Author: Jonathan Whitcomb

Chess Tournament at the University of Utah

Published / by Jonathan Whitcomb / 1 Comment on Chess Tournament at the University of Utah

The outcome of the 2016 Utah Speed Championship was played by the book, as Grandmaster Kayden Troff won the tournament, in the open section, with a perfect score: 14-0. The second place finisher was four points behind the young grandmaster: Bryan Leaño at 10-4. This quick-play chess tourney was held on February 27th, at the University of Utah.


Troff plays Blitz chess after the tournament

Grandmaster Kayden Troff (left) won the speed tournament with a perfect score: 14-0


Open Section of the Utah Speed Championship of 2016

Kayden Troff: 14-0

Bryan Leaño: 10-4

Matthew Boren: 9-5

Alexander Gustafsson: 8½-5½

Alex Hall: 8½-5½

Stephen Gordon: 7½-6½

Josh Smith: 7½-6½

Frank Rockwood: 7-7

Charles Rasmussen: 6-8

Jamie Olsen-Mills: 6-8

Adam Stevenson: 6-8

Jeffrey Scott: 6-8

Grant Hodson: 2-12


tournament director with Grant

Tournament director Steve Hoisington (left) and Grant Hodson (standing)


Reserve Section of the Tournament (unrated and under 1500 rating)

Vahan Kardzhyan: 8-2

Matthew C. Larson: 6-4

Charles (Chip) Evans: 6-4

Henry Chen: 6-4

Brendon Young: 4-6

Jerry Zheng: 0-10


2nd place and 1st place winners in reserve section

Larson (left) and Kardzhyan (first-place winner) after the tournament


Tournament Tidbits

After winning all fourteen games in the open section, Kayden Troff seems to have gained only nine points in his Blitz rating: It is now 2545 (he is #29 in the USCF national rating list for Blitz). None of his competitors in this tournament had close to his rating, so his perfect score improved the seventeen-year-old’s rating only slightly.

Adam Stevenson, who was unrated before the event, now has a provisional rating of 1636 in Blitz.

Frank Rockwood gained 100 points in his provisional rating, which now stands at 1738.

Alexander Gustafsson, who placed fourth in the open section, gained 75 points: He’s now at 1947.

Bryan Leaño, who got second prize under Kayden Troff, passed the 2100-level in Blitz: now 2109.

In the reserve section, Henry Chen gained 145 points in his provisional rating: now 990.

Matthew Larson has graduated from a provisional rating: now a regular Blitz rating of 1030.

Jerry Zheng was the youngest competitor at seven years old.

Jamie Olsen-Mills was the only female; we need more lady participants in the future.


Jamie Olsen-Mills in open section of tournemant

Jamie played in the section with the stronger competitors


7-year-old in chess tournament

Jerry Zheng (right) and his younger brother (chess event: a speed-chess tournament at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City)



Grandmaster Kayden Troff wins chess tournament

Second place went to Bryan Leaño, who scored 10-4. Matthew Boren got third prize at 9-5. Fourth place was shared by Alexander Gustafsson and Alex Hall at 8½-5½.

Chess Book Reviews

Three publications:

  • Smerdon’s Scandinavian (opening)
  • Beat That Kid in Chess (for beginners)
  • The Dragon (opening)

New Chess Book for Beginners

Whether for your own enjoyment or for that of the person who receives a gift-book from you, the choice of a book on chess should depend on the playing level of the one who reads the book.


Chess in Films

Published / by Jonathan Whitcomb

Many movies have some reference to the game of chess, if only with a brief sight of a chess set. In a few films, the royal game is a big part of the theme or background throughout the story. Let’s look at two of those, both of which involve children: Searching for Bobby Fischer and A Little Game.

Searching for Bobby Fischer

This 1993 drama is based on the life of the child chess prodigy Joshua Waitzkin, played by Max Pomeranc in the movie. Ben Kingsley plays the chess instructor Bruce Pandolfini. Much of the drama is off the chess board, as Mom and Dad compete with two different perspectives on what is best for their son.

Chess tutoring philosophies also clash: between the official master instructor and the city-park “professional.” But the chess games themselves are sometimes given the spotlight, with little Josh fighting for survival over the board.

Joshua loses his queen early in the game

Little Josh is shocked at losing his queen early in the game

The climax comes when Josh has a chance to win a big tournament. The problem is that the boy across the board from him is the one kid he fears.

A Little Game

In this movie (released in 2014) it’s a little girl who becomes fascinated by chess. No darkly-lit tournament rooms are displayed in this one, however, although a big game is played out at the end of the story. A Little Game also has action off the board.

Movie about a little girl learning chess

“A Little Game” also has a chess expert in a city park

The ending is more of a surprise in this film, in the climax of the big game against a scary child-competitor. Yet like Searching for Bobby Fischer the kid we have grown to love ends up happy.



Chess in Harry Potter and Casablanca Movies

The three children must use themselves as three of the chess pieces, with Ron Weasley a knight who sits on a horse. It would appear to be childish fun, except that this is Wizards’ Chess . . . in which captured pieces are smashed into . . . pieces . . .

Bishop Plus Knight Checkmate on Youtube

Whitcomb’s instructional video on an end game of chess