Update: U.S. Chess Open coming to Vancouver in 2012

Convention Center beats Seattle on price, facilities for event

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter

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For more information, visit http://uschess.org.

— Brainiacs are planning an invasion of Vancouver.

About 500 chess players will head to the city on August 4-12, 2012, for The United States Chess Federation’s 113th U.S. Open.

The event will be held at the Hilton Vancouver Washington hotel at 301 W. 6th St.

It’s a big deal, both locally, and throughout the region, said Gary Dorfner, secretary of the Washington State Chess Federation and tournament director of the Tacoma Chess Club.

“We tried to get them to hold it here in Seattle, but they couldn’t find a hotel big enough or inexpensive enough,” Dorfner said.

The last U.S. Open in the region was in Portland in 1987. The last U.S. Open in Washington was in Seattle in 1966, he said.

Amateurs, professionals and grandmasters from across the country are expected to attend in 2012, said a national federation official who declined to give her name.

It’s possible some international chess stars will also appear, she said.

“I’ve been playing since 1961 and I’ve never been to a U.S. Open before,” Dorfner said. “If I go down there for this it will be my first one.”

 The Washington federation will help the U.S. Chess Federation organize the event, he added.

Others from the Seattle area seemed mystified and disappointed that the event wouldn’t be taking place in their city.

“I don’t know what happened, because it was supposed to be in Seattle,” said Eddie Chang, owner and manager of the Seattle Sluggers, a team in the U.S. Chess League.

Chang played in the 2006 U.S. Open in Chicago. “It was a lot of fun, lots of games; I was exhausted at the end,” he said. “I really enjoyed it.”

David Griffin, a member and former director of the Spokane Chess Club, said he and several members of his group were thinking about attending the Vancouver event. He played in the 100th U.S. Open in Reno in 1999, he said.

“My first game went nine and a half hours and I lost,” he said, still sounding a bit frustrated. “It was cool, though. Fun.”

The game helps people of all ages develop a variety of important skills, Griffin said. “Chess isn’t a game to watch; it’s a game to play,” he said. “It’s great for the mind, great for problem-solving, helps you learn math.”

Calls to the Federation’s spokeswoman and officers were not returned Friday.

This year, the open will be held in Orlando, Fla. The prize pool is $50,000, and the top player not otherwise qualified will be able to play in the 2012 U.S. championship.

U.S. Opens typically have workshops, blitz speed tournaments, skill demonstrations and several vendors, Dorfner said. “Spectators are more than welcome to watch us,” he said.