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2008 Washington State Championship / Premier
Player "Blurbs"

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Championship Section

GM Gregory Serper 2576

[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]
Gregory Serper (Russian: Григорий Юрьевич Серпер) born September 14, 1969 is an International Grandmaster of chess. He was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. He learned to play when he was six years old from his grandfather. In 1985, at age 16, he started studies at Moscow's famous Botvinnik-Kasparov Chess School. In 1992, as a member of Uzbekistan Chess Delegation, Serper won a silver medal in the Chess Olympiad.

In January 1996 he moved with his family to the United States. In 1999, Serper won the World Open Chess Championship, and in the same year advanced to the finals of the U.S. Chess Championship by defeating Alex Yermolinsky in semifinals, but losing in finals to the champion Boris Gulko.

Also see Gregory Serper at
US Chess Federation: Grandmaster Gregory Serper.

IM Georgi Orlov 2573

I learned to play chess in 1st grade. Our principal was a chess enthusiast and he had the tables with chess pieces set-up in the hallway. Some kids, myself included, started playing during a recess and took up the game. My mom bought me a chess book of Chigorin's best games (the only one in a local bookstore) and I started solving chess puzzles from a monthly column in a youth magazine. The highlight of my early chess career was checkmating the principle in 4th grade. All kids thought it was really cool!

Chess taught me perseverance and patience; I traveled many cities and countries as a chessplayer. I have met most of my old friends through chess one way or another.

My favorite chess book is 1938 AVRO Tournament.

My best results in North America were 1st place in 1994 US Open in Chicago and 1-2 place tie in Canadian Open in Vancouver, B.C. in 1999 (2nd on tie-breaks). I scored one Grandmaster norm in 1988 tournament in Grandmaster Association Open in Belgrade.

Slava Mikhailuk 2435

Slava is the former Washington State Chess champion for the years 2003-2006.

John Readey 2325

I started playing chess in Junior High School when my classmate started a chess club and recruited me to be vice president (even though I barely knew the moves). This was in the post-Fischer boom, and I remember being very excited to watch Koltanowski's chess program on PBS.

Over the years I've enjoyed making a lot of new friends through chess. Often times these were people that I would never had a chance to meet in "normal" life. This is the fourth time I've played in the WA champ, and even though I've had mixed results so far, I'm looking forward to winning it someday. My last state championship win was in Missouri '84, sometime before many of the competitors in this year's tournament were born!

Nat Koons 2315

Last year's 2nd place finisher Nat Koons views this year's strengthened field as an enticing challenge. Nat is a former 5 time state junior champion and has represented the state nationally in Portland, St. Paul & Kona and internationally in Vancouver BC. He fondly recalls playing casually with both Deep Blue and Garry Kasparov and last year played in a Grandmaster tournament in chess-crazy Budapest, Hungary, former home to Bobby Fischer. His preparation for the championship always includes a viewing of "Rocky."

Michael Lee 2277

Michael is a member of the All-American Chess Team. He was the 2003 National 4th-Grade Champion and 2005 National 6th-Grade Champion. He led his school teams to win the 2005 National K-5 Championship and the 2006 National K-8 Championship. Michael learned to play chess at the school chess club in first grade. He currently studies with IM Georgi Orlov. Besides his chess interest, Michael is also a talented piano player. He performed a piano concerto with the Bellevue Philharmonic Orchestra at age 12. He is one of the feature pianists at the upcoming Ten Grands event at Seattle's Benaroya Hall in May. Michael attends 8th grade at the Odle Middle School in Bellevue, Washington. He enjoys math, science and reading.

Ignacio Perez 2281

Ignacio is the defending Washington State Chess champion.

Harley Greninger 2220

I learned to play chess at the ripe old age of 5, when my eldest brother taught me the moves. I caught on fairly quickly and word soon got around our small community of Elgin Oregon that this 5 year old was somewhat of a Prodigy. I made front page news, when upon being visited by the local newspaper reporter, I defeated my eldest brother-- for which he never has quite forgiven me! He said that he was teased by everyone at his school, how that he (being a Jr. High student) was defeated at the 'intellectual game' by his pre-school brother. He especially emphasized how that he could never land a date because of this.

However, I was too busy playing with my army men and friends to do much with this newfound ability. It wasn't until my sophomore year in high school (1976) that I took real interest in the game. I joined the school chess club and would go in every afternoon after school to play the chess teacher, Mr. Benson. I did this each year, while attending Aberdeen High. In my sophomore year, Mr. Benson defeated me in nearly every game. In my Junior year, we were dead equal. In my Senior, year, I defeated him in nearly every game. I had improved to the point that I distributed flyers throughout the school that I would take on all-comers at Queen's Rook odds. I never lost a game throughout the entire Senior year and only had a single draw (with QR odds) to the person who ended up placing 2nd in the annual school chess tourney. It was around this time that I took part in a simultaneous exhibition, put on by Mr. Northwest Chess himself and my chess hero, Victors Pupols. He was playing about 50 boards, one of which blindfolded (i.e., without sight of the board) and I ended up being the only person who defeated him (I believe he drew one game and won the rest!).

In starting & raising my family, years passed before I began playing serious tourneys. It wasn't until my marriage to my wife Judy (in 1997) that I began (with her prodding and encouragement) to play in serious events on a regular basis, quickly going from "A" player to Master within a few years. My most notable accomplishment was finishing as state co-champion in 2001 (with William Schill), when I defeated none other than Victors Pupols in the final round! I hope to repeat as state champion some year but my real aspiration is simply to continue to improve the quality of my play. I look forward to playing in what is most likely the strongest Washington state championship ever! I commend your efforts.

Josh Sinanan 2178

I began playing chess competitively in my sophomore year at Edmonds-Woodway High School. During this time, I learned the London system from J.P. Sarausad, who played first board for our team in the WESCO league. In my senior year, I won the 2003 Washington State High School Championship after finishing second behind Curt Collyer the year before. I am a self-taught player and have learned most of what I know by playing 3-minute chess on the Internet Chess Club. I recently finished my first season playing fourth board for the Seattle Sluggers chess team in the US Chess League.

Alex Guo 1991

Alex is currently 13 yeas old, and started playing tournament chess around third grade. Alex does a lot of self-study. Besides chess, he also plays the piano and tennis. One of his favorite grandmasters of all time is Kasparov, as he is very tactical and is a fearsome attacker.

"Alex is a very tricky player. Last year he beat Ben Calpo in the Premier after losing his queen early in the game. In a later round, many pawns down, he confused the situation enough that he ended up beating Andy May. He qualified by winning the junior closed after scaring off all of the high rated players due to his known proficiency for tricks. Though the lowest rated player in the field by almost 200 points, I predict that he will take a scalp or two. His projected score is around 1.5 and I am guessing that he will get at least that, and not through draws! I myself lost to him last year." (written by Geoff Gale)

Premier Section

Curt Collyer 2253

Mike MacGregor 2212

When my paternal grandfather passed away in the early 1970's I had salvaged Chess in a Nutshell and The Fireside Book of Chess from the fire. They still smell old and like smoke. I don't know why I had saved these books. I was about seven years old at the time. My father didn't even know his father had these chess books or that he had an interest in chess. When I told my dad about these books in 2007, 35 years later, he was in disbelief until he saw his father's hand writing in Fireside where he would write the solution to two-move tactical problems.

A few years after my grandfather's passing, my paternal grandmother bought my parents a chess set, which they never used. The gift seemed like a cruel joke to my mother because she didn't even know how to play chess (and still doesn't!). The gift seemed to be a symbol of the strained relationship between my mother and her mother-in-law. Historically, these chess items were purchased during the Fischer boom of the early 1970's.

I didn't touch a chess set until I was 10 or 11 years old. A neighborhood friend and I would engage in what we termed pawn wars. We each took turns marching our pawns to the center of the board for annihilation. The player with the last pawn standing won the game. My friend and I used only the pawns simply because we did not know how to use the pieces, despite placing them all on the first rank. Not knowing how to use those pieces planted a small desire in me to learn the game when the opportunity presented itself.

My high school appointed one hour a month for students to participate in an elective club held during the school day. That day in the tenth grade I had a substitute teacher who said he would be participating in the school's chess club in the class next to ours. I joined the club and quickly learned to accept defeat as normal. I was placed as an alternate for the chess team.

I coped with defeat because of an instant love for the game and because I knew that eventually I would win. My competitiveness drove me to studying books and buying a small chess computer. I fondly remember watching Bruce Lee movies and then learning to "kick the crap" out of my chess computer. Of course, this was back in the day when computers were about 1800. Within a short period of time I was winning. After losing, however, few of my opponents asked me to play them anymore. By the end of tenth grade, I was playing third board for the Federal Way High School chess team.

To improve, I needed to increase the caliber of my opponents. I joined the Tacoma Chess Club and began participating in rated tournaments. I competed and won the right to play first board for my high school early within the eleventh grade and maintained that privilege through graduation. I finished high school (1984) with an Expert rating of 2000+.

After high school, I enjoyed playing chess with some high school buddies for about a year. I then went on my church mission, returned, went to college, and did not participate in a rated chess tournament until 1996, a hiatus of more than ten years. Much to my surprise, my chess strength had not dissipated despite not having played or studied for so long, although it took some time to relearn the opening theories. After ten years of play my rating has slightly increased to just over 2200+.

I thank my wife in part for my reawakening to chess. We were on our honeymoon in 1995 to Washington, DC when we purchased this figurine and pewter chess set, which we both thought very visually appealing. We bought the set and forgot about it but in May 1996 I played in the Washington Open, restarting my chess tournament playing career. I live in Tacoma, work for Washington State, have served on the Tacoma Chess Club Board since the late 1990's, and have three children Victoria (9), Michael (7), and John (2) that keep us busy.

David Levine 2211

I first got interested in chess while watching my dad's regular matches with a neighbor. In 1972, he and I watched Shelby Lyman cover the Fischer v. Spassky match on TV and I was hooked. I began to take books out from the library, attend a local chess club, and subscribe to the New York Times to read Robert Byrne's chess columns. My early chess education was in the New York City area where I even dropped out of college for awhile due to too much speed chess. I've lived and played in Buffalo, Tucson, Berkeley, Minneapolis, and Chicago before moving to Seattle. In my formative chess years I was influenced by Aron Nimzovich and Duncan Suttles which left me with a dubious hypermodern opening repertoire (1e4 Nc6, 1e4 g6, 1d3/2Bd2, etc.) which I have been working to transform to a more classical (read sound!) one over the years. I returned to tournament chess after several years of inactivity at the 2006 US Open and promptly lost fifty rating points. A high point in my life was winning the 1985 Minnesota State Championship the same weekend my oldest daughter was born.

Viktors Pupols 2201

Chess rewards merit; it is more fair than life. National origin, age, sex, social status don't matter. Good ideas are rewarded; bad ones punished. There are no hole cards or luck; all assets are even and in plain view. Apples and oranges act in harmony; this skill is transferable to other life pursuits.

I call myself a Master Emeritus: I first played in a Washington State Championship in 1954. I play as my work allows: sometimes in Muskogee, Escanaba, or 29 Palms. I have won tournaments in 12 states and 2 foreign countries, e.g., Keres Memorial 1980 in B.C.; Chicago International 1993. I have played at least 30 opponents who were, or became, GM's at least 70 times, and scored at least 20 points. Yasser captured two of my Queens on successive moves, yet lost the endgame. I drew Malaniuk after foregoing the option of castling on move 50 (a world record which would have lost the game). I played Fischer when he was 12 (I won), and Korchnoi when he was 76 (I lost). I also lost to Michael Flatley (rated ~ 1950) in a Las Vegas tournament!

David Bragg 2200

I earned the USCF National Master title in 1986, USCF Life Master in 1992, and FIDE Master in 2001. I came close to earning the USCF Senior Master title in the early '90s, but have since settled back near 2200. I still play regularly, but now I rely primarily on experience. I have long held the belief that opening preparation is over-rated, as the stronger player tends to win in the end. With white, I open with 1. c4, 1. d4, 1. e4, or even 1. e3. With black, I regularly, but not exclusively, employ the Kings Indian and Caro Kann defenses. I often find myself with the worse of it out of the opening, patiently defend, and await my opportunity to turn the tables in the middlegame or endgame.

Ricky Selzler 2132

Andy May 2120

I started playing chess around the age of 10, mostly from the influence of my older brother. In 2007 I represented Washington at the Denker Tournament of High School Champions where I tied for 6th place. I have not won the premier section yet, but the strong field this year will be fun.

Michael Oshiro 2114

Chris M. Kalina 1959

I first was intrigued by the game of chess around junior high when I was watching my brother Mike lose repeatedly to his friend Chuck. Not knowing anything about the game yet, I watched their every move trying to figure out how each piece moved, and then what it was they were trying to do with each of them. Of course, I never really figured out enough to be dangerous, and I myself was shown by those two how the pieces move, and was beaten senseless a few times.

I then didn't even think again about chess until another friend of mine - Mark from high school told me that he was on the chess team. Again I played him and lost many times when I began to ask myself why I played a game I could never win ..... Later that year in High School, I was tardy one too many times to my math class, and my teacher put me in after school detention. When I showed up to his class after school, I was given the choice of cleaning blackboards and filing papers or playing chess. Well, OK I figured that I could try and become frustrated again ...... I then lost to almost everyone on the chess team including Mark, until I played the weakest player on the team who I actually beat. I couldn't believe that I had finally won a game! After a couple of weeks, Mark approached me and asked why I had not been to chess club .....? Puzzled, I informed him that I was not aware that I was a member of the club. After being unknowingly recruited, I then showed up every week and was the 5th board of the team in my sophomore year.

By the following year, I had improved some by playing Mark over the spring and started the year anywhere between boards 1 and 3. Many challenges took place and as a result boars 1-3 were not settled until the league matches began. Our first match in my Junior year paired us against Eastside Catholic HS, where the highest rated High School player was going to school - Patrick Van Dyke. I was on board 2 in this particular match as Khanh Vu had won the last challenge for board 1 before the match, and Khanh was subject to Patrick's torture as a result. I just was amazed at how precise his game was compared to any game I had witnessed before. I soon found out that despite going to school in south Bellevue, he lived within a couple of miles of me, and we soon began playing each other casual practice games on a regular basis. This was the beginning of what was to be a long friendship, where by practicing chess, we both continued to strengthen our play, however my playing was mostly at the adult tournaments while Patrick continued a very long winning streak where there were some very close calls along the way.

While in the course of practicing with Patrick, I also learned his playing style, and that was to his downfall in my senior year as well. Patrick's streak was quite impressive up until the one time I played him in a High School event. I went on to be known as 'the streak ender' by many other jealous and also surprised High school players. This was to be my last High School event in fact, as I attempted to join the US Navy, and was not allowed to play in High School events once I had entered. This plan never did work out though as I was medically discharged.

I then returned to Seattle, where after a short period of working for a family friend, I began working for Inside Chess/International Chess enterprises. It was during this time that I was most active playing, where I played in a chess event every weekend that there was an event for quite some time. This continued until right before Inside Chess decided to downsize. This was also the year I got my baseball interest rekindled. Since that time, I still have been active in the NW Chess scene - more so in the winter months as Seattle is not a good place for winter baseball.

While the past two years my playing in tournaments has been minimal, my efforts in the local chess scene are the project I started in 2001 and had on the backburner - the Northwest Chess Center. The mission is to begin a new Chess Center that will better meet the needs of the local players.

2008 will mark the 12th year that I have participated in the WA State Championship and Premier.

Kerry Xing 1872

My mother taught me how to play chess when I was age 5. I did not start to play chess at chess tournaments until four years ago, toward the end of 5th grade. Then I went to the Microsoft Chess Club every Friday night for around three years. At the club I made a lot of chess friends, who are strong chess players locally. They played chess with me and helped me improve my chess. I am lucky to be in the Premier this year. Chess is not only a game. It has helped me succeed in math competitions.

Invitational Section

Paul Bartron 2107

When I was about 9 I got into chess, my best friend taught me. However, I was tired of losing to him so I became determined to improve my game and beat him. At my school in England I played board one for the six man team. I then went on to play board 2 for the six man team for the city of Peterborough and then board 1, After I moved to Cambridge I played board 2 and English master played board 1 we would play against the colleges. In Cambridge at a simul. I beat an English Master a Peter Clarke and won a book. According to Mike Macgregor I am the escape artist.

Nhon Do 2100

HOW I GET INTO CHESS After taking 13 years sabbatical from playing tournament chess and only play blitz chess online and for charity at my work, my buddy John Hornickle was able to convince me to come back to Tacoma chess club to give chess another try. Surprisingly, I found myself playing better now than I was playing a lot of real chess back then. So I guess for all the blitz critics out there, it's much better to play blitz than not playing chess at all. These are some reasons why I've found the game so fascinating. It's kind of long so go get your coffee and check it out:

  • I don't die from injuries, crack my head, broke my hips or lose my eyes playing chess. Not everyday you turn on the news and hear Bobby Fischer broke his hip and injured his ankles! For a guy who like sport by avoid as much as contact sport as possible, chess is definitely the safest sport of choice.

  • I don't have to worry about performance enhancement playing chess compared other sports. I was so sick of the baseball homerun kings using performance enhancement products and don't even bother to watch these news. I was disappointed, however, to hear about the legendary Lance Armstrong and Olympic Queen Marion Jones got into these scandals. Life is full of controversial but chess is relatively good, clean fun sport. If you dare to inject steroids into your brain secretly at home, they wouldn't call you up and question you in front of the Grand Jury.

  • Chess is very inexpensive, all I need to is go Kmart and pick up a $5 chess set. I don't need any uniform playing chess. At home, people can even play chess in their underwear for crying out loud. Of course, there are chess sets and training materials that cost hundreds to thousand of dollars but like in life, you can make your chess game as simple and affordable as possible or as fancy and expensive as you like to.

  • If you don't think chess is a sport, think again. It's just about as physical as it's mental. An average game in the tournament lasts 3-5 hours. There are normally play games a day so it's like 6-10 hours of sitting and constant thinking. You have to to have the discipline to work out or do things to stay in good sharp to endure that kind of activities. My 8-5 desk job certainly doesn't help much but I'm trying to play more tennis and remaining active to maintain my physical condition.

  • Oh yes, you can make plenty of $ playing chess. My last tournament at the 2007 WA Challenger Cup, after 2 full days competing I ended up tying for and splitting first place prizes with 3 masters and won a net profit of 20 bucks. Woo hoo! Of course, depending on how good you are, you can win in big tournaments ranging from thousand to millions of dollars in prizes. However, till that day comes, don't quit your day job! I still keep mine!

  • The chess connection: When I was playing chess in Vietnam, we used to spend 1/2 month competing in national events with players from all over the countries. I've ever been good enough to get to go be selected to the national team but I've made a number of good friends there and also here playing chess. In this sport you don't have to face the opponents and still can compete (or befriend) with people all over the world through today's technology and the internet. I can say that Chess connects people!

  • Chess is life - plenty of problems in chess as in life. It forces you to take a systematic approach in solving the problems, evaluating your situations, and thinking before you act and dealing with these problems systematically and with discipline. Just like life, plenty of choices, when you play chess, you're making choices of the moves too, some choices are good, some are bad, and of course, every choice has its consequences, and once you make too many bad choices, you can lose a game. The best thing in chess as in life is that you can learn from your mistakes and move on. I've made countless of silly mistakes and expecting a whole lot more to come!

Chess is Life! Let's get on with it!

Geoff Gale 2040

I learned to play chess as a child and was always good enough to beat my friends but I never really pursued chess until I was older. My grandfather was always the strongest player in the family and as Juan Jiminez once told me, "chess skips a generation," meaning that none of my grandfather's children took up chess because he was too strong. As an adult visiting him back East we played a game and I beat him. It was the first time he had ever lost to a family member. In his defense he was ninety-seven years old. As I found out later, he never played again.

When I returned home I was perusing a bookstore and came across a chess book, MCO 13. It never occurred to me that there might be books on chess. It was just a game to me, I had never seen a book on monopoly or tic-tac-toe. Armed with this opening book I wrote my grandfather and suggested that we play a correspondence game. He suggested instead that I join the local chess club. That was about ten years ago and I have been playing ever since.

Ben Calpo 2030

Dereque Kelley 2020

Allen Smith 1991

My dad introduced me to chess when I was about seven. I played at the chess club at my elementary school. I remember playing in the main tournament going undefeated in the last round for the championship were I lost in 4 moves falling for the "scholar's mate." That was embarrassing!

It wasn't till high school until chess opened up a whole world for me. I was very fortunate to have a national master as a team captain and a chess expert for a coach at Wilson High School. I thought I was a good player until NM Corey Russell put me in my place beating me easily in several games. He even blindfolded himself and beat me very easily.

That gave me encouragement to get better so I started reading many books. Marvin Hayami my coach saw my interest in chess and the desire to improve, so he offered to take me to the Tacoma Chess Club. The first night at the club they were celebrating 100 year anniversary, at which they would be having GM Lubomir Ftacnik give a simul to the entire club over 20 boards. Lubo defeated everyone except NM John Graves. Lubo defeated several A players, a few experts and even my mentor and team captain NM Corey Russell in that simul. I was so amazed at the chess strength of the GM that he could beat all those players single-handedly that it grew my interest in chess even more. I became one of the strongest players in WA with a rating of over 1800, which was a very strong scholastic rating at the time (1993) before the days of Fritz and databases. I tied for first place in the high school state championship.

My passion now is to coach players of all ages, and see that same excitement for chess as I did.

Elston Cloy II 1939

I started playing chess my sophomore year of high school {age 16}. I was a normal 3-sport athlete reading a few books in the library. One of the chess club kids asked me if I wanted to play a game with him? After he beat me, he was so proud he had won that he gloated and told every one. I was very irritated about this since I barely knew how to play. Needless to say that my competitiveness had me go check out 4 or 5 chess books. The next year I practically took over the chess club. The members went from 7 to 42 in one year. I wanted every one to play chess. That summer I found the Spokane chess club where I could play adults. John Julian and Curt Collyer really helped me grow as a chess player. Studying as much as I could that year I found my chess rating soared. it went from 1250 one August to 1690 the next and 1910 the next August. After high school I found studying chess, while working a full time job and going to College, is not easy. So the amount of chess events slipped for me and my rating froze. This is an exciting year because I now own my own business and have time to study. Most of the players I've played have called me very resourceful and crafty. I tend to be the easy guy to spot at most events with my crazy hair and green sunglasses. This looks like a great event and I look forward to more like this in the future!

Michael Hosford 1883

Eddie Chang 1842

I started playing chess at the end of my freshman year in high school. Instead of talking about how I got into chess, more importantly, this is what chess has given me. I have learned how to make better decisions. Because that is what chess is, one decision after the next. Do I castle now or later? Where do I want my bishop to develop? It also has increased my spatial memory and pattern recognition.

These skills are essential to the success I have at my job. When I help a client sell a house, I can recall different patterns I have noticed when I saw other people's listings. I remember how long those houses sat on the market for, and price that it was sold, so using pattern recognition, I can make suggestions and help my client get the most out of their sale. I love chess, not just the game itself, but everything that it has given me.

Sterling Kolde 1825

As a chess player I am focused and prepared. I enjoy the social and intellectual challenges of the game. I especially like teaching chess, studying different openings, and playing speed chess. I have the most fun playing against tough competition. I am excited to play in the Invitational this year.

Previous WA chess championships: 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | List of winners