The Bashkansky family Chess Travel blog

The Bashkansky family Chess Travel blog: parents Guy and Ludmila with children NM Ethan and WIM Naomi

Monday, December 30, 2013

Hawaii beach chess, surfing, hula dancing

Chess-boxing is passé! Let us introduce chess-surfing, chess-sunbathing and chess-hula-dancing


For a third year in a row, Naomi has qualified to represent the US at the World Youth Chess Championship.  This time it was set in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, on December 17-29, 2013 -- see  And this is “her year”, meaning she would be actually 10 while playing in the Girls Under 10 category -- unlike when she played in that category at the 2012 World Youth in Maribor, Slovenia, while being only 9.

However, after careful consideration we decided not to go.  This was a personal decision, reflecting our specific situation.  The US Chess Federation has shown much support and understanding.  We still followed the online coverage of the championship in Al Ain with much excitement and reports from there were very interesting:

Indulging in Hawaii with Beach Chess

To make a good use of the winter school break, we decided to go to Hawaii.  Unfortunately, Hawaii hardly has 3 USCF-rated tournaments per year, so how does it fit into our chess travel?  Then we learned about Kuhio Beach Chess Park on Waikiki in Honolulu, and that was all the justification we needed.  This fig leaf was just big enough for our desire to have a sunbathing vacation in the middle of a rainy and cold Seattle winter.

December 23-29 is an expensive and crowded time for air travel, especially to popular places like Hawaii.  However, we knew that Allegiant Air and Alaska Airlines have regular flights to Honolulu from Bellingham, WA, which is just 2 hours drive from us.  Finding a reasonably priced vacancy to stay was equally challenging.  We got a family suite in Aston at the Waikiki Banyan during its short online sale.  Good to go now!

Day 1: Waikiki Beach, Chess, Sunset

On the first day after late night arrival, we sunbathed on the beach and dipped in the Pacific.  Ethan played chess with the locals in Kuhio Beach Park.  In the evening we caught the perfect sunset and strolled along Waikiki main drag, Kalakaua Avenue.

Waikiki beach, Honolulu

Chess in Kuhio Beach Park, Waikiki

Day 2: Oahu Viewpoints, Ko Olina Resort

Our local friends took us to viewpoints around Honolulu, then to the western part of Oahu Island, to Ko Olina beach resort.  Every day during our stay in Hawaii, Ethan used every free minute to run to Kuhio Beach Park on Waikiki to play chess with locals.  Which totally justifies including this post in our Chess Travel blog!

View to Diamond Head from Puu Ualakaa park

Day 3: Honolulu Zoo, Hula Dance Show

We explored the nearby zoo in the morning and attended an unforgettable hula dance show on Waikiki beach in the evening.  Click to view the videos, you will not regret it!

Hula dancer

Day 4: Surfing Lessons, Fireworks

We bought semi-private surfing lessons for the kids, just the two of them and an instructor.  They went surfing, giving us a couple of quiet hours on the beach, and a few very cool photos on the surfing boards.  A fireworks show closed the night.

Naomi surfing (telephoto lens from the beach)

Day 5: Art Museum, Iolani Palace

After King Kamehameha united Hawaii at the end of 18 century, the Kingdom of Hawaii quickly evolved into a European-style monarchy.  For most of 19 century they built palaces, received ambassadors and visited other kings and queens of the world.  

King David Kalakaua built Iolani Palace, which we visited right after Hawaii State Art Museum.  This historic full-fledged royal palace is unique in the US, a republic.  From the State Dining Room adorned with European royalty portraits, to the Queen Liliuokalani imprisonment quilt, the palace offers a poignant tale of acculturated native rulers in search of modern identity and their nation’s place in the world during the last quarter of 19 century.

Iolani Palace

Day 6: Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor museums, exhibits and memorial sites provided a perfect ending to our visit to Hawaii.  They encompass the entirety of Pacific War with the Empire of Japan, from the Dec 7, 1941 Attack on Pearl Harbor, remembered at USS Arizona Memorial, through many war exhibits, Pacific Aviation Museum, USS Bowfin submarine all the way to Japan’s surrender documents signing on the deck of USS Missouri.  From the war start to its end.

We decided not to go for an early morning hike on the Diamond Head trail.  Instead, we packed our bags, checked out, and rode to Pearl Harbor in the morning.  This paid off big time as we were able to catch almost last walk-in tickets for USS Arizona Memorial for 2:15pm.  So we explored Pacific War in reverse order: first USS Missouri (Japan surrender, war ends), then Pacific Aviation Museum, next USS Arizona (sunk in Pearl Harbor Attack, war starts), then Road to War Museum, Attack Museum and finally USS Bowfin submarine.  Ethan said: “Good day.  Learned something”.

USS Arizona Memorial: Oil leaks from the sunken battleship, “teardrops” of the fallen

Target finder