A Tribute to Dr. Tony Palmer

by the West Michigan Chess Community

Posted by the HollandChess.Com Facebook Page

From Hollandchess.com Facebook Page

It is with heartfelt sorrow, that we have to announce the passing of our beloved Coach Dr. Tony, who passed away on Saturday August 22, 2020, in St. Joseph, Michigan. He touched a lot of young and old chess players through his love of chess. Funeral arrangements will be posted this week.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time.

Coach Mark

A Tribute from Michael Brooks

I was saddened by the news of Dr. Tony Palmer’s death. I knew of him better than I knew him personally. But that didn’t limit me from understanding the impact he has had on this community. I was able to attend a few tournaments he was playing at and enjoy some conversations together. I was able to see his skill and tenacity over-the-board in those events. But even better, I was able to see him at his yearly Holland Junior Open. This is where I saw just a glimpse of the impact he had on the West Michigan Chess Community.

The best way to get to know Dr. Palmer was when he was in his element at the Holland Chess Scholastic Program. This and his different individual efforts for players involved in the program is where Dr. Palmer’s incredible impact truly shown through. You could tell everyone respected him and enjoyed him immensely. He was dedicated to Holland Chess and to making it the premiere scholastic program in the region. For years, that dedication and vision was a reality.

In my conversations with Dr. Palmer and in my conversations with others regarding him I always heard about how helpful, polite, kind, and consistent he was. Holland Chess and Dr. Palmer were synonymous with each other. I did not know him well personally but truly felt–that in my years since becoming part of the West Michigan Chess community–that Dr. Palmer was a man of great reputation and held in high regard.

He will be truly missed by our community because of his impact on people. That is what truly makes a difference in this world and Dr. Palmer centered his impact on kids from West Michigan. Dr. Palmer’s impact goes beyond chess and for that we are truly thankful.”

A Tribute from FM Joshua Posthuma

Today I received the heartbreaking news that my childhood chess coach, Tony Palmer, has passed away.

I would not be where I am today without Tony’s tremendous generosity and support. For years, he would meet with me every single week to teach me about chess. We would play two games every week, and with him being a chess expert, he would beat me every single game. But from every crushing defeat, I learned a little bit more about how to play chess like Tony. After years of learning and practicing with him, I finally beat him in a game. I don’t know that any other win I’ve had could compare with the joy I felt in that moment.

Tony also drove over an hour every Saturday morning, even through the treacherous Michigan Winters, to teach chess to dozens of kids at the Holland Chess Academy. He helped transform Holland Chess from a casual club for beginners, to the strongest scholastic chess program in West Michigan.

Tony did all this work for the chess community never asking for anything in return. He taught me and the Holland Chess Academy for all these years at no charge, simply out of the goodness of his heart. For the countless hours he invested into me and the other students at Holland Chess, I am forever grateful.

Now, as the Michigan State Champion and a chess coach myself, I can only hope to selflessly pour into future generations the same way Tony did for me. Rest in peace Tony Palmer. The tremendous impact you’ve had on my life and the lives of so many others will never be forgotten.

A Tribute from Dr. Tim McGrew

I learned just this morning that my friend Tony Palmer has passed away.

I knew Tony through our mutual love of chess. For many years now he has coached some of the strongest Michigan juniors, including current Michigan champion Joshua Posthuma, often driving hours from his home in the southwest corner of the state just to give a weekly lesson or put in hours of coaching. He transformed the Holland Chess Academy from a minor club into a powerhouse that fielded some of the strongest scholastic teams in Michigan, bringing home numerous trophies.

Tony was a USCF Expert, a regular participant at Michigan tournaments, and a frequent contributor to state chess magazines. His opening preparation was particularly deep and thorough, and he would sometimes co-author articles with his students in which they would untangle the mysteries of a particular variation and lay them all out very cleanly. I recall watching some of his games and seeing all of that preparation pay off as his opponents would try some quirky sideline only to find that Tony had analyzed it all and could reel off a whole string of theoretical moves leading to a solid plus — and generally a solid win.

Two of my daughters crossed swords with Tony in tournament play. Win or lose, Tony was a consummate gentleman, always ready for a postmortem analysis session, never gloating in victory or making excuses in defeat. He had a dry and sometimes wry sense of humor which he was as ready to apply to himself as to others. But what I remember most from those sessions was his gentleness.

Tony Palmer was a strong player, a gifted teacher, and a generous friend to everyone who was fortunate enough to know him. May he rest in peace.

Notable Accomplishments:

These accomplishments do not define the person that Dr. Palmer was but show his ability and talents on the board. The first accomplishment mentioned is the one most of us will remember him for despite strong local accomplishments.

  • Led the Holland Chess Academy for many years and designed a program uniquely geared toward serious and excelling students. Many talented students came out of this program. Star student FM Joshua Posthuma was mentored and taught by Dr. Palmer through that program.
  • Tied for 2nd Overall in the 2009 Michigan Open, Top Section
  • Tied for 3rd Overall in the 2016 Michigan Open, Top Section
  • Winner of Calvin Memorial Day Tournament, 2017
  • Tied for 2nd Overall at the 2018 Grand Rapids Spring Classic
  • Tied for 3rd in the 2018 Michigan Master/Expert and Class Championship
  • 2018 Spencer St. Chess Club Blitz Champion
  • 2018 West Michigan Champion
  • Tied for 3rd in the 2018 Michigan Open

Five Ways to Improve Your Chess Right Now

There is a lot going on in the world right now and maybe because of the stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines you have some extra time on your hands. It does not look like May will be too much different for many here in Michigan even if the stay-home order is revoked.

I have been taking advantage of the time during this quarantine and diving deep into my chess study. Because of this I have found some truly beneficial practices that have helped me and I thought I would pass those along to you. Here are five ways you can improve your chess during quarantine.

#1 – Tactics, tactics, tactics!

The famous saying goes that chess is 99% tactics. This saying is too true! For any player of any level tactics training should be a part of your chess improvement plan. You can be very strong in endgames, prepared in the opening, and have a solid understanding of middlegame planning and positional play. But, if you are much weaker tactically you will always be held back.

During quarantine I have dedicated myself to study tactics every day. I use the new Tactics Frenzy app which is a really well done tactics application for phones. Chess Tempo is my favorite desktop trainer. But, chess.com has nice puzzles and with a little money you can use their other tactics training tools like Puzzle Rush. Books are good too if you are just starting out your tactics study where you can study tactics by theme. (pins, forks, kingside mates, mate-in-one, mate-in-two, etc). This is a great way to start improving! The quicker you grow your patterns library in your mind the stronger and faster you will play while also avoiding mistakes!

#2 – Play a Mixture of Time Controls Online

Too often you can get stuck playing one time control, quite often blitz. Or, maybe you struggle having any interest in blitz or quick time controls because you are more serious? I think the best way to improve is to mix up what time control you play.

What are the benefits of blitz, rapid, and classical? Blitz gives you a lot of games to practice openings and test you for moments in longer games when you need to outplay your opponent with little time. Rapid allows you to play higher quality games, think a few times, and practice your openings. But, has the added benefit that since your quality is better your post-game analysis matters more. Longer time controls G/30+ would be rarer but are an important way to hone your thinking skills in all phases of the game. Try to get it in some longer games and then do a detailed analysis of them soon afterwards.

#3 – Analyse More of Your Games

One of the best ways to get better is to analyse your own games. Sometimes we forget this because there is so much you can study. But looking at your own games in detail has many benefits.

First–and most obvious–it will reveal your repeated mistakes. This is the most basic way you will improve. Notice the mistakes you make in your games and you will common patterns. Second, you will learn to understand why you did/did not consider a move or idea. This is a great benefit. If there was a better move figure out why it was better and then figure out why you didn’t notice it. Chess is so rich, we all have these kinds of things to work on! Thirdly, the different variations and options in chess often lead to different positions. You can then study and learn from the positions that could have been which will better prepare you for them in the future while also understanding how to get to them.

#4 – Study Classical Chess

Chess through the ages has developed, changed, and grown. How we understand and play chess is different today than it was in the 19th century. But, without the key discoveries and advancements made in the 19th century we would not be where we are today. For most players an understanding of the great masters in the 19th and early 20th century would do a lot for their game.

I have enjoyed Kasparov’s first “My Great Predecessors” volume during quarantine. It has given me such an appreciation for their advancements and skill. With almost no resources they formed the very foundation of our chess understanding. For most players the laying of this foundation is still needed. For that reason, study the classical players. Learn about tempo, key positional ideas, initiative, the value of pieces, basic endgames, the value of the center, material, and more. Yes, many games do not look anything like the way top players play today. But, their games contain so much that we “normal” players can learn from. If you want to improve your chess and understand chess at a deeper level, learn from those that built our game.

#5 – Master More Endgame Positions

Endgames are critical. Understanding how to play them well is a life-long journey but every step you take to familiarize yourself with an endgame is one step closer to big improvement. Learn endgames that take memorization and learn endgames that require understanding. This will grow your understanding of chess as well as your calculation ability. This, sometimes dry study, can truly net you big gains for you. Pick five endgames you think you need to understand better and try to understand them and learn them.

Hopefully these five points resonate with you. What would you add to the list? What have you done to improve? Comment your suggestions! Try to make lemonade out of lemons during this time and improve your chess.

Fischvogt, Eastwood, and Maliepaard Shine at the Inaugural Caledonia Quick Mini Swiss

Report By Henry Rankin

Competitive chess invaded the bonnie lands of Caledonia Michigan on a misty, memorable, and colorful autumn day. A comfortable location in the Library’s community room belied the fighting quality of chess played on Saturday October 26, 2019.

This was the Inaugural Caledonia Quick Mini Swiss organized by the Grand Rapids Chess Center, and the tournament did not disappoint. With 14 players the tournament was a nice size. Thanks to all who turned out to play.

The Top section was stacked with 2 Masters and 2 Candidate Masters based on earned norms. The section was won by Caledonia Michigan native, Eric Fischvogt, scoring 2.5/3.

In the 2nd Rated section, Alex Eastwood went 3-0 to win the section, with Belton Shumpert and Tim De Groot tying for 2nd and 3rd with 2 points each. The unrated section was won by John Malipaard with a perfect score of 3.0., with Dave DeWitt taking second.

USCF cross table will be up soon.

Caledonia Quick Swiss: Rated 1 —   Final Standings

Place Name   Rd1 Rd2 Rd3 Total
1 Fischvogt, Eric   W4 D2 W3 2.5
2-3 Hankinson, Chris   D3 D1 D4 1.5
  Fuller, Bill   D2 W4 L1 1.5
4 Jarosz, Stan   L1 L3 D2 0.5

Caledonia Quick Swiss: Rated 2 —   Final Standings

Place Name   Rd1 Rd2 Rd3 Total
1 Eastwood, Alex   W4 W2 W3 3.0
2-3 Shumpert, Belton   W6 L1 W5 2.0
  De Groot, Timothy   W5 W4 L1 2.0
4 Manning, Dan   L1 L3 W6 1.0
5 Johns, Tinothy   L3 W6 L2 1.0
6 Knapp, Jaden   L2 L5 L4 0.0

Caledonia Quick Swiss: Unrated —   Final Standings

Place Name   Rd1 Rd2 Rd3 Total
1 Maliepaard, John   W3 W2 W4 3.0
2 DeWitt, Dave   L1 W4 L2 2.0
3 Karel, Ethan   L1 W4 L2 1.0
4 Bryant, Tom   L2 L3 L1 0.0