The Spring 2020 Antics features a brilliant article on "The Lost State Champions!" Mr. Therrell, Mr. Melvin, and Mr. Meidinger are pictured above as the three 1992 state champions. Did they think this photo was lost??

Alabama State Championship Announced for Labor Day Weekend

Updated August 25, 2020: The Alabama Chess Federation has announced that the Alabama State Chess Championships will be held this year on Labor Day weekend, September 5-6. This will be an online event held on There will be a premier (USCF standard rating 1800+), U1800, and U1200 section. Only the premier section will be held over both days, with both under sections being held on Saturday only. For full details and to register, see flyer.

New Antics Available!

While little chess has been played this summer, Scott has not been taking off time for the summer antics. Scott has written a full-fledged antics addition with the help of articles written by Charles Anthony and Doug Strout.Thank you Scott for your hard work putting together such great works of art each quarter! Click here to read the 2020 Summer Antics.

Annual Membership Meeting to be Held Online During State Championship

Just because there will be no in-person state championship does not mean there will be no ACF annual membership meeting! This meeting is to be held on Zoom on Sunday, Sept. 6 at 12:30 PM. All ACF members are welcome and encouraged to attend the 45-60 minute meeting. Details on how to join the Zoom meeting and the contents of the meeting agenda can be can be found HERE. The election of officers and new website reveal are among the most important topics. Any questions about the ACF or chess in Alabama you might have will be fielded at the end of the meeting.

OTB Chess Returned in July - What you Need to Know

Updated June 13, 2020: With guarded optimism, the Alabama Chess Federation is now announcing that over-the-board (OTB) chess will return to Alabama in Montomery on July 11. The Evangel Chess Club will host the Alabama Dual-Rated State Chess Championships following CDC social-distancing guidelines in person. The below information is courtesy of Doug Strout, the tournament's chief director:

1) Prize fund as advertised will be honored. 70% minimum of advertised across the board (See flyer).

2) Late registration fee is waived. $40 entry fee for all players. Pre-registration email to is still preferred to let me know you're coming.

3) The playing hall will be a single large room where we will distance the tables best we can.

4) Disposable masks will be made available.

5) The Children's Ministry building will still be available for non-playing family members and general downtime.

Scholastic Champions, Antics, and Website Developments

Updated June 07, 2020:

Our Alabama Representatives to the National Tournaments

Constance Wang - 8th Annual WIM Ruth Haring National Tournament of Girls State Champions representative

Yury Barnakov - 3rd Annual National Tournament of Senior State Champions

Xavier Bruni - 1st Annual John D. Rockefeller III National Tournament of Elementary School State Champions

Parker Liu - 10th Annual Dewain Barber National Tournament of Middle School State Champions

Om Badhe - 36th Annual GM Arnold Denker National Tournament of High School State Champions

How They Got Here

Constance defeated a field of 14 of the strongest girls in the state in the 2020 All-Girls State Championship to become our representative.Yury was selected by the ACF board to represent the state as he is not only our strongest senior player, but also one of our highest rated active players in the state. Xavier was selected by the ACF board to be our representative as the strongest elementary player by several hundred rating points. Parker won an online playoff between himself and several of the other strongest middle school players in the state. Om won an online playoff between himself and several of the strongest high school players in the state.

Currently the details about all these tournaments are TBD as the USCF works hard to decide how to proceed. The ACF is also working to decide when and how to resume OTB play. As events resume and are rescheduled we will let you know. There are plans for several upcoming online rated events in June and July that will be announced soon.

New Antics Available!

Scott has worked his magic again and even without chess happening in the state this quarter, he managed to put together some stellar articles thanks to a few contributors such as Tom Denton and Yury Barnakov. Speaking of Yury, his game and against Matt Puckett in 2019's State Championship with excellent annotations won him 2020's second Game of the Quarter award. For winning, he will be entered into the Game of the Year competition to be decided in September.

The featured article this time is a special one. After doing much research, sifting through old US Chess magazines, old Alabama Antics, and consulting many older players, Scott has managed to fill in and name all of the Alabama state chess champions since the very first official state championship in the 1950s. It is a fantastic read for both the historian and the story lover! Thank you Scott for your hard work putting together such great works of art each quarter! Click here to read the 2020 Spring Antics.

Want one of your best games in the Antics next quarter?

Oh...and the chance to win recognition and money for best game of the quarter/year? Send your game(s) (USCF Rated ONLINE Blitz Games also to be accepted) annotated with your thoughts in .pgn format to Also, send in your best photographs, with explicit permission for use, as well for the chance to win recognition and money for best photograph of the quarter/year. Deadline for submissions August 30, 2020 .

New Website Coming!

After utilizing our current website for the better part of the current millennia, the Alabama Chess Federation voted last Sunday to approve spending to develop a new, modernized website! Some of the features we hope to incorporate into the new site are, Find a Club features, improved Antics Feature Page, and a Perpetual Membership System (for improved membership updating and accuracy). The website is due to be completed by mid-July.

Jonathan Rasberry

Alabama Chess Federation President


The Alabama All Girls Tournament was a success with a record breaking 52 participants! For the details and final standings click here .

Slight Changes to the ACF Bylaws Effective February 1, 2020

Following much thought, debate, and revisions, the newly updated bylaws will bring positive change for the ACF community. A list of changes in the bylaws from old to new will be available to view in the superseded section of the ACF's archive website section along with a copy of the old bylaws, but there are a couple changes that you should be familiar with.

Firstly, the ACF has consolidated the regular membership and scholastic membership into one single "individual - annual" membership for all ages. Voting privileges are given to every membership holder, but those who are under 18 years may only have one parent vote in their stead. Secondly, all memberships lengths have been reduced to an 11+ month model from the previous 12+ month model. Under the new system, if an individual buys a membership anytime during the month of February, then their membership will expire on January 31st. If a membership was purchased on April 10th, then that membership will expire on March 31st.

The ACF has also recently created the Alabama Online Chess Club. This is a Alabama resident only event happening every Thursday from 7-9pm on especially meant for those who do not have a local club in their city or just can't get enough chess. Go to the Alabama Chess Federation group on once you have created your free account, join the group, and you can join the meeting from there.

How the Traditional will Meet the Future in Alabama

November 23, 2019 - On behalf of the new board of the ACF, I am excited to begin unfolding a new chapter in the story of Alabama chess. The question of how the traditional game of chess would meet the new decade has been the topic of discussion among the leadership of the ACF since the new board began our leadership in October. Many things are in the pipeline for the new decade, so let me introduce them to you below. Pay attention to the "Do Your Part" section which details many of the things you can do to become a part of this special decade.

  • Chess clubs are growing: The revitalized Birmingham Chess Club now meets every Tuesday from 5:30-9:00 at the Hoover Public Library. Both slow and quick formats are played weekly. If you are not in a major city or just want to play more chess, join the Alabama Chess Federation on ( Both weekly meetings (at a time TBD) and correspondence chess will be supported. Get a free account and join now to take part in a Alabama players only, virtual chess club.
  • The scholastic championship tournaments are decided for 2020: The Alabama State Scholastic Chess Championships will be held in Madison (Huntsville) at Bob Jones high school on March 21-22. The individual will be held on Saturday, and the team on Sunday. The Alabama All-Girls Championships will also be held in Madison on February 22. The flyer and details will be out soon at under the calendar tab.
  • We are joining Social Media:Make sure to like and follow the new Alabama Chess Federation page on Facebook and Alabama Chess @ChessAlabama on Twitter. Most updates, game highlights, and news will be posted there first.
  • Best Game/Best Photograph Competition coming in 2020: The ACF will recognize the best game and best photograph submissions quarterly from any rated chess event. More details to come, but each quarterly submission for best game or photograph will be reviewed by a panel and will be honored. Each quarterly winner will then be entered into the discussion for best game/photograph of the year. The yearly winners will receive a cash prize and more than likely a commemorative plaque.
  • Alabama Chess Hall of Fame potentially coming soon: The ACF is considering the who's and how's of creating a permanent hall of fame for the best players, coaches, directors, and influencers in Alabama Chess History.
  • Alabama Adult Club Team Championship potentially coming soon: The ACF would like to host an open tournament version of the Alabama State Scholastic Team Championships in 2020. The tournament would be hosted in the fall, and Alabama club members from across the state will get a chance to compete for club/team glory. More details to come.
  • An updated affiliates, clubs, and coaches page coming soon to our website: For the most up-to-date information on who's playing chess where, this will be Alabama's go-to-page.

Do YOUR Part

The ACF would be nothing without its loyal members and strategic partners. You are our feet on the ground and the have the knowledge and experience that will eye which targets the ACF should be aiming for and you know best how to achieve those goals. The ACF would like your input on any of the above, especially the following:

  • Rated Game Submissions: If you think you have a special win from any section of any rated tournament in Alabama, submit your game to The committee is not just looking for a high rated game - but an instructive game. For best results, submit your game in .pgn format and add some annotations to your game. If you bring your insight on the game, that will score many points in the eyes of the committee. Even if you do not get selected, your game might be featured on a website/social media post, in the Antics, or even get an honorable mention in the best game of the quarter competition. The more games you submit, the better your chances of winning!
  • Photo (or even video) Submissions: The ACF is in dire need of up-to-date, high-quality photos from tournaments, club meetings, and school chess events. This will help us promote chess in Alabama through higher quality social media posts. Submit your photos to with explicit permission to use your photos (photo credits will be given in all instances of course). These photos can come from players, parents, coaches of any part of any event, the photo selection for best photo will be based on quality, content, and creativity. The more pictures you submit, the better your chances for winning.
  • How Should We Structure: The Alabama Chess Hall of Fame and the Adult Club Team Championship? Give us your insights on who could be inducted, how many inductees at first and later we should add, how often should we add inductees, and who should vote and how the voting for potential inductees should be operated. There are many questions to be answered before the ACF can officially create a hall of fame. Send us your ideas to Also let us know how a club team championship could be well formed, such as how to section off the event, what type of format we should use, and what time control would be ideal (for a one-day event). Also send any suggestions to Bill Melvin.
  • Tell us About Your Club, School Team, or Coaching talent: To best create a comprehensive page about local clubs, teams, coaching, and affiliates, please let us know about the team or club you lead. We will contact you later for specific information that the ACF could post to our website. If you have not been contacted by Michael Porcelli yet about your club or school team, send him a heads-up email at If you are a current chess coach living in Alabama, also contact Michael so that we can compile a coaching list. More details on what will be required to join our coaching page will come soon.

As always, any input from our members is highly valued. My email is, and I will be happy to answer any questions or concerns you might have about Alabama Chess. I am looking forward to a great 2020 with Alabama's community surrounding the greatest game ever played.


Jonathan Rasberry | President of the Alabama Chess Federation

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 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.

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.

Other Alabama Championship Tournament Results

Dual-Rated Chess

July 20, 2019 - Yury 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 - Yury 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 - Yury 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'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.

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