My Blindfold game with Coach Joe Lafornara - by Coach Sean Tobin.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


One of the pleasures - at least for me, believe it or not - is the traveling from one area to another for major chess tournaments. You get to play chess, you get to go sight seeing... and if you are like me you have to attempt some measure of self control when you are around the local chess book vendor!

I have driven as far as Newport Oregon to go play in a chess tournament - in addition to routinely traveling to Las Angeles, California and now Las Vegas Nevada. So when I get to go to a chess tournament that is held locally - that is a snap! Easy!! Also a lot less wear and tear on the driver too!


This fine 1920's chess set was on display at the NORTH AMERICAN OPEN - in the concession area run by the fine folks of the CHESS PALACE!

While this set is not for sale some of their Garden sets were - if you look closely at the base of this antique table you will see the tops of some fine wooden chess pieces along the base of the table. On the floor. Those pieces - and the Marble and metal garden "board" that go with it - could set you back around $4,000 dollars. But if you can afford it - and you want nothing but the best - then go for it! Someday I may even own one!

If you are ever in Los Angeles California you should visit their shop! However that is a seven hour drive - and just for a quick visit and a tournament that "weighs in at" 15 hours travel time - minimum. You can find a wide selection of fine chess equipment on their excellent website at:

But for us locals - if you like to hold what you are buying in your hands before you purchase it then you have one option in Phoenix Arizona - The CHESS EMPORIUM! There you can purchase clocks, sets and books. Where is there? Right here at:

10801 N 32nd Street
Phoenix AZ 85028

Cross streets of 32nd and Shea.

I have to avoid the chess books where-ever they are sold - that is if you want to take a look at them! Otherwise my collection grows and my back groans!!

- Chess Coach Sean Tobin.


The following table was taken from the excellent CHESS EMPORIUM website - a must visit to keep up on all things ASCF (American Scholastic Chess Federation) and Arizona Chess related!

I will update this posting once the "TBA" (To be announced) locations are set.

Tournament Banner
Latest Results.
Event Date Location More Info
Friday Night Scholastic #1 Jan 7 11 Chess Emporium Click Here
Friday Night Scholastic #2 Jan 14 11 Chess Emporium Click Here
Friday Night Scholastic #3 Jan 21 11 Chess Emporium Click Here
Friday Night Scholastic #4 Jan 28 11 Chess Emporium Click Here
Friday Night Scholastic #5 Feb 4 11 Chess Emporium Click Here
Friday Night Scholastic #6 Feb 11 11 Chess Emporium Click Here
Twister Feb 19 11 Kyrene School District TBA Click Here
The Clash Feb 26 11 Mesa TBA Click Here
Susan Polgar National Open (BOYS) Mar 5 to 6 11 Bogle Jr. High School Click Here
Susan Polgar National Open (Girls) Mar 5 to 6 11 Bogle Jr. High School Click Here
Friday Night Scholastic #7 Mar 11 11 Chess Emporium Click Here
Friday Night Scholastic #8 Mar 18 11 Chess Emporium Click Here
Kyrene District Qualifier Mar 26 11 Kyrene School District TBA Click Here
Scottsdale District Qualifier Apr 2 11 Scottsdale TBA Click Here
Chandler District Qualifier Apr 9 11 Chandler TBA Click Here
Paradise Valley District Qualifier Apr 16 11 Paradise Valley TBA Click Here
Friday Night Scholastic #9 Apr 22 11 Chess Emporium Click Here
Governors Cup Apr 30 to May 1 11 TBA Click Here
Friday Night Scholastic #10 May 6 11 Chess Emporium Click Here
Elementary Nationals May 6 to 8 11 Dallas, TX Click Here
Mirage May 14 11 Teleos Preparatory Academy Click Here

Don't forget about the WEDNESDAY NIGHT QUADS - a fine first event to begin every Scholastic Chess player's first forays into the world of Competitive Chess! These events are low cost, short in terms of the length of duration (Usually about an hour and half) and extremely fun for our players to compete in. There is even a trophy for each Quad winner!

You can access all tournament listings - and a full description of each event - by going to:

When you get to the main page just scroll over to the left hand side of the screen and select the following option from the left hand menu of options: "School Teams Tourneys". This is the third option as you go down the screen.

For those players returning to competitive play please remember that all players who are new to tournament chess - with around 7 or fewer, maybe even no, tournament experience under his or her belt - should be in the "UNDER" section for their grade level. For instance a player in first grade who is playing in their first event would play in the "K-3 U600". This is the section for beginners and intermediate players - for the more advanced intermediates and experienced tournament competitors they should sign up for the "K-3 CHAMP" section. The "CHAMP" designation is for players with a rating over "600". A rating is an objective measurement of the level of playing strength a player is at during that particular time. Ratings can go up and they can go down but for my students - they go up! :P

If you are unsure of what section to register your child for then please always check with me before registering our players for an event and I will be more than happy to help you place them into the appropriate tournament section. I know them best in terms of what they can do as chess players - as I work with them I am significantly more informed than some other chess coach who has never worked with your child before. You do not want advice from other coaches as they will not have any concrete knowledge about the level of our players. As the coaches at events are busy with their own players and teams they will not be able to devote the energy that may be needed to help correctly place our players - particularly if they are busy trying to help keep an event running smoothly. They will have a lot on their plate!

There are usually 6 sections to any ASCF event - with the POLGAR, THE BEST OF PHOENIX and the GOVERNOR'S CUP being exceptions to this rule:

The six sections are:

1.) KINDER - Open only to kindergartners, this section provides a fun and safe environment for the youngest chess players to play each other.

2.) K-3 U600. Open to players in grades 1 through 3rd, who are rated below 600.

3.) K-3 CHAMP. Open to experienced tournament competitors who want to play the most experienced opposition possible. While players rated below 600 could play in this category I would advice against it as the ratings are used for placement by section at tournaments - no matter what any other individual would say upon this matter. This is, after all, why the ratings system was developed by Arpad Elo. You should always discuss any switch of a player from one section into another with your chess coach - no matter who that coach is. Each coach may have their own take on this as philosophies do differ from coach to coach.

4.) K-6 U700. Open to players in grades 4 through 6th, who are rated below 700. Players from lower grades may compete here too but once again you should consult your chess coach.

5.) K-6 CHAMP. The top section - for experienced players in grades 4th through 6th - and below if your coach feels that this is appropriate.

6.) OPEN - The "TOP" section and the one that Middle-school players must compete in. Older players have no option but to compete in this section. High Schools may compete in this section as well so we could call this K-12 OPEN.

For those players who are ready for tournaments - and most are - the world of Scholastic Chess Can help keep them engaged by chess and to derive more enjoyment from their chess. All while reaping even more benefits from their involvement in Scholastic Chess. It can introduce the element of competing with a school team as well - which makes these events even more fun and enjoyable.

- Chess Coach Sean Tobin.

Unnamed post - temporary.

"There must have been a time when men (women or people if you will) were demi-gods - or they could not have invented chess." - Gustav Schenk

Chess is less painful and a lot more fun than Boxing... at least in my opinion!

The highest compliment a student can give their coach is a checkmate! It says it all - you have helped someone at least achieve your level of play and they are more than likely going to go on to higher levels of playing ability. Of course the initial sting can hurt the competitive pride of any player - but losing is part of the game and, eventually, every coach becomes his or her former protege's newest student - for at least one game!


Sadly this is what happens to all chess coaches someday... just ask Robby Adamson!

I did not take very many photos as the NORTH AMERICAN OPEN - but plenty of other folks sure did! Thank you Radhika! A prize photo - I was caught a bit off guard and surprised when Prateek turned our fighting pose into a knockout punch pose! Someday he - as will several of my other students - knock me out OTB! Which is rather less painful than a real knock-out!!! When those days come along - I will gladly tip my King. Being checkmated by former students is just their way of saying "Job well done, Coach!". Of course I will attempt to put that off for as long as possible! : )

Enjoy - Chess Coach Sean Tobin.

COACH SEAN - Chess Player in Vegas - for "The NORTH AMERICAN OPEN 2010!"






One of the reasons I like to play in chess tournaments now - the traveling! Again - Happy New Years to one and all! - Chess Coach Sean Tobin.