Celebrating Chess at the 2019 Festival in the Park

The Roanoke Valley Chess Club brought its popular “Chess-tival” event once again to the annual Festival in the Park in downtown Roanoke. This major celebration takes place every Memorial Day weekend in Elmwood Park, and generally attracts thousands of participants. The Chess Club convened on Saturday, May 25, at its customary site along Elm Avenue.

The weather was sunny and unusually hot that weekend, but at least we had no rain to contend with (as last year). This was fortunate, since Festival organizers did not furnish tents this time. The RVCC moved its tables and chairs (from Aztec Rental) to the shelter of a large tree nearby, to escape the sun’s rays and heat. Club President Mike Huff brought about 12 chess sets and boards, plus promotional props.

Club members who came out Saturday to play the public included Sam Kennedy, Ben Dubuque, Drew Gripp, Isaac Spence, the father-and-son William Villarreal duo, NM Russell Potter , former RVCC President Richard White and RVCC Champion of 1962, Franklin Myers, among others.

Crowds were very light at Festival this year— perhaps due to temperatures in the 90s. Despite the sparse attendance, we managed to collect six contact cards from people interested in our club. On Sunday, Sam and Mike returned to Elmwood Park with just a few chess sets to represent the club informally; however, we still did not see many festival-goers.

We want to recognize the volunteers from Roanoke Festival in the Park, Inc. for reserving our space and delivering our chairs and tables. Thanks also to Pam Ulrich (our contact person this year) and all the other fine folks who helped make our event possible.

This event is part of the Roanoke Valley Chess Club's ongoing commitment to promote the great game of chess in the region, and-- as always-- is 100% FREE to the general public.

(Submitted by Mike Huff)


On Wednesday evening April 17, 2019, the Roanoke Valley Chess Club held its Spring Quick Championship tournament at the Roanoke Valley Chess Club.

The tournament was divided into 2 separate Quads. The time limit for the games was G/20 ~ 5 seconds delay SD.

The winner of the B Quad, was RVCC President Mike Huff.

The winner of the A Quad was Isaiah Spence.

In addition, a 4 Game match was held between Junior chess champ Aiden Taylor and International Women's Master Tien Nguyen of Viet Nam. Tien is studying at Hollings College as an International Exchange student. Aiden put up stiff resistance in the match, but Tien scored a decisive victory after the smoke had cleared. There is no discredit to young Aiden, since Tien is one of the very strongest chess players in the Roanoke Valley.

Our ever popular Treasurer was Ray Megginson. The tournament was directed by O.L.M. Russell Potter.

The cub meets every Wednesday evening in the comfortable quarters of the Raleigh Court Branch of the Roanoke Public Library. We meet in the Community Room in back of the building.

The library is located in front of Patrick Henry High School on 2112 Grandin Rd. SW

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2019 Winter Quick Championship Report

On Wednesday, March 13, 2019, the RVCC held its Winter Quick Championship. Six players competed in a 5-round G/15 event at RVCC headquarters, Raleigh Court Public Library.

Ben Dubuque won clear 1st place with a 4.0 score. Drew Gripp got 2nd with 3.5 points. Isaac Spence came in 3rd place with 3 points. Eduardo Z., a visitor from Brazil, was in 4th place with 2.5 points.

Isaac Spence vs. Ben Dubuque: In a Leningrad Dutch, the game quickly reached an unbalanced position, with White having queenside space and a Pawn to Black's superior kingside space. Black (Dubuque) sacrificed a Pawn for some initiative and the material became extremely unbalanced with White (Spence) having 2 Rooks, 2 Pawns, and a Knight vs. Black's Queen and 2 Knights. The ending was eventually converted into a full point by Black.

Eduardo Z. vs. Drew Gripp: In a Budapest Gambit the game remained equal and transitioned to a drawish Knight ending with Pawns on opposite wings. After missing a check late in the game, Gripp held on for a draw despite serious time pressure.

Eduardo Z. vs. Ben Dubuque: In a Grunfeld, after White's 10th move, Black played the novelty (and after admitted home prep, even if dubious) 10.... b5. The game reached a crucial position after 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Be3 c5 8. Bc4 Nc6 9. Ne2 Qa5 10. Rc1. This quickly led to complications, and after a long grind and transition to a roughly equal ending, White gave up a Rook for Knight, and then blundered the game.

Ben Dubuque vs. Tien Nguyen: The game with some light analysis follows, because of the Draw between Eduardo Z. and Drew Gripp, this game would determine if first would be Gripp, Dubuque, or shared between the two.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. f4 e6 7. g4 b5 8. g5 Nfd7 9. Be3 Bb7 10. Qf3 Nc5 11. 0-0-0 b4 12. Nd5. A bold sacrifice, though somewhat justified, as the position is difficult if other moves are played; accepting the sacrifice is terrible, as it allows White to develop his Bishop and bring his Rooks to the center advantageously. 12.... Nxe4 13. Nxe6! (A shot out of the blue, these two moves combined are often thematic sacrifices in the Najdorf, and here it works to devastating effect, opening up Black's position and anchoring the d5 Knight; and because the Knight on e4 is en prise, it isn't even a sacrifice.) 13.... fxe6 14. Qxe4 (taking the simple route to victory) 14.... Kd7?? (stouter defenses existed) 15. Nf6+ Kc8 16. Qxe6+ Kc7 17. Ne8 Kc6 18. Bg2 Kb5 19. Bxb7 Be7 20. Qd5 Ka4 21. b3 Ka3 22. Kb1 1-0.

Ben Dubuque vs. Drew Gripp: Drew managed to win a piece in a complex position in the early middle game of a Philidor Defense. He then ground out an ending for the only defeat of the eventual tournament winner. Classic technique from a versatile player.

Other notable games included a game between Isaac Spence and Drew Gripp where Spence managed a win in a messy position that transitioned to an ending.

Club President Mike Huff and Ben Dubuque co-directed this event, with Ben helping out with pairings, playing, and providing the game scores and analysis here. Ben also graciously “spotted” the Brazilian player Eduardo Z. $5 to help cover his entry fee. Mike stepped aside to let Tien play, to avoid pairings with byes. Cooperation and good sportsmanship just naturally happen at your local chess club!

As always, the RVCC appreciates the Raleigh Court Public Library, for hosting our weekly club meetings and speed tournaments.