It isn’t the first time that people have confused Idaho with Iowa, but it would be the first time that Iowa State Chess Association would be confused with the Idaho State Association! ISCA President Eric Vigil connected ICA President Adam Porth with Grandmaster Timur Gareyev this past month. The new Blindfold World Record holder, GM Timur Gareyev, was excited to accept the invitation to instruct, demonstrate, and exhibit in Idaho. Especially, since the Perrine Bridge is in Twin Falls where base jumping is available with very few restrictions and Timur could organize with jumpers for a future visit. This trip would feature chess in Boise, Sun Valley, and Twin Falls and was paid for by the BCSD Chess Club.
On Thursday, May 18, ICA Website Coordinator, Desmond Porth picked up GM Timur at the Boise airport. Their first stop was Memorial Park where 18 players were able to play their first blindfold chess games using techniques described by GM Timur. The Memorial Park in Boise houses under-used chess tables and the venue proved to be a winner with chess and nature - despite the chilly weather. David Lucky, Idaho’s Champion and top player, received GM Timur at the park and looks forward to another meeting in the near future.
Two and a half hours later, GM Timur was reunited with President Adam Porth at his house in Bellevue. The previous week, Timur trained the BCSD Chess Club Middle School chess team while attending Supernationals. The Porth household is a virtual zoo with Timur also greeting each dog, cat, chicken, “skinny” pig, canary, snake, and rabbit with giddy petting and hugs. Timur is enamored with nature and Idaho is the perfect place for integrating chess with it. Timur was able to visit the Sun Valley ski area, Galena Summit, Muldune Canyon, the Big Wood River, Carbonate Mountain, and other places where chess boards were whipped out for quick games between “ohs and ahs” and camera clicks. Timur even discovered Bear Tracks!
A day with Silver Creek High School
On Friday, GM Timur visited the first Big Picture Learning school in Idaho, Silver Creek High School. GM Timur participated in a socratic discussion about Geography and shared knowledge of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. During this question and answer time, GM Timur interjected and modeled his memory techniques. “[He] really got the kids to begin visualizing,” said Science Teacher, Adam Porth. Beginner chess players listened carefully to his instruction and stories. Dartanyon Ratcliffe put on his teaching hat while Timur donned his student hat and Dartanyon taught a lesson using ASL Sign Language. Sign language chess- that’s new! The day progressed with chess puzzles, endgames, visualizing moves, and Paul Morphy vs. Alonzo Morphy analysis. SCHS students then brought GM Timur up a mountain to a defunct cistern and contributed to the graffiti, albeit, chess quotes and chess art!
Students were engaged the entire weekend. One student designed a vegan diet and a brain-healthy menu for his weekend stay. This helped her earn credit in her health and science courses. Another student explored the physiology of Timur by evaluating heart rate, body temperature, and respiration using a data logger while playing his blindfold simul. Principal Mike Glenn indicated, “Having Timur here was an amazing experience for our school and our students. He taught students how to look at things differently - how to think. Timur’s lifestyle was motivational,” he continued, “fitness, diet, habits, and an active lifestyle was inspirational for our students.” He showed that chess offers more than entertainment or “wood-pushing.” Silver Creek High School is for alternative learners and at-risk youths in Blaine County (i.e., teen moms, homeless teens, delinquency, drug issues, PTSD, stressed teens, etc.). Chess programs and celebrities visiting schools like this are important for students.
After school Timur continued to teach endgame lessons to the BCSD Chess Club. He then jogged all the players to a downtown yoga studio (IdaYoga) and convinced all to attend dinner at Globus Asian-fusion restaurant in Ketchum. When I arrived to pick Timur and everyone up for dinner, they were all doing headstands in someone’s yard near the Yoga Hut! After dinner, chess continued on Galena Summit during the sunset overlooking the Sawtooth Mountains.