Chess champ dominates at competition

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Jude Acers plays community members during Checkmate Rocky Mount Sunday at The Imperial Centre.


Staff Writer

Monday, October 9, 2017

Chess pieces fell as hard and fast as the rain drops Sunday in Rocky Mount.

With a storm outside the Imperial Centre and a hurricane churning over his native New Orleans, chess champion Jude Acers played — and defeated — around 50 challengers at the same time during Checkmate Rocky Mount, an event sponsored by First Carolina Bank and Hotline Express.

“Thank all of you so much for coming out,” said Acers, U.S. World chessmaster and former Eastern North Carolina resident.

Before the games got underway, Mayor David Combs presented Acers with honorary city citizenship.

“We're very fortunate to have Jude in our city today,” Combs said.

Combs said he probably could not set up a board now, but he played chess a lot until he was about 15.

Acers, who never misses a beat on the chess board and off, said that was more than likely about the age Combs discovered girls.

Dressed in a suit and his signature red beret, Acers encouraged newcomers to the game and discussed moves with chess veterans. Challengers were encouraged to play to win. They tried.

Middlesex resident Randie Girard was surprised when Acers sacrificed his queen — the game's most powerful piece — to take out Girard's queen.

“He's a very aggressive player,” Girard said. He laughed when asked about his chances against Acers.

Before playing everyone, Acers gave a brief chess lesson, masterful in it is simplicity. He said players need to get pieces out across the board and never move pieces to the side.

Acers recommended players to follow four tips to improve their game:

Follow the touch rule, meaning “if you touch a piece, you have to move it.”

Always write moves down so you can review games later.

Go over and over annotated games of master players.

And get your hands on a copy of “Logical Chess Move by Move” by Irving Chernev.

The only prerequisites for players was they know how to play, how to set up a board and how to record moves. They were not allowed any assistance, either from other players, spectators or via the internet.

Rocky Mount has never hosted such an event and it was fun for players and spectators alike, said Sheila Long, recreation services supervisor at the Imperial Centre.

Acers holds the world record for playing 179 simultaneous games of chess, according to Guinness Book of World Records. He has authored books on chess and been the subject of documentaries, countless news stories and magazine articles.