Chess Expert Rudy Tia, a retired Army Sergeant from Killeen, Texas, won the 2017 Texas Armed Forces and Military Veterans Open Chess Championships with a perfect 4-0 score over a 17-player field (including 6 experts). The event was held in North Richland Hills on September 23-24, 2017.  The event was held in the North Richland Hills Library and was sanctioned by the US Chess Federation and the Texas Chess Association.  Serious Chess Players, based out of Haltom City’s American Legion Post 655, was the sponsoring affiliate.  Chris Wood was the Chief Tournament Director and was capably assisted by Lisa Lin (Adjutant) and two volunteers (Dale Chaney and Zachary Graber).  The Chief organizer was Jim Hollingsworth.

In total, a dozen tournament plaques and titles were awarded. The full list of winners follows:

  • 2017 Texas Armed Forces Chess Champion Rudy Tia.
  • 2017 Texas Military Veterans Open Chess Champion Jhonel Baniel
  • 2017 Texas Legacy Chess Champion John Farrell
  • 2017 Texas Army Chess Champion Jim Stallings
  • 2017 Texas Navy Chess Champion Anthony Hemphill
  • 2017 Texas Marines Chess Champion Dominick Miller
  • 2017 Texas Air Force Chess Champion Fred Pennington
  • 2017 Texas Armed Forces Retiree Chess Champion Mike Donovan
  • 2017 Texas Military Veteran Student Chess Champion Jack Peña
  • 2017 Texas Military Veteran Unrated Co-Champion Nathaniel May
  • 2017 Texas Military Veteran Unrated Co-Champion Robert Todd

At Saturday evening’s Veterans Dinner, Carmen Chairez, from Round Rock, Texas, was recognized as a chess organizer, tournament director, coach, and mentor for young chess players (some of whom achieved Master level status). Mrs. Lois Wall, filling in for her husband, presented Mr. Chairez with the Chess Master Bill Wall Texas Legacy Award.

Several guest speakers greeted the chess playing veterans and retirees at the opening ceremony and the Saturday evening Veterans Dinner.

Stephanie Klick, Texas District 91 Representative, welcomed everyone. “Texas House District 91 has over 50 active duty service members,” She said, “and over 12,000 veterans live here. Our Nation is safer, our State is stronger, and our communities are better places to live and work because of our Veterans. Thank you all so much for being here and for your sacrifices.”

North Richland Hills Place 7 City Councilman Tim Welch’s comments were heartfelt as he talked about the sacrifices his family members made when they served in the Military.  “One out of every five deployments during the Global war on Terrorism was from Texas.  Many from North Richland Hills served when our Nation needed them most.  Many still serve.  Our City is much stronger because of our veterans living here.  Many of our local businesses, such as Lowes, show their appreciation by offering discounts.  In 2005 our City opened Liberty Park to honor the sacrifices our veterans and their families made.  We celebrate Veterans Day and this year it will be on Friday, November 10, 2017 at 11:00 AM at Liberty Park.  Thank you all for keeping America safe.”

Cecilia Barham, North Richland Hills Library Director, is a wonderful host and welcomed everyone to their beautiful new facility and the “City of Choice.”  For months Mrs. Barham ensured the event was advertised on the Library’s website, social media and in newsletters with 5,000 subscribers.  “For twelve years, we have had the privilege of welcoming chess clubs and tournaments in our old library and this new one.  Being awarded this tournament is absolutely an honor.  Our staff is extremely excited about this event and if there is anything you need, just ask!”

Tom Crane, Texas Chess Association (TCA) Region II Director and the head of chess for 27 North Central Texas counties, pointed out the North Richland Hills Public Library has been a supporter of chess for quite some time.  The scholastic chess program that meets every Tuesday from 4:00 – 5:30 PM has provided the opportunity for thousands of children to play chess since 2004.  Having a facility is everything to chess events and the library also supports the Tarrant County Chess Club by providing the Community Room for monthly tournaments.  The library partnership with chess is essential to continuing the learning, playing and enjoyment of chess and Tarrant County Chess Club recognizes and appreciates this support greatly.

Captain Jon Townsend, Commander of the Fort Worth Naval Air Station, spoke at the Veterans Dinner and described the Base’s various ongoing and contingency operations.  “During Hurricane Harvey, we sheltered Military families and safeguarded all military aircraft normally stationed in Southern Texas.  Having all those lined up on our ramp was an incredible sight and only the tip of the iceberg for the missions our Sailors, Marines and Airmen accomplish every single day.”

Don Kobe, Commander of the American Legion Post 655 in Haltom City, Texas, talked about his post’s new chess club that meets on Thursdays.  “The American Legion,” he said, “is a wonderful opportunity for all Veterans to pursue any passion they are interested in, including chess.”  He also talked about the American Legion’s Four Pillars of Service:  Strong National Security, Taking Care of Veterans, Mentoring Youth, and Patriotism & Honor.  He encouraged all to visit and join their local American Legion post.

Chess Expert Jim Stallings, University of Texas at Dallas Chess Program Director, described his University’s phenomenal growth and its robust chess program.  “We have 7 Grand Masters, 5 International Masters, and three other masters.  For the last 20 years, our teams are consistently ranked among the Nation’s top collegiate chess programs and enjoy great results in international competition.”

Chess Expert John Farrell, one of the organizers of the annual US Armed Forces Open Chess Championship, encouraged all to try playing in that event when their schedule allows.  “This year’s event is at West Point.  If you can make it, I promise you are going to have one of the greatest chess experiences in your entire life!”

Jeff French, Editor of one of Chess Journalists of America’s most acclaimed State Chess Magazines, Texas Knights, talked humorously about the early years when a printing vendor messed up 22 chess diagrams in his first issue as Editor.  “They worked all night getting replacement issues ready for the next day’s mailing deadline.”  Texas Knights is online and has a printed distribution of nearly 200 subscribers.

When the Opening Ceremonies ended, Representative Klick had the last word.

“Everyone, please shake hands.  Start your clocks.  Good luck!”

After the tournament, Tom Crane, TCA Region II Director, had this to say. “In an era where 50% of the people will disagree on everything it’s extremely uncommon when 100% of the people agree on something. One hundred percent of the people who participated in the 2017 Texas Armed Forces and Military Veterans Open Chess Championships agreed that it was meticulously planned, flawlessly executed and was an enormous success. The credit for this goes to Jim Hollingsworth for having the vision and fortitude to create and deliver such a stellar tournament experience that was enjoyed by every participant, speaker and volunteer.”