Chess action at the 46th annual Mobile-Baldwin County Chess League's final match of the season.


Mobile-Baldwin County Chess League Concludes Its 46th Year

January 12, 2017 - Mobile - The Mobile-Baldwin County Chess League holds the distinction of being the longest continually operating scholastic chess league in the state, starting its first season during the 1970/71 school year.

The league holds four matches between September and January when all the local teams competing meet at one of the area schools. 2 games are played at each match for an 8-game season. The current format has 3 divisions of play, each competing for their own trophies: Varsity A for the best High School teams; Junior Varsity for 9th grade and up, B & C teams; and a Junior Division for 8th grade and under.

The final match of this season was played on January 12 at the Alabama School of Math and Science (ASMS). The follow teams and individuals received awards.

  • Junior Varsity (grades 9 and over, B & C teams)
    • 1st place: UMS-Wright. [Photo right with Coach Paul Nager holding trophy]
    • 2nd place: Alabama School of Mathematics & Science
    • 3rd place: Alma Bryant
  • Junior Division (grades 8 and under)
    • 1st place: Bayside Academy
    • 2nd place: UMS-Wright
    • 3rd place: WJ Carroll Intermediate [Note: This is only WJ Carroll's second year of participation. They are also in their second year as a participant in the Alabama Chess in Schools initiative.]
  • The Varsity (top high school teams)
    • 1st place: Bayside Academy [Photo right]
    • 2nd place: Alabama School of Mathematics & Science
    • 3rd place: Daphne High

Senior Steven Chen of Bayside Academy won the Paul Morphy award as the Top Varsity A Team 1st Board player.

The Lars Britt Award went to Garrett Li of UMS-Wright as the Player of the Year in the Junior Division.

Timothy Yahr (photo center)of Fairhope High School took over directing the league this year from Jonathan Ling (photo left) of Daphne who stepped down after several years. Kevin Dolbeare (photo right), chess coach for the Alabama School of Mathematics & Science was the host for the final match which feature an awesome pep rally complete with pre-game cheerleaders and cheers for the chess teams. Some 100 + players participated in the final match.

Alabama Scholastic Nominees for National Invitational Tournaments

April 21, 2016 - The ACF Executive Board has selected the following nominees to represent Alabama in a set of simultaneous national tournaments during the 2016 US Open taking place from July 30 to August 2 in Indianapolis.

Jay-El Shepherd (left) will represent Alabama at the 2016 Denker Tournament of High School Champions. Jay-El pulled out a narrow victory over Kenneth Jiao in the 2016 Alabama State Scholastic Championship (ASSCC).

ASSCC K-8 Champion Arden Markin (right) will make his second trip to the Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions. Arden will be the first Barber representative from Alabama this century to take a 2000+ rating into the Barber. However Arden wasn't the first Alabama K-8 player to achieve the expert level. Sijing Wu hit 2022 in February of this year, but Arden won their head-to-head match-up during the ASSCC to top 2000.

The Wu family will not miss out on the US Open events. ASSCC K-6 state champion Rochelle Wu repeats as the ACF's nominee to the National Girls Invitation Tournament. Only in the 4th grade and with a 1958 rating, Rochelle too is flirting with the 2000 rating mark. In addition to her NGIT nomination, Rochelle will be the official representative of the US Chess Federation in the U10G section at the 2016 World Cadet Chess Championship.


Alabama State Scholastic Chess Championship

Individual Champions

March 23, 2016 - Congratulations to the 2016 Alabama State Scholastic Chess Champions. Check back shortly for additional photos and commentary.


2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
Open Jay-El Shepherd II
Jonathan Rasberry, Vikhram Balagee Stephen Adams Stephen Adams Kelly Chen, Stephen Adams
Jr. High* Arden Marken
Logan Mercer, Arden Marken Arden Marken, Samuel Sands Alexander Lay, Ethan Hugh Smith LeeAngelo Groves, Jonathan Rasberry, Joshua Anders, J Wesley Brown
Middle*


Logan Mercer, Colin Jay Bamford, Samson Sands Steve Mengxi Chen
Elementary* Rochelle Wu
Mohak Agarwalla, Benjamin Kennedy David Xu Luo Arden Marken Logan Mercer
Primary Geon Park
Rochelle Wu Siddharth Doppalapudi, Sarvagna Velidandla James Hongjie Shi Arden Marken

* Grade groupings were changed in 2014 to Elementary: Grades 4-6; Jr. High: K-8, Open: K-12.

Team Champions

Section 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
Open Indian Springs School School: Bayside Academy; Club: Chess Kids NationSchool Bayside Academy, UMS-Wright; Club: Caesar Chess School: Huntsville High; Club: Chess Kids Nation School:Bayside Academy (tiebreak), Indian Springs; Club: Chess Kids Nation
Jr. High School: Discovery Middle School; Club: Chess Kids Nation School: Discovery Middle School; Club: Chess Kids Nation School: Bumpus Middle School; Club: Chess Kids Nation School: Huntsville Middle School; Club: Chess Kids Nation School: W.J. Christian; Club: CaesarChess
Elementary School: Rainbow Elementary; Club: Chess Kids Nation Rainbow Elementary; Club: Chess Kids Nation Rainbow Elementary; Club: Madison City Chess League, Freedom Chess Academy School: Vestavia Central, Randolph; Club: Chess Kids Nation School: Vestavia Central, Randolph; Club: Chess Kids Nation
Primary Rainbow Elementary; Club: Chess Kids Nation School: Vestavia East; Club: Freedom Chess Academy, Chess Kids Nation School: Vestavia East; Club: Magic City U School: Liberty Park; Club: Chess Kids Nation School: Vestavia East Elementary; Club: Magic City U


Alabama Chess in Schools

New Schools Join ACIS Initiative Pilot

March 12, 2016 - Fifteen new schools from four new school districts have been accepted into the ACIS pilot program. The newly accepted schools are:

  • Birmingham City Schools (new): Booker T Washington K-8
  • Chambers County: Eastside Elementary, John P Powell Middle, LaFayette High
  • Eufaula City School System (new): Eufaula Primary, Eufaula Elementary, Admiral Moorer Middle, Eufaula High
  • Jasper City Schools (new): Memorial Park Elementary, Maddox Middle, Walker High
  • Montgomery City Schools (new): Davis Elementary, E D Nixon Elementary, Bellingrath Middle, Sidney Lanier High

The new schools join 12 of the 14 of the original ACIS pilot schools that are continuing or expanding their current ACIS programs. The 14 original schools include:

  • Mobile County: Clark-Shaw Magnet Middle, Collier Elementary, Taylor-White Elementary; O'Rourke Elementary is dropping out.
  • Shelby County: Montevallo Elementary (3-4), Montevallo Middle
  • Butler County: W.O. Parmer K-2, Greenville Elementary, Greenville Middle
  • Chambers County: Huguley Elementary, W F Burns Middle
  • Ballwin County: W.J. Carroll Intermediate, Daphne Elementary
  • Pelham City Schools: Pelham Elementary

ACIS Pilot Growth Plan
# of Participating:2015-20162016-2017
School Districts610
Schools1427
Teachers4274
Students1,5002,750

Representatives from each current and new school will meet for an Orientation program in Montgomery on March 24. Training of the teachers who will be teaching chess will be offered during the weeks of June 20 and June 27. New teachers will register for four days of training (Monday-Thursday). Returning teachers who have already taken the introductory course will receive two days of training on Thursday and Friday on one of those two weeks.

In addition to training, ACIS schools receive chess supplies and internet-based training licenses for each student.

The program is administered by the Alabama State Department of Education in partnership with the Alabama Chess Federation.

ACIS Abroad

January 16, 2016 - The ACIS Initiative is drawing national and international interest. Jerry Nash (pictured right), the program's architect and consultant, gave two presentations at a London Chess in Schools conference discussing some of the unique aspects of ACIS.

ACIS Chess Teachers Check In

January 16, 2016 - Participants from each of the year 1 pilot checked in via teleconference in December to report the status of their programs. 12 of the 14 schools had positive reports. Most of the setbacks reported were related to loss of trained personnel or delays due to unanticipated administrative obstacles. Teacher and student enthusiasm remains high. 12 of 14 new schools is a great win percentage for the first year of the program. For more on the nation's first state-side, teacher-driven CIS initiative read ACIS Teaches Educators Chess is More Than a Game on page 6 of Alabama Education News, Sept. 2015.

Nancy Johnson Joins ACF as Chess in Schools Liaison

January 16, 2016 - The ACF Executive Board unanimously invited Nancy Johnson to serve as ACF Chess in Schools Liaison. Nancy recently retired from the Alabama State Department of Education where she was the ACIS lead. We are delighted that she has accepted and now joins ACF to build upon the great work so far. Nancy's replacement at ALSDE is expected to be named soon.

Sharing CIS Best Practices

January 16, 2016 - While ACIS is primarily focused on chess in Alabama schools, we also monitor other CIS initiatives in the US and abroad. We believe the ACIS is innovative and may be a model for other states or communities.

ACF President Neil Dietsch released a 4-part series of papers titled Scaling up Chess in Schools. This in-depth series targets leaders in the education, chess, or public sectors considering a chess in schools program that spans multiple schools.

*Part 1 draws on ACIS Consultant Jerry Nash's 2008 paper: Coordinating the Five Communities.

** May 3, 2016 - Click here for an important update from the European Chess Union on the state of chess in schools in Europe.

Changes for the 2016 Alabama State Scholastic Chess Championship

September 1, 2015 - Each year the ACF Executive Board assesses the past Alabama State Scholastic Chess Championship and conducts a lessons learned session to improve future tournaments. A number of changes are expected for the March 2016 ASSCC in Birmingham. The exact date and facility are expected to be announced shortly. In the mean time, ACF is publishing a list for parents and coaches of the changes planned with respect to fees, team rooms, notation, sections, and nominations for national invitational tournaments.

  • ASSCC Changes for 2016
  • Scholastic VP Gerald Larson discusses issues leading to the proposed changes.
  • Rochelle Wu Invited to Compete in World Youth Chess Championships in 2015

    June 10, 2015 - The state's K-3 Champion Rochelle Wu has once again been invited to compete in the World Youth Chess Championship in Halkidiki, Greece, from October 24 to November 5, 2015. Last year Rochelle tied for third place with four other competitors at the World Youth Chess Championship - Girls U8 in Durban, South Africa. She scored 8 points out of 11 against a strong field of 51 competitors.

    Before taking on international competitors in her own gender/age group classification, Rochelle will be competing in August against tough national competition as Alabama's nominee to the National Girls Invitational Tournament.