Achilles Miller, John Taylor, Charles Unruh, Jr., and Oscar Wang.


Karis gets to present her son with his awards…he is why she is chess mom and now TD.

Oklahoma had both OKC and Tulsa area players, and Arkansas had players from Conway, Fort Smith, Van Buren, and Springdale.  The group was comprised of a nice mix of experience and newbies: one longtime life member along with six brand new members getting their first ever USCF ratings. There was a range of skill levels from several A level players to our first timers. I loved seeing how the experienced players took time to coach and share with the more novice players after games were over. We also had a mix of ages: from a couple senior seniors to some young elementary students, and most somewhere in between. We had several Dads playing with their child(ren) which is also very awesome to see chess bridge generations and bond families.

Thank you again to Tommy Hay and Charles Unruh for promoting the AR/OK Friendly Feud in their parts of OK, and to Joel Gargus for coming in from Tulsa to serve as TD with me.  The unusual formats …triplets, round robins and swiss, plus the team and individual elements, with three fast time controls made for an interesting tournament to organize. I could not have done it without Joel’s help!

Overall, a great way to spend National Chess Day, and we look forward to our next AR/OK Friendly Feud.  Next year, let’s fill both sides of the room!  (PLEASE, if you drove a player, or have a student whose parent drove them, please make sure they see this email as we missed getting emails for all the players)

Virginia Beach

14581417_539831822893093_4740680700785524697_nNational Chess Day Festival in Virginia Beach was covered in local media.

The afternoon tournament drew 106 people!  Find more photos on the Hampton Road Scholastics FB page:



1st place winner in the Advanced section today at our Green Valley Tournament, Jonathan Martinez, flanked by Kendra Cass and Martha Underwood of 9 Queens

9 Queens in Tucson, Arizona hosted a National Chess Day tournament at Green Valley Library. Kendra Kass of 9 Queens wrote, “As always we enjoyed meeting up with friends and making new ones. This is one of the beautiful things about chess; it is for everyone!”


Find more photos and details on the 9 Queens Facebook page, where you can also find about upcoming events.

Find more on events held over National Chess day in our reports on Millionaire Chess, the Isle of Man International, the Washington Chess Congress and the Midwest Class.

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