A local comedian and chess enthusiast Scotty Hohman noticed an advertisement on Facebook from the Alzheimer's Association that said Chess is a new activity that they were interested in having for fundraisers in 2022. While he had never competed in an over the board tournament, and was learning from his coach online, Scotty decided to work with the Alzheimer's Association to create a community chess-based event titled – “Scotty Can’t Do Comedy Presents: Checkmate Alzheimer’s” a rapid chess tournament that was single round elimination and bracket based on players approximate rapid ELO. The idea was to have an event that brought the community of chess players together to raise awareness for an important cause. It wasn’t until later that Scotty would learn that he was the first in the nation to register with a fundraising through chess, with less than 20 other chess events registered at the time.
The Longest Day is the summer solstice (June 21st) and is an important day for events that fundraise and support the Alzheimer's Association in their fight against Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The amount of people who showed up to the event with stories of loved ones they either know or have lost due to the disorder was nothing short of inspirational. Between the chess event and the comedy show which followed, this community helped to raise $420 for the Alzheimer’s Association.
In order to make prizes for contestants, he reached out to FIDE Master, James Canty III, as well as National Master Nicholas Gross to offer an hour of their time providing lessons to first and second places respectively. The attendance was significant and many people who were experienced, as well as people who played casually over the board or online with friends in attendance. While the more experienced players were initially thrown off by the set up and structure of the event, they were quick to help set up a playing area and ensure that games could be played smoothly. As for the results, our first-place winner was local Kenneth Erickson, a very talented and tactical player, second place was awarded to his opponent Eric Barnes.
Will there be a fundraiser next year? While we are still a full year away from knowing any specific details, Scotty hopes to work with the Idaho Chess Association, to have a proper tournament, likely with longer time controls, and Swiss pairing. In a statement about the event Scotty said this “It was a truly humbling experience overall. I planned to make this tournament an annual event when I started; however, there was certainly dismay with the pairings and structure of the event. I plan to work with the ICA and find a solution that allows for this event to be known across the area. A fundraiser so big, people will travel miles away to play in it. As I learn more about tournaments as well as ways to set up official and rated events, It is my hope that we can use the power of chess to not only bring the community together, but raise awareness and donations for a cause that so many people are impacted by.”