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Rachels plays chess aces

In Tuscaloosa, former U.S. chess champion Stuart Rachels, at left, plays chess with Cameron Baker of Madison, at right, as Douglas Zhang of Madison looks on in astonishment. Rachels will compete with Madison City Chess League members on June 27-28. (Photo/ Scott Wilhelm)
In Tuscaloosa, former U.S. chess champion Stuart Rachels, at left, plays chess with Cameron Baker of Madison, at right, as Douglas Zhang of Madison looks on in astonishment. Rachels will compete with Madison City Chess League members on June 27-28. (Photo/ Scott Wilhelm)

MADISON – A former U.S. chess champion will face some formidable competition when he meets the top ten in Madison City Chess League. Former champion Stuart Rachels will visit with league members at Grounded Coffee, 12120 County Line Road on June 27. He will play 20 games against the top ten finishers from a Madison league qualifier played on June 22 at Hogan Family YMCA. Spectators are welcome at Grounded Coffee for the session at 4 p.m. “This is a remarkable event, stitching Madison’s state championship scholastic programs into the fabric of Alabama chess history by connecting with its most remarkable player,” Madison City Chess League Coach Don Maddox said. Stuart Rachels “is the strongest chess player ever produced by Alabama. In 1980, he broke Bobby Fischer’s record as the youngest chess master in U.S. history — 11 years and 10 months,” Maddox said. Rachels won the U.S. Junior Invitational in 1988 and shared the U.S. Championship with Grand Masters Roman Dzindzichashvili and Yasser Seirawan in 1989. On June 28, Rachels will join students and parents for breakfast at International House of Pancakes, 8622 U.S. 72 W. “Then, he will join the kids to play chess in Hitachi Consulting offices at 1500 Perimeter Parkway, Suite 100 in Huntsville,” Maddox said. Maddox, who works as senior consultant for Hitachi Consulting, arranged Rachels’ visit to Madison. In March, “a gaggle of Madison students” accompanied Maddox to Tuscaloosa where Rachels teaches philosophy at the University of Alabama. Rachels had asked Maddox to consult on a software question; Maddox agreed and asked if he could bring some Madison children. Rachels immediately responded by saying, “The more the merrier.” Maddox, seven students and six parents joined Rachels at the Mellow Mushroom in Tuscaloosa in March for a rollicking round of pizza and chess. After winning 15 quick games, Rachels promised to return the favor with a visit to Madison this summer. Maddox acknowledged the Westin Huntsville for providing accommodations for Rachels and constantly supporting local scholastic chess. Ranae Bartlett serves as executive director of Madison City Chess League.

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