Nominations received for
Category 1: Chess Journalist of the Year
Following are the nominating statements for the three journalists nominated for this award.
For a full list of CJA Awards categories see: 2016 Chess Journalists of America Awards.
Following are the statements provided by the nominators.
Note that the Award is for work done during the last year, not for their career.
I am nominating Al Lawrence as Chess Journalist of the Year. Lawrence is my most dependable writer, covering a variety of subjects throughout the year for Chess Life.
As columnist for our Faces Across the Board monthly column, Lawrence has the difficult task, skillfully executed, of writing two 150-word profiles that encapsulate the subjects. This is an extraordinarily difficult type of writing, but Lawrence makes it seamless to the reader with sentences such as this that blend facts with quotes:
Al's range extends to obituaries, tournament reports, and feature articles. In this past year, he has covered the US Amateur Team East (wrangling a story out of US Chess' largest annual event is no mean feat), the collegiate Pan Ams and Final Four events, and GM Walter Browne's death.
Al makes sure to secure an interesting selection of games for his tournament reports and if the annotator is not a native English speaker, he takes care to edit the games before sending to me. A sample of this can be seen in the March 2016 issue, "Texas Tech Comeback."
The reason I turn to Lawrence first during the unfortunate times when I must publish an obituary is clearly seen in his cover feature for the October 2015 issue, "Remembering GM Walter Browne." Writing in a sensitive manner that still manages to capture the full color of the man, Al's report included samples such as:
The churning cauldron of competitive genius that was International Grandmaster Walter Shawn Browne simmered to championship wins at every stage of his 50-year career. Browne won the U.S. Junior Championship in 1966, the U.S. Championship six times in the 1970s and 1980s, and the U.S. Senior Championship in 2014—an unmatched life cycle of achievement. On June 24, he died at the home of his longtime Las Vegas friend, chess master Ron Gross, while taking an afternoon nap before leaving to catch a plane for his home in Berkeley, California. Browne had recently finished the National Open Championship, which he had won 11 times, this time a single point behind the leaders. While at the event, he had given a 25-board simultaneous exhibition, taught a chess camp, delivered a lecture series, and taken byes during the final weekend to compete in a championship poker tournament. He was 66.
Al Lawrence takes extraordinary care to get the story right, from the overall concept down to the last comma placement. He tells the story in a compelling manner that is interesting to the reader, using a clean style occasionally punctuated by a flashy--but never ostentatious--sentence or turn of phrase.
For all these reasons I nominate Al Lawrence for Chess Journalist of the Year.
1. Only American to have articles published in all of the following three magazines this past year:
Chess Life (tournament report on NJ Open), Chess Life Kids (instructional article) and British
2. Regular monthly columnist (“Openings for Amateurs) for British Chess Magazine.
3. Writer, editor and publisher of the Atlantic Chess News Annual 2016, of which 1200 are
distributed every year for free to the players at the US Amateur Team East. Online copy at:
4. Completed tenth year of chess puzzle column at www.arcamax.com
In June of last year, I began working as a writer and digital content assistant for the US Chess Federation. This experience has given me the opportunity to discover my passion for writing about chess. Over the past year, I’ve written 44 articles for US Chess News, including book reviews, reports on top-level tournaments in the U.S. and worldwide, historical articles, instructional articles on tactics and strategy, and my own first-hand accounts on competitive chess.
When I write articles, my goal is to provide master-level chess content and analysis while writing in a relatable and entertaining style. One of the best examples of this is my personal account of a recent tournament experience, “Beyond Winning and Losing” (https://new.uschess.org/news/beyond-winning-and-losing/). In the article, I write about my own approach to using one’s tournament games as a learning tool. It’s so common in the chess world for ambitious players to analyze their games to improve, yet, advice is rarely offered on how to go about that.
In the article, I start with a list of goals for the tournament based solely on the quality of my play, such as practicing better time management and creating active pieces. Then, I evaluate my games in respect to these goals. I also focus on any mistakes I made and the incorrect line of thinking that led to them. I use this to pinpoint areas of the game where I can improve most. Then, I look for books and other study materials on those subjects. I end the article with a section on what I’ve learned, emphasizing advice from stronger players. Since I’ve begun looking at my tournament games as opportunities to learn, I’ve gotten a lot more out of them, and I greatly hope that my method will be helpful to other chess players.
Additionally, I’ve played competitive chess for over 16 years, and I’m currently a ranked National Master. I am highly involved in the chess community in Southern California. I teach classes and help run scholastic tournaments at the L.A. Chess Club, one of the most active chess clubs in the country, every week. I also privately teach numerous up-and-coming players.
This Page Last Updated on 24 June 2016