Chess in Wyoming – Board Games in the Equality State

The success of American chess players in international competitions. Along with the visibility of chess in popular media hugely influenced the popularity of chess in the United States. Wyoming is one of many states experiencing a chess renaissance. Largely due to the efforts of the Wyoming Chess Association (WCA). Read on to learn all about playing chess in Wyoming.

chess in Wyoming map and chess pieces

The WCA has a long history that dates back to 1949. The association has a rich but mostly undocumented history of players and tournaments. Its website was set up in 1997 by Jonathan Ray Fortune This was at the request of one of the most prominent members of the association, Allan Cunningham.

The WCA is a very active organization that hosts a variety of chess-related events, including tournaments and matches. In addition to organizing events. The association keeps records of chess players and event outcomes. It also coordinates expeditions to other States for its members to participate in chess events. 

The History of Chess in Wyoming

Wyoming has a long and rich history of chess that dates back many years. In the past, ranchers in Wyoming would watch for the train to stop in a nearby town so they could look for a game from a traveling player. It was the norm to challenge outsiders and players from other regions.

Wyoming history

Most crucial to the association’s development was Allan Cunningham. Cunningham played a strong role in enriching Wyoming’s chess history through his leadership and encouragement.

Wyoming Chess Association

Allan Cunningham served as the President of the Wyoming Chess Association from 1995 until the fall of 2009. During his 15-year tenure, he helped organize and host various chess-related events. These included scholastic, closed, and open statewide tournaments held annually in Casper and Cheyenne. 

To keep the club alive and active, Cunningham worked with other members to organize tournaments. And also to purchase chess equipment, and maintain the club’s membership in the USCF. Allan would spend the 15 years of his tenure towing the “club tub” out to the college to provide crucial equipment. Including sets, boards, and clocks, to club members that needed them. 

The club’s efforts were eventually recognized when it was awarded a chess clock by the USCF for having the highest number of membership renewals. 

chess club

Allan’s dedication and hard work have played a significant role in the growth and success of chess in Wyoming. In addition to his work with the Wyoming Chess Association, he also helped develop chess in the state by organizing expeditions to Colorado tournaments and finding tournament locations. He also ensured that Wyoming had adequate representation at the annual meeting of the USCF.

Chess Players in Wyoming

It is no secret that Wyoming has produced some of the boldest chess players ever seen. There are stories of Wyoming players that would telegraph Grandmasters such as Samuel Reshevsky and request them to get off the train to join them for a bout of chess.

Such boldness and commitment to the game have led to the state producing some notable players over the years. Including Alexander Fishbein (a grandmaster). Andrew M. Smith (a three-time participant in the Denker tournament, a G60 Champion and a Wyoming Champion). And Dan E. Joelson (the fifteen-time Wyoming Champion).

Chess Master cartoon

In the 1990s, Allan Cunningham and several other chess enthusiasts, including George Lundy, Michael Miller, and Tony Laird, regularly played chess at the Laramie County Public Library. This group worked to hone their skills and challenge others. They eventually formed the Cheyenne Chess Club under Allan’s leadership. The club grew and moved to a local bookstore before eventually finding a home at Laramie County Community College.

Today, Wyoming still boasts a number of names in the USCF player rankings list. Daniel Joelson (2106), Timothy Schoessler (1981), Guy Hadley (1863), and William Alexander (1851). These are just a few of the many talented players currently representing the state. 

Wyoming chess players foster a strong sense of community by supporting each other to reach greater heights. It is a wholesome community that welcomes new chess players and offers plenty of opportunities to improve your chess skills.

Chess Tournaments in Wyoming

Wyoming hosts more than a few chess tournaments each year. Some of the tournaments to look forward to include:

large chess tournament

2023 Wyoming Closed Championship

The 2023 Wyoming Closed Championship is a four-round chess tournament that will be held in the fall of 2022 in Casper, Wyoming. The tournament is open to Wyoming residents only, and the games will be played using the G/90 d5 time control.

The entry fee for the tournament is $20 if paid in advance or $25 at the door. In 2022, it was held at the C’mon Inn in Casper, where it featured an open section. The money and prizes for next year’s tournament will be based on the number of entries.

New Wyoming Open

The New Wyoming Open is a four-round chess tournament that was held on November 4-5, 2022, in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The tournament is open to players of all skill levels and features an open section and a reserve section for players rated under 1800. 

The entry fee for the tournament is $25 if pre-registered or $30 at the door. This year, it was held at the Laramie County Community College Conference Center in Training Room 112.

To register for the tournament, players should plan to arrive early (between 5:30 pm and 6:30 pm). The first round of games will be held at 7:00 pm, with additional rounds on the next day at 8:00 am, 12:30 pm, and 5:30 pm. 

The Sheridan Open Chess Tournament

The Sheridan Open Chess Tournament is an event that features both a blitz tournament and an open division tournament. Players can register for the event online in advance, but online pre-registration closes on May 4th at 7 pm. 

Youth players (12 and under) can register online for $10 or pay $15 in cash on the day of the tournament. All players who register online must check in at the registration desk before the close of registration, and players who arrive after specific times on Friday and Saturday may only be accommodated if it does not interfere with the pairing schedule. 

The open division tournament starts on Friday, May 5th, at 5:30 pm, and players can pre-register online for $45 or pay $55 in cash at the door. The USCF division of the tournament starts on Saturday, with sign-in from 7:30–8:30 am and games starting at 9 am. 

The Tournament Director for the open division is George Lundy from Boise, Idaho, and the Tournament Director for the USCF division is unnamed. Players can contact the Sheridan Chess Association at admin@sheridanchess.com for more information about the tournament.

Chess Clubs in Wyoming

mixed age chess club photo

The Reinfeld Foundation (Tri-State)

The Fred Reinfeld Foundation fosters a love of chess among young people in Wyoming, Colorado, and the surrounding region. The Foundation’s President, Brian Walker, is available to assist with the creation of chess clubs in schools and communities. 

The foundation hosts Wyoming’s scholastic championship. An eagerly anticipated event that attracts young players from all over the state. Ranging in age from pre-school to the 12th grade. 

It offers both rated and unrated sections and awards trophies and certificates to the top finishers. By participating in the scholastic championship, young men and women have the opportunity to qualify for one of two essential tournaments:

  • The Denker Chess Tournament for High School Champions
  • The Susan Polgar Chess Tournament

Both of these tournaments take place at the US Open each year. 

Andrew Smith, from Cheyenne, was the last player from Wyoming to participate in the Denker Tournament. The foundation is always on the lookout for more talented young players interested in representing the state on a national stage.

The Wyoming Scholastic Chess Championship is a wonderful chance for young people that are interested in meeting new chess players and other like-minded individuals. 

Chess clubs for all ages

Cheyenne Chess Club 

This is the official chess club for the Wyoming Chess Association and is open to players of all skill levels and ages. The club meets on Thursdays from 6:30 to 9 pm at GodFather’s pizza in Cheyenne.

Casper Chess Club

This club holds its meetings on Tuesdays from 6 to 10 pm on the second floor of 140 East Midwest Street in Casper.

Laramie, Wyoming Knights Chess Club

This club meets at the Laramie Teen Center on Mondays from 7 to 10 pm.

New players can also explore the following online resources for chess enthusiasts in Wyoming:

Wyoming Chess Club 

This website serves as a great portal for finding online chess games and connecting with other chess players in the state.

Chess pieces on a Wyoming Road sign

Wyoming Chess Enthusiasts Facebook Page 

This social media page is a hub for chess enthusiasts in Wyoming, offering a forum for players to connect, share their love of the game, and find out about local chess events and activities.

Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned chess player, there are plenty of ways to get involved in the chess community in Wyoming. From local chess clubs to online resources, there are opportunities for players of all skill levels to enjoy the game and connect with others who share a passion for chess.

Chess Shops in Wyoming

Chess Shops in Wyoming

Olympus Games and Comics

Olympus Games and Comics is a great shop for chess players in Wyoming. It offers a wide selection of chess boards at affordable prices, and the staff is knowledgeable and friendly. The shop also provides a great environment for playing chess, with plenty of space to set up a board and meet new chess players. 

The shop is conveniently located and easy to order from, and the quality of the products is top-notch. Overall, Olympus Games and Comics is an excellent destination for chess players in Wyoming who are looking for a wide selection of chess boards, affordable prices, and a great atmosphere for playing and enjoying the game. They are predominantly table top fantasy games store though. So check ahead to see which days they are hosting chess games.

Games Gauntlet

Games Gauntlet toy shop in Laramie, Wyoming, is a great destination for chess players in the area. The shop has been known to offer a great selection of custom boards and pieces. Along with a wide range of chess equipment, such as clocks. The staff are friendly and very happy to help, and the shop has a tight-knit community of chess enthusiasts.

In addition, Games Gauntlet offers cash-back rewards to its customers and provides excellent post-sales support. Overall, the shop provides good value for money and is a great resource for chess players in Laramie.

Jenna Ostria
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