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  • Barry Eacker

Norman Friedman Memorial Tournament

pictured: Norman Friedman attends commemoration of chess table (photo: Adam Porth)

Early Fall on October 1, 2016 found twenty three players in Hailey, Idaho ready to compete in the first annual Norman Friedman Memorial chess tournament. Blaine County, often affectionately referred to as "The Land of Nod" by the Southern locals, reminds one of an idyllic oasis found at the end of a desert journey. Dropping over Timmerman Hill, a valley nestled among mountains is revealed amid trees boasting harvest colors, while a slower, more relaxed pace of existence is perceived. This is the setting Norman Friedman chose as a permanent residence during his final years.

Norman Friedman was a master chess player and passionately supported chess events throughout his life. He was on the Board of Directors on the Manhattan Chess Club and was a Senior Representative for the United States attending events in Russia. A NYC native, he was Co-founder of The Right Move Chess Foundation with Fred Goldhirsch. The organization hosts free tournaments and education to youths and is currently in it’s 27th year. Another great passion of Norman’s was Marathoning and he ran them up until the last few years.

Play began vigorously on Friday evening with an eight round unrated G/5 blitz tournament at the Silver Creek High School, host of the inaugural event. Eighteen players competed in the tourney with Cody Gorman of Eagle, ID sweeping the field to claim the first place trophy, scoring a perfect 8.0/8 result. Second place went to TD and organizer supreme, Adam Porth of Bellevue, ID with 5.5/8. Third place fell to Assistant TD Barry Eacker of Twin Falls with the same 5.5/8 tally, but Porth won their head-to-head encounter, thus giving him second place via the entertainingly debated (tongue-in-cheek) tiebreak system.

Saturday morning saw a 10AM start time, unheard of in most swiss events held over two days. All players were from Idaho, with the exception of Chris Evans, an acquaintance of Norman's from New York, who was passing through and dropped by to play in the final round.

Cody Gorman continued his blistering pace from the blitz event and shredded the field, producing a perfect 5.0/5 score. Jacob Nathan of Idaho Falls, one of the top scholastic players in the state, finished in a second place tie, scoring 3.5/5. Gorman was the only player who did not suffer a loss in the event. He won $250. Other players sharing the top prizes with 3.5/5 were Jacob Nathan, Adam Porth, his son Desmond Porth of Boise and Barry Eacker (each $50).

Other prize winners were ($50/each):

  • U1600 Graeme Faulkner

  • U1400 James Liu

  • U1200 Temi Aderogba,

  • U1000 Levi Catangcatang

  • Unr Seth Machakos

All cash prizes were donated by family and friends of Norman Friedman.

At noon on Saturday, an unrated 5SS G/30 scholastic tournament took place which could only be compared for a brief moment to herding cats. The players settled in, however and when the dust settled, Oliver Nathan of Idaho Falls took home the gold on tiebreak with a 4.0/5 score over Otto Olson of Hailey and River Shepard of Hailey, also 4.0/5. Fourteen players took part in the festivities and six finished at 3.0/5 or better.

The tournament was a USCF Grand Prix event with 6 GP points to be had, as well as a Northwest Chess Grand Prix event, celebrating National Chess Week. Interestingly, in the Open Section, eleven of the 23 players were of the scholastic variety.

Many thanks to Blaine County School District, BCSD Chess Club and Joyce Friedman, without whom this event would not have been possible. Area merchants donated prizes as well. Thank you DaVinci’s, Powerhouse, and Snow Bunny Drive-In.

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