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Chess is a Pathway to Community in Iowa

By Bill Broich, NTD, IA


The Barber/Denker/Rockefeller qualifier tournament was held on February 10, 2024, at the Airport Holiday Inn in Des Moines, Iowa. Two of the three players who will be representing Iowa in the Tournament of Champions later this year in Norfolk, Virginia recently moved to Iowa. Chess served as the introduction to a new community for the families of these new Iowans.


Nadezhda Dabaeva is Iowa’s Rockefeller representative. She attends Southdale School in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and is in fourth grade. Arina Dabaeva is the runner-up for the Barber representative. She also attends Southdale School and is in sixth grade. Arina was defeated in a playoff by another newcomer to Iowa chess, Nehanraj Ramesh. Nehanrai and his family relocated to Iowa from the Seattle, Washington area in October of 2023. He attends Hazel Point Intermediate School and is in sixth grade.


Vadim Dabaev, Mariia Kuklina, and their three children Nadezhda Dabaeva, Arina Dabaeva, and Denis Dabaev moved to Cedar Falls, Iowa from Irkutsk, Russia in July of 2023. Vadim graduated from a technical University in Irkutsk, He is an electrical engineer. Currently, he is focused on learning English. Mariia holds a Ph.D. in Economics. She is a postdoctoral scholar in the ARTICenter of Geography department of the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 


The family had an immediate impact on Iowa chess. Mariia and her three children have competed in several Iowa tournaments in addition to events in Missouri and Illinois. They played in their first US Chess in August of 2023. Mariia tied with four other players for second place scoring four out of five points in her first tournament, the Iowa RBO Championship. Denis, Arina, and Nadezhda competed in their first US Chess event the same day, the Iowa Reserve Championship. Denis won three of four games and the sisters each won two out of four games. He attends Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, Iowa.


Vadim stated, “We visited and participated in tournaments in various cities such as Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Moline City, Des-Moines, and Keokuk. We met with many people who also participated in chess competitions, this helped us learn English, and study local culture.”


Vadim Dabaev, Nadezhda Dabaeva, Mariia Kuklina, Denis Dabaev, and Arina Dabaeva. Photo by Bill Broich

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