Last Frontier Chess Foundation
Looking at the Alaskan fireweed, you might not know this flower is like the Phoenix, it is reborn in areas scorched by summer wildfires. Alaska’s State Affiliation history in the “Last Frontier State” is one that has been singed, but like the fireweed, always returns.
Throughout the past 60 years, Alaska’s USCF Affiliation has been ignited by passionate efforts of various US Chess members. Remnants of previous organizations, tales of their legacies can be heard by those who have played but since moved on from the game. Still, the fiery love of the game can be found in local coffee shops, bookstores, libraries, and afterschool programs across the state, by those inspired and willing to teach the next generation of Alaskan players.
Our journey begins one January afternoon in 2019, in a classroom of one such scholastic afterschool program. Five individuals, unknowingly playing on the same chessboard and like each Chess piece, brought with them different strengths and abilities. These key members came together forming the 1st Last Frontier Chess Foundation Executive Board; Camilla Malchoff, President; Blaine Webb Vice President; Alex Zmijewski, Secretary; Drea Ferrell, Treasurer; and Jonathon Singler, State Delegate. Connected by their passion for chess and service with Alaska Pacific Chess, a collegiate program at Alaska Pacific University, fostering an open community location for competitive chess and by connecting with “Pingnatuk”, a scholastic program, inspiring the creation of more scholastic programs in the Anchorage School District while partnering with troops from Girl Scouts of Alaska aided in promoting chess in Alaska.
Rising from the ashes, LFCF picks up where past affiliates left off, sharing the same love of chess, and wanting to expand the Alaskan Chess community. Unbeknownst to LFCF, who began readying for a journey, cautiously stepping into unknown territory, but recognizing the need for a unifying governing body that other established Alaskan chess clubs, entities, and individuals can turn to for assistance and guidance. Operating as an overall support system to established clubs and programs throughout the state, allowing LFCF to be flexible in our focused efforts on resource support while encouraging the development of new clubs, TDs and providing educational events.
LFCF’s mission is to provide opportunities for Alaskans, no matter the skill level to come together to learn, teach and play casual and competitive chess in USCF rated local and state tournaments both over the board and online. With this mission, LFCF succeeded in generating US Chess memberships that stemmed from our first major tournament event: 2019 National Chess Day.
We created a family-friendly weekend dedicated to the community. Players only needed an annual US Chess membership to play. At this inaugural event, we also celebrated the completion of a great chess quest, Mr. Michael Abron a.k.a. “The Chess Pioneer" became the 1st African American to play in a USCF rated tournament in all 50 states. LFCF is proud to have celebrated this achievement and looks forwards too many more with Alaskan chess enthusiasts coming to together to connect over a board, sharing strategies and experiences