It may be surprising for some people because of how remote the state seems, but chess tournaments even take place in Alaska! In this article, we’ll be going through the best options for playing chess in groups and competitions throughout the state of Alaska, as well as some important facts about the game’s role in the state.
Cultural Significance Of Chess In Alaska
Chess is considered by many to be a culture of strategy and camaraderie. It’s a game that, when played right, takes a lot of skill and patience, making it appealing to most adults and young teens if they want to get into it. As a board game, chess can be played pretty much anywhere with anything, and usually allows for more than two people to play at a time.
Chess was invented in the 6th century AD, likely by someone from India or Persia. Even though it did not hit popularity in North America until the late 19th century, today it is still a popular board game across the country. In Alaska, chess is popular in both culture and tournaments. There isn’t much cultural history ingrained in Alaskan culture, but they have adopted the game with enthusiasm.
Best Places To Play Chess In Alaska
Surprising to some, there are actually multiple organizations that help conduct chess tournaments throughout the state of Alaska.
Last Frontier Chess Organization
The first is the Last Frontier Chess organization, which functions as a non profit. Their mission is to serve the Alaskan chess playing community, and they do so by providing chess club development, facilitating lessons and other educational events, and also organizing, hosting, and judging chess tournaments. They are the official designated affiliate of the United States Chess Federation, which allows them to host the Alaska State Championship of chess, among other events. The organization also has a sponsorship with the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame, which helps them to pay for many of their events. They accept new membership every month in the First Weekend (always starting on a Friday). Through them, you can find chess clubs all across Alaska, and other parts of the United States.
Another option is Alaska Chess, which is a private organization based in Homer, Alaska. They are the host of many chess events, and also have a new membership every month (usually starting on a Thursday). They publish a newsletter, which includes several relevant articles going into chess culture and history of the state. The best way to stay up to date on upcoming events that they curate is by following their Facebook page.
Outside of these two, many schools and colleges in Anchorage, Juneau, and Homer have chess clubs and tournaments that you can inquire about, and they all offer occasional online games that you can also participate in.
Grandmasters In Alaska
There’s only one recorded chess grandmaster from Alaska at the moment, which is Bryan Smith. Bryan Smith is from Anchorage, Alaska, and has won first place in the 2008 National Chess Congress, the 2009 National Chess Congress, the 2010 Philadelphia International, and the 2011 Limpedea Cup.
He was the first grandmaster from Alaska, achieving this title in 2013. He has a FIDE score of 2475, and is considered to be an international grandmaster from his tournaments overseas.
Alaska Chess Shops
Unfortunately due to the rising popularity in online shopping, and the limited shipping abilities that face the Alaskan ports, there are no currently active chess stores in Alaska. There are a handful of toy stores that state they offer chess, but none that confidently specialize in it. If you’re looking to get started in chess, it may be best to try using online resources first, or checking with your local game and toy stores in case any new shipments have come in.
There are also several websites that offer chess sets, pawns, and other accessories to get you started. You can see a list of Chess shops located in Anchorage in this list.
Even though chess stores are rare in Alaska, it is easy to play chess in clubs and tournaments. It’s a game that many young people and adults enjoy, and is open to anyone willing to enter the arena. Local schools and universities are the best places to start your search.
I hope this guide on Alaska Chess helped you, you might also be interested in reading more about Chess in the United States or a specific state like Texas or California.