A scene from the 2018 Alabama State Scholastic Championship.

Alabama State Championship Reports

Dual-Rated Championship

August 8, 2018 - Ranked 11th out of 12 competing players, Tyler Freeman (R: 1653; Q: 1519) upset a number of higher rated players to become the 2018 Alabama Dual-Rated Championship. Tyler scored 3.5 / 4.0 for clear first ahead of Joseph Jurjevich (R:2069; Q:2000), Aaron Decord (R:1915; Q:1816) and Christopher Trees (R:1937; Q:1693) who finished with 3.0 / 4.0. Tyler is new to the state chess scene having previously been a regular at Tennessee and Mississippi chess tournaments. Welcome, Tyler!

Quick & Blitz Championships

June 30, 2018 - Alabama's elite players squared of for rounds of fast chess on June 23 in Birmingham. Zachary Snow II (pictured right) earned his first state championship title in the Quick Chess Championship, tying perennial state champion Scott Varagona (left) with a score of (4.0 / 5.0) at the 2018 Alabama Quick Chess Championship held June 23, 2018. Arden Markin (Tuscaloosa) braved the challenge of fast time controls to take 3.0 points which was good enough to win the under 1800 [Quick Rating] prize. Tyler Freeman (Tuscaloosa) and Mohawk Agarwalla (Huntsville) shared first place in the Reserve section with 4.0 points. Hudson Markin (Tuscaloosa) won the U1300 prize.

The 2018 Alabama Blitz co-champions are Stephen W. Adams (Birmingham) and Scott Varagona, scoring 5.0/6.0 in a field of 22 players.

Featured Upcoming Events

  • August 11, 2018 - Montgomery, AL - The Chris Bond Memorial Tournament held at Frazer UMC will have three rated and one non-rated section. Flyer
  • August 31- September 2, 2018 - Birmingham, AL - The The 65th Annual Alabama State Chess Championship takes place on Labor Day weekend at the Bruno Conference Center in Birmingham. The two-day tournament offers guaranteed cash prizes of $3,300. Flyer
  • September 1, 2018 - Birmingham, AL - In parallel with the state championship, scholastic players may compete in the Central Alabama Scholastic Individual Tournament with four rated and one non-rated section. Time control: G30 d5. See page 2 of this flyer
  • September 2, 2018 - Birmingham, AL - In parallel with the state championship, four-player teams may compete in the Central Alabama Scholastic Team Tournament with four rated and one non-rated section. Time control: G30 d5. See page 2 of this flyer
See the ACF Calendar for additional events.

Falcon Chess Invitational

June 23, 2018 - Jonathan Rasberry reports on the history and current winners of a tournament organized by and for Alabama's elite players: the Falcon Chess Invitational. Congratulations to this year's winners: Steven Graveling and Bill Melvin. More

Chess Antics by NM Scott Varagona

May 26, 2018 - The Spring Antics magazine includes reports from Jonathan Rasberry on the March Alabama State Scholastic Chess Championship, the 1st Alabama All Girls Championship, plus games and commentary from Bill Melvin, Caesar Lawrence & Mathew Puckett, Doug Strout, and Scott Varagona.

National Invitational Tournament Nominations

May 26, 2018 - Each year the Alabama Chess Federation nominates representatives to play in the national invitational tournaments taking place during the US Open. This year's tournaments will be in Middleton, Wisconsin from July 28-31.

Om Badhe (right) is the state representative to the Barber K-8 Tournament of Champions by virtue of his performance at the Alabama State Scholastic Chess Championship (ASSCC). Sarvagna Velindandla (pictured above left) won the All Girls State Chess Championship to earn the nomination to the National Girls Tournament of Champions. See details and pictures in the Spring Antics (see above).

The nominee to the Denker High School Tournament of Champions will be decided based upon a playoff match on June 9, 2018 between the top Alabama players in the ASSCC Open section who had tie points scores. ACF Scholastic Vice President Balagee Govindan is the event organizer.

For more tournaments, see the ACF Calendar

Seeking Smart Chess Players

Harvard Personal Genome Project (PGP) Seeks Persons with Exceptional Memory, Attention, and/or Reflex Speed

May 20, 2018 - ACF has been asked to invite members to participate in a study that seeks to get people who have remarkable memory traits and engage them in the PGP.

"If you are exceptional in anyway, you should share it, not hoard it." ~ George Church

"Help Harvard PGP discover genetic factors that might affect neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimers by playing games for free. For more information visit: https://wyss.harvard.edu/pgp-lumosity."

Chess in Schools (CIS)

CIS Training Now Available to All AL Schools

May 1, 2018 (updated) - Beginning this year, Chess in Schools LLC (a subsidiary of the non-profit Alabama Chess Federation) will offer chess in schools services and training to public and private schools looking to establish a chess in schools program in the 2018-2019 school year. Prior to this year, these were only available through the Alabama Chess in Schools (ACIS) Initiative.

The new program, Chess in Schools Now, is available at cost to public and private schools.

Registration for Summer training classes is now open at the Chess in Schools LLC website.

Alabama Chess Growth by the Numbers

Rated Game Play in Alabama: 2010 - 2017

The number of rated games dropped 8% from a record high in 2016. Still, 2017 had the second highest number of annual rated games for the decade.

In another measure of chess activity that reflects growth in non-rated chess, Alabama Chess in Schools (ACIS) growth continued. While not shown in the following chart, the number of students participating has grown to approximately 2,700 in the 2018 school year.

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.

Sign Up Now

Artificial Intelligence and Chess

December 8, 2017 - "Imagine this: you tell a computer system how the pieces move - nothing more. Then you tell it to learn to play the game. A day later it has figured it out to the level that beats the strongest programs in the world. DeepMind, the company that recently created the strongest Go program in the world, turned its attention to chess, and came up with this spectacular result".

Employing the late artificial intelligence advances, researchers are showing that the current crop of chess engines are about to become obsolete.

What openings would such a computer gravitate to if it had to discover the merits and vulnerabilities of each opening on its own? What would it have to say about NM Scott Varagona's (semi-serious?) contention that the refutation to 1 e4 is 1... c6!? Read this story from Chess News, The future is here - AlphaZero learns chess.

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

Alabama State Chess Championship

9/15/2017 - Read Michael Ciamarra's full account of the state championship.

9/3/2017 - Scott Varagona (right) won his seventh state championship finishing with 5.5 / 6.0, a point ahead of 2nd place finisher Tejas Thorat (left) in a field of 28 players. Scott also established himself as the 2017 All-around champion having previously won or was co-champion in the 2017 Blitz, Quick, and Dual-Rated titles.

Zachary Snow won the 2017 Reserve Championship with a score of 5.5 / 6.0, edging out 2nd place finisher Joshua Lin (5.0/6.0).


ACF Annual Membership Meeting & Election of Officers

9/3/2017 - ACF members elected the following officers to terms beginning October 1, 2017. The number in parentheses indicates the length of the term in years as the ACF shifts from 1-year terms to staggered 2-year terms for officers.

    Executive Board Members
  • Neil Dietsch: President (2), Education VP(1)
  • David Hayes: Vice President (1)
  • Paul Mulqueen: Secretary (1)
  • Paul Nager: Treasurer (1)
  • Balagee Govindan: Scholastic VP (2)
  • Michael Ciamarra: Director of Public Relations (2)
    Other Elected Representatives (1-year term)
  • Gerald Larson: US Chess Federation Delegate
  • Michael Ciamarra: US Chess Federation Delegate - Alternate

Other Tournament News

Rochelle Wu Wins NGIT

August 1, 2017 - Rochelle Wu scored 5.5/6.0 to take clear first in the National Girls Invitational Tournament. More: Coverage by Michael Ciamarra

Team Alabama Tops Under 2100 Competition at Barber/Denker/NGIT Combine

Rochelle Wu, together with brother Sijing (left), who represented the state in the Tournament of K-8 champions and Vikhram Balagee (right) in the Denker Tournament of High School Champions, Team Alabama won first place in the Under 2100 team competition based on combined finishing scores.

2017 Alabama Dual-Rated Championship

July 20, 2017 - On July 15, 30 players from Alabama and Florida competed at the 2017 Alabama Dual-Rated Chess Championship, hosted by Evangel Chess Club at Evangel Church in Montgomery. The tournament had four rounds of competition at a time control of game in 45 minutes with a 10-second increment per move.

Defending Open co-champions Scott Varagona and Jonathan Rasberry competed once again and finished 1st and 2nd in the nine-player Open section. Roger Johnson tied with Jonathan for 2nd place.

In other sections Christian Friedman and Isaac Snow tied for 1 st among 12 players in the U1800 section with Kristian Jordan finishing third and taking the U1500 prize. The nine-player U1200 section had four players playing their first tournament in a longer-than-quick time control. Raghavan Madabushi won the championship, followed by Mark Gordon in 2nd place. Parker Liu and Alejandro Iglesias shared the U1000 prize.

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.