Each year the Chess Journalists of America conducts an awards program to select the top published material in a number of categories.
The Top Four
Chess Journalist of the Year
The Chess Journalist of the Year (CJOY) award had 4 entries, ranging from reporters working for chess.com to those who have to do a bit of everything for a publication, such as Jeffrey Roland who represented NorthWest Chess. Though both Mike Klein and Jeffrey Roland received first place votes, in the end Mike Klein of chess.com won his third Chess Journalist of the Year award. Jeffrey Roland finished a strong second.
Winner: Mike Klein - Chess.com
Second Place: Jeffrey Roland – NorthWest Chess
Best Story of the Year
Best Story of the Year is one of the few categories which mixes online and in print entries. This year the entries were predominantly in print and they came in both first and second. The winner was a fine socio-cultural piece about the Cuban Chess Community.
Winner: Cuban Chess: Community, Culture, and Change by Jacob Chudnovsky and Irina Medvedev - Chess Life - Sep 2017 – pp. 22-27, 71
Second Place: A Cinderella Story” by Alisa Melekhina – American Chess Magazine – Issue 3
Best Chess Column
This is the other category that combines online and print entries. In this case, both are represented. John Hartman’s Looks at Books barely edged out Andy Soltis’ perennially popular Chess to Enjoy Column. Gregory Serper’s online column, the only online entry, also won an Honorable Mention.
Winner: Looks at Books by John Hartmann – Chess Life - Mar 2018 pp. 18-19 & Oct 2017 pp. 16-17
Honorable Mention: Chess to Enjoy by Andy Soltis – Chess Life - Apr 2018 & Jan 2018
Honorable Mention: Gregory Serper – chess.com - Magnus Carlsen's Biggest Secret -- -- Jan 21, 2018 and
Best State Magazine/Newsletter
For the fifth consecutive year, NorthWest Chess won the award for best state magazine, beating out another fine publication, Texas Knights. During the years I was Chief Coordinating Judge, Texas Knights is the first magazine to be judged better than NorthWest Chess by a few judges.
Winner: Northwest Chess - http://www.nwchess.com/nwcmag/index.htm
Second Place: Texas Knights -
The Best Book category was divided into two categories several years ago as many judges complained about the material they were having to judge being so dissimilar. The two categories are now Best Book Instruction and Best Book Other.
Best Book - Instruction
The Best Book Instruction category had a wide range of entries, with the book on the most recent World Championship match coming in first. The book coming in second was a more traditional instructional type book and between the two books listed, they secured all of the first place and most of the second place scores.
Winner: Carlsen vs. Karjarkan: World Chess Championship: New York, 2016 by Lev Alburt and Jon Crumiller
Second Place: Great Moves: Learning Chess Through History, by Weeramantry, Adams, and McLellan (https://mongoosepress.com/great-moves-learning-chess-through-history/)
Best Book - Other
The Best Book Other category is often dominated by McFarland books as the primary focus of their chess books is that of chess history. This year, both of their books earned first places votes.
Winner: British Chess Literature to 1914: A Handbook for Historians by Tim Harding - McFarland Publishing - https://mcfarlandbooks.com/product/british-chess-literature-to-1914/
Second Place: A World of Chess: Its Development and Variations through Centuries and Civilizations by Jean-Louis Cazaux and Rick Knowlton - McFarland Publishing - https://mcfarlandbooks.com/product/a-world-of-chess/
Visual arts categories, like the top 4 section, have both online and in print entries.
Best Chess Magazine / Newsletter Layout
This was a very close competition with two entries from both American Chess Magazine and Chess Life. Judges almost always liked one type of magazine over the other, with Chess Life’s August issue coming out ahead by a single point (17 to 16).
Winner: August 2017 Chess Life
Honorable Mention: American Chess Magazine - Issue # 5
Best Chess Photojournalism
This category is one of the few that can, and did, have both online and print winners, with the online event edging out the Cuban Chess article that also won Best Story.
Winner: Aronian Leads After Rapid; Dramatic 3rd Day For Kasparov -- https://www.chess.com/news/view/aronian-leads-after-rapid-dramatic-3rd-day-for-kasparov-5496 -- Aug 16, 2017
Honorable Mention: Cuban Chess: Community, Culture, and Change – Pictures by Irina Medvedev – Chess Life – Sep 2017 – pp. 22-27, 71
Best Single Photo
Cover shots are particularly popular single photo entrees and here they finished first and second.
Winner: Alexander Shabalov by Michael Williams – Chess Life - Mar 2018 - cover
Second Place: Maxime Vachier-Lagrave by Austin Fuller – Chess Life - Nov 2017 - cover
Best Chess Art
Though our new coordinating judge, Jennifer Vallens, has not yet decided on adjustments for next year’s program, there will be a separate category for Best Cartoon.
Winner: 2018 U.S. Championship Previews by Paul Dickinson - Chess Life - Apr 2018 - cover
Honorable Mention: Winter Scene by Elif Balta Parks - Chess Life Kids - Dec 2017 – cover
Honorable Mention: Chessabilities by David Chesnutts - Chess Life - Oct 2017 - cover
While there were once hundreds of chess columns in local papers, there are few today. One, Bill Cornwall’s, was entered in both Best Chess Column and Best Article of Local Interest, winning both categories.
Best Regular Newspaper Column
Winner: Bill Cornwall – Los Angeles Times - https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1UkCsiJrUwkYb8qMb4lh_3G9lckKcqdE4
Best Regular Newspaper Article of Local Interest
Winner: Bill Cornwall – Los Angeles Times - https://drive.google.com/file/d/10xSOR4FVvH11L32burWTrAXnethakZDu/view
News or Features – Print
News or Features = Print categories are dominated by Chess Life and American Chess Magazine entries, while Online articles have a far greater variety of submissions.
Best Tournament Report - National/International
Perhaps not surprisingly, since both Chess Life and American Chess Magazine are both national in scope, there were more articles on large tournaments than on state/local events. All articles received several votes, not always common in a category with numerous entries.
Winner: “California Sun Beats Down on a Foggy British Island” by Michael Brown; American Chess Magazine #5 - pp. 30-33, 36-39
Honorable Mention: “Nothing Guaranteed” by Alejandro Ramirez – Chess Life - Jun 2017 – pp. 28 - 39
Best Tournament Report - State/Local
American Chess Magazine picked up a Winner and Honorable Mention Award when Parmet’s article outscored Molner by a single point (20 to 19).
Winner: "Chicago! My Kind of Tourney” by Daniel Parmet with annotations by Ilya Smirin, Dmitry Gurevich, Akshat Chandra, Joshua Colas – American Chess Magazine #3 - pp. 118-126
Honorable Mention: “Philly Open” by Mackenzie Molner - American Chess Magazine #3 - pp. 112-117
Best Features Article
The articles submitted by USChess are chosen by USChess. In this case, the piece on Lombardy’s life wins. In general, happy articles beat sad articles, but the exception are those on the passing of someone which often score well.
Winner: Chess in Excelsis by Joshua M. Anderson – Chess Life - Jan 2018 – pp. 24 - 31
Second Place: Gateway to the Ivy League by Yuanling Yuan – Chess Life - Aug 2017 – pp. 36 - 41
Best Instructive Lesson
This large category had a wide-ranging group of lessons and the scoring was quite close. The three top entries were separated by just 2 points.
Winner: How to Reduce Your Chess Blunders by – Bart Gibbons - Chess Life – Dec 2017 – pp. 42 – 44.
Honorable Mention: “Aagard’s All-Around Training” by Jacob Aagard; American Chess Magazine #4 - pp. 46-49
Honorable Mention: A Structural Approach to Chess by Jon Edwards - Chess Life - Feb 2018 – pp. 36 - 42
The four entries in this category demonstrate two very different approaches to reviews – one where a review focuses on one book (though in the case of Eat Your Oatmeal, several books are mentioned) and one where the review focuses on several books. This year, the review focusing on one (though mentioning several) book, won, but just barely.
Winner: Eat Your Oatmeal by John Hartmann – Chess Life – Feb 2018 – pp. 20-21
Honorable Mention: “Fresh Leaves from the Bookshelf” by Carsten Hansen – American Chess Magazine #4 – pp. 100-105
Honorable Mention: Analyzing the 2016 World Championship by John Hartmann – Chess Life - Dec 2017 – pp. 14-15
Best Humorous Contribution
This category is notoriously difficult to judge and write and often comes in varied forms. This year, two famous chess authors, whose work does not usually grace this field, were entered in the category, with Soltis’ work thought to be slightly more humorous.
Winner: Our 14th Annual Trivia Quiz by Andy Soltis – Chess Life - Dec 2017 – pp. 16-17, 69
Second Place: Benko’s Annual April Fools’ Puzzles by Pal Benko – Chess Life – Apr 2018 – pp. 43, 71
Best Historical Article
Noted historian John S. Hilbert had one of the few perfect scores (judged first by all five judges) in the event as he easily won the category with this entertaining article from American Chess Magazine.
Winner: “The Great American Chess Magazine War” by John S. Hilbert – American Chess Magazine - pp. 70-78
Second Place: “Searching for Fischer’s Legacy” by Menachem Wecker – Chess Life – Mar 2018 – pp. 20 - 4
Pete Tamburro had almost half of the entries in this category (4 of 9) and all of the prize winning positions, winning first place in the category and an honorable mention as well.
Winner: “25 Questions for Carol Meyer” by Pete Tamburro – American Chess Magazine #6 – pp. 120 - 124
Honorable Mention: 25 Questions for GM Lev Alburt” by Pete Tamburro - American Chess Magazine #5- pp. 128-133
This category had 20 entries, a record for my years as chief judge. There were a wide variety of entries, especially from American Chess Magazine, which finished with entries in both first and second place.
Winner: “Top Three US Championship Games” by GM Ivan Sokolov – American Chess Magazine #3 – pp. 16-25
Second Place: “Magnus the King among Mere Mortals” by GM Ivan Sokolov – American Chess Magazine #5 – pp. 20-29
Best Club Newsletter/Magazine
This single entry is a quarterly 24 page magazine that would rival many state magazines.
Winner: Pittsburgh Chess Club edited by John Barraso
Best Single Club Publication
This club publication, a short book by a match between two club players flips a common saying on its head as it is written by the loser of the match!
Winner: Eric Johnson – Johnson v. Santo Match Booklet
News or Features – Online
Some publications, especially those that were originally in print, how kept the “magazine” look and numbering, so while some international articles are just a link, others are a link to the “magazine” and then there are also volume, issue, and page numbers.
Best Tournament Report - National/International
Chess Journalist of the Year, 2017, Vanessa West, won two awards this year. Here, she beats out several entries to win this category.
Winner: The American Open: SoCal's Chess Festival by Vanessa West -
Honorable Mention: Armenia Eagles Win PRO Chess League In Triple Overtime -- https://www.chess.com/news/view/armenia-eagles-win-pro-chess-league-in-triple-overtime -- Apr 9, 2018
Honorable Mention - Controversial Finish to Canadian Championship -- https://www.chess.com/news/view/controversial-finish-to-canadian-chess-championship-5047 -- Jul 4, 2017
Best Tournament Report - State/Local
There are few tournaments, such as national championships or a 12 person scholastic tournament for kids in the neighborhood that are clearly either local or national, but many tournaments fall into a large gray area. In this case, an article on the North American Open, which largely has players from the western region of the United States, beat out articles from events largely just from one state, specifically Iowa and Florida.
Winner: Vegas, Vacations & Victories: Alisa on the North American by Alisa Melekhina - https://new.uschess.org/news/vegas-vacations-victories-alisa-north-american-open/
Second Place: “63rd Iowa Open Chess Weekend” by Mark Capron, analysis by several players – En Passant V. 57, I. 4, p. 14 – 40 – http://www.iowa-chess.org
Best Feature Article
Tom Braunlich’s piece on Jerry Spann scored well in two categories, winning Best Feature. The Nakamura article though a bit behind Spann, just edged out 8 Takeaways from Living as a Chess Vagabond.
Winner: Jerry Spann: The Forgotten Man Who Will Never Be Forgotten by Tom Braunlich - http://ocfchess.org/pdf/OCM-2017-08-01.pdf
Second Place: Nakamura Visits South African Chess Events -- https://www.chess.com/news/view/nakamura-visits-south-african-chess-events -- Jan 18, 2018
In this category, this time unopposed, Vanessa scores from all judges and is awarded another win.
Winner: A "Behind the Scenes" Guide to Brilliant Attacks - Review: Attacking Chess for Club Players by Vanessa West - https://new.uschess.org/books/behind-scenes-guide-brilliant-attacks-review-attacking-chess-club-players/
Best Historical Article
Lou Hays’ personal experiences with Fischer forms the basis of this first place winning article. The second-place article is the Tom Braunlich’s Jerry Spann piece that won the online Best Feature category.
Winner: Why Bobby Fischer Came Back My Extraordinary Adventure with the World Chess Champion by Lou Hays - http://ocfchess.org/pdf/OCM-2017-06-01.pdf
Second Place: Jerry Spann: The Forgotten Man Who Will Never Be Forgotten by Tom Braunlich - http://ocfchess.org/pdf/OCM-2017-08-01.pdf
The top two entries in this category, both, received first place votes, but the Caruana piece had a few more and won the category.
Winner: Caruana: 'I Think My Chances Are About 50-50' -- https://www.chess.com/news/view/caruana-i-think-my-chances-are-about-50-50
Second Place: Where Chess and History Meet by Bethany Carson – En Passant – V. 58 Is. 2 – pp. 8 – 10 - –
En Passant submitted several entries for Best Analysis and Yermolinsky, while not scoring a perfect score, was clearly the winner.
Winner: Alex Yermolinsky - En Passant - V. 57 Is. 4 – Oct 2017 - pp. 36-7 – http://www.iowa-chess.org
Second Place: Benjamin Darr - En Passant V. 57 Is. 4 – p. 33-6 - http://www.iowa-chess.org
Best Club Newsletter/Magazine
This entry, like printed club newsletter, was the only one in the category, and like that entry received scores from all the judges.
Winner: Tarrant County Club Newsletter - https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/c37024_6a4e3437bdb544cc8691463c243dd256.pdf
Best Online Article in Mainstream Publication
This mainstream media entry was very popular with the judges and earned a rare perfect score
Winner: Chess and The Hijab: Iran's Dorsa Derakhshani Finds Her Way -- http://www.wbur.org/onlyagame/2017/09/29/chess-hijab-dorsa-derakhshani -- September 29, 2017
Best [USCF] State Chapter Website
There were three entries in this category, with former winner chessmaine.net losing out to these two entries.
Winner: Texas Chess - https://texaschess.org/
Honorable Mention: Iowa State Chess Association - http://www.iowa-chess.org
Best General Chess Website
Though chess.com is a huge organization and did win in the end, they were not universally voted above
Winner: Chess.com - https://www.chess.com
Second Place: http://rrsochess.net/rrso_home.html
Best Chess Blog
This category is traditionally for the whole blog, bur since we only had one entry and we were unclear about this clarification, so we simply judged the blog as a single entry.
Winner: Playing the Quintessential American Tournament: The 2017 World Open -- https://www.chess.com/blog/SamCopeland/playing-the-quintessential-american-tournament-the-2017-world-open
Best Electronic State Newsletter
Each entry in this category received at least one first place vote and all three entries received at least an honorable mention, with only 3 points separating all three entries.
Winner: Iowa – En Passant – Mark Capron - http://www.iowa-chess.org/en-passant
Honorable Mention: Oklahoma - Oklahoma Chess Monthly - http://ocfchess.org/ocf_prime_home.html
Honorable Mention: Colorado – Colorado Chess Informant - http://www.coloradochess.com/
This was the first year for this category and save Best Educational Lesson each category had a single entry. In Best Educational Lesson, Danny Rensch’s piece on the AlphaZero vs Stockfish match beat out Jim French’s piece on a feature of Fritz 16. As with the other mainstream media categories, the winner need only score 60% of the total possible.
Multimedia -- Best Mainstream Media
Winner: Does It Take A Genius To Play 3D Chess? We Asked The Masters (HBO) -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqoD1Xkmwro
Multimedia - Best Educational Lesson
Winner: AlphaZero vs Stockfish Chess Match Highlights by IM Danny Rensch -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6z1o48Sgrck
Multimedia - Best Interview
Winner: Garry Kasparov Talks Chess And Artificial Intelligence -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nPMkLBUYQ8&feature=youtu.be
Multimedia - Best Tournament Report
Winner: Ding Liren Wins Cook-Off, Then Heads To Hospital With Fractured Hip -- (video embedded at end of article) -- https://www.chess.com/news/view/cook-off-winner-ding-hospitalized-with-fractured-hip
The special achievement award is given for material of special merit that does not fit in to another category. In this case, Dogger’s piece is numerous articles that covers FIDE throughout the year. The other special achievement award is for the American Chess Magazine as there is no category for a full year of a magazine, save the state/local magazine category. For scoring purposes, an 80% (4 Yes votes from 5 judges) to receive a special achievement award.
Winner: Peter Dogger’s Year Long coverage of FIDE
Winner: American Chess Magazine for the four issues
Chess Journalist of the Year – Winner – Al Lawrence
Story of the Year – Winner – “2018 World Championship, London Variation” – GM Ian Rogers – Chess Life – February 2019
Honorable Mention – “Spirit of St. Louis” – FM Mike Klein – Chess Life – July 2018
Honorable Mention - Dewain Barber, Dean of Scholastic Chess – Al Lawrence – Chess Life – March 2019
Best Chess Column – Winner – “Aagaard’s All-Round Training” – GM Jacob Aagaard – American Chess Magazine
Best State Magazine/Newsletter – Winner – Northwest Chess – Jeffrey Roland
Honorable Mention – Rank & File – Southern California Chess Federation – Dylan Quercia, Carl Dameron, and Sean Manross
Best Chess Book
Best Chess Book – Instruction – Winner – Better Thinking, Better Chess - GM Joel Benjamin
Best Chess Book – Other – Winner - GM Andrew Soltis – Tal, Petrosian, Spassky, and Korchnoi: A Chess Multibiography with 207 Games
Best Visual Arts
Best Photojournalism Article – Winner (tie) – “Pro Chess League Finals” – IM Eric Rosen – Chess Life – July, 2018
Winner (tie) – “Queen Pawn” – David Llada – Chess Life – May 2019
Best Single Chess Photo – Winner – “2018 World Championship” – IM Eric Rosen – Chess Life – February 2019
Honorable Mention – “Carsen Wins as Caruana Looks On” – Maria Emelionova – Chess.com
Best Chess Art – Chess Adventures with FM Alisa Melekhina, Val Bochkov, Melinda Matthews, Natasha Roberts – Chess Life Kids – February 2019
Honorable Mention – “The Challenges of Chess Parenting” – Carlotta Notaro – Chess Life – December 2018
Honorable Mention – “The Sinquefeld Super Trip” - Willum Morsch – American Chess Magazine – Issue #8
Best Single Chess Magazine Cover – “Timur Flies High” – Joe Jennings, Frankie Butler – Chess Life – November 2018
Best Regular Newspaper Chess Column – Winner – David Sands – Washington Times
Honorable Mention – Bill Cornwall – Los Angeles Times
Best Single Article of Local Interest – Winner – “Cal Teen Queen” - Bill Cornwall – Los Angeles Times
Best Overall Chess Magazine – Winner - American Chess Magazine
Best Feature – Winner – “The Challenges of Chess Parenting” – Jennifer Vallens – Chess Life – December 2018
Honorable Mention – “Dewain Barber: Dean of Scholastic Chess” – Al Lawrence – Chess Life – March 2019
Best Interview Print – Winner – “That’s What Queen – d1 Said” – Jennifer Vallens – Chess Life – May 2019
Best Tournament Report – National/International – Print – Winner – “Classic Equality, Rapid Supremacy – the World Championship” – ACM Staff – American Chess Magazine - Issue #9
Honorable Mention – “Novelties and Negotiations at the 2018 Sinquefield Cup” – FM Mike Klein – Chess Life – 11/18
Best Tournament Report – State/Local – Print – Winner – “Orlando Sunshine Open” – Staff – Florida Chess – Summer 2018
Best Club Newsletter – Print – Winner – En Passant – Pittsburgh Chess Club
Best Instructive Lesson – Print – Winner – “Three Pillars of Endgame Theory” – Alex Fishbein – American Chess Magazine – Issue #7
Best Review – Print – Winner – “Logical Ambition” – John Hartmann – Chess Life – September 2018
Honorable Mention – “Game Changer?” – John Hartmann – Chess Life – April 2019
Best Analysis – Print – “In a League of His Own” – John Burke – American Chess Magazine – Issue #11
Honorable Mention – “Semi-Slav” Defense – GM Alex Lenderman, GM Sergey Erenburg, and Tom Beckman – Chess Life – March 2019
Best Historical Article – Print – Winner - “What We Leave Behind” – Joshua Anderson – Chess Life – January 2019
Best Humorous Contribution – Print – Winner -“Direct Attacking Moves” – Sean Busherer – Chess Life – October, 2018
Best Online News And Features
Best Online Chess Blog – Winner - First Move Chess Blog - - John Henderson
Best Online Interview – Winner - Author Chat: Joel Benjamin - - John Hartmann
Best Feature Article – Online – Winner - Robert Hess on Charity Chess - - Robert Hess
Honorable Mention: “Up, Up and Checkmate” – - Jennifer Vallens
Best Chess Podcast – Winner – Ladies Knight - – Jennifer Shahade
Honorable Mention: - Cover Stories with Chess Life - – Daniel Lucas
Best Single Podcast Episode – Winner - Ladies Knight with Alexandra Botez - -
Honorable Mention: Cover Stories With Chess Life with WGM Tatev Abrahamyan - - Daniel Lucas
Best Tournament Report – National/International – Online – The Adventures of Eric and Kostya, Parts I and II - – Eric Rosen and Kostya Kavutskiy
Best Tournament Report – State/Local – Online – The 2019 Denver Open - - John Watson
Best Online Chess News – ChessBase -
Best Online Newsletter or Magazine – State/Local – Colorado Chess Informant http://www.coloradochess.com/informants.shtml
Best Instruction Lesson – Online – How to Cure A Serious Chess Disease - – IM Jeremy Silman
Best Analysis – Online – The 2019 Denver Open - - John Watson
Best Humorous Contribution – Online – “His Pawn Cheated And Killed My Pawn!” - “His Pawn Cheated And Killed My Pawn!” – CEO Erik
Best Historical Article – Online – Evgeni Vasiukiv 1933 – 2018 - https://www.chess.com/news/view/evgeni-vasiukov-1933-2018 - Peter Doggers
Honorable Mention: Bobby Fischer Visits Colorado - - NM Todd Bardwick
Best State Chapter Website – Winner – Iowa Chess - – Bethany Carson and Daniel Carson
Honorable Mention: Maine Chess Association - - Daniel DeLuca
Best Overall Chess Website - Winner – Chess.com
Honorable Mention: USChess.org
Best Educational Lesson – Print or Online – Winner - The Art of Time Management –https://www.chess.com/article/view/the-art-of-time-management - GM Daniel Naroditsky
Best Non Instructive Chess Video - Winner – Chess Driving with GM Gareyev - – Joe Jennings
Honorable Mention – Girls in Chess – – Jenny Schweitzer
Best Junior Chess Print Article: Winner – “Lady with a Torch” – Jennifer Yu – ACM – Issue #11
Best Junior Chess Online Article: Winner – Once Upon a Time - - Noah M.
Honorable Mention: US Chess School in San Francisco – Robert Shlyakhtenko
Special Achievement – Winner - The Royal Game: A Problemist’s Version – GM Pal Benko – Chess Life – August 2018
Special Achievement – Winner: Harvey Lerman – 25 Years of State Publications – FloridaChess