Pictured are participants from the first Alabama All Girls Chess Championship in 2018.

President's Note by Neil Dietsch

Presidential Transition

September 29, 2019 - It has been both fun and an honor to work with the ACF membership over the past decade. Since 2010 when I was elected president, ACF has grown both in terms of the number active players and the number members willing to participate in the volunteer activities that have enabled part of that growth.

During that time we

  • launched the Alabama Chess in Schools Initiative in partnership with the Alabama State Department of Education to develop state of the art chess in education training for teachers
  • improved the ACF website and added a Facebook page
  • improved the chess journalism offered to members
  • expanded the number of state championship tournaments
  • automated ACF membership purchase
  • improved governance through various upgrades to the bylaws
  • implemented online tournament registration for the state scholastic championships

As my term as president ends on September 30, 2019, I am pleased with the energy and ambition that new president, Jonathan Rasberry, brings to the job. Look for some new ideas to be implemented in the coming year, particularly in the realm of social media. I look forward to another year on the ACF Board Member serving as Educational VP where is will be managing the spinoff of Chess in Schools LLC (CIS) over the coming year. [See the following story.]

I want thank departing Board Members Balagee Govindan and Michael Ciarmarra for there service. Balagee has been a tireless promoter of chess in the state and has often stepped forward to volunteer his time and made financial donations to support state championship tournaments. Michael Ciamarra has been an invaluable counselor as well as an excellent chess journalist. Without his help there would have been not Alabama Chess in Schools Initiative.

Thanks to Caesar Lawrence for maintaining the ACF Calendar and Tournament Reports these past several years, not to mention the multitude of tournaments he continues to run across our state. He's a giant! Last but not least, Scott Varagona: thank you for your 5-star effort in publishing our quarterly Antics online magazine.

It has been a blast!

Neil Dietsch

ACF Board Accepts Offer to Divest Chess in Schools LLC

September 29, 2019 - The ACF Executive Board today accepted the offer of Neil Dietsch to acquire Chess in Schools LLC (CIS). Closing is expected to take place in early 2020.

This divestiture will allow those of us who are singularly focused on advancing Chess in Education nationally to work independently, while leaving the new ACF Board to focus on its primary mission of promoting competitive chess within the state of Alabama. I appreciate the support of the ACF Executive Board and its membership to help launch Chess in Schools LLC. It has trained hundreds of teachers to teach chess in the classroom and introduced thousands of students who would not otherwise have had an opportunity to learn about chess.

This month the IRS recognized CIS as an independent 501(c)(3) public charity. During the transition, CIS will establish a board of directors and write its own bylaws. Qualified persons interested in being considered for board membership are invited to write neil@chessinschools.us. More information is available on the Chess in Schools website. Sign up on the home page for a newsletter to stay abreast of CIS developments including work with a consortium of other chess in education organizations.

Featured Upcoming Events

  • October 5, 2019 - Mobile, AL - The Mobile Challenge features an open rated section (G/70 d5) as well as both rated and non-rated sections for scholastic players. This is a great opportunity for the many chess players who have played in the Baldwin-Mobile County Chess League to take part in rated play. Flyer.
  • October 12, 2019 - Birmingham, AL - The National Chess Day Scholastic will have one rated and two non-rated sections. Flyer.

Check the Calendar menu for more tournaments.

Alabama Rated Chess Play Falls for 3rd Successive Year

Rated Game Play in Alabama: 2010 - 2019

September 14, 2019 - After a sharp rise in the first six years of this decade, rated play during the The number of rated games is facing a third year of decline. 2019 rated game play is down 8% YTD from 2018. Declines are reflected in both scholastic and open chess tournament rated play.

Alabama State Chess Championship

*** News Flash ***

September 2, 2019 - Scott Varagona and Mathew Puckett are the new Alabama State Chess Champions scoring 5.0/6.0 against a 36-player field that included six master level players. For Scott this was his ninth state championship, breaking Bill Melvin's record for total state championships. For Mathew it was a second championship, coming twenty years after collecting the championship trophy in 1999. Scholastic champion Zachary Snow finished third among Alabama players. Facing five master-level opponents in his six games, he came away with 4.0 points to break into the expert-level rating classification.

Samuel Baskaraj won the Reserve section (under 1600) with a score of 5.0/6.0).


Election of Officers, effective 10/1/2019

September 2, 2019 - Jonathan Rasberry was elected President to succeed Neil Dietsch, who retires from that office after nine years. Jonathan served as Vice President this past year with responsibilities for coordinating state championship events and relations with ACF affiliates. Jonathan will be taking on additional tasks as Content Manager for the ACF website.

Bill Melvin rejoins the ACF Board as Vice President for a one-year term filling the office vacated by Jonathan.

Todd Guthrie was elected to a two-year term as Scholastic VP responsible for organization of the Alabama State Scholastic Chess Championship. He takes over from Balagee Govindan who has completed a two-year term.

Michael Porcelli will be the new Director of Public Relations succeeding Michael Ciamarra. Michael is a past president of the Louisiana Chess Federation. We are looking forward to new initiatives in the realm of social media.

Gerald Larson was elected US Chess Delegate. Michael Ciamarra will serve as Alternate Delegate.

Paul Nager and Neil Dietsch continue as officers in the second year of their second terms as Treasurer and VP of Education respectively. The office of Secretary is currently vacant.

Chess Antics News

Summer 2019 Issue Available - edited by NM Scott Varagona

August 6, 2019 - The Summer Antics magazine features reports and games from recent tournaments, such as the Senior Championship and the Falcon Invitational, as well as a glance back in time to the championships of ten, twenty, thirty, and forty years ago.

Other Alabama Championship Tournament Results

Dual-Rated Chess

July 20, 2019 - Yuri Barnakov continued his winning streak in 2019 state championship events winning the Dual-Rated Championship scoring 3.5 in the four-round event. The championship was decided by a last round victory over Scott Varagona who finished second with 3.0/4.0.

Quick Chess

June 29, 2019 - Yuri Barnakov is this year's Quick Chess Champion finishing with 4.5 / 5.0. The reserve section (under 1600) had a three-way tie between Joel Nick Friedman (winner on tie breaks), Logan Richey, and Victor Lundy.

Blitz Chess

June 29, 2019 - Yuri Barnakov also won the State Blitz Championship going 11.0 / 12 to pull away from the field of 18 players.


June 8, 2019 - Montevallo, AL - Brent Inman won the 2019 Alabama Senior Championship with 3.5/4.0, edging out Thomas Denton and Charles Meidinger finished in second and third with 3.0/4.0 in a 16-player field.

See the ACF Calendar for additional events.

Women's Chess Grant

MCCL Group photoCROSSVILLE, TN: US Chess announced recipients of the US Chess Women's Program Grant, funded by a generous gift in partnership with the Saint Louis Chess Club.

One of the recipients was Madison City Chess League. Ranae Bartlett, the league's Executive Director continues her efforts to bring more girls into the game. The grant includes funding for a trip to the 2020 KCF All-Girls Nationals in Chicago.

Girls Chess

Congratulations to Shreya Sunil, winner of the 2019 Alabama All Girls Chess Championship. Shreva will represent Alabama at the 2019 National Girls Tournament of Champions in Orlando, Florida in July.

Sarah Elizabeth Peter (right) took third place trophy in the under 1000 K-3 at the 2019 National Elementary Championship held in Nashville in May.

2019 Alabama State Scholastic Individual Championship Results

Individual Championship

March 2, 2019 - Fairfield, Alabama, Miles College.

  • Open Section: Zachary Snow II (pictured left) scored 4.0/5.0 to best a field of 26 players, with 6 players tying for positions two through seven. Zachary is Alabama's nominee to the 2019 Denker High School Tournament of Champions.
  • K-8 Section: Sarvagna Velidandla took first place in the K-8 Championship scoring 3.5 points, a full point ahead of three players tying for the next three positions. Sarvagna will play as the 2019 Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions nominee for Alabama.
  • Elementary: Parker Liu took clear first with 4.5 / 5 in a field of 32 players.
  • Primary: Laya Gowder scored a perfect 5.0 to win the first place trophy for the Primary Section in a field of 25 players.

First place in the under sections went to Snekha Rajasekaran and Albert Chen in the Open U1000; to Advitiya Kana in the K-8 U800, and Sarah Peter, Daniel Zheng and Asterion Lee-Irwin in the K-6 U600.
*** Individual Championship Crosstables ***

Team Championship

March 3, 2019 - Fairfield, Alabama, Miles College.

  • Open School Team Champion: Bob Jones High; Open Club Team Champion: Madison City Chess League
  • Jr. High School Team Champion: Discovery Middle; Jr/ High Club Team Champion: Chess Kids Nation
  • Elementary School Team Champion: Rainbow Elementary; Elementary Club Team Champion: Chess Kids Nation
  • Primary School Team Champion: Rainbow Elementary; Primary Club Team Champion: Chess Kids Nation
*** Team Championship Crosstables ***

Chess in Education

Research Results Reaffirm ACIS Program Effectiveness

February 10, 2019 - Independent researchers from Tennessee Tech University and the University of Alabama have released findings based on three years of data from the Alabama Chess in Schools (ACIS) program. The study is believed to be the largest of its kind in the United States to assess the benefits of a teacher-driven chess in education program. Click here for more on ACIS's impact on critical thinking, 21st Century Skills, Teachers' perceptions, and student perceptions.

Get the full report: Teaching with Chess: Exploring the Relationship between Chess and Student Learning Outcomes - ACIS Years 1-3 Report 1

Read Chess.com's Story on the ACIS Research

Chess in Schools Announces Programs for 2019

Chess in Schools LLC (CIS), the operational arm of ACF that manages ACIS, announced a set of new programs.

Interested in getting a Chess in Education program started at your school? Visit the Chess in Education website.

Antics Preservation Project

Thanks to the efforts of some dedicated volunteers including Charles Anthony, Ken Goodman, Scott Varagona and others, the Antics Preservation Project has finally borne fruit. Scroll to the bottom of the Magazine page to find not only classic Antics from past decades, but a summary of contents for all the Antics collected so far from 1977 to 2003.

Friends of Chess in Schools

1/1/2018 - We have exciting news to share about the Alabama Chess in Schools (ACIS) Initiative, the nation's only statewide, teacher-driven Chess in Schools program. Join Friends of Chess in Schools today to get news on ACIS as well as glimpses into CIS in other parts of the world from National Chess Education Consultant Jerry Nash (right) and others. Receive 2018 updates on:

  1. Just-released research results for Year two of the ACIS program
  2. Testimonials on the benefits of ACIS from parents and teachers
  3. ACIS fundraising and future plans for ACIS and Chess in Schools.
  4. How you can help promote chess in schools.
  5. A new website for ACF's Chess in Schools
  6. The 60 Minutes Chess in Schools story about Chess in Franklin County, Mississippi and connections to ACIS.

Sign up to get this exclusive content.

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Chess News by Michael Ciamarra

  • October 30, 2017 - National Chess Day in Alabama, unique chess tournament coming up
  • October 8, 2017 - New Orleans chess master Jude Acers visits Birmingham, National Chess Day
  • August 30, 2017 - Alabama State Chess Championship preview, Sinquefield Cup brilliant game

Home Grown Chess Web Sites

Did you know that some Internet chess websites are authored here in Alabama? Besides ACF affiliate sites, you can improve your chess skills at sites like Logical Checks and Logical Chess both maintained by Huntsville's David Hayes.