Hawaii: the chess vacation of a lifetime

by ChessBase
6/30/2014 – If you look down at your feet you are probably looking in the general direction of Hawaii. The beautiful Pacific island group will be the host of an Inaugural Chess Festival in March 2015 – a weeklong series of world-class chess events that will bring chess enthusiasts from all over the world to the Hawaiian island of Oahu. You may be interested to attend this unique chess event.

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Chess Vacation of a Lifetime

The Inaugural Hawaii Chess Festival will be a weeklong series of world-class chess events that will bring chess enthusiasts from all over the world to the Hawaiian island of Oahu. To be held during the week of 14-22 March, 2015, the Festival will include an International Open, a chess camp, the Hawaii Scholastic Chess Championships and much more! See the schedule of events for more info.

While the Festival will move around to different venues, it will be centered at the beautiful Hilton Waikiki Beach (above). Ideally located in the heart of Waikiki, only one block from the sea and with Leahi (Diamond Head) as a stunning backdrop, this contemporary hotel offers a true Hawaiian paradise.

The Hilton Waikiki Beach is located just minutes from one of the world’s most famous beaches. World-class shopping, attractions and restaurants are all within easy walking distance. The hotel features modern contemporary styling throughout, with guest rooms that are conveniently located in one tower.

The majority of the Chess Festival events will take place in the Hilton’s Prince Kuhio Ballroom, a beautiful 3rd floor meeting space exceeding 8,000 square feet. The space affords great flexibility in terms of layout; players, sponsors and others involved with or visiting the Festival should be more than satisfied with the arrangements.

Mission statement

The Hawaii Chess Festival aims to be the premier Asia-Pacific chess event and to provide chess players and their families all over the world the opportunity to have the chess vacation of a lifetime. More than just a fun event, the Festival is being put on for a good cause:

The Hawaii Chess Festival’s mission is to grow chess in Hawaii and throughout the Asia-Pacific, specifically scholastic chess; towards that aim, the majority of Festival events will be operated as fundraisers, with a portion of any sponsorship funds, etc. going to the Hawaii Chess Federation’s scholastic chess endeavors, specifically towards the launch (and subsequent operation) of a “Hawaii Chess Center and Scholastic Chess Academy,” A place for players in Hawaii to share, learn and grow as chess players and as human beings.

The Hawaii International Open

To be held at the Hilton Waikiki Beach Hotel from Thursday, March 19th – Sunday, March 22nd , this open-to-all tournament will be an “anchor” event and major draw. Players of all ages and abilities will be able to compete in a six round tournament (all players will play all games, no one gets knocked out). Everyone will have a chance to win a share of an estimated $25,000 in prizes! First place in the top section will be an estimated $5,000!

The tournament should attract between 200-300 participants from all over the world, and will be a U.S. Chess Federation and FIDE (the World Chess Federation) officially rated tournament. One lucky winner will win airfare, free entry to the tournament and other prizes, and possibly more. Details about the tournament, including format are to be found here.

Hawaii Chess Invitational

As the many chess battles rage in the International Open, four to six of the world’s finest players will duke it out in front on stage in an exciting round robin tournament. This tournament boasts a unique format that will generate a huge amount of international interest.

Hawaii State Scholastic Championship

The Hawaii State Scholastic Championships are held in March of every year and this will be the kick-off event for the Hawaii Chess Festival, to be held on Saturday, March 14 th at Washington Middle School. The event usually draws between 100-150 kids from all over Hawaii.

An exciting last round game between Kevin Zheng (right) and Kaishu Tamura, from this year’s
Hawaii State Scholastic Championships. See also: Scholastic Chess in Hawaii is Booming!

Some of what will be special about the 2015 State Scholastic Championships:

  • Scholastic players from outside of the state will be allowed to compete.
  • Chess sponsors will donate misc. chess products to be given out as prizes
  • The presenting sponsor will be asked, as part of their sponsorship commitment, to offer a $5,000 college scholarship to the top player from Hawaii.
  • The organizers will approach universities that offer chess scholarships and will try to get some kind of additional scholarship(s) donated.
  • Top players brought to the Festival will be present and will be involved in various ways, such as by going over games, handing out prizes, etc.

Chess Day at Magic Island

This will be a highly public event on Tuesday, March 17th, to be held at the beautiful Ala Moana Beach Park, specifically at Magic Island, a small manmade peninsula that was created in 1964 as the site of a resort complex, but was subsequently converted to a park. It is a popular spot where people gather for picnics, frisbee, socializing, and occasional festival or drama performances.

The Hawaii Chess Festival will organise an all-day event where chess players will get the opportunity to combine some spectacular chess action with an amazing day at the park/beach! Tents will be setup for participants and passersby to play casual games. There will also be a giant chess set. Some of the Grandmasters from the invitational as well as other special guests will give a mass simultaneous exhibition, each taking on up to 20 players at the same time.

Friendship Banquet

Much more than your usual welcome banquet, this event will give players, sponsors, and others involved with the festival a chance to connect, eat good food and support a great cause. Net proceeds from the event will go to supporting scholastic chess initiatives in Hawaii.

Top players from the event will be randomly placed at the various tables and there will be a one-of-a-kind chess match between one of them and the others present at the banquet. Among the other plans for the evening: collectible items from an online benefit auction will be on display. Further, sponsors will participate in a giveaway component, where random winners will be selected to win miscellaneous prizes.

Other events

Besides those events already outlined in detail there will be many additional fun events, including:

  • A Chess Camp – a group of talented instructors will do a one or two-day intensive set of camp workshops.
  • Blitz Tournament – This event will happen on a Saturday morning and will be immensely fun to watch or participate in.
  • Chess lecture(s) – a top instructor or two will give a group lecture.
  • Ongoing game analysis and commentary – special guests will be set up in a side room offering analysis of players’ games and ongoing commentary on top games.
  • Online benefit auction – top participants and sponsors will be asked to donate items of value to be auctioned off as a benefit fundraiser for the Hawaii Chess Club and Scholastic Academy! The auction will run for the duration of the event.
  • Group tour(s) – the organizers will put together one or two Chess Festival participants’ group tour and/or outing options.


Please don’t wait to sign up, as most festival events will likely have a cap on the number of registrations. You will also save money by signing up early! Entry to the various events are being discounted through the end of the year (20% until 10/1, 10% until 1/1). Also, airfares and other travel costs will likely go up the longer you wait. Please see the Festival's travel arrangements page for info about booking your trip to Hawaii!

Registration for the Hawaii International Open and various other events will be opening up by July 15th 2014. There will be limited space in some of the events, so we highly encourage you to register as soon as possible to secure your spot. Also, please sign up for the Festival newsletter, as the organisers will be sending out a notice when registration has opened up.


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