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Remembering 2009

        The year 2009 saw quite a few firsts for Spokane chess, and here we remember them the way we reported the stories as they happened.  A record snowfall season played havoc with everything, including chess club and scholastic events that were postponed while the snows buried streets, collapsed roofs across the region, and generally made folks aware that we have real winters in Spokane!  But from the depths of the snow, a marvelous chess year blossomed.

        One of the first signs that 2009 would be special was the 17th annual Dave Collyer Memorial.  It drew a near-record 63 players on the February 28-March 1 weekend.  The story can be found on our Collyer Memorial page (link at left).

        Next up on the chess calendar was the latest installment of our oldest tournament, the Inland Empire Open held April 4-5.  The event, first played in 1954, has its own link at left.

        The oldest tourney was followed up by the biggest state tournament ever played in Spokane -- the Washington State Elementary Chess Championship, played April 25.  A total of 1,061 players took part.  This was the first time the event was held in Spokane.  Our story:


Quite the Experience!


     Over 1000 kids took part in the 2009 Washington State Elementary Championships at the Spokane Convention Center April 24-25, 2009.  A total of 999 competed in the K-6 championships and another 72 in the I Love Chess Too competition.  It was easily the largest chess tournament ever played in Spokane and also a very exciting experience for all who took place.

    James Stripes spearheaded the efforts to land the event and is owed a huge debt of thanks for handling all of the details, little and big, that go into putting on a major event.  Without the organizing skills of James and his wife Teri, the event could not have run as smoothly as it did.  A huge thank you also goes to the dozens of volunteers who made the event work.  Adam Attwood, an island of calm even in the face of an occasionally angry parent, organized the many floor judges who smoothly ensured that the rounds ran smoothly.  Dr. John Cambareri and son Michael joined your editor and Dave Griffin in a team of pairing directors who had to get the pairings and cross tables out for eight events as fast possible each round.  The Deer Park contingent, headed by Gloria Hartley and Naureen Kummer, ran the registration and hospitality sections smoothly, bringing order to the chaos created by 1,000 kids and their parents.  Ted Baker successfully championed a top notch crew of volunteers who set up the facility and also showed amazing skill as a scrounger who turned up whatever equipment the volunteers needed.  Chris Copeland and friends put on a great awards ceremony.  Many, many other area chess players, assisted by others from across the state, stepped up to do whatever was needed to ensure the event went well and ascertain that the kids had a great experience.  The work of all these volunteers reflected well on our community.   THANK YOU!!!



A scene of the upper section of the tourney compliments of floor judge organizer Adam Attwood.

        Additional information can be found on the official website for the tournament: http://www.spokanechess2009.com/


        The next month saw a "second" -- the  Washington Open was held Memorial Day weekend in Spokane for the first time since October, 1956!!   A total of 103 players participated.  The last time this event was played in Spokane, Don Larsen had just thrown the only perfect game in World Series history, President Eisenhower was on the verge of being re-elected president, and Highway 2 was the main travel route into Spokane.  The times have changed a lot since then.  Our story on that event:


Memorial Day Weekend


 2009 Washington Open

    IM John Donaldson, the top seed, won the 2009 Washington Open played in Spokane May 23-25.  He finished with a 5-1 score, one-half point ahead of Steve Breckenridge, Howard Chen, Nick Raptis, and Josh Sinanan.

    The Premier section saw a three way tie: Daniel Copeland, Ethan Gottlieb, and Robert Herrera each scored 4.5 to finish ahead of six players with 4.0 scores.  Ryan Ackerman secured the Reserve section title with a 5.5 score.  Shanglun Wang was a perfect 6.0 in sweeping the Booster section.

    The USCF Cross tables for the event can be found here:




PlayHallB by camaschess.

Washington Open action photos courtesy of Russell Miller (above, below)


CarlHaesslerA by camaschess.


Photo courtesy of Randy Countryman

   The last time the tourney was played in Spokane was 52 years ago, when the 1957 Washington Open was played October 20-21, 1956.



        Chess continued hot and heavy into the warm summer months.  FM David Sprenkle retained his City Champion title by defeating former champion John Julian in a match.  NM William Schill of Seattle won the Spokane Falls Open held in conjunction with the title match over the July 18-19 weekend.  Reports on both events can be found on the City Championship and Recent Results page (links at left).

        August saw another "first" for Spokane with a chess themed wedding.  It is not the first Spokane "chess wedding."  Club stalwarts Dawn Fields and Dave Rowles were married during a Las Vegas tournament two decades back.  This time one of our young eligible chess batchelors met his match, accompanied by his two best (chess) buddies.  Our story:





    Central Christian Church in Walla Walla was the scene of the wedding of Rachel Wilton to our own John Julian on August 8.  Several club members ventured down to Walla Walla for the nuptials, and Dave Griffin was spotted wearing a dress shirt and tie, reportedly for the first time in 15 years.

    John was accompanied on the altar by his long-time chess buddies -- best man Elston Cloy and groomsman Curt Collyer -- both of whom looked stellar in their tuxedos.  Continuing  the chess theme was the multi-layered wedding cake.  It featured a Staunton-design white King and Queen on the top layer, with the other layers featuring Rooks, Knights, Bishops and Pawns!



    The happy couple (above)  honeymooned on the Oregon coast for a week before returning to Spokane where each is beginning their final year in their respective graduate school programs.

    The groom and his chessmen:



The cake:


Congratulations John & Rachel, and best wishes from all your friends at the Spokane Chess Club.


        The season progressed with the Fall Championship and then a 39-player strong Eastern Washington Open held October 3-4.  The stories for both can be found on their respective page links.

        Something new for the club occurred again in November when one our young alums ventured off to Hungary in search of education and a FIDE rating.  The proud report:


Copeland Stars in Budapest!

        Spokane Chess Club alum Daniel Copeland, now a student at Reed College in Oregon, made a successful international chess debut by winning his section of the famous First Saturday tourney held in Budapest October 3-13, 2009.  Daniel was the only unrated (FIDE) player in section FM-B, and was an undefeated 9-1 to win the double round robin event.  His tournament performance rating was 2083.  A link to the story: http://www.fide.com/component/content/article/4-tournaments/4152-young-girls-top-all-men-at-first-saturday-im-groups-budapest-03-13th-october-2009

        The First Saturday event has, for the past several years, been an event that attracts players from all over the world seeking FIDE ratings or titles.  Daniel, a mathematics major, is studying abroad this semester and was able to fit the tourney into his study regime!  Congratulations, Daniel, from all your friends at the Spokane CC.


    November also saw the beginning of a new chess club in Liberty Lake.  We wish organizer Phil Lechternberg well and hope the club realizes his dreams. Meanwhile, chess continued its usual course here at the Spokane CC.  The scholastic season kicked off with an additional tournament and the hopes that the special events of 2009 lead to even more scholastic chess in 2010 and beyond.

    Time will only tell if these special events return to Spokane again.  In the meantime, we will always have the memories!