Chess players wanted for tournament, exhibition

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Damian Nash looks over the position of the chess board at the Kauai Marriott Resort and Beach Club.

Damian Nash is a Hawaii chess co-champion. This Friday, he invites anyone and everyone to take him on.

But not one at a time.

Try 50.

“It’s time for me to use that state chess champion title to help bring together the chess players on Kauai,” he said.

Nash will be doing a “simultaneous exhibition” where he will play up to 50 people at the same time on Friday afternoon at the Lihue Public Library.

If you can beat him, or even battle him to a draw, you’ll get bragging rights that you took down a state chess champ, and you’ll get to keep the chess set, too.

Nash will have to play quickly as the clock will be running.

“I plan to stare at each board for a few seconds before making my moves,” he said

Nash is going for a state record, as well.

His friend, chess Grandmaster Timur Gareyev, originally from Uzbekistan, holds the record for the number of chess games played simultaneously in Hawaii, which is 27.

“I hope to break that record on Friday,” Nash wrote. “The most I have ever played at once is 35, giving away a few draws but no losses. That was in Colorado eight years ago, so the challenge of more boards at my advancing age is quite a challenge, but it will be fun for everyone.”

“Fathers or grandfathers especially enjoy doing this alongside their children/grandchildren, because they are welcome to discuss each other’s games while waiting for me to make the rounds,” he added.

The technology teacher at Kauai High School earned his title in the annual Hawaii Open chess tournament on Labor Day weekend. He was one of the three co-champions in a field of 44 players. He was joined by Cornelius Rubsamen, Hawaii’s only active chess master and a full-time Honolulu chess teacher, and chess expert Michael Omori, a graduate student at the University of Hawaii.

All three finished the five-round tournament undefeated with three wins and two draws.

Chess has been part of Nash’s life for 40 years.

While he enjoyed competition in high school and was good at baseball and other sports, he liked chess and saw it as something he could enjoy and play well as he got older.

“In other sports, you slow down,” he said. “In chess, you can keep going.”

He lived in Utah about 20 years, competed often and studied different strategies, from the opening game to the middle game to the end game. He traveled for tournaments and later was a two-time state chess champion.

“I’ve worked very hard for it,” he said in a previous interview with TGI.

He still does.

On average, over the past two years, he estimates he studied chess about two hours a day.

“I’m attempting to maintain my peak form,” he said.

Nash loves to encourage others to try this game of guile and guts. Chess is good for thinking and social skills. And yes, it’s good for problem-solving, too.

It’s estimated about 25 million people in the United States play chess, a game that is played in more than 150 countries.

If you can’t make it to take on Nash Friday, the Kauai Community Chess Tournament is set for 8:30 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday in the Lihue Public Library conference room. Like the exhibition, the tournament is free.

Chess board and clocks will be provided. Players are all that is needed.

It will be a four-round Swiss system, non-elimination tournament with sections for youths to adults.

Nash is hoping for 25 to 50 chess players at each event, and he’s planning another tournament before the end of the school year.

“I hope you will come and play for fun,” he said,

People should pre-register by emailing:

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Friday details

Challenge Hawaii State Chess Co-Champion Damian Nash. Presented by the Hawaii State Public Library System in partnership with the Kauai Chess Club.

• Nash will play up to 50 people at the same time 4 to 7 p.m. Friday Lihue Public Library. All ages, skill levels welcome. It is free.

• Come to the library at 4 for a short lesson on chess openings. The “simultaneous exhibition” begins at 4:30 p.m.

• If you win or draw you get to keep the chess set.

Saturday details

Kauai Community Chess Tournament

• 8:30 to 4:30 p.m. Lihue Public Library conference room.

• It will be a four-round Swiss system, non-elimination tournament. Will be sections for youths to adults. It is free.

• There will be medals for the top three players in each age division.

• Beginners of all ages are encouraged to play.

• Chess boards and clocks will be provided.

Benefits of chess

According to, there are many benefits to playing chess. They include:

• Brings people together.

• Teaches you how to win and lose.

• Helps children.

• Can help you focus.

• As an educational tool.

• Develops creativity.

• Builds confidence.

• Develops Problem-solving skills.

• Exercises the brain.

• Helps you being calm.

  1. Damian Nash February 13, 2019 3:53 pm Reply

    Thanks for the great article about this weekend’s events. Just to be clear, chess is a competitive activity enjoyed equally by girls and boys, mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers. Everyone of all ages is welcome to sit down and have a good time while quietly thinking.

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