Thursday, May 30, 2013

Chess Journalists appoint new President and VP

The Board of Directors of Chess Journalists of America (CJA) has announced the election of Frank Niro and Jeffrey Roland as interim president and vice president, respectively, of CJA. Mr. Niro replaces Al Lawrence who recently stepped down in order to undergo surgery. Mr. Roland, currently President of Idaho Chess Association and editor of Northwest Chess, fills an existing vacancy. The leadership of CJA has been disrupted in recent years as a result of the passing of veteran journalists Jerry Hanken, John Hillery and Ira Lee Riddle. Niro and Roland have agreed to serve until the next CJA regular election in August.

Frank Niro is former President of the US Chess Trust and was the executive director of the United States Chess Federation (USCF) from 2001 to 2003. He was the editor of the Chess Horizons, the award winning Massachusetts state magazine, from 1984 to 1986, and served as interim editor of Northwest Chess from August to November 2012. Over the years, Frank has been recognized by CJA with individual awards for best feature article, best layout and best photograph. In 1986, he received Honorable Mention in the CJA category of Chess Journalist of the Year.

Additionally, Frank served brief editorial stints with Cap’n Harry’s Long Diagonal, where he was co-editor with Harry Simon, Princeton Children’s Chess News and APCT News Bulletin. He has contributed one or more articles, games, letters or photos to Chess Life magazine in each of the past five decades. Most recently his piece on the 36th Cardinal Open and the passing of Mike Anders appeared in the March 2013 issue of Chess Life and the May 2013 Ohio Chess Bulletin. His eight page tribute to the life and games of Robert Byrne will appear in the August 2013 Chess Life.

Frank passed the CPA exam in 1974 but spent the bulk of his professional career as a hospital administrator in the Boston area. He was selected as one of the “Top 25 turnaround hospital administrators in the U.S.” by Healthweek magazine in March 1989. After suffering a minor stroke in 1998, he enrolled at University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) to pursue a Ph.D. in Chess in Education He withdrew in December 2001 in order to serve as interim Executive Director of the USCF. While at UTD he was assistant coach of the national collegiate championship chess team.

Following a heart attack in February 2003 and a pulmonary embolism a few months later, Frank was unable to maintain the difficult travel schedule and, as a result, resigned his tenure at the helm of the USCF prior to the 2003 US Open in Los Angeles.

Frank relocated to Seattle in 2006 where he lived on the farm of radio personality Delilah Rene ( while working on his memoir. He is on the faculty of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, where he serves as Executive-in-Residence in the graduate program in Health Administration and teaches a course entitled “Strategic and Business Planning for Healthcare Professionals.”

Frank has collaborated on five chess books and is still trying to finish his memoir, All Over the Board, scheduled for release in 2014. He is a founding board member of the Susan Polgar Foundation, a non-profit organization that has awarded over $3,000,000 in college scholarships through its partners during the past ten years.

As president of CJA, Frank would like to see the web site expanded to provide resources and instruction to aspiring journalists on a variety of topics including style guides, copyright laws, photo credits, grammar and punctuation tips, diagrams, applets, writing feedback, outstanding examples of chess journalism, a certification track, and use of publication software such as InDesign.

Jeffrey Roland of Boise, Idaho at the Portland Chess Club in Oregon April 2013

As mentioned above, Jeffrey Roland of Boise, Idaho, was elected CJA vice president filling a vacant position on the CJA Board until the upcoming elections at the 2013 U.S. Open in Madison, Wisconsin.

Jeff played his first chess tournament at the age of 17 in 1980. Shortly thereafter, his career as a chess journalist began when he prepared a bulletin for the 1981 Boise State University Invitational. He bought a new typewriter for the purpose of typing each of the games from the October 1981 Boise Open, when he meticulously typed every game of every player in English Descriptive notation in order to save them for posterity. Later, with the help of his mom’s 35mm camera, he began a lifelong fascination with chess photography.

As a result, ICA President John Letterman asked Jeff to serve as contributing editor to the first few issues of the new state publication, Idaho Chess News, in 1982. He soon became the main editor and remained in that position until 1989. Additionally, he edited and published a special Annual issue in 1999. Jeff was a protégée of well known chess player and organizer, Dick Vandenberg, who was himself a Regional Vice President of the U. S. Chess Federation and long time tournament director of Correspondence Chess League of America. Mr. Roland was elected president of ICA for the first time in 1984 and has served multiple terms over the years. His present term expires in March, 2015.

Jeff recently completed a project to scan all of the old Idaho Chess Bulletins from the 1950s and 60s. He initiated the first ICA web site in 1999 and still maintains the current site today. He has remained an energetic catalyst for preserving Idaho’s rich chess history and presently holds the papers of Dick Vandenberg as well former Idaho state champion, Glen Buckendorf, who was the strongest player in Idaho for many years. Both are now deceased but, thanks to Jeff, their results and activities can be researched and enjoyed forever.

“Writing down and documenting tournament results, games and personalities so that they are available to future generations is what has motivated me to volunteer as an organizer and officer,” Roland said. “This urge is entwined in my being and continues as a motivating force. The record needs to be preserved!”

At present, Jeff is a participant in the massive project to scan old issues of Northwest Chess, a regional publication that has been in circulation since November 1947. He is also retyping old Idaho publications into HTML so, for example, names can be searched online. In the process, obvious typos have been corrected to make the search process more meaningful. He hopes to remain in his current role as Northwest Chess editor for many years to come now that he has successfully climbed the learning curve of the Adobe InDesign software.

As a Board member of CJA, Jeff seeks to promote a spirit of record preservation, including an effort to collect game scores at all chess tournaments and the creation of an archive of CJA award winning articles and other examples of good writing to assist aspiring chess journalists. He believes that a formal back-up plan should be developed so that if USCF records become unavailable, as has happened in the past, there is a guarantee that the historical record will be maintained.

“Everything we do today is the history of tomorrow,”
Jeff said. “We, as journalists, have a responsibility to maintain an accurate account and not modify or interpret the historical record through a political filter. It is critical that CJA not become a political organization.”

Jeff anticipates working with Interim President Frank Niro, a good friend whom he has worked with on other projects such as the reunification of Idaho with Washington and Oregon into NWC, the publication of Northwest Chess magazine online in both black & white and color editions, and as co-tournament directors at various chess tournaments including the 2011 Portland Centennial. They have already made a commitment to work together to assist in the cataloguing of the USCF library in Crossville, Tennessee, to transition the CJA web site in support of education and research, and to develop a Strategic Plan for the organization in order to position CJA for the future.

For further information, please visit the Chess Journalists of America web site at:

Click here to see this announcement on Susan Polgar Chess Daily News and Information.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

My tenure at NWC is complete!

Congratulations to Jeffrey Roland of Boise, Idaho, who has assumed 100% of the editorial duties of Northwest Chess magazine. Last summer I made a commitment to the NWC Board to remain involved with the magazine until a new Editor could be hired and trained. I am happy to report that my job is done.

I will let the Northwest Chess Business Manager, Eric Holcomb, take it from here...

"On behalf of everyone at Northwest Chess, I’d like to welcome you to another year of chess activity, albeit a month late since you won’t be reading this until around the end of January. 2012 was a big year, highlighted by the U.S. Open in Vancouver, Washington. I was unable to attend, but Frank Niro stepped up as Interim Editor to produce a wonderful 48-page special edition of Northwest Chess for those who did attend. By the end of the year, Jeff Roland of Idaho took over as Editor, and he’s doing a great job; probably the most dedicated editor we’ve ever had! Jeff has also spearheaded the inclusion of the Idaho Chess Association as a full partner in Northwest Chess, and Idaho joined the Northwest Chess Grand Prix in 2012. (The 2012 GP was named in honor of Ralph Hall; the 2013 GP will likely be named in honor of Elena Donaldson Akhmylovskaia.)

Back issues of Northwest Chess are now available in full color as PDF files three months after publication, and a total of about 300 issues of Northwest Chess and Washington Chess Letter dating back to 1947 are now available online, with the expectation that we’ll add about another 100 issues this year. Take a look; some of these back issues are quite interesting, even if you’re a bit rusty on the old descriptive chess notation. Included in the 300 issues are all the 1972 magazines with the Fischer-Spassky world championship games. Speaking of games, Jeff is also compiling PGN and ChessBase files of games appearing in Northwest Chess beginning last December. This makes it much easier if you would like to follow and analyze the printed games with your favorite chess software.
(Click on the “Games” tab on the NWC website to access this feature.)

Beginning this year, the new Northwest Chess blog at will be the primary means of reporting many local tournament results, aside from the official USCF crosstables, which will usually be linked to in the blog post. The change in reporting will free up my time to perform other tasks, while providing much greater flexibility in tournament reporting since blog posts can be longer and can be written by multiple bloggers with greater knowledge of the events they report on. If you would like to be a NWC blogger, please let me know."

February 2013 online color .pdf file can be downloaded here.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

January 2013 NWC online color edition

Cover: Georgi Orlov and Elena Donaldson Akhmylovskaia in August 2008. Family photo courtesy of Georgi Orlov.

This was Jeffrey Roland's second issue as Editor and my second as Assistant Editor. Note that my feature article on Elena Donaldson was also published (in a modified version) in Chess Life magazine with the benefit of further insight much polish from co-author Al Lawrence.

January 2013 Northwest Chess online color edition

Summary: 48-page special memorial issue with "Elena Donaldson Akhmylovskaia (1957-2012) by Frank Niro," "World Youth Championship (NW Players) by the players/families," "Seattle Sluggers U.S. Chess League Champions," Idaho Chess News, Washington Chess News, Oregon Chess News, and Dr. Ralph Hall Northwest Grand Prix report by Murlin Varner.

Georgi Orlov and Elena Donaldson Akhmylovskaia.........Cover
From the Editor’s Desk by Jeff Roland...............3
Elena Donaldson Akhmylovskaia (1957-2012) by Frank Niro......4
World Youth Championship (NW Players)..............18
Seattle Sluggers U.S. Chess League Champions.....................22
Idaho Chess News..........................................................31
Washington Chess News.....................................................36
Oregon Chess News.........................................................39
Dr. Ralph Hall Northwest Grand Prix by Murlin Varner..............44
7th Annual Grand Pacific Open (Victoria, BC) Tournament Ad..46
Seattle Chess Club Tournaments and Events..........................47
Upcoming Events................................................Back Cover

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Lexington, KY or bust

Tash has received her acceptance letter into the Ph.D. program in Gerontolgy at the University of Kentucky, so we are on our way to Bluegrass country. This quaint little place will be our home for the next four years or so...

Below is the first of the furniture in our new place...

As can be seen from the signs in the photo below, the local Rite Aid has a Bourbon case behind the front counter. I have a feeling that a few adjustments will likely be required once we get there.

On our way from Ithaca to Lexington, we stopped in Hershey, PA, where many of the street lights are in the shape of Hershey's Kisses.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

December 2012 NWC Online Color Edition

Cover: David Rupel in St. Petersburg, Russia.

This was Jeffrey Roland's premier issue as Editor and my first as Assistant Editor.

December 2012 Northwest Chess Online Color Edition

Summary: 32-page issue with Rupel Goes to Russia by David Rupel, Washington Challengers’ Cup by Frank Niro, Washington Chess News by Russell “Rusty” Miller, Book Review by IM John Donaldson, Idaho Chess News by Jeffrey Roland, Oregon Chess News by Frank Niro, and the usual Grand Prix report by Murlin Varner. 8 pages are printed in color!


David Rupel in St. Petersburg, Russia photo credit: David Rupel as taken by an anonymous passerby.........Cover
Northwest Chess Information Page......................2
Gresham Open — Tournament Flyer/Registration Form..........3
Rupel Goes to Russia by David Rupel........................4
Washington Challengers’ Cup by Frank Niro..............7
Washington Chess News by Russell “Rusty” Miller.......11
Book Review by IM John Donaldson..................16
Idaho Chess News by Jeffrey Roland.................17
Oregon Chess News by Frank Niro.....................24
Dr. Ralph Hall Northwest Grand Prix by Murlin Varner........28
Upcoming Events...............................................30
Seattle Chess Club Tournaments and Events......................31
Western Idaho Open — Tournament Flyer..........Back Cover

Northwest Chess web site