Connecticut State Chess Association

The CSCA elects a new Board and President

January 1, 2019
With a great show of support from the chess community, the Connecticut State Chess Association held its annual meeting at the Meriden Library on November 3, 2018. The assembly of about fifty voted to elect a whole new Board of Directors. The Directors were given a term length based on number of votes received: Alex Palvinski and Suhas Kodali for a five-year term, Erin Striff and Jennifer Hogrefe for four years, Alexander Lumelsky and Rick Cheung for three years, Fred Townsend and Norman Burtness for two years, and Rick Bauer for one year. There was a three-way tie among Aashish Chopra, Derek Mansfield, and Derek Meredith for the tenth Board seat. The Board was consequently expanded to twelve seats and all three were elected to serve one-year terms. The newly elected Board is comprised of a diverse group of individuals, including chess players of different generations and scholastic chess parents, representing much of the Connecticut chess community.

The continuation of the annual meeting took place at the Newington library on December 8, 2018. Officer elections were held with an impressive group of candidates. Jan van de Mortel succeeded Jim Celone who had been President of the CSCA since 2003. Jan has an extensive background in chess. He won several Dutch Junior Chess Champion titles and represented the Netherlands at various European and World Junior Championships. In 2003, he co-founded Chess Education Partners (now GM Chess Academy) in Chicago and he achieved the title of International Master in 2006. Until 2010 Jan was a full time chess teacher at public and private schools, teaching chess students and chess teachers of all levels and ages. He organized summer chess camps and scholastic tournaments with up to 800 participants. He represented US Chess as a Coach for Team USA at World Youth Championships and became a US Chess Senior Tournament Director. He currently coaches the UConn Chess Club.

Alex Palvinski succeeded Derek Mansfield as Vice President. A UConn Chess Club member and student from Redding, Alex looks forward to representing and uniting different chess clubs in the state. Jen Hogrefe, mother of scholastic players Avery and Aaron, succeeded CJ Gregory as Secretary. Bryant Mercado was elected Treasurer and succeeded Bob Milardo, who had been in charge of the treasury for most of the past thirty-six years. Bryant, an accounting major, has extensive knowledge through his experience as the UConn Chess Club Treasurer and as an intern at Travelers Insurance. Incumbent Tournaments Coordinator Alexander Lumelsky has organized over twenty scholastic State Championship events through his Connecticut Chess Organization (CCO). Membership Database Secretary Vandna Chopra and Ombudsman Rick Cheung work in professions that make them uniquely qualified for these positions. Bob Cyr has already devoted much time and effort as the CSCA Historian and will continue to do so; Bob is also the historian of the New Britain Chess Club (NBCC). Scholastic Chess Grants Coordinator George Wang is a high school student who already shows an impressive resume. Together with his siblings Jake and Emily, he co-founded Chess Haven, a non-profit chess organization. Chess Haven has held several tournaments and received the bid to organize the 2019 Grade State Championships.

Upon completion of elections the Board heard bids and awarded CSCA State Championship events. The CSCA will organize the CT State Scholastic Championship this year. With Tournaments Coordinator Alex Lumelsky and President Jan van de Mortel volunteering as chess organizer and tournament director this is an exciting venture. Chess Haven will organize the CT State Grade Championships on January 19, 2019. The NBCC will organize 2018 CT Blitz Championships on January 2, 2019; the first ever 2019 Senior Open on March 9, 2019; and the CT State Championship on May 4, 2019. CCO will organize the National Nominations Grand Prix (NNGP) leg 1 and 2019 Girls’ State Championships on January 26, 2019; and the Scholastic State Speed Championships and NNGP Final on March 30, 2019. The UConn Chess Club will organize NNGP leg 2 on February 10, 2019. Hall High School will organize the NNGP leg 3 on March 16, 2019. The tournament calendar was finalized after the December 8th meeting.

The CSCA is looking ahead to the future with a motivated group of volunteers. It is excited to utilize new strategies to increase membership and stimulate the chess community in Connecticut, and welcome everyone's input and participation. On December 28, 2018 the CSCA reinstated as a non-stock corporation and will begin the process of obtaining federal non-profit status. Please visit our website at to find out the latest news in Connecticut chess, upcoming events and read about the history of the CSCA through the years.

Best wishes for 2019 from the CSCA Officers and Directors!