Pieces in place for Chess Fest Aug. 15

July 28, 2015

Kids of all ages can experience the benefits of chess.

Kids of all ages can experience the benefits of chess.

By Simon Brimmer

Hotel Congress hosts the 8th annual Chess Fest Saturday afternoon, August 15. The so-called “When You Bishop on a Star” fun-raiser spotlights chess awareness in addition to acting as an opportunity to assist host organization 9 Queens get the word out on the benefits that come with appreciating and enjoying the world’s foremost strategy-based endeavor.

“9 Queens is a non-profit organization started in Tucson that promotes empowerment through chess,” said Hotel Congress Marketing and Public Relations Manager Michelle Armstrong. “It’s an empowerment program for girls, but boys are more than welcome to participate in the festivities as part of the chess process.”

Activity highlights include the giant chess board in the Hotel Congress parking lot and the simultaneous chess play. This year, special guest Irina Krush will showcase her world-class skillset. Krush is a US Women’s World Champion and International Grandmaster. She is the current US Women’s Champion, a title she has earned on seven occasions, the first of which occurred in 1998, when she set a new standard as youngest US chess champion at the age of 14.

Girls can learn empowerment through the chess board.

Girls can learn empowerment through the chess board.

The simultaneous play activity is an opportunity for onlookers, and participants, to marvel at the skills of a unique talent.

“One time one of the boards got knocked over and they put it back up there, and the grandmaster noticed that one piece had been moved,” Armstrong said. “They’re very particular and meticulous with the fact they can tell even one piece has been moved when they’re playing that amount of people. It’s a fun spectacle to see, and players of all ages take advantage of the simultaneous chess match.”

Among other activities: the Hendricks Knights chess team and Bookmans are pairing to assist beginners with lessons, the Children’s Museum is providing arts and crafts activities and representatives of Catalina Foothills High School’s national chess champions will be on hand.

The event has drawn in the neighborhood of 200 to 400 people in previous years. Chess Fest 8 is scheduled for 3-6 Saturday afternoon, August 15.

“It’s a nice, fun Downtown family friendly event that happens on the weekend that everybody can take advantage,” said Armstrong. “Families can do something different and this challenges parents and kids alike on the intellect and merit of what chess is.”

For those who would like to contribute further to 9 Queens’ efforts, a Kickstarter campaign is underway. It has raised about $2,000 of its $2,500 goal in preparation for the Chess Fest event.