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Vandenberg Airman storms Air Force chess tourney

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Call it a comeback. Call it comeuppance. Call it checkmate.

Call it what you will, but Tech. Sgt. Nathaniel Ola defeated Lt. Col. Douglass Taffinder and called it victory at the 2007 Air Force chess tournament held May 11 at Davis Monthan AFB, Ariz.

Sergeant Ola, a missile warning duty officer assigned to the 614th Space Operations Squadron, is now one of six headed for the Inter-Service Tourney in San Diego.

Sergeant Ola will once again take on Soldiers, Marines and Sailors in the Inter-Service Tourney, after placing first in the Air Force in 2005 and second in 2006.

He lead the 2007 tournament with three trophies; one for placing in the top six, one for taking the tournament, and one for a side event called a Blitz tournament.

During the Blitz tournament, each participant played 26 games with five minutes to complete each game. Sergeant Ola took third place.

Sergeant Ola started taking the game of chess seriously in 1997 when he joined the military. 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.

He 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, and it also teaches a lot about teamwork."

For more information about the AF Chess Program, go to www.afsv.af.mil/FMP/communityprogramsdotcom/chess.htm