March 26, 2015

UM hosts chess tourney

Contributed by Scott Varagona

The inaugural Falcon Chess Invitational tournament took place March 7 at the University of Montevallo and featured a very unusual format: “doubles chess.”

A game of doubles chess is played by two teams of two players each. One team controls the white pieces and the other controls the black pieces. The two players on a team take turns making the moves for their side, but teammates are not allowed to confer with each other at all during the game. Of course, this unique format presents some interesting new challenges to the participants. A player must not only fight against an opposing team, but also try to coordinate with a teammate that he or she cannot communicate with directly.

The Falcon Chess Invitational was a four-player doubles chess competition featuring the top three teenage chess players of Alabama, as well as UM Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Chess Club of Montevallo adviser Scott Varagona. As an added twist, the teams would change with every round, so that every player partnered with every other player exactly once. Games were scored as follows: if a team won a game, each member of the winning team received a point, whereas the losing team’s members received 0 points. In case of a draw, all players received half a point. The overall winner was the individual with the highest total number of points by the end of three rounds.

Stephen Adams of Birmingham, the reigning Alabama State Champion, won the Falcon Chess Trophy with a score of 2.5 of a possible 3. Adams played aggressive, creative chess and did an excellent job of coordinating with his teammates.

The first-place trophy, a chess knight made of Lego bricks, was custom-made to resemble the knight in the Chess Club of Montevallo’s logo.

The Falcon Chess Invitational was sponsored by the Chess Club of Montevallo and the University of Montevallo’s Game Studies and Design program. This is the second chess tournament UM has hosted in recent years, having hosted the Alabama State Scholastic Chess Championships in 2014.