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Eastern hosts CSCA’s annual speed chess tournament

Published on February 16, 2023

Eastern hosts CSCA’s annual speed chess tournament

Fidel Corrales Jimenez (left) competes for title of Overall Champion.

From a historical context, chess has always been characterized by players’ mental acuteness, tactical prowess and strategic decision-making skills. Yet, for some competitors, remaining faithful to the traditional rules, regulations and playing styles of chess can become rather mundane. Contemporary chess players have begun to gravitate toward a faster-paced game that heightens their adrenaline and tests their sharp-witted nature.

On Feb. 11, Eastern Connecticut State University was the host for the Connecticut State Chess Association’s (CSCA) speed chess state championship. Fifty-five competitors from six states were separated into five distinct groups based on age — kindergarten-fifth, sixth, twelfth, collegiate and adult. Players then competed in a series of rapid (10 minutes per side), blitz (three minutes per side) and bullet (one minute per side) tournaments. The scores from each tournament were compiled to determine the champions.       

“The format was created about five years ago for scholastic, but then COVID struck, which prompted us to apply for adult tournaments,” said CSCA President Alexander Lumelsky. “It was pretty well received last year, but this year we witnessed a 50% jump in participant attendance, which is substantial for a speed chess event.”   

For many players, including Fidel Corrales Jimenez, the tournament’s overall champion and a New York grand master, participating in a speed bullet tournament was a new experience. He said that these innovative tournaments are “a glimpse into the future of chess.” 

Fifty-Five players, ranging from kindergarteners to grand masters, attended this year's tournament.

Players competed in bullet, blitz and rapid chess tournaments.

“This is the first time I’ve played a bullet tournament in my life — I’ve played a lot online, but never in person,” Jimenez said. “Speed chess is the most fun version of the sport, not just for professionals like me but for amateurs as well.” 

Despite receiving the title of overall champion for winning the quick and bullet tournaments, Jimenez did not qualify for the title of state champion. His New York residency made him ineligible for the prize.

CSCA prepares trophies for the winners of each age group.

Instead, Nicolas “Niko” de Checa, a Yale student and Connecticut grand master, was deemed the Connecticut state speed chess champion. He also earned the titles of Connecticut Blitz and Quick Champion. 

Zachary Tanenbaum, Connecticut’s defending overall champion placed second in the tournament and repeated as the state’s Bullet Champion.

“Ultimately, I was a bit disappointed, because in the final round, I actually lost to Carlos Fidel Jimenez,” said de Checa. “I’m a student here in Connecticut, so I met the residency qualifications. So, I was able to secure the state championship, but it feels great either way!”

While some competitors, such as Sam Lumelsky, lauded the tournament’s atmosphere for its “relaxed, fun and chill vibes.” The CSCA president said he believes that Eastern is a premiere location for future statewide chess events.

“I think the Student Center has been one of the more impressive ones out of all the Connecticut universities,” Lumelsky said. “This is a wonderful venue, and we hope to be back!”

Written by Jack Jones