Vandenberg Airman checkmates inter-service competition

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Do you know what it feels like to be mentally beaten with 3 inch plastic figurines?

Fortunately for Tech. Sgt. Nathaniel Ola, his opponents in the Department of Defense Inter-Service Chess Tournament were very familiar with that feeling.

Sergeant Ola, a missile warning duty officer assigned to the 614th Space Operations Squadron, placed first in the Inter Service Chess Tournament in June.

This win allows Sergeant Ola to play in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Chess Tournament in Ankara, Turkey scheduled for Sept. 2.

The NATO tournament, will host military members from different countries, including Germany, a potentially formidable foe.

"It is a requirement to serve in the German military," said Sergeant Ola. "This means the best players in the country will be in the military at one point or another."

Sergeant Ola started taking the game of chess seriously in 1997 when he joined the Air Force. He has been a top competitor in each AF tournament since the start of the AF Chess Program in 2002, the only exception being the summer of 2003 when his son was born.

Sergeant Ola credits his success to his aggressive style, which has been known to cause mild cases of depression in his opponents, he said.

"My nickname is 'Shark' because they say I'm bloodthirsty," he said. "I like to force moves and I'm always looking for a fight."

Sergeant Ola also plays with the chess club on base when his work schedule permits. The club meets at 5 p.m. Wednesdays in the base library.

Overall, playing chess has been a great part of being in the Air Force, he said.

"I've done a lot of traveling and met a lot of people playing," he said. "It's been a great way to build friendships."

For more information about the AF Chess Program click here.