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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, August 5, 2010

Revival of a lost tradition
The Albany-Schenectady Match set for August 19

By Peter Henner

The newly reconstituted Albany chess club and the venerable Schenectady chess club have announced the resumption of a long-time Capital District chess tradition: the Albany-Schenectady Match. Although no such match has been held for these 15 years, these matches were a major chess event through the 1970s and 1980s.

The match has been scheduled for Aug. 19, and is to be contested on 20 boards on each side (probably involving 40 of the strongest local players). Many local players, who are members of both the Albany and Schenectady clubs, will have divided loyalties and will have to decide for whom to play.

The local chess clubs hope to renew this rivalry and to conduct the match because of the greater turnout in local chess events in the last two years. Over 20 players competed in the Schenectady championship this year, and 13 in the Saratoga championship.

Now that the Albany club has a permanent home (meeting Wednesday nights at the Hamilton Union Presbyterian Church on Route 20), Albany will resume its own club championship in 2010-11. Since the Schenectady club holds its tournament on Thursday nights, and the Saratoga club holds its tournament on Sunday nights, local players can compete in all three tournaments.

In 2010, Phil Sells became the first chess player to become champion of both the Schenectady and Saratoga clubs during the same year, and only the third person to have won the championship of both clubs. The other two are Lee Battes and Matt Katrein, whom I believe also won the Albany championship.

Phil also won the 2009 Schenectady championship when he defeated your correspondent in the last round of the playoff between the three first-place finishers. If I had won that game, I would have joined the elite group, since I won the Saratoga championship in 1994.

Chess ratings fluctuate based on performance, and players who have held ratings of  “Master” or “Expert” may have their ratings fall below the relevant threshold (2200 for master and 2000 for expert). In the Capital District, we have at least seven players who have held master’s ratings (six of whom are still active), and at least 10 active players who have held expert ratings.

A number of local players hold international ratings, but, with the departure of our resident Grandmaster Ronan Har-Zvi, we do not have any local players who hold international titles. Har-Zvi lived in the area from 2006 to 2010; he gave lessons; played in our tournaments; and gave lectures, simultaneous exhibitions, and other public-relations events for chess.

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