Chris McCleary

Executive Director of the U.S. Chess Center

International Chess Day: July 20th

July 20th is International Chess Day, the day the International Chess Federation (FIDE) was founded, in 1924. First proposed by UNESCO in 1966, International Chess Day has been celebrated annually ever since, and on December 12, 2019, the UN General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution also recognizing the day.

How are you celebrating International Chess Day?  Send us a picture of you and/or your student(s) playing chess; or share an anecdote about learning or playing chess; or how it has made an impact in your life; and we’ll feature your pictures/stories right here on our blog, Notate.  Email your photo or story to: admin@chessctr.org.

Support the U.S. Chess Center: In honor of International Chess Day, please donate to help us teach students, especially at-risk youth, to play chess in order to improve their academic and social skills.

The U.S. Chess Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and charitable donations, which are tax-deductible to the maximum extent allowed by law, enable us to:

► Keep our fees exceptionally low;
► Provide scholarships/discounts to financially challenged families;
► Offer free or low-cost chess instruction to Title I public schools.

Thank you!

Some Fun Facts About Chess

► Mathematically there are more possible games of chess than there are atoms in the Observable Universe.
► 605 million adults play chess regularly.
► Chess comes from the 6th century Sanskrit game chaturaṅga, which translates to “four arms.” The arms refer to the elephants, horses, chariots, and foot soldiers of the Indian army, which evolved into the modern bishops, knights, rooks, and pawns.
► Although the rule allowing pawns to move two squares on their first move was first proposed in the late 13th century, it was not generally accepted until 1492 when a large group of chess players in Paris also adopted the en passant rule.

Celebrating #InternationalChessDay

Kendrick Smith:  I didn’t come to the game of chess until 2012, when I was thirty-six years old.  I picked up a book by John Nunn entitled, Learn Chess.  My first attempts to play were against friends, whom had been playing since their childhood.  It is inevitable to say that they annihilated me causing me to take an early hiatus. Fast forward to April 2020, the pandemic. To implement social distancing in our office, they broke our team up into a day and a night shift. To keep people engaged and morale up, someone had a bright idea to bring in a chess board, where the night shift would play a move against the day shift. I thought to myself, it would take forever to finish the game. So I brought in a board of my own, and set it up at my desk. When work was slow, my coworkers would stop by to play. I got beat often, but I began to learn. I had read that five was a good age to introduce a child to chess, which was the exact age that my son was. Each day that I came home from work, I showed him a piece and how it moved. I next showed him pawn promotion, En passant, and castling.  Then the following week I showed him how to set up the board. We immediately began playing games. The beautiful thing was that on the days I was teaching Manny about chess, my wife would be at the island in the kitchen, listening and watching. She quickly picked up the game just from our sessions. We would each then take turns playing one another. it was it at this point that I began to enjoy the game of chess. I began watching several movies about chess, i.e., Fresh, The Queen’s Gambit, Critical Thinking, Brooklyn Castle, The Knight’s of the South Bronx, End Game, and Searching for Bobby Fischer. We now play every chance we get. Win, lose, or draw, we love the royal game. As matter of fact, when we’re eating at restaurant’s outdoors, we’ll play games, while waiting on our food. Attached is a picture of my son Manny and I playing at our favorite Ethiopian restaurant, Cher Cher. We plan on having Manny join the chess center this fall.

Ashwin, a Chess Center student, playing chess:

GM Alex Sherzer: Q&A and Simul with our Sunday Chess Class on June 20, 2021

On Sunday, June 20, 2021, friend of the U.S. Chess Center and Grandmaster, Dr. Alexander Sherzer, joined our Sunday Chess class to answer questions and play a simultaneous exhibition (simul) against the students.  Dr. Sherzer talked about his chess experiences, including his friendship with the Polgár sisters and meeting Bobby Fischer.

View the 10 games played in the simul on Lichess at: https://lichess.org/simul/zixkDp4j or below (click the board to view that game on Lichess).

Used Chess Books For Sale

The U.S. Chess Center has over a thousand used chess books for sale, starting at $1.00 and up.  We have been working to inventory our collection and enable online perusal.  Check out the list of books we’ve cataloged for sale so far in this Google Sheet or on our Libib Bookshelf2021-07-16 UPDATE: Peruse and purchase books here: https://chessctr.org/usedbooks/

Email admin@chessctr.org with inquiries or to purchase any books.  Buyer pays shipping or local pick-up is available.  Your purchase helps support the charitable mission of the Chess Center.  Thank you!

Photos & Games from an International Exhibition Match with Lusaka Province Chess Association of Zambia, Saturday, June 12, 2021

The US Chess Center played a match with a team from the Lusaka Province Chess Association (LPCA) in Lusaka, Zambia, on Saturday afternoon (evening in Africa), June 12th.  Each team was supposed to field 12 students, but the Zambian team had a few technical difficulties and only nine were able to participate.  The games were hard-fought, with every player having plenty of opportunities.

Before and after the match, the students went to break-out rooms to meet and learn about each other.  In addition to having common interests in sports and music, the kids from both locations like to play video games and have parents who restrict how much time they may spend online.

The coaches discussed the challenges of attracting and keeping girls involved with chess.  In Zambia, much competition is played among teams and the leagues require that at least one player per six-person team be female.  The coaches have succeeded in educating parents about the long-term value, both cultural and educational, of chess so that their attrition rate is low.

An excellent relationship was established and more matches between the two groups are expected to occur starting this summer. 

Here are some of the games played (Click the board to view the game at Lichess):

USCC - LPCA
LPCA - USCC
USCC - LPCA
LPCA - USCC
USCC - LPCA
LPCA - USCC
USCC - LPCA
LPCA - USCC
USCC - LPCA

Photos & Results from the DC All Girls K-12 Spring Tournament on Saturday, June 5, 2021

Congratulations to Robin Ramson and Chess Girls DC for another successful All Girls Tournament!  It was our pleasure to help with another wonderful event.

Catholic University again hosted the outdoor event, which attracted 13 players.  Anna Miller, among the most active members of Chess Girls DC, swept the four-round event.

Directing the tournament was US Chess Center President David Mehler, assisted by Robert Teachey.  DC Girls Champion Amanda Lossef also helped, analyzing games and teaching first-timers how to record their moves.

Game between Anna (Black) and Shiloh (White), who finished in first and second places, respectively. Click the board to view the game at Lichess.

Photos from Chess for Kids with the Friends of Oxon Run Park on June 2, 2021

On Wednesday, June 2, we partnered with the Friends of Oxon Run Park to offer the first of several free introductory chess lessons for children (and play opportunities for adults) to be held over the summer at the amphitheater in this Washington, D.C. park.  Everyone who participated (and endured the cacophony of cicadas) also received a US Chess Center chess set courtesy of the Friends of Oxon Run Park.  

Keep an eye out for more chess in Oxon Run Park later this summer.

Thank you to Brenda Richardson and the Friends of Oxon Run for hosting this event!  

DC Scholastic All Girls (K-12) Spring Tournament: Saturday, June 5th at 9:30am

This Saturday, June 5, 2021 at 9:30 am ET, the All Girls K-12 Spring Tournament will be held outdoors at Catholic University’s Edward J. Pryzbyla Center (on the patio), weather permitting.  

PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED (walk-ups will not be permitted).  The Fee is $15.00.

Masks will be required at all times during the tournament or you will be asked to leave and will be disqualified. No exceptions. 

For more information, or to register, please visit: https://dcscholasticchess.org/tournaments

2021 Tournament of Champions: DC Representative Invitational Qualifier Series (Denker & Barber) Results

Congratulations to Benjamin Nemelka and Benjamin Tyrrell for earning the right to represent the District of Columbia in the GM Arnold Denker National Tournament of High School State Champions (Denker) and the Dewain Barber National Tournament of Middle School State Champions (Barber).

The qualifying tournaments were held this past Saturday, May 22nd, outdoors on the Catholic University campus. Organized by DC Chess League Scholastic Coordinator Robin Ramson and directed by David Mehler, ten players braved the sunshine and cicadas for a morning of excellent competition.

Mrs. Ramson announced the DC All-Girls tournament will be held at the same location on June 5, and that Amanda Lossef will represent the District in the WIM Ruth Haring National Tournament of Girls State Champions (formerly the National Girls Invitational Tournament).

These are a few of the games played (click the board to view the game at Lichess):

Ben N - Amanda
Amanda - Zach
Shirel - Shiloh

Time forfeit.

Zach - Ben N

Zach was in time trouble and in the scramble lost.

Ben T - Shirel
Ben T - Donovan

Final Team Standings for the Spring 2021 PCSAA Middle School Chess League

Congratulations to DC International School for their victory in the Spring 2021 PCSAA Middle School Chess League.  Saturday, May 15 was the final Match Day (Rounds 13 & 14) and DCI dominated yet again, maintaining the lead they established at the start of the season, and securing victory with 13.5 match points.  DCI almost achieved a perfect record, but BASIS DC, our second place team with 11 match points, fought DCI to a draw in Round 12 last week.

Imagine Hope edged out Howard University for third place, despite both teams having 8 match points.  The decision came down to the tie-breaker of board points (Imagine Hope had 31 to HU-MS²’s 28 board points).

Thank you to all the teams, students, and coaches!  We hope to see all the teams return in the Fall for a new season.

Results after Round 14 (Saturday, May 15, 2021)

WGM Jennifer Yu answers students’ questions and plays a consultation game against our Sunday Chess group

Woman Grandmaster (WGM) Jennifer Yu, the 2019 US Women’s Champion, spent time with our Sunday Chess group on May 16, answering students’ questions and playing a consultation game with them. Jennifer spoke about her training for tournaments, her expectations of playing chess indefinitely but not making it her career, and her passion for doing the best she can.  Watch some of the Q&A here:

After chatting with the students, WGM Yu played a consultation game with them.  In a consultation game, a group (in this case the US Chess Center’s Sunday Chess students) plays collectively, discussing and determining each move together as a team.  

USCC Sunday Chess (White) - WGM Yu (Black)

Nearly three hours later, the match resulted in a draw.  Watch each move in the match on Lichess here: https://lichess.org/kl7LM8LG#1

Thank you to WGM Yu for spending a Sunday afternoon with our students!