The History of Surf & Chess

patSurf n’ Chess Club started way back in 1990 by The Original Big Kahuna, Patrick Neely, a guy who loved many things. He loved kids, loved surfing, playing chess, and hanging out and talking with kids. Therefore, he decided to start a club where he and kids could come after school and have fun. Over the years, there were many exceptional kids who passed through the club and left their mark. We continue to thrive today by helping young kahunas ALL over Arizona, helping the next generation by teaching them such an incredible game that will enrich their lives. Although the Original Big Kahuna is retired, Surf & Chess is carried on by the New Big Kahuna, Javier Vidana.

There are many more Surf n’ Chess kids and champions who have grown up to become people of whom we are all proud. The winners, whose names appear on the trophy, shared that common bond of loving a good game of chess, playing by the rules and were willing to work hard for something they really wanted. They had their doubts, just like all of us, but they also had that great quality of determination and belief that they, like the “Little Engine that Could”, could do it if they just pushed a little harder. And in the end, they caught that huge wave and rode it all the way into shore, into the Glory and into the record books of the Surf n’ Chess Club.

More History…

Actually, the Surf n’ Chess Club probably started 20 years before when the Big Kahuna taught two very young boys, Tim and Tom Hogan how to surf. He shared his love of the ocean, riding the waves and traveling the world with those boys. As the boys grew older they totally surpassed their old teacher in tenacity, style and ability. They both went on to shape or make surfboards, you can go on eBay and still buy a Hogan surfboard. (That’s Tim’s logo on the boy’s chest on our t-shirts).

After Tim graduated from college he traveled to Bali to go surfing and it was there that he died as a result of a surfing accident. That is why we have “The Tim Hogan Kahuna Classic” Chess Tournament every year. To remember and celebrate this fine, young, gentle boy who could surf with the best on any day and who always made his mother proud. Tim’s mother, Sandy Hogan, designed our Surf n’ Chess logo (that’s Tim on the board holding the knight). Ms. Hogan is a nationally recognized artist and you can check out her website at, some pretty awesome stuff! Today, his brother Tommy is a teacher in San Clemente, California, still surfing and making surfboards but now teaching his own kids how to surf and play chess.

. . . and so it goes . . . the tide comes in, the tide goes out and the Circle of Life remains unbroken . . .