East Alabama Chess Club
Next planned meeting: Sunday, January 19, 2020 @ Earth Fare (2-4pm)
The East Alabama Chess Club generally meets Sundays from 2-4 PM in the Auburn/Opelika area.
Our group is currently a small one, but includes players with a wide range of playing strengths and backgrounds.
All area chess players are welcome to join us for casual chess, game analysis, or serious study.
Please email ken at finefellow dot com for more details.
We will try to keep the meeting status updated here,
but please contact us if you are unsure,
and let us know if you wish to be added to our email contact list for meeting notices, etc.
USCF Membership Graph Updated
[1/23/05 kwg] While
breathlessly awaiting the Winter Antics and possible feedback from
Kirk's questionnaire, I found myself pondering the present state of
Chess in America. Actually, my musings began with yet another
boneheaded message seen on an internet newsgroup, saying in part:
...adult chess is on an
unstoppable decline. Like stamp collecting, model trains, and other
pursuits of the past, adult chess players are getting older, their
numbers are shrinking dramatically, and they are destined to become a
small but dedicated sub-culture in this country, like breweriana
collectors. ... Nothing will stop this. Our children will not, as adults, be members of
the USCF. Add the Internet into the mix, and you see the death knell.
Two things bugged me about this message, all the more so
because I have heard these claims made at tournaments and meetings as
well: (a) the notion that chess is on some long-term decline
(clearly false), and (b) that computers and the internet have hurt
chess participation (false in my view).
Look at the graph above, and allow me to add my
Notice that as a percentage of the population, serious chessplayers (as
represented by USCF members here) are as numerous now as at the height
of the Fischer boom. Surprised? I was when I first looked
at the numbers a year or so back. Note the two
dramatic increases. First came the spike in activity surrounding
the 1972 World Championship match, which gave back some ground but
still resulted in a long-term boost. Then something happened in
the early 1990's. Ah, yes, I remember now: tons of media
coverage of matches between Kasparov and powerful computers, Garry over
Deep Thought in 1990, Garry over Deep Blue in 1996, and finally Garry's
loss in the 1997 rematch with Deep Blue. It is perhaps telling
that Deep Blue was the first "chess player" on the cover of Newsweek
since Fischer (or so I've read).
Now there is presently a downturn in USCF membership, likely related to
recent financial problems in our national organization and resulting
disenchantment. I suspect the USCF will recover, and I note
casually that sales of chess books, sets, and software continue to be
strong. Closer to home, local clubs are still sparse, and
tournaments seem infrequent, yet Alabama still has plenty of interested
players, again judging by USCF membership.
Personally, I went through a long chess drought, causes or excuses
including lack of time, no local club, and general discouragement, and
it was online chess play and chess chat at FICS
that got me back into the game. I believe the internet can serve
as a great communication tool to promote chess, and that we are not
using this tool as well as we should in Alabama. In terms of
broader participation, I believe you can see from the graph above that
media attention has been a major factor in the popularity of
chess. Still, the basic foundation for organized chess is
enjoyment of the game by as many people as possible. Chess is
Basically, chess is alive and well, in the USA and in Alabama, but
let's face it: at 30 players per 100,000 people, organized chess
still has lots of room to grow. So what's our next move?
Perhaps our new ACF president's survey will help answer that.
Game Viewer Updated
[12/9/04 kwg] I have finally replaced my clunky old game viewer
on my to-do list for this feature, and I would appreciate user feedback on this - so please
try it and drop me a line.
Chess Calendar: Please Take a Peek
[11/13/04 kwg] My chess
calendar script is now online, and data entry is in process. The
idea is to give a tabular view of past and future events, with links to
tournament reports and announcements. Please give it a look and let me know what you think.
Sad Spectacle Reminds: Fischer Replacement Long Overdue
[7/18/04 kwg] Bobby Fischer is once again in the news, and as usual the news isn't good. Arrested
Friday at the Tokyo airport, Bobby may soon face American "justice" for
charges stemming from his 1992 rematch with Spassky. That match
violated U.S. sanctions against Yugoslavia, resulting in issuance of a warrant
for his arrest by the U.S. While many chessplayers would no
doubt find it easy to forgive Fischer for playing a match that violated
U.S. policy, it's likely few would excuse his anti-American attidude,
displayed most shockingly in a Phillippine radio interview applauding the 9/11/2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. A troubled individual, as always.
Despite all this, Bobby Fischer is never far from the thoughts of
many American chessplayers, and his name is seldom absent from the
pages of Chess Life magazine. After all, his brillant play and total
(but brief) dominance of the chess world led to a tremendous boom in
American chess. Just imagine: Live coverage of a chess match on ABC's
Wide World of Sports! USCF membership doubling in less than two years!
A banquet room in a Montgomery, AL hotel packed with players for the
organizing meeting of a local club! Yes, those were exciting times
for chessplayers here, the likes of which we may never see again - and
all this excitement was generated by one eccentric genius.
The good news is that chess is more popular than ever in the United
States. One measure of this popularity is USCF membership:
the inevitable slump following the membership surge in 1972-73 has been
followed by slow and steady gains. Even as a percentage of the
total population, USCF membership is higher now (0.031%) than in
1973 (0.028%). Still, those percentages make it obvious there's
plenty of room for Chess to grow in our country.
So what's missing? Maybe it's all in my head, or maybe it's just
that media organizations have lost interest. After all, it's big
events, big stars, and big money that drive media coverage - as in Deep
Blue vs. Kasparov (certainly not on the same scale as
Fischer-Spassky). We need a new American chess "hero" to really
fire us up again - and perhaps more importantly, to help displace
our waning Fischer-worship with something more positive. When
will we see another world chess champion from the USA? Surely
it's not too much to ask!
One thing's for sure, though: Our future champion will not appear
out of nowhere (neither did Bobby!). He or she will spring from
some local chess club somewhere, and local tournament action will play
an important part in that. So to all the chess organizers around
Alabama and around the USA, and to all the weekend warriors who take
the time to participate, thank you, and keep it up!
Here's a quick look at the geography of Alabama chess. The red
dots represent individual ACF members, and the square marker just south
of Birmingham shows the "Center of Mass" I calculated by latitude &
I'm sure few area chessplayers will be surprised at the heavy
in and around Birmingham, or the clusters around Tuscaloosa,
Montgomery, and Mobile. What did surprise me was the almost
balance, with ACF membership distributed evenly North-South and
of the geographical center of the state. And it turns out it
matter much whether players are given equal weight, or weighted
to rating - the calculated center barely budges.
Remember, though: this is just the ACF members. The
of USCF members in Alabama is MUCH longer, and I don't yet have
for many of them. Will the distribution of USCF members look like
this, too? How about Scholastic players? I'm still looking
for data on those... Also, as Bill Melvin has no doubt been
Why the heck don't more of those USCF members join the ACF?!
For the remarkably curious or hyper-observant, note that the data
overlay doesn't exactly match some cities - the dots were plotted by
and longitude, then pasted on top of a convenient highway map. A
more subtle point is that I scattered the dots slightly, so that all
players in Birmingham, for instance, don't appear as a single dot.
OK, here's another old Brittian cartoon, uncovered in a recent
of my files. Paul liked to turn other people's doodles and notes
(such as the "2.10" figure whose meaning is long forgotten) into nifty
cartoons. This one seems appropriate to my recent performance in
the State Championship! Eh bien, c'est la vie.
In a fit of nostalgia, I decided to share with you this old
by my late friend Paul Brittian, with whom I shared many fun games of
and much philosophical discussion before his untimely passing in
This first appeared in the December 1977 Antics. By the way,
has just played 1. e4, which apparently sealed his fate. I'm
looking for the other PB cartoon printed in the magazine back then, and
I'll post it if it turns up.
Though the purpose of this web site is to promote chess in our
state, this is NOT the official site of the Alabama Chess Federation,
is it endorsed by the Federation. As a service to Caissa, I
direct your attention to the nifty ACF
site presently maintained by UAB's Ken Sloan.
Well, I like this graph, so here it stays until I find a better
to put it!
Suggestions? Please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This site is presently maintained by Ken Goodman, a sporadic
player and creator of an old and primitive DOS chessplaying program
Springer, which has inexplicably failed to win him the fame and fortune
he so richly deserves. For the morbidly curious, click
here to download a .Zip file containing Sprinver v1.4.
Incidentally, Ken is presently #33 on the list
of rated players in Alabama, but will not rest until he is #32! Update: MADE IT!