Bits 'n' Pieces: U.S. Chess Federation honors Vancouver couple

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Rusty Miller isn't anywhere near the top ranked players in the U.S. Chess Federation, but that hasn't stopped him from supporting the game and group he loves.

Miller, 70, and his wife Kathy Miller, 66, of Vancouver both received service awards from the federation during the U.S. Open last week at the Hilton Vancouver Washington.

He got the Meritorious Service Award, for lifetime support of the group, and she got the Honorary Chess Mates Award.

"Several years ago, they started giving awards to Chess Mates, who are the wives of chess players — they're often quite active as chess players themselves, though," Rusty Miller said.

Miller learned to play chess at age 10. He was the chess champion at his high school and started playing in tournaments all over the country in 1961. He's played in five U.S. Opens since 1963, he said.

He's also served as editor of U.S. Chess magazine and was regional vice president for the organization, covering Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Idaho.

"One thing I really like is the history of the game," Miller said. "You can play chess games that were played 150 years ago. There may be more chess books out there than there are for all other sports, combined."

The Millers received their awards at a special banquet by the federation on Aug. 11. For more information on the group, visit http://uschess.org.

— Sue Vorenberg

Vancouver brewers sweep People's Choice Awards

The gold, silver and bronze winners of the first Vancouver Brewfest People's Choice Awards have one thing in common — all of their beers were brewed in Vancouver.

Visitors to the brewfest, held Aug. 10-11 in Esther Short Park, voted for their favorite beers from the 25 participating regional brewers, including six from Clark County.

West Highland Brewing of Vancouver took top honors with its Mango Ale, made by owners Sam Simms, 35, and Don Stewart, 55, of east Vancouver. The pair said they brewed the ale specifically for the festival.

"It's our first year as brewers, and its great to go into our first beer festival and win something like this," Simms said.

"Now we're going to have to figure out a better name for it," he said of the somewhat generic Mango Ale name.

The company sells kegs to local businesses, including the Brickhouse Bar and Grill at 109 West 15th St., Dublin Down Irish Pub at 813 Main St., and Blind Onion Pizza at 6115 N.E. 114th Ave.

McMenamins on the Columbia won silver for its beer called What's Wheating Gilbert Grapefruit, a grapefruit wheat beer. The beer was brewed at the Oregon-based company's Vancouver location.

Heathen Brewing, a Vancouver brewery preparing for its grand opening next month, took bronze for Malice, an imperial India Pale Ale.

"It was all local — people really enjoyed trying our local Vancouver beers," said Andrew Stromberg, one of the brewfest's organizers. "That was our goal, to get people to try locally made beer. I'm really glad they did so well."

— Sue Vorenberg

Bits 'n' Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you'd like to share, email bits@columbian.com.