Jeremy Silman, Sept 28, 2023 


Author of Best-Selling Chess Books, Dies at 69

His Obituary published in the NY Times is here.

Six of his memorable games are below.

Roberto Aiello, May 31, 1960 – October 15, 2023


Gaetano (Roberto) Aiello passed away Sunday, October 15, 2023, in Los Angeles at Keck Hospital of
USC after a valiant battle with chordoma.

Roberto was born in Trieste, Italy to Salvatore and Claudia Aiello. From very early on, Roberto was an intelligent, inquisitive, and handsome child who enjoyed playing chess. Roberto graduated top of his class with a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Università degli Studi di Trieste and went on to earn a PhD at Università degli Studi di Trieste, in Trieste, Italy, in 1988 where he was a research assistant and published author. After completing his academic career, Roberto held senior positions with the
ELETTRA Sincrotrone Trieste, Italy, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), Menlo Park, CA, and the National Superconducting Super Collider Laboratory, Waxahachie, TX.

Transitioning to the corporate world, Roberto’s passion turned to new business innovation. He was a serial entrepreneur with extensive leadership experience, including multiple C-level roles driving disruptive and innovative technology products. He was a core contributor and implementation pioneer of breakthrough technologies, including ultra-wideband (UWB), radar, 5G, IoT, digital twin, mixed reality, wearables, blockchain, and artificial intelligence solutions. At Interval Research, Paul Allen's Research Laboratory, Roberto built the first documented UWB network.

Roberto was founder and Chief Technical Officer of Staccato Communications, and founder, President, and CEO of Fantasma Networks. His broad background included the conceptualization and launch of startups with Itron Idea Labs, he held an advisory role within Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP), and a prestigious position as entrepreneur in residence with Disney. In his most recent technical leadership at Meta Reality Labs, Roberto headed a team responsible for optical research in support of Meta’s recently released Ray Ban Smart glass.

He published 6 books and authored 32 patents.

Beyond his vast technical and professional career achievements, Roberto was most proud of his family and their interests and accomplishments. Roberto will be forever missed by sons, Lorenzo, Francesco and Raffaele, their mother, Michela and his sister, Simonetta, and brother Claudio. He is survived by his fiancée, Paola Matussi, friends, coworkers, and all whom knew his charm, wit, and sharp intellect.

Memorial tributes may be made in the form of donations to the Roberto Aiello Memorial Youth Chess Scholastic, care of the San Diego Chess Club, P.O. Box 120162, San Diego, CA 92112.

The family requests no flowers. Private services will be held.

Tony Grauso, March 15, 2023

My husband Tony Grauso played chess at the Pasadena Chess Club for many years. Sadly, I am contacting you to let you know that Tony passed away on March 15.

Tony's funeral will be held on Sunday, April 30 at St. Mark's Episcopal church at 330 E. 16th Street in Upland, CA. The funeral is at 1pm. A Celebration of Life reception and luncheon will follow immediately after the service at the on-site parish hall. All who remember Tony are welcome to attend.

Regards, Lynda Grauso

Mike Leidner, 2018


Chess is a game about wins and losses. In 2018, the Southern California chess community suffered a big loss when National Master Michael Leidner passed away of cancer at the age of 76.

Mike was a retired postal worker and a member of the West Valley Chess Club for over 50 years. ML He was one of the club's original founding members and for decades, an integral part of the culture at West Valley.

In the years leading up to his untimely passing, Mike was a regular at the legendary Encino Starbucks and was known for his wit and vast knowledge of chess history.

He was a well respected chess player that was a friend to many in the community and continues to be missed.

R.I.P. Mike Leidner

John R. Williams, July 29, 1949 – Feb. 5, 2022


Just a quick note to let you all know that our long-time friend John Williams passed away on Saturday, February 5, 2022, after a long battle with cancer. ~ Larry Smith

Part two of Larry Smith's rememberance of John Williams is here

I collected 19 pictures of John here. We played on several USAT West teams together. He was a great guy to be around. A real character. I miss his humor, fearless attacking play, and his hat collection! ~ Chris Roberts.

Rory Omar Valle, 1954 – Jan. 27, 2022


Yesterday, Jan. 27, 2022, our father, Rory Valle passed away at 67 years old from COVID-19. He loved chess, his family, and his dogs, and his friends. RIP dad, we love you and will forever miss you.

Hi everyone, I need help trying to raise funds for my fathers funeral. Please give what you can here. On behalf of both his sons and family, we thank you for your condolences, love, and support.

-- Dorian Sandor Valle, Rory Valle’s eldest son

Gordon Brooks, Dec. 24, 2021


You probably already know, but just in case Gordon died on on December 24th last year. He was a USCF member for over sixty years and one of the stronger players in Michigan growing up in Flint.

Randy Hough wrote a very nice tribute roughly a decade ago in honoring him as the USCF volunteer of the month. Here it is:

The great Piatigorsky Cup tournaments in 1963 and 1966 were the strongest Grandmaster events ever in the U.S. And, they had lasting effects on chess in southern California, some of which could not have been anticipated.

Case in point: in 1969 L. Gordon Brooks came to Los Angeles, hoping to observe the third cup. He was disappointed to learn that the series had concluded, but found the climate congenial, and decided to stay. He began a 35 year career at the classic Los Angeles Central Library (where he interacted with thousands of patrons including Bobby Fischer, who was not researching chess, say no more), and began to immerse himself in the local chess scene as player and volunteer.

Gordon held several offices, including president, for the Santa Monica Bay Chess Club, whose membership and influence peaked during the seventies. Its American Open, over Thanksgiving weekend, often drew over 400 players and attracted such top level Grandmasters as Walter Browne and Larry Evans. Working with the legendary patron and hostess Lina Grumette on the board of her Chess Set Educational Trust, Gordon helped organize the U.S. Championship in Pasadena in 1978, several "futurity" tournaments for players to earn FIDE ratings in the early years of its rating system, and the continuing Memorial Day Classic tournament. Gordon has always displayed an even temper and willingness to listen to others, sometimes under trying circumstances. These qualities proved useful again when southern California was recognized as a state unto itself by USCF in 1978, and the Southern California Chess Federation, whose board members included some large egos, was formed.

The Educational Trust continued for a few years after Lina's passing in 1988, helping fund training and trips to the nationals for scholastic players. Gordon then stepped up to fill the void, spearheading the creation of a new fund for these purposes, which has the large (by southern California standards) sum of over $10,000 at its disposal.

After moving from the Westside of Los Angeles to Pasadena in the mid '80s, Gordon became active in the Arcadia and Pasadena clubs, serving the latter in the indispensable role of tournament director for several years. Though slowed down a bit by health problems, he continues to be active, most recently finding a new site for the Pasadena club when the city imposed an intolerable rent increase. After 40 years, that flame of volunteerism still burns bright.

Mike Carr, 2021


Randy Hough told me Mike passed away in late 2021. Readers are encouraged to send me material for his obit here. ED.

Oscar Maldonado, October 24, 2020

Chess master Oscar Maldonado died October 24, 2020, at age 54. Oscar and his wife Yana ran the California Chess Club in Los Angeles from 1996 to 2007. The club conducted scholastic tournaments and offered instruction to hundreds of young chessplayers.

Oscar was a cheerful man who knew how to entertain kids. At one of his summer chess camps, he offered instruction in both chess and soccer. At the same time, he taught students who won local and national age-group titles.

When the 1999 state championship tournament needed a playing site, Oscar volunteered the use of his club.

Oscar grew up in Honduras, moved to New York in 1991, and quickly earned his master title. His rating peaked at over 2400 during his time in Los Angeles. He spent his final years in Florida, still teaching chess.

--IM Jack Peters

Mike Nagaran 1946 – 2020


A Life Member, former Master, and an accomplished TD, Mike passed November 7 after battling an aggressive cancer for a year. A native San Diegan, also served for many years on the SCCF Board. An active player at the North County and San Diego Clubs, he was always eager to assist less-accomplished players. Mike earned a PhD in education and taught at a variety of schools. In retirement, he pursued a variety of volunteer activities, including two years as a civic grand juror.

Mike’s interpersonal skills came in handy during big tournaments; he was patient and better than I at explaining the basis of our rulings to aggrieved players. And he was such a nice guy that the one time I beat him, there was no joy to be felt despite my normally competitive nature.

Mike is survived by his wife Sharon, daughters Laura and Jennifer, brother Loreto, and four grandchildren.

--Randy Hough

Michael Belcher 1962 – 2020


A Life Member, TD, and coach, Michael passed suddenly on November 12 in Los Angeles. He served on the SCCF Board for some years, and was instrumental in the establishment of Metropolitan Chess, which helped earn Los Angeles Chess City of the Year recognition in 2012. Scholastic chess was always Michael’s first love, and he directed hundreds of tournaments. A thoughtful person, he’d call me occasionally during the pandemic to make sure things were alright.

--Randy Hough

Bill Richards 1955 – 2020


Bill was a chess master and coach who ran the biggest club on with 30,000 people and had a channel with 5,000 YouTube subscribers. He recently won the U2100 section of the 2019 North American Open. His report on that event is here. He will be missed.

Olga Radko, June 2020


Families, as many of you likely already know, Math Circle founder Olga Radko passed away yesterday after a long fight with cancer. Olga touched so many of us during her thirteen years running the program, inspiring both parents and students with her love for math and her devotion to kids. Her loss hurts, and I myself am still in shock at the news of it.

But Olga is mourned today not only by the Math Circle community; she is also mourned by her loving and heartbroken family, including husband Dima and boys Victor and Robert. Knowing that, Chynna Swift and I have launched a GoFundMe Campaign to raise money for a college fund that will help Olga’s boys pay for tuition, room & board when they are ready for school. We are reaching out to current and former Math Circle families, hopeful that our community can raise a meaningful amount of money, both to help Olga's sons and to powerfully show them how grateful we all have been to have had Olga in our lives.

There is no minimum or maximum contribution. TAs, for example, surely have only small amounts they can possibly give. But if we as a community can gather meaningful resources, we can really move the needle for Victor and Robert, honoring Olga by investing in her kids, much as she has long invested in ours.

The GoFundMe Link is here.

In sadness, and appreciation,

Doug Lichtman
Professor of Law, UCLA
Instructor, Math Circle

Gilbert A. Coronel, July 2016

Gilbert A. Coronel, a lifetime chess lover and player of almost 50 years, passed away on July 13, 2016. He will long be remembered by friends and family for his devotion to the greatest game ever played. John Wayne said "Get busy living or get busy dying". Gilbert did the former all his life. Rest well. ~ Scott Hunt, West Valley Chess Club

Kim Commons, June 23, 2015


Kim Commons passed away Tuesday night after suffering a major stroke over the weekend. He was 63. A native of Southern California, Commons was a teenage chess prodigy who earned worldwide fame in the 1970s when he defeated Russian grandmasters, dueled with Bobby Fischer, attained the status of international master, and may have even taught members of Jefferson Airplane and famed director Mel Brooks how to play the game (at least according to a couple of websites). Despite his fame, Commons eschewed chess in the 1980s to reportedly “become a grandmaster in real estate” and owned properties in both California and Arizona. Full Phoenix New Times article here.

W. Leigh Hunt, 1941-2014


The La Palma Chess Club regrets to announce that Leigh Hunt, 73, passed away on December 12, 2014. A Candidate Master and 2003 La Palma club co-champion, Leigh was La Palma Chess Club’s most dependable and committed player for over 35 years.

The U.S. Chess Federation awarded him the lifetime Candidate Master title in 1994, and he almost achieved national master status that year with a rating peak of 2166. He ended his chess career as an A-player still rated in the 94th percentile nationwide.

Leigh contributed greatly to La Palma Chess Club as a long-time playing tournament director. As club TD, he brought the club into the computer age with computerized tournament pairings, and developed a highly-regarded club website.

Leigh’s love for chess proceeded the 1960’s and he was very much involved in chess long before the Fischer boom. He played in Santa Monica, watched Fischer, Spassky, and the other stars in the Piatagorsky Cup tournaments. His passion for the game never went away. Four of his games, three of which won a Best Game prize, are here.

Leigh Hunt graduated from Anaheim High School in 1959. He played varsity basketball, and track and field. While on the high school track team he set a California state record for the hurdles. After high school, he went to UCLA and graduated with a bachelors degree in electrical engineering. He worked for IBM and was drafted into the U.S. Army who assigned him to the White Sands facility in New Mexico.

When personal computing took off, Leigh began to develop and sell software. He founded Prizmatic Software which sold applications to make pixilated photo art.

Leigh loved to solve problems, and not just on the chessboard. In the 1980s, the Los Angeles Times conducted a promotional contest called “Tangle Towns.” No computers allowed! Leigh developed his own method and algorithm for solving these puzzles, won first place, and was awarded a brand new Lincoln Continental.

Leigh will especially be remembered as being a real gentleman at all times. He was always courteous and helpful, and always a tough competitor at the board. We won’t forget him.

In September 2015, the La Palma Chess Club will hold the W. Leigh Hunt Memorial Open tournament. More details will be announced later.

He is survived by one sister and one brother.

GM Robert Byrne, 1928 - 2013


Grandmaster Robert Byrne died on April 12 after a long illness. Byrne was United States Chess Champion in 1972, an author, and long-time New York Times chess columnist. He represented the United States nine times in Chess Olympiads (winning seven medals), and defeated Bobby Fischer in the 1965 United States Chess Championship.

Mark Saylor, 1954 – 2013


A Master player and accomplished journalist, Mark died on February 22 after a battle with cancer. He won the California Junior Championship in 1972 (the bygone era when California was one state in chess organization!) and twice tied for the Pasadena Club Championship. Working for the LA Times from 1985 to 2000, he oversaw a Pulitzer prize-winning series on corruption in the entertainment industry. Mark is survived by his wife Nora and four children. ~ Randall Hough

Dr. Robert Reynolds, 1950 – 2013


A well-traveled psychologist whose interest and career turned to naturopathic medicine in his mid- 40s, Dr. Bob was also a Master who participated in the Southern California Invitational Championship in 2009. He had been the strongest player in the Santa Barbara area for a number of years. Bob succumbed to cancer on March 10. ~ Randall Hough

Mel Clark, March 2013

We are saddened by the loss, March 11, of longtime tournament director and associate Mel Clark, after his bout with cancer. His 35-plus (no one can recollect exactly) years of service together with Fred Brock made the Arcadia Chess Club successful with their selfless effort. His modest spirit exemplified comradeship and competition. ~David King

Gary Sauer, Sept. 2012


Santa Clarita’s original chess guy, Gary Sauer, has passed away. We all knew Gary for exactly who he was – a very nice, gentle soul who would give you the shirt off his back. Gary was visiting his son in Colorado last Sunday, Sept. 30th, he simply didn’t wake up. On Tuesday, October 16th, there will be a mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) on Lyons Ave. in Newhall, then his ashes will be placed at Eternal Valley on Sierra Hwy. If you cannot attend this service, we will try to have another between us chess players when Dave is in town. As a tribute to him, maybe we could all play the Sicilian and fall into every known opening trap as Gary often did. My family was fortunate to spend 3 days with him in Paris this summer. He certainly loved life, especially in Paris. All the best, Jay Stallings

Alina Markowski, July 2011


Mike Nagaran informed me of the death of Alina Markowski, a great woman's chess promoter and long time board member of the San Diego Chess Club and many North County clubs. To list her accomplishments would take pages of notes. She was loved by all. We can't be too sad, as she had a full life, living to over 100! ~ Chuck Ensey

Greg Hjorth, 1963 - 2011

The Australian IM and Mathematician, Greg Hjorth, who lived much of the past twenty years in the United States, died suddenly on January 13, 2011, in Melbourne. The cause was sudden heart failure for reasons not yet known. Hjorth was one of Australia's most talented players of the 1980s representing his country in several World Junior Championships (he was sixth in 1980 event won by Garry Kasparov) and the 1984 and 1986 Olympiads. Earlier on Hjorth decided not to become a professional chess player. A man of many interests he continued to play in tournaments off and on throughout his life but math and philosophy were what he devoted his energies to, becoming a first-rate logician. Hjorth was a professor at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Melbourne. In 2003, he received the Karp Prize with Alexander S. Kechris for work on Borel equivalence relations, especially countable Borel equivalence relations and applications in the theory of turbulence.

Bay Area chess players got to know Greg Hjorth during his doctoral studies in mathematics at UC Berkeley in the early 1990s. Despite the heavy course load he managed to find time to play in several events including the 1991 Stamer Memorial at the Mechanics' Institute where he shared first with the late IM Igor Ivanov, former Chess Room Director Jim Eade and NM Richard Koepcke. Greg Hjorth will be remembered by his many friends for not only his sharp intellect but his kindness and strong sense of social justice. He will be missed. The following win against Tony Miles was when the Englishmen was near the height of his powers and close to being one of the ten best players in the world.

Miles,Anthony J (2565) - Hjorth,Greg (2440) [D34] BCF-ch Brighton (4), 1984 1.d4 e6 2.c4 d5 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.g3 Be7 7.Bg2 Nf6 8.0-0 0-0 9.dxc5 Bxc5 10.Bg5 d4 11.Bxf6 Qxf6 12.Nd5 Qd8 13.Nd2 a6 14.Rc1 Ba7 15.Re1 Re8 16.Qb3 Rb8 17.Nf4 Re5! 18.Nc4 Rb5 19.Qa3 Nb4 20.Nd3 Nxd3 21.Qxd3 Be6 22.b3 Qe7 23.Nd2 Re8 24.Be4 g6 25.Rc2 Bg4 26.Rec1 Bb6 27.Kh1 Re5 28.f3 f5! 29.Qc4+ Kg7 30.Bd3 Bh3 31.b4 Rxe2! 32.Bxe2 Qxe2 33.Rg1 d3 34.Qc3+ Kh6 35.Rcc1 Bxg1 36.Rxg1 Qf2 37.Qc1 f4 38.Qc7 Bg2+ 0-1

Jimmy Quon, 1968 - 2010


A well-known coach and one of the most popular chessplayers in Southern California, Jim passed away on June 20, 2010 of a brain hemorrhage.

Self-taught at age 12, with no formal training, he competed in his first tournament at age 15, won first place, was immediately rated over 1900, which placed him in the top 50 players in the country for his age group. In a few years he moved up to National Chess Master -- a ranking achieved by very few. The last time he played in tournaments, he was ranked one of the top five chess players in San Diego County with a rating of 2301, which placed him in the top one percent of all players in the nation. When he got bored with tournaments he turned to speed chess and was ranked one of the top Blitz players in the nation. He had an incredible mind and was a deep and logical thinker.

Jim taught at La Jolla Country Day School in San Diego for 14 years. At one time he was teaching 15% of the student body. One of the students, Casey McCracken, represented Southern California in the Denker tournament of State High School Champions in 2001. In the end, Jim had coached over 1,000 players.

Jim obtained a bachelors degree in computer science from UCSD in 2009 and returned to Long Beach in search of work, but the recession meant that teaching chess remained his occupation. Word of his stroke and subsequent passing inspired a flood of tributes from his chess and gaming friends. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him. ~ Sue Waggener and Randy Hough

GM Larry Evans, 1932 - 2010


Grandmaster Larry Evans died Nov. 15, 2010 in Reno, Nevada. He was a five-time U.S. champion and an excellent writer known for dozens of chess books and his long-running "Evans on Chess" syndicated column. He was 78. ~ Jack Peters

More information and blog is here.

John Hillery, 1952 - 2010


In memory of John Hillery. Born August 3, 1952, John died in 2010 after an illness of several months. John was an Original Life Master, longtime SCCF Board Member, editor of Rank & File, and SCCF webmaster. His contribution to SCCF and southern California chess is unparalleled. Thirty three of his best games in PGN are here and in java here.And, few pictures are posted here. Mail other pictures for this collection here.

John Hillery, organizer of many local tournaments, died Sept. 20 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 58. Hillery was the driving force of the Southern California Chess Federation, serving as the organization's webmaster and treasurer. He also edited the SCCF's award-winning magazine, "Rank and File." Although he enjoyed considerable success as a player, achieving a 2300 rating and the title of Life Master, Hillery seemed most suited to the role of tournament director. As a scholar intimately familiar with the intricacies of the rulebook, Hillery commanded respect for his prompt and authoritative decisions. He even managed to start rounds on time. Tournament directors, like umpires, attract attention mostly by their errors. Hillery was often overlooked because of the excellence of his work. Typically, he cringed when praised, because he felt that he was merely satisfying the standard for the job. John, you were too modest. Well done! ~ Jack Peters in the Oct. 3, 2010 LA Times chess column. Reprinted with permission of author.

Jerry Hanken, 1934 - 2009


Jerry passed away from complications of diabetes on October 1. His family was with him, and a number of chessplayers had visited him in the hospital during the preceding days. Jerry is survived by his former wife, Barbara, and their children, Andrea and Dan.

Chess was an avocation for Jerry, who was an admired probation officer for Los Angeles County for 39 years, but it was clearly what he most enjoyed. He was widely noted as a journalist, with many dozens of articles published in Chess Life and other magazines. His “parting with the lady” series on queen sacrifices (generally with necessity or desperation as the mother of invention) was widely noted and enriched the chess lexicon. In recent years Jerry reported on most of the major open tournaments for Chess Life. He won many awards from the Chess Journalists of America and served as its president for the last four years, signing up many members with his infectious enthusiasm.

In chess governance, Jerry served on USCF’s Policy Board (today called the Executive Board) for ten years between 1978 and 1994 and was a regular at the Delegates meeting until this August, when ill health kept him from his first U.S. Open since 1972. Never shy about asking questions or making suggestions, Jerry made many contributions to the organization’s health. His oratory, influenced by his Shakespeare scholarship, carried the day more often than not. He was instrumental in the creation of the Southern California Chess Federation in 1977, when California was split for USCF purposes, and served on its board for many years, including a term as president.

As an organizer, Jerry was responsible for bringing two successful U.S. Opens to Los Angeles , in 1991 and 2003. His efforts saved the American Open after it lost its corporate sponsorship in 1990 (he played in 44 straight American Opens since its inception in 1965). His work with the late Louis Statham and Isaac Kashdan contributed to the success of the Lone Pine grandmaster tournaments between 1972 and 1981.

However, Jerry was proudest of his accomplishments as a player. He won the California Open against a strong field in 1964, and earned the Life Master title (300 games as a Master) many times over. (He coined the term “Original Life Master” when less-meaningful versions of that title came along.) In what turned out to be his penultimate tournament, the 2009 World Open, he upset young FM Daniel Yeager, a game that earned publication in the master-oriented New in Chess magazine.

Jerry had a strong personality and could be difficult to work with. One aspect of this personality was a devotion to principle, displayed in 2002, when the president of FIDE (a man with a well-earned reputation for human rights violations in his Russian satrapy) was introduced as an honored guest at the USCF delegates meeting. This writer (sitting in the corner of a semicircular room) turned his chair around, a gesture that went unnoticed. Jerry, joined by Bill Goichberg and a few others, forthrightly walked out. That’s the Jerry Hanken I will remember. RIP, my friend. ~ Randy Hough

Gerald "Jay" Blem, 1957 - 2009

Jay Blem

My benevolent and well-admired brother passed away Friday, Sept 18th from a sudden heart attack. Jay’s love of chess took him from President of Buena Park High School Chess Club to Senior Tournament Director and Life Member of US Chess Federation where he was involved in the direction and organization of chess tournaments across the US since 1991. He revived the Memorial; Day Classic when it was moribund in themid-Nineties, and served on the SCCF board of Directors for 13 years. Jay began working for American Chess Equipment in 1990 selling books and equipment at chess tournaments. He then started his own business, National Chess & Games, in 1992. He closed it last year in July 2008 and sold some of his inventory to Chess Palace in Garden Grove. Jay moved to Lucerne Valley in 2001. He is credited with turning around the flailing Crossroad Little League organization. He was the President in 2003 & 2004, and Umpire in Chief in 2002. He continued to umpire and attend games whenever he was in town. Jay began driving truck in 2004. His fellow truck drivers stated that you could set your watch by him; he was that dependable. Jay was a good friend to many, many people. He was always ready to offer assistance or just moral support. He will be greatly missed, but his light still shines very brightly. Jay was predeceased by his father Donald Blem. He is survived by his mother, Rita, stepfather, JD MacArthur of Wendover NV, his brother, Ken Blem, of Riverside CA, and his sister, Sheri Reneau of Ontario, CA, along with many aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews and all the friends that he made family along his journey in life. A memorial service will be held Sunday, October 11, 2009 at 2pm in the home of his niece, Donnielle, 1271 Benson Ave, Ontario, CA 91762. If you have any questions please contact Jay’s sister Sheri at (909) 241-7805.

Instead of flowers donations can be made in Jay’s name to:

~Sheri Reneau

IM Igor Ivanov, 1947 - 2005


Igor Ivanov passed away on November 17, 2005 at 1 p.m. in St. George, Utah. He died from cancer of the esophagus that was diagnosed this past spring.

Igor's most famous victory, his win from the 1979 Spartakiad, may be seen here. The notes are Igor's from 64 magazine. Jonathan Berry translated them from the Russian. This win helped him to get the invitation to play in Cuba and the opportunity to jump ship in Gander, Newfoundland, a year later.

Igor received his Grandmaster title earlier this year for results achieved in the early 1990s thanks to FIDE Qualification Committee members Mikko Markkula and Stewart Reuben. It meant a lot to Igor that he played the last major tournaments of his life - the National, US and Western States Opens - as a Grandmaster, a title he richly deserved almost his entire career.

Igor nearly received the title and a place in the Candidates at the Toluca Interzonal in 1982 where he was fourth on tiebreak. A two-time member of the Canadian Olympiad team and a record nine-time winner of the USCF Grand Prix, Igor also won several major tournaments in the Soviet Union before defecting in 1980. Among his triumphs were the Zaitsev Memorial in Vladivostok in 1978, Yaroslavl 1979 and the Tashli Taliev Memorial in Tashkent the same year. His score in the latter was 12 from 13 (!), three points ahead of second place finisher Kakadgeldyev. Igor tied for first in the 1978 Soviet Championship Qualifier with a young Garry Kasparov but lost the Soviet Championship spot on tiebreak.

Igor spent the last few years of his life in St. George with his wife Elizabeth and their two cats. He kept busy giving lessons to kids at the local chess club and battling computer programs on the Internet Chess Club. An excellent pianist with a strong singing voice, Igor also gave several performances for the local community. When he was healthy he loved to hike in the surrounding area less than an hour from Zion National Park.

A funeral will be held in St. George on November 28 in St. George and there will be a tribute to Igor at the St. George Chess Club the evening of December 16. A tournament will be held in his honor the following day. Contact Alan Crooks at for more information. ~ John Donaldson

A memorial website is here.

James Hilliard, 1943 - 2003

A popular Los Angeles player, James Hilliard, died on January 27. James was on his mail route. Less than three months from retirement, he had been eagerly anticipating the chance to play more chess. James was born in Tennessee, grew up in Chicago, served in the Navy for four years (without being able to swim!), and then spent many years in Los Angeles. A true chess lover, he was a fixture at the Pasadena Club, many weekend tournaments, and various informal playing venues. He is survived by his wife of 21 years, Jacky, and children Akilah, Khafre, and David.

At James's memorial service, several chessplayers joined other friends and work colleagues in speaking of how much his selflessness and cheerfulness had meant to them. We'll miss you, James.

Hilliard (1900) - Conrad (1630)
Crown City Open, Pasadena 2000. Trompowsky Attack (A45)
1. d4 Nf6 2. Bg5 Ne4 3. Bf4 c5 4. Nd2 Qa5 5. c3 Nxd2 6. Bxd2 cxd4 7. cxd4 Qb6 8. Bc3 d5 9. h3 Bf5 10. Nf3 h6 11. e3 Nc6 12. Qa4 e6 13. Bb5 a6 14. Bxc6+ bxc6 15. 0-0 Qb5 16. Qxb5 cxb5 17. Ba5 Bd6 18. Rfc1 Ke7?! 19. Rc6 Rhc8 20. Rac1 Rxc6 21. Rxc6 Ra7? 22. Bb6! Rb7 23. Bc5 Bxc5 24. dxc5 f6? 25. Rxa6 Rc7 26. b4 e5 27. Rd6 Rd7 28. Rb6 Bd3 29. Ra6 Rb7 30. Nd2 Bc4 31. f4 exf4 32. exf4 f5? 33. Nf3 Bd3 34. Ne5 Be4 35. Kf2 d4 36. g4 fxg4 37. hxg4 Rc7 38. a3 Rb7 39. Rd6 1-0

Ivars Dahlberg, 1934 - 2002

Ivars Dahlberg passed away on February 28 in Los Angeles. Though he had not played regularly since the late 1980s, Dahlberg was one of the strongest players in southern California for many years. Born in Latvia, he came to the United States in the early 1950s, settling in Oregon where he won several state championship titles. He moved to southern California around 1970, working as a financial planner. Dahlberg had several excellent results in Futurity tournaments at the Chess Set in Los Angeles in the 1970s and 1980s. Perhaps his best result was Lone Pine 1981, where finished with 4-5 against a field including Korchnoi, Gligorich and Sosonko.

Anyone with more information about Ivars, particularly information on how to locate his relatives, is urged to communicate with Val Zemitis who is working on an encyclopedia of Latvian chess players.