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Vandenberg Airman to compete in NATO Chess Championship

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A Vandenberg Airman will tap his inner Bobby Fischer when he represents the United States at the NATO Chess Championship in Hammelberg, German, June 15-20. 

After placing in Air Force Space Command-, Air Force- and interservice-level chess tournaments, Tech. Sgt. Nate Ola, who works at the 614th Air and Space Operations Center here, will join five other servicemembers from the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps in the competition. 

"This year is my third time representing our country," said Sergeant Ola, who was selected for the NATO tournament in Denmark in 2003 and Turkey in 2007. "It feels great. Now, I can say that I can actually play."

U.S. team members will face off against military chess players from NATO ally countries such as Turkey, the Netherlands, Italy, the U.K. and Slovenia. Sergeant Ola will compete in both regular and blitz tournaments; a blitz match has a time limit of five minutes.

In order to checkmate his competitors, the toughest of which he said is Germany, Sergeant Ola practices one hour a day with five to ten blitz matches or lightning matches (which last one minute). That dedication has paid off as the Anchorage, Alaska, native has won or placed high in military chess tournaments since he first started competing in 2003.

For more information on the NATO Chess Championship, go to www.natochess.com.