The Hippo


Jun 2, 2020








Courtesy photo.

66th annual New Hampshire Open

When: Saturday, July 23, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, July 24, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Where: Radisson Hotel, 11 Tara Blvd., Nashua
Cost: $49 entry fee for beginners section, $59 for more advanced sections (additional $6 registration fee at the door)

Nashua hosts annual chess championship

By Matt Ingersoll

 New Hampshire’s top chess players — some of whom rank highest in the entire country — will compete for prize money at the 66th annual New Hampshire Open in Nashua. 

It’s the United States Chess Federation’s championship in the Granite State, and all players must be registered members of the USCF. But anyone who enjoys playing chess and is interested in competing can become a member by registering at the door on the first day of the two-day event, which is Saturday, July 23, and Sunday, July 24, at the Radisson Hotel in Nashua.
The Open is split into four rounds, with two being held on each of the two days, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.
“Each state has its own state chapter of the national federation, and one of the responsibilities of all these chapters is to run a state championship each year,” said event organizer Hal Terrie of the New Hampshire Chess Association. “But anybody who is a member of the federation can participate, so we’ve had people from Maine, from Massachusetts, and even from much further away than that.”
Terrie said individual players will be sorted by their levels of expertise.
“The national federation maintains a ranking system. Basically, you get a three- to four-digit number that expresses your performance compared to all the other members in the country,” he said. “So roughly speaking, the higher the number, the more advanced you are.”
Players will compete in sections of either under 1350, under 1650, under 1950 or the most advanced “open” section.
“The under 1350 section is for beginners ...,” Terrie said. “1650 is for players who are around the average level but may be a little bit better than average. 1950 is for players who are fairly strong or better than average, and the open section is for players who are anywhere from the low pro to the high pro level. We’ve had some players ranked to be around 2500 to 2600 in the past. This number can go up or down depending on your performance.”
For first-time competitive chess players who may be unsure about which section to sign up for, Terrie said it may come down to that player’s own confidence and judgment.
“You sort of have to evaluate your own experience as a player,” he said, “so someone who loves to play chess online all the time or who has taken lessons before may be better. But I will say that it’s fairly rare for someone who has never played in a tournament to be good enough for the top two sections, although it does happen sometimes and has before.”
But the good news for all players is that there are no eliminations in this tournament.
“Everybody gets to play all four of the games that are scheduled, so if you lose the first time, that doesn’t mean you have to go home,” Terrie said. “After the first game, people with the same score will be paired together.”
The Open is one of several events the New Hampshire Chess Association holds each year. Terrie said although the NHCA was founded in 1975, the Open dates back to 1950, when it was known as both a chess and checkers championship. But a predecessing organization called the New Hampshire Chess and Checker Association kept logbooks all the way back to the turn of the 20th century.
“This is a more serious type of event,” Terrie said. “It’s very common these days to have single-day events in which timers are used. But this tournament spreads over two days, with two games per day, so you get more time to think.”
Prizes will be given out to the winner of each section, which range from $80 to $350, depending on the level of advancement. The top scoring New Hampshire resident will also be crowned the New Hampshire champion for this year.
Advance entry fees start at $49 for the under 1350 section and $59 for each of the other three sections. Players can register online in advance as late as 6 p.m. on Friday, July 22. Registrations will also be accepted at the hotel just before the start of the event for an additional $6 fee. 
Terrie added that spectators may attend to watch any of the competitions free of charge, as long as they keep their cell phones turned off and do not disturb the players. A registration table will be set up in the hallway near the front door of the hotel.

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