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Thursday, July 19, 2012

World Open Senior Chess Title for 86-Year-Old Clarence Kalenian

Chess blog for latest chess news and chess trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2012

Hi everyone,

It wasn’t long at all after Clarence Kalenian won the U.S. Amateur Chess Championship in 1971 that he decided he wanted to do a little better. Forty-one years later he boarded a Greyhound bus in Dothan bound for Philadelphia and the World Senior Open Amateur Chess Championships! This is the nice profile in DothanEagle.

Clarence Kalenian
At 86, Kalenian doesn’t move around as quickly as he once did, and he says his mind doesn’t move as fast either. His opponents, however, may disagree.

He endured the eternal bus ride — made even longer when the stern drive r stopped prior to Charlotte to deal with three unruly passengers and caused Kalenian to stay overnight after missing his connecting bus.

When he finally arrived, 38 senior chess whizzes — some 35 years younger — were waiting.

If the bus trip took a toll physically, it didn’t mentally. Kalenian finished the event tied for first place and earned the title of World Open Senior Chess Champion.

Then he boarded another bus and came home to Dothan.

“I had been wanting for a long time to do a little better than the U.S. Amateur Championship,” Kalenian said. “Now I’m a world champion, or I guess co-champion. Now I suppose all I can do better is win it outright.”

Kalenian grew up in Chicago, the son of a checker expert. A high school friend introduced him to chess.

“For three years, my friend was the high school chess champion. The last year, I was the high school chess champion,” Kalenian said.

After that, Kalenian left with a chess trophy just about everywhere he landed. He spent a few years in the U.S. Navy, winning chess — and checkers — tournaments on Midway Island and in Tokyo.

He won championships at the Illinois Institute of Technology and went on to win the Miami Amateur Chess Championship and Florida Chess Championship in 1950. Until recently, his crowning achievement was the U.S. Amateur title in 1971.

He is also a member of the Philadelphia Chess Hall of Fame.

Kalenian said he based much of his chess philosophy on the book “Chess the Easy Way” by Reuben Fine, an international chess grandmaster who flourished in the 1930s and 1940s.

Kalenian won three matches and tied three others in Philadelphia, earning him 4 ½ points and a tie with five others for the championship. He took home $166.67.

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