The Story of MECA's International Matches

02.17.21 Maine Chess Association President Michael Dudley recaps the fascinating story of the Maine Chess Association's four international chess matches over the past three months. Since November 2020, MECA has faced off against the Republic of Tuva, a remote Russian republic in Southern Siberia, Bikin, a town in the far-eastern Khabarovsk Krai Region of Russia, and played two matches with the Tromsø Chess Club in Norway.

Renat Oorzhak (left), President of the Republic of Tuva Chess Federation, presenting certificates from the Maine Chess Association commemorating our match. We even made use of the nifty US Chess State Affiliate logo!

Thanks to Maine Chess Association president Michael Dudley for contributing to this report.


If there is a single power in chess, it is the ability to connect people across distances, ages, and identities. In particular, the potential of chess to give common ground to people all over the world has been amplified by technology and put to the test during the global pandemic. While COVID-19 has interrupted over-the-board play, it has laid the groundwork for connecting the State of Maine to players we might otherwise never have seen.

During this downturn, players from the Maine Chess Association have had the opportunity to experience international friendly match play with players from the Tromsø Chess Club of Norway, and the Republic of Tuva and the town of Bikin in Far Eastern Russia. Thanks to the incredible organizing work of Dr. Pavel Sulyandziga, who serves as President of the International Development Fund of Indigenous Peoples in Russia (BATANI) Foundation, Maine players were able to participate in these friendlies over and throughout the autumn and winter seasons of 2020 and 2021.

Pavel's work in organizing these matches come from his unique international connections. He works as an advocate for the rights of Indigenous peoples all over the world, and his history of work on behalf of Indigenous people spans over two decades. His travels have brought him around the world and back. It is sufficient to say that his offer to organize an international match on our behalf with chess players from the Republic of Tuva, a Russian federal subject on the border with China, took me by surprise. In a flurry of emails and organizing, Pavel had organized an international match with 15 boards due to take place on the evening of November 21, 2020. Also to my surprise was a logistical twist: I would provide certificates commemorating the match and send them to our friendly competitors. I was the last to know!

The Tuva match was bifurcated into two: a match for adult players and a match for scholastic players. Three matches followed: a match with a chess club from Bikin (500 kilometers north of Vladivostok), and two matches with the Tromsø Chess Club.


Maine 11 - Tuva 19
November 19, 2020
Match Link

This match found the power Tuva team overpowering Maine with some strong performances, sweeping results on 5 of 15 boards in the match. However, a few Maine chess members featured some strong games.

Artysh Chuldum (Tuva) - FM Jarod Bryan (Maine): 0-1
Mergen Anay-Ool (Tuva) - Stephen Morse (Maine): 0-1

After the match, I drafted the certificates I promised (well, the ones Pavel promised, anyway!). After a couple of months, I was delighted to see that the certificates had made their way across the world to the Republic of Tuva!


Maine 22 - Tromsø 18
November 29, 2020

Writeup of the match on
Writeup of the match on Tromsø Sjakklubb (Norwegian)

Our first match with the Tromsø Chess Club ended in a 22-18 victory. You are doing the math right: this match attracted 20 players over the platform, with each board arranged through individual challenges. The logistics involved in executing this match are surreal to think about, but it went smoothly. I'll let the writeups speak for themselves; here are a couple of games from our Maine players.

Jan Berglund (Tromsø) - Aaron Spencer (Maine) - 0-1
Ruben Babayan (Maine) - Inge Simonsen (Tromsø) - 1-0


Maine 4.5 - Bikin 5.5
December 5, 2020
Match Link

A smaller affair, this match was won narrowly by the club from Bikin. I thought this might be the last international match we might have for a while, but I was excited nonetheless for any chess we could play, as COVID was worsening rapidly.

Bik Goskov (Bikin) - Ruben Babayan (Maine) - 0-1


Maine 12 - Tromsø 24
January 31, 2021
Writeup of the match on

Writeup of the match on Tromsø Sjakklubb (Norwegian)

Certificate to Boris Spassky
Certificate to Boris Spassky in English
Boris' return message

Happy birthday to Grandmaster Boris Spassky! In honor of the Tenth World Champion's 84th birthday, the Maine and Tromsø contingents got together for one more match. Pavel told our group that, if we won a second time, the Tromsø group would have to enlist Magnus Carlsen himself to lead their group for a second rematch. The pressure was on!

The Tromsø club brought a tough A-game and defeated us, 24-12. No Magnus Carlsen! Regardless, the match logistics were just as impressive as the previous match. The best part of all for me, as a state president, was to join in other chess leaders around the world in affixing a digital signature and logo of our state affiliate to a certificate of dedication to Boris Spassky. In return, he reached out to all of us thanking us for the dedication of the match in honor of his special day. It was an honor for me to represent my state association to others around the world in this way.

GM Benjamin Notkevich (Tromsø) - Wyatt Hendrix (Maine) - ½ - ½
Evsuld Myagmarsuren (Tromsø) - Benjamin Mock (Maine) - 0-1


It is amazing to see the talented individuals that exist within our ranks at the Maine Chess Association. Our members are capable professionals and students of every stripe: computer programmers, teachers, engineers, doctors, and others. In addition to our organizing work for chess, we empower our members to connect our players to others through these chess experiences. My sincere thanks go out to Pavel Sulyandziga, and to all our players for being chess ambassadors for the Maine Chess Association. This experience is just one example of what we can do with our game at the state level, even without boards and sets in front of us. We hope this will inspire all of you to seek out the same connections, no matter where they might exist on the Earth.

Submitted to the US Chess States Bulletin
Michael Dudley
President, Maine Chess Association
16 February 2021


Very nice!

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