Peninsula chess tourney to make opening gambit
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Dennis McGuire of the Last Exit on Kearney Chess Club demonstrates some moves that could be used in the annual tournament that begins this week. Prizes will be paid out to the top 10 participants.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND — North Olympic Peninsula chess players can match wits with each other in a six-week tournament beginning Monday in which the most logical minds will prevail.

“We have some really tough players here in town,” said Dennis McGraw, who is sponsoring the fifth annual North Olympic Peninsula Open Chess Tournament

“Some of them are really hard to beat,” McGraw added.

McGraw said many chess tournaments include six games on the same day, with the winner emerging right away, but this one has one game a week and is played for six weeks.

The final standings will be announced Feb. 11.

Register by tonight

The registration deadline is 10 p.m. today. The registration fee is $10.

After all the players register, McGraw will match them with regard to their ability, with each set of players determining when and where they play and what kind of game it will be.

Each game is played with regard to the preferences of the participants, with no referee required.

Scores must be turned in each Sunday, after which time the next matchup is announced.

McGraw, who operates the Last Exit on Kearney Chess Club, put in $300 of his own money for prizes, an amount augmented by the individual registration fees.

Prizes will be paid out to the first 10 places.

McGraw said many of those competing “are in it for the money.

“You have to provide some kind of incentive, or people won't participate,” he said.

“I don't see $300 as a lot when it comes to prize money, but my wife disagrees since it comes from our checking account,” he added.

Small chess club

The Last Exit on Kearney Chess Club, located at 305 Kearney St., could be one of the smallest chess clubs in the nation, McGraw said.

It is located in a 140-square-foot space that has room for up to five games.

McGraw, a commercial diver and fisherman, had “a few good years” and was able to buy the building where the club is located, which is home to several retail businesses.

McGraw, 65, has been playing chess since he was 5 years old but got serious about it only when he began playing in tournaments as an adult.

“Chess is a mental exercise,” he said.

“It's a test of nerves, intuition, logic and big ideas that forces you to operate on many levels.”

He said the Internet, with its multitude of chess sites, has encouraged interest in the game, but he would like to see more young people get involved.

“I wish the schools would recognize the value of chess,” he said.

“When kids play chess, it develops them in so many different ways.

“It helps them think critically and develop socially.

“For children, there is nothing better that you can do for them than teach them to play chess.”

McGraw said 18 people already have signed up for this year's tournament, about the same number as last year.

Players can sign up by phoning 360-301-4348 or emailing


Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at

Last modified: January 05. 2013 5:44PM
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