The 2018 Falcon Chess Invitational Participants (Left to Right): Jonathan Rasberry, Caesar Lawrence, Tejas Thorat, Arden Markin, Stephen Graveling, Roger Johnson, Christopher Trees, Aaron DeCord, Scott Varagona, Kirk Petty, Om Badhe, Bill Melvin, Isaac Snow, Miles Melvin. (Photo credit: Jessica Snow.)

Featured Upcoming Events

  • October 27, 2018 - Huntsville, AL - CaesarChess presents the Halloween Classic with Premiere and Reserve sections. Flyer
  • November 10, 2018 - Birmingham, AL - The 11th Annual Dancing Knights Scholastic tournament takes place at the UAB Business and Engineering complex. One rated and three non-rated sections are scheduled. Flyer
  • November 17, 2018 - Troy, AL - Troy University is the site of the Troy Classic organized by CaesarChess. The event features classic and reserve rated sections with a G/70 d5 time control. Flyer
  • December 29, 2018 - Birmingham, AL - The 11th Annual Magic City Classic tournament will have three rated sections and one (scholastic) non-rated. Flyer
See the ACF Calendar for additional events.

Alabama State Championship

September 4, 2018 - Scott Varagona won the 2018 Alabama State Chess Championship trophy on tie breaks. Tyler Freeman continued his string of upsets (see story below on the Dual-Rated championship) to match Varagona's score of 5.0/6.0 to earn the title of co-champion. Alexander Kristjansson finished first in the Reserve section scoring 5.0/6.0.

State Championship Crosstables

ACF Election Results

September 4, 2018 - The following ACF officers were elected for two-year terms at the September 2, 2018 Annual Membership Meeting. Terms of office start October 1, 2018.

  • Vice President: Jonathan Rasberry
  • Treasurer: Paul Nager
  • Secretary: Vacant
  • Education VP: Neil Dietsch
  • US Chess Delegate and Alternate: Vacant
Vacancies may be filled by a vote of the Executive Board.

Volunteers Wanted

ACF relies on volunteers willing to commit time to keep our chess community active and vibrant. Opportunities for volunteers include:

  • webmaster / assistant webmaster
  • website developer [WordPress]
  • volunteers to work at the Alabama State Scholastic Chess Championship in central Alabama in March: registration desk, floor TDs
  • content-providers willing to provide copy and pictures from tournaments for the website and/or Facebook site
  • chess instructors willing to work with schools

If you have an interest in helping, please contact any of the current officers listed on the About Us page. Find out more about the ACF Board and its operation from the ACF Bylaws.

Chess Antics by NM Scott Varagona

August 22, 2018 - The Summer Antics magazine has in-depth coverage of games of the state's top competitors. This issue includes game notes and reports from Bill Melvin, Steven Graveling, Scott Varagona, and Doug Strout. AL Girls Champion Sarvagna Velidandla contributes the game that received a brilliant game award a the recent 2018 National Girls Tournament of Champions. Finally the magazine takes a glimpse back in Alabama Chess history. Thanks to Scott and ACF members who contributed copies of Antics from past decades. [Alert: some of those long-haired chess players from the 70's may look familiar.]

Other 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.

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

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

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.