Saying 'Yes' to Chess in Nashville

by ChessBase
4/16/2005 – It was the largest scholastic chess tournament in history and took place in Nashville, TN, USA. A total of 5230 players, from kindergarten through 12th grade, from over 1,300 schools and more than 600 cities in 48 states participated. The previous record was 4,606 entries recorded at the Super Nationals II in Kansas City. Illustrated report by Paul Truong.

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Chess Stars Battle for
National Titles in Music City

By Paul Truong

The Nashville Chess Center, the Tennessee Chess Association, and countless volunteers were on hand to helo the US Chess Federation, the organizer of this magnificent event. Many chess celebrities also came to support the event. The big names include former World Champions GMs Anatoly Karpov and Susan Polgar, reigning US Champions Hikaru Nakamura and WGM Rusa Goletiani, former US Champions GM Yasser Seirawan and WIM Jennifer Shahade, and the charismatic GM Maurice Ashley, etc.

Many of these celebrities worked very hard over the four days to promote chess and motivate the kids. They gave lectures, simuls, book signings, and posed for countless pictures. I jokingly told some of them that they really need special hand massages at the spa after signing thousands of autographs over a 3-4 day period.

Special guests Yasser Seirawan, Susan Polgar and Anatoly Karpov

When you enter the bookstore, you will immediately notice Maurice chatting, talking and signing autograph. Adjacent to him was Yasser who spent countless hours at the USCF Sales bookstore booth to chat and sign autographs for everyone. Yasser even helped out closing up shop in his suit! No wonder why everyone loves Yasser.

A giant hall with thousands of young chess players at the opening of the event

Susan was scheduled for three lectures and one simul. Due to the extremely high demands, she ended up doing eight lectures and game analysis sessions, six book signings, and attended seven meetings with sponsors, organizers, and media people. She also posed for pictures with every trophy winner between K-6 at the closing ceremony. That was over 700 trophies and plaques that took around four hours to give out!!

Susan Polgar gives a simul for coaches and parents

On the last day, the players and their parents and coaches were treated to a special appearance by former World Champion Anatoly Karpov. When he arrived at the lecture hall, he was warmly greeted by hundreds of fans.

The Opening Ceremony with a marching band

After four days of competition, over a thousand beautiful trophies and plaques were awarded. The University of Texas at Dallas awarded scholarships to the winners of each championship section (elementary, middle, and high school) each valued at about $48,000 to non-Texas residents. The Susan Polgar Committee also awarded automatic qualifying spots for the prestigious Susan Polgar National Invitational for Girls to the top finishing girl in each the championship section Elementary (K-6), Junior High (K-9) and the High School (K-12). The Susan Polgar National Invitational for Girls runs concurrently with the US Open Chess Championship, this year in Phoenix, AZ in August.

A huge number of trophies waiting to be won

Reigning US Champion Hikaru Nakamura does a chess lecture

One of Susan Polgar's many lectures

The All Americas Team

Susan with chess team from Erie, Kansas

With budding young chess players

The very youngest chess enthusiasts

Susan Polgar tirelessly signs books and boards, all day long

Special guest Anatoly Karpov has to do his bit too

Karpov with a young admirer

Look at all the signatures we have got so far!

Former US champions Yasser Seirawan helps out at the USCF shop

Signing memorabilia for chess fans

"Yaz" in a suit helps Hannon Russel pack up the USCF shop

Kids taking a boat ride around the resort

Susan Polgar also made a special appearance on the radio station WSM, located right in the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, to promote the campaign "Say Yes to Chess!" by the US Chess Trust. Joining her was Barbara DeMaro, Managing Director of the US Chess Trust (left in the picture above) and Anatoly Karpov via phone from GM Onischuk's home in Baltimore.

Winning teams

Here are some portraits of winning teams, who got commemorative photographs together with Susan at the end of the event. We bring you the pictures to give you and impression of the joy and fun they clearly feel when playing in chess tournaments.

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