2021 State Championships – Details and How to Register

Details on this year’s State Championships are here! Please see this flyer for more info on the format, location, and how to register.


Hawaii Phoenix Chess #5

The Hawaii Phoenix Chess series continues!

When: Saturday, November 27th, 2021 @ 8:30 am

Where:  The Entrepreneur’s Sandbox (643 Ilalo St, Honolulu, HI 96813).

Park behind the building.

Time Controls: G/40+5 inc for 5 rounds

Schedule For The Day:

Registration   8am to 8:30am

Round 1     8:30am to 10:00am

Round 2     10:10am to 11:40am

Lunch       11:40am to 12:30pm

Round 3     12:30pm to 2:00pm

Round 4     2:10pm to 3:40pm

Round 5     3:50pm to 5:20 pm

Awards      5:30pm to 5:45pm

Format:  A five-round Swiss-System, non-elimination chess tournament (everyone plays all rounds if they wish to). There will be 2 Sections: TBD day of event.

Entry Fee:  $35 early entry until Wed, November 24, 2021; $40 late entry fee thereafter. Entry fees are non-refundable once paid.

Byes:  0 or 1/2 point byes are available in all five rounds (2 max).

All byes must be requested before the start of Round 2

Registration:  Email Ryan Tongg at ryantongg@gmail.com

All payments are to be sent via PayPal (robertkeough1)


Please contact Rob directly at 520-420-6795 if you want to arrange something other than PayPal.

Prizes:  Both Sections: 1st Place $135; 2nd Place $90; 3rd Place $35

Additional prizes shall be announced the morning of the event depending on number of participants.

Please bring your own lunch.  There is a drink vending machine on site.

Restaurants close by within walking distance.

Most boards, sets and clocks will be provided. Please bring a digital clock that does increment if possible.





Hawaii’s 2020 Chess Player of the Year – Likeke Aipa!

LIkeke Aipa - 2020 Hawaii Chess Player of the Year

Congratulations to Likeke Aipa who was named 2020’s Hawaii Chess player of the year. Damian Nash recently wrote an article about his achievements this year for The Garden Island:

The Queen’s Gambit is a Netflix series about a young chess prodigy, Beth Harmon. It parallels the real-life story of American prodigy Bobby Fischer, who battled the great Soviet chess machine almost single-handedly through the 1960s before winning the world championship in 1972. The seven-part mini series is one of the most popular in the history of Netflix, and has topped the Nielsen rating for the last three weeks. Serious chess players around the world applaud how well it captures the drama of real tournaments, and how the mannerisms and moves so accurately portray real grandmasters.

See the Full Article at TheGardenIsland.com HERE

Hawaii’s 2020 State Chess Champion is only 12 years old!

Article by Damian Nash

If you are curious about the next Renaissance minds like Da Vinci who are growing up in Hawaii, there is an 8th-grader of note at Punahou School. Over the Labor Day Weekend, Mark Chen became the youngest state chess champion in Hawaii’s history.

Mark Chen accepts the traveling trophy for the Hawaii State Chess Champion from Beau Mueller, the President of the Hawaii Chess Federation.

In many ways a typical 8th-grader, who loves swimming and math competitions, Mark has some hobbies which he pursues with great discipline and remarkable achievement. As a 7-year-old, Mark won first place in his division at the Hawaii Music Teachers Association (HMTA) Piano Competition in 2015, an event he described as ‘’stressful.’’ He still plays piano and especially loves Chopin’s Nocturnes, but his competitive energy has found a new home in chess.

The five-round Hawaii Open chess tournament, where each game can take up to four hours and whose winner determines the Hawaii state chess champion, went online for the first time because of COVID restrictions. While the new format kept some of Hawaii’s top players from participating, Mark still started in the middle of a strong field. As an experienced tournament veteran who has represented Hawaii twice in the Barber Tournament of K-8 state champions, he systematically defeated his young opponent in round 1, then his Punahou friend and teammate Joshua Dutton in the second round.

In the third round Mark faced the top-seeded former state champion Damian Nash with the black pieces. He soon found himself in a very sharp line of the Evans Gambit. Suddenly, disaster struck: Mark made a single wrong move. His king, trapped in the middle of the board, was checkmated quickly. “After that loss I thought my chances to win the tournament were over, so I just relaxed a little and decided to have more fun.’’ His fourth round turned out to be a very complicated game against a veteran of the tournament, but he was able to squeeze out a win from a drawn position (Please see below game). His resilient attitude also paid off in the final round when he faced the second-seeded player, Charles Sonido of Honolulu.

Sonido, who has led the Hawaiian Islands Chess Team to three victories in its first four international matches this year, needed only a draw to win the tournament. “The games stayed very close up until the end,’’ Mark explained. “Then, in the endgame, he finally made a little mistake that allowed me to win a pawn.’’ A single pawn is oftentimes all it takes to win a game at the level of play necessary to win a state championship. Mark carefully applied correct endgame technique until his opponent was forced to resign. Sonido finished in a tie for second with Dutton and Ryan Tongg. Top-ranked Nash won the Hawaii 2020 Blitz (5 minute) chess tournament after the main event finished.

“I didn’t expect to win this tournament,’’ Mark said in modesty. The cash prize he earned was puny compared to a $3000 prize he won in Las Vegas two years ago, but his competition in this tournament was much stronger. “It was my goal to win this tournament before I graduated from high school,’’ he explained. Two Hawaii teenagers had accomplished this before – Robert Lau in 2008 and Eldon Nakagawa in 2012, both of them at age 16. But now a pre-teen has claimed the Hawaii Champion title, and put Hawaii’s active master players on notice.

Mark credits his first formal chess teacher, USCF Master Reynolds Takata, for inspiring his love for the game. ‘’He’s really good at making chess fun to learn, especially for kids.’’ In recent years, Mark has started to work with Ukrainian International Grandmaster Andriy Vovk to help him understand the game at a deeper level. Last week, as the newly crowned state champion, Mark helped the adult Hawaii State Team defeat New Mexico in the 2020 States Cup with a score of 11 to 5, and is currently in second place in the Western Division behind Washington. Earlier this month, the Hawaiian Islands Chess Team dominated Scotland’s Aberdeen University in the 2020 World Online Team championship tournament on chess.com with a score of 9.5-2.5. The Kauai Team managed to score three points in its loss to Oxford University’s A team, thanks to Likeke Aipa who went 2-0 on top board, maintaining his perfect streak for the season.

When asked why he enjoys chess, Mark said, ‘’Chess is such a fun game, and I hope more people, especially from Hawaii, join the game.’‘ He added, ‘’It is good for your mind too, because it makes you think more deeply and strategically.’’ Kids who are interested in playing chess locally can get information from www.HawaiiChess.com on the Scholastic Chess tab. They can also join the HCF Scholastic and the Hawaii Chess Federation clubs on the chess.com website. The Hawaii Chess Federation club at chess.com is open to players of all ages.

Here is a game from the tournament annotated by Mark (shadowtiger) against Marvin Alvarez (goodtintin):


2020 HAWAII OPEN Chess Championship and Blitz Tournament

The Hawaii State Open and Blitz Championships this year are going online! The events are to be held on ICC (Chessclub.com) over Labor Day Weekend (9/5 – 9/7).

For more details and to register please see the flyer HERE.

Please direct any questions to tournament organizer Damian Nash at d3nash@gmail.com.

We look forward to seeing you online!