Chess In the Park Returns To Eastern Market Metro for 2024

In the wake of the great success of last year’s events, we are happy to announce that the U.S. Chess Center, in cooperation with Barracks Row Main Street, will be returning to Eastern Market Metro to stage two additional Chess in the Park tournaments on June 1 and June 22.  Like last year’s events, these tournaments are free of charge and open to all students in grades 2-8 who understand the rules of tournament chess.

Students may register for one or both Saturday tournaments, and we strongly recommend signing up in advance to reserve a spot.  More information and online registration is available here:

Chantilly Sweeps to Victory in 2023-2024 Metro Area Chess League Playoffs

Chantilly High School dominated the Metro Area Chess League playoffs yesterday. Run as a three-round Swiss System tournament in the beautiful offices of the Institute for Educational Leadership in Washington, DC, the playoffs featured the top eight schools from the regular season.

The final standings in tiebreak order were:
1. Chantilly
2. Langley
3. Jackson-Reed
4. Oakton
5. Montgomery Blair
6. Richard Montgomery
7. Magruder
8. McLean
In an event like this, using tiebreaks makes even less sense than in a regular tournament, so it is better to think that Langley, Jackson-Reed, and Oakton tied for second place, with Blair, Richard Montgomery, and Magruder tying for fifth.

Chantilly won all three of its matches without relying on the tiebreak system designed to eliminate drawn matches. Demonstrating how evenly matched the teams were, five of the twelve matches ended with 2-2 scores, with tiebreak employed to determine the winners.
Twenty-seven schools entered the league this year. Plaques acknowledging regular season performance go to Langley as the top Virginia school, Richard Montgomery as the top Maryland school, and Jackson-Reed as the top District of Columbia school. In addition, BASIS DC won the competition for the top DC Public Charter School, with E.L. Haynes finishing as the runner-up in that category.
The regular season competition was a hybrid of online with in-person matches. The large majority of matches were played online, but a few were played in person. Scheduling the matches was a challenge for the coaches and captains, and during the playoffs the coaches had a meeting to discuss methods to improve that process. Those suggestions, which are designed to improve the communication process among the competing schools, will be implemented for the 2024-2025 season.
Registration for next year’s season will begin in September, with the first matches taking place in November. The 2024-25 regular season is scheduled to end in March 2025.  Learn more at:

DC Girls Open Tournament Is Another Great Success

The DC K-12 Girls’ Open Chess Tournament, held this past Saturday at the Lamond-Riggs/Lillian J. Huff Neighborhood Library in Northeast, drew a big crowd of chess enthusiasts.  Over 30 girls showed up to the competition, some of them experienced chess veterans and some who were brand new to tournament play.   Everybody had a great time.

We take our hats off once again to Chess Girls DC for putting on another fantastic event, and more broadly for all their hard work to promote chess for women and girls these past several years.  We are already looking forward to the next big all-girls’ tournament, the 7th annual DC Girls’ Regional, this coming October.  

Metro Area Chess League Season Enters Final Round

The Metro Area Chess League continued its trend of closely decided matches at the top in Round 7.  Leaders Langley edged their contest against Montgomery Blair by 2.5-1.5, clinching a playoff spot with their seventh win in seven matches.  Behind them, however, there is a very close race, with Chantilly, Jackson-Reed and Oakton currently holding the three remaining playoff spots.  Of those on the outside looking in, Blair and Richard Montgomery both have a serious chance of making the playoffs with a win in their final round matches.  

Check back next week to see who made it in!

Standings After Round 7 of 8

School TeamMatch PointsBoard Points (tiebreaker)
Richard Montgomery519
Montgomery Blair4.518
Arlington Career Center313.5
Don Bosco Cristo Rey313
West Springfield312
St. Anselm’s312
Bishop McNamara312
McKinley Tech311
Georgetown Prep2.59.5
E.L. Haynes1.58
St. Albans1.56
Girls Global Academy14
St. John’s11

Book Review – The Queen of Chess

Judit Polgar is an inspiration to chess players throughout the world. The strongest female player ever, she is outspoken in encouraging girls, women, and children to learn to play chess.

The Queen of Chess was written by Laurie Wallmark and illustrated by Stevie Lewis.  Written and illustrated for children, this book avoids the problems many books about chess have faced. Polgar’s story needs no embellishment. She became an international chess sensation by the time she was nine years old, and during her career she defeated 11 World Chess Champions, including Garry Kasparov and Magnus Carlsen when each was ranked the best in the world.

The book takes its readers through her history, starting when she learned the rules of the game at age five. Children will be able to relate to her path and should find inspiration from the success that came from her dedication and hard work.

Appropriately, the book avoids all mention of controversies. There is no mention of the game she lost to Kasparov that was marred by his violation of the touch move rule. Later, Polgar beat him after he had suggested that she was a “circus puppet” and that women should stick to having children instead of playing competitive chess. Polgar faced discrimination both because she is a woman and because she is Jewish. That she overcame irrational prejudice in a game of logic and skill makes her journey more impressive, but it was good judgment to avoid those subjects in a book for children.

Polgar has written her own series of instructional chess books for children. Chess Playground, illustrated by her sister International Master Sofia Polgar, is in use in schools in her native Hungary and in China.

The Queen of Chess offers a few basics about the game and provides a puzzle that comes from a game Judit won at age nine. The book is not designed to teach chess but provides a wonderful introduction to one of the heroes of chess. Published by Little Bee Books, this book is a suitable gift for students in the primary grades (kindergarten through third grade).

Cover photograph courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

Potomac Youth Chess League Concludes Its 2024 Season

The revived Potomac Youth Chess League has wrapped up its first season back in action.  A previous iteration of the league ran from 1997 to 2010.  The format and structure were similar to the PCSAA Chess League that we ran for charter schools the past three years; this year, that competition was merged and enlarged to be open to all middle schools in the greater Washington area.

Matches consisted of four-player teams from each participating school, and were played online during Saturday afternoons on  Eight schools took part this year, and matches began on January 6 and concluded on March 23.  Congratulations to league first-timers Capital Village PCS, whose team came out on top of a close race to take the title ahead of DCI.  

Final standings below:

SchoolMatch PointsBoard Points (tiebreaker)
Capital Village533.5
Washington Latin331
Two Rivers2.517
Ingenuity Prep219.5
Capital City PCS00

We hope to continue to grow the league next year.  If you are interested in having your middle school participate, please send an email to

Summer 2024 Chess Day Camps – Registration Now Open

REGISTER NOW for Summer 2024 Chess Day Camps

Since 1992, we have been providing challenging instruction and making chess fun for students.  Our nationally certified chess teachers are experienced with all levels of ability.  Camp will be challenging and interesting for all and our focus is on improving chess skills through practice and lessons.  The teachers place more emphasis on learning than on winning.  Good sportsmanship is the key to having fun.

Thousands of students have participated in our camps, with many enjoying camp so much that they return year after year and dozens continue to play at a master level.  Our students have won more than a dozen national championships, hundreds have earned academic college scholarships, and more than 20 have become national masters. 

Our summer chess day camps consist of chess instruction and play, as well as recreational activities.  Camps start at 9:00 am ET and end at 3:00 pm ET.  Aftercare (until 5:00 pm ET) is available for an added fee.  Campers need to bring/pack a bag lunch each day. 

There will be about one teacher per ten students and enrollment is usually capped at 32 campers total for each week. Depending on the week and camp location (see below) students rising into grades 2-7 or rising into grades 3-9 are welcome.  

Camp Week #1:  June 24-28, 2024
     White Oaks Elementary School in Burke, VA (Map)
     Rising Grades 2-7 (Beginners to Intermediate)
     REGISTER HERE for Camp Week #1 

Camp Week #2:  July 1-5, 2024 [No Camp on July 4th]
     Location TBD (in Montgomery County, MD)
     Rising Grades 2-7 (Beginners to Intermediate)
     More details and registration available the first week of May 2024.

Camp Week #3:  July 8-12, 2024
     Churchill Road Elementary School in McLean, VA (Map)
     Rising Grades 2-7 (Beginners to Intermediate)
     REGISTER HERE for Camp Week #3

Camp Week #4:  July 15-19, 2024
     Churchill Road Elementary School in McLean, VA (Map)
     Rising Grades 3-9 (Intermediate to Advanced)
     REGISTER HERE for Camp Week #4

Camp Week #5:  July 22-26, 2024
     Colvin Run Elementary School in Vienna, VA (Map)
     Rising Grades 2-7 (Beginners to Intermediate)
     REGISTER HERE for Camp Week #5

Camp Week #6:  July 29-August 2, 2024
     Colvin Run Elementary School in Vienna, VA (Map)
     Rising Grades 3-9 (Intermediate to Advanced)
     REGISTER HERE for Camp Week #6

Camp Week #7:  August 5-9, 2024
     Alpha STEM for the Gifted in Oakton, VA (Map)
     Rising Grades 3-9 (Intermediate to Advanced)
     REGISTER HERE for Camp Week #7

For more information about our summer chess day camps, call us at 202-857-4922 or email

Chess champion, David Sherman, will play a simultaneous exhibition at the Day of the Book Festival on Sunday, April 21 in Kensington, MD

The 17th Kensington Day of the Book Festival will be on Sunday, April 21. We will be there to play chess with anyone who wants to join us.

In addition to the chess tent, there will be live music, authors reading from their books and engaging in discussions, children’s programs, cookbook demos (and quite a variety of food vendors), poetry readings, and booksellers.

For many years, Allan Savage performed a simultaneous chess exhibition at the festival. Allan, a friend of the Center, passed away unexpectedly during the pandemic, and the Center has picked up the torch.

David Sherman, a former Maryland and DC Champion who used to teach chess with us, volunteered last year and again this year to continue Mr. Savage’s tradition.

Looking for Chess Books? The U.S. Chess Center also has over a thousand used chess books for sale, starting at $1.00 and up and your purchase helps support the charitable mission of the Chess Center.  Peruse our inventory of used chess books at

Photos from Whittier Elementary’s March Chess Tournament

Whittier Elementary School in northwest DC recently completed their March school chess tournament! Thanks to the generosity of Mr. Eddie Koen, 22 students attended, with nine winning trophies. The U.S. Chess Center assisted Mr. Koen in directing the event.

The Saturday morning event was held in the school gymnasium, using the cafeteria for parents and overflow. Mr. Koen welcomed the competitors, he and I discussed the value of chess in encouraging healthy competition and good sportsmanship, and play began.

The tournament had students play the Pawn Game at the beginning, the way we teach students the basics of chess, then proceed to the full game of chess. Prizes were awarded for both overall winners in the full chess and Pawn Game sections, as well as the top performing student 2nd grade and below in both groups. Not all the students were in the school’s chess club; however, the chess club almost swept the trophy winners. Excellent performance by all students who showed up!

Trophy Winners

Pawns Tournament, Top Finishers 2nd Grade and Under:
1st Place: Kennedy
2nd Place: Joaquin
3rd Place: Maxwell

Pawns Tournament, Overall Winners:
1st Place: Markan
2nd Place: Tanoor
3rd Place: Jake

Full Game Tournament, Top Finishers 2nd Grade and Under:
1st Place: Kennedy
2nd Place: Maxwell
3rd Place: Triston

Full Game Tournament, Overall Winners:
1st Place: Grayson
2nd Place: Heran
3rd Place: Jake

Judit and Sofia Polgar Played a Simul in the German Bundestag to Honor Israeli Hostages

We try to inculcate our motto of Friendship, Courage, Integrity to all our students. We see examples of these traits in many strong chess players, although, regrettably, not all.

The best female player ever, Judit Polgar, with the active participation of her sister, International Master Sofia Polgar, recently performed a simultaneous exhibition in the German Parliament in Berlin to honor the hostages taken from Israel into Gaza. The exhibition strengthened the ties of friendship between Germany and Israel, while allowing 40 chess players the opportunity to face the Polgar sisters, who are retired from active competitive play.


The simul in the German Bundestag on March 14

With anti-Israel sentiment running high in many places, it took considerable courage to speak out for the hostages. Judit is a chess player of unquestioned integrity. Despite facing discrimination as a young player, which deprived her as a teenager of opportunities to compete for the World Chess Championship and to represent her country of Hungary in the Olympiad (she was offered, but declined, the chance to play in the Women’s Division of each), she steadfastly worked to become the strongest female player ever.

In rising to the top of the chess world, Polgar defeated 11 current or past World Champions including Magnus Carlsen and Garry Kasparov when they were each ranked #1. She broke Bobby Fischer’s record of becoming the youngest grandmaster ever and did so before the changes in the system that allowed the rank of grandmaster to become more common. She is the only woman ever to be ranked among the top ten players in the world.

When she speaks on an issue, the world listens. Now, she speaks on the topic of hostages. As she recently said, “Speaking up for hostages is not political. It is humanitarian. The world of sports is asking all athletes to heed the call to protect the safety and security of all hostages.”

The exhibition was staged by Chess4Solidarity, a collaboration between Germany and Israel.

Judit and Sofia Polgar, pictured in 1988

Elementary Team League 2023-24 Matchday 7 Results

Yesterday at St. Luke’s we brought the curtain down on the Metro Area Chess League for the season, with students from eleven of our clubs turning out to represent their school teams.  In what was a close race all year to the finish, Spring Hill held on to first place in the final standings by ten points over Churchill Road, with White Oaks, Poplar Tree and Kent Gardens all close behind them.

However, while everyone competes hard to win, the results are of secondary importance when compared with the experience and confidence the students gain when representing their schools in a competitive setting.  We’re happy to see several of our students from the League go on to take part in competitions like the state championships — held this past weekend — and the Nationals, coming up next month.


Round 13:
Kent Gardens 3-1 Colvin Run
Willow Springs 3-1 Ravensworth
Spring Hill 4-0 Oakton
Greenbriar West 2-2 Lorton Station
Orange Hunt 0-4 Poplar Tree
White Oaks 2-2 Churchill Road
Round 14:
Poplar Tree 3-1 Greenbriar West
Colvin Run 2.5-1.5 Willow Springs
Churchill Road 2-2 Spring Hill
Lorton Station 1-3 Kent Gardens
Oakton 1-0 Orange Hunt
Ravensworth 0-4 White Oaks
Final Standings after Matchday 7 of 7:
Spring Hill 178
Churchill Road 168
White Oaks 164
Poplar Tree 157
Kent Gardens 154
Willow Springs 130
Colvin Run 122
Greenbriar West 115
Orange Hunt 79 
Oakton 52
Ravensworth 50
Lorton Station 36

Spring is the Season for Tournaments

Spring is the season for major scholastic tournaments. In the District of Columbia, the K-5 Championships were held this past Saturday and the Grades 6-8, and 9-12 Championships will be held this weekend. In Virginia, all of the scholastic championships were held this past weekend.

We were very glad to see so many U.S. Chess Center students participating in both. Kids from Burroughs Elementary, our Capitol Hill Children’s Chess Club, and our group at Cleveland Park Public Library all came (with JoJo from the library group winning with a 4-0 score and earning the right to represent the District of Columbia at the Rockefeller Tournament of Champions).

The Virginia State Championships were held in Roanoke this year – not an easy drive for our northern Virginia students. Dozens of students made the trek anyway and were rewarded with great competition.

The students renewed friendships and had a wonderful time, despite the cold and windy conditions outside. Playing chess is a wonderful way to make and keep friendships.

The U.S. Chess Center congratulates the students and thanks the parents from Churchill Road, Colvin Run, Greenbriar West, Kent Gardens, Poplar Tree, and Spring Hill for going. While we believe that playing is more important than winning, we should note that students from every school where we run the club brought home at least one trophy.

Tight Playoff Race Developing in the Metro Area Chess League

This year has been the most competitive Metro Area Chess League since we brought the competition back in 2021.  Two dozen public, private and charter schools from the District of Columbia, Maryland and Northern Virginia are matching wits to try to earn one of the available four playoff berths at the end of the spring.

Three-quarters of the way through the regular season, Langley High School (McLean, VA) have separated themselves from the chasing pack, having won all 6 of their matches and scoring 20.5 out of a possible 24 board points.  League newcomers Chantilly High School (Chantilly, VA) have been their closest competition with 5 match points out of 6 — their only loss coming against Langley in a close 1.5-2.5 decision in Round 4.

Behind them, MACL debutants Jackson-Reed High School from northwest D.C. and two-time defending champions Montgomery Blair High School from Silver Spring, MD are tied on 4.5 match points and would get the final two playoff spots if the season ended right now.  But with Oakton, Richard Montgomery and Magruder all in close contention just outside the top four, we expect a close race to the finish.

Standings After Round 6 of 8

School TeamMatch PointsBoard Points (tiebreaker)
Montgomery Blair4.516.5
Richard Montgomery415.5
Don Bosco Cristo Rey313
Arlington Career Center312.5
St. Anselm’s312
West Springfield312
McKinley Tech311
Bishop McNamara2.510
Georgetown Prep2.59.5
E.L. Haynes1.58
St. Albans1.56
Girls Global Academy14
St. John’s11

U.S. Chess Center students recently played in the World Amateur Team Chess Championship in New Jersey

Two teams associated with the U.S. Chess Center played in the World Amateur Team Chess Championship in New Jersey over the weekend, and both returned with impressive awards. The Spring Hill Elementary team was the top elementary school team, and our team from the Theophilus Thompson Club was the top team with an average rating of under 1900. Congratulations to our students!

The World Amateur Team Championship, which was the US Amateur Team Championship when I was competing, was one of my two favorite tournaments (along with the U.S. Open) each year. Instead of scoring wins and losses as individuals, scores are based on the team results. Each team is four players, and they line up against the four players of another team. If a team scores more than two points (one point per win, a half-point for a draw) they score a win. With two points, a team draws that match.

Teams often decide on clever names, and the tournament offers special prizes for creative names. My favorite came from a group of women from the DC area about forty years ago. They dressed in nuns’ habits and called themselves Our Lady of Perpetual Check.

The team format relieves a lot of the pressure ordinarily experienced in chess tournaments, making the event more relaxed and fun. As a player in a team competition, if I lost my game but the team won, I could be happy. If I won my game and the team lost, I could still be satisfied that I did the best I could for the team. If I won and the team won, that was best of all. When I lost and the team also lost, we could accept that our team was out-matched and we would move on to the next round. In short, the result of each game and match was tempered and every round was a fun experience.

Both the Spring Hill Elementary and the Theophilus Thompson teams consisted of players who had experience in big tournaments, so being in a ballroom with more than 1,000 players was not daunting. The teenagers went 4.5/6; the elementary team scored 3.5 points in the six rounds.

Elementary Team League 2023-24 Matchday 6 Results

We began the holiday weekend at St. Luke’s for the penultimate round of this season’s Elementary Team League.  In spite of the inclement weather that as forecast for the morning, we still had a good turnout on Saturday afternoon.

The top of the leaderboard remains mostly unchanged.  Spring Hill and Churchill Road remain in the top two positions and look set to fight it out for the season title on the final match day on March 16.  White Oaks, Poplar Tree, and Kent Gardens are all still in with a mathematical chance of first place but they would need the leaders to slip up in four weeks.

Round 11:
Kent Gardens 4-0 Ravensworth
Spring Hill 2-2 Churchill Road
Greenbriar West 1-2 Poplar Tree
Oakton 0.5-1.5 Lorton Station
Orange Hunt 1-3 White Oaks
Colvin Run 2-1 Willow Springs
Round 12:
Churchill Road 3-1 Kent Gardens
Willow Springs 2.5-0.5 Oakton
White Oaks 3-0 Greenbriar West
Lorton Station 0-3 Spring Hill
Poplar Tree 0-3 Colvin Run
Ravensworth 2-1 Orange Hunt
Standings after Matchday 6 of 7:
Spring Hill 152
Churchill Road 148
White Oaks 138
Poplar Tree 127
Kent Gardens 126
Willow Springs 111
Colvin Run 103
Greenbriar West 99
Orange Hunt 79 
Oakton 48
Ravensworth 40
Lorton Station 22

Learning All The Way – Tysons Corner Action Tournament

Apparently, I have stamina problems. The blitz tournament went far better than expected, but then one tough draw in rapid time control, and all my energy was zapped. I was able to rally by Game 4, but this was certainly not my best effort. 

I spent drizzly Super Bowl Sunday indoors, playing at the Tysons Corner Action and Blitz tournaments hosted by DMV Chess. I’ve been to this regular tournament often, with middling but always rewarding results. However, this was my first time also attending their earlier blitz tournament, my second ever. 

I didn’t expect to win the blitz tournament, and I didn’t, but I came within a half point hair. Instead, I ended in a 3-way tie for 2nd place, and 3rd place overall after tiebreaks. Facing opponents far more skilled than myself, including my friendly rival Don MacLean, I managed to pull out an excellent 7.0/10 points. 

The blitz tournament was double-pairing, meaning I played two games against each opponent. It started out slow, trading wins against my first two opponents, before sweeping the next two. While the games were interesting, I couldn’t tell you how I won (or lost) them, except in one notable game. Still, I greatly enjoyed the pace and casual nature of the ordeal. Faster chess favors intuition over calculation, and as such favors me. My last opponent was the eventual winner, but I still won our first game. The confidence from that win went a long way in our second game. However, just as the defensive tango started getting spicy, I hung a back-rank mate. I lost out on the $100 and settled, quite happily mind you, for third. I credit hosting the weekly Bishops and Beers open chess night for my blitz success. 

During the intermission between tournaments, Don and I went for a walk to get a late lunch. Two other players from the blitz tournament drove by and offered us a ride to a nearby restaurant. This was their first tournament ever, and it was exciting to chat with new faces. We talked about and played a game over a quick meal, before hurrying back for the rapid tournament. After talking with me and Don, the pair also decided to try out the rapid tournament! 

The first 41 moves of Round 1 (before time pressure set in)

Game one was a tense affair. I felt safe throughout the opening as white’s minor pieces tripped over his pawns, but he still didn’t give me a way in. That changed after we traded queens and I got the opportunity for a pawn to break through. We picked up the pace as my opponent’s clocked ticked lower and lower. It soon reached a scant 2 seconds on the clock to my 3 minutes. His endgame was stronger than his middlegame, even while living on the 5 second delay. We at last reached a dreaded queen vs. rook endgame, in my favor. While I had studied this very endgame before, I couldn’t figure out the method over the board. The game ended with a stalemate trap, with a crowd of onlookers watching me flail. 

The worst part about long games is that you have no time before the next round. Which probably led to game two being such a rollercoaster. It started strong, as I locked his pieces behind his pawns. To save a bishop, I threatened to sacrifice the other for a repetition. My opponent, rated 300 points higher than me, did not allow the draw. Instead, his counterattack threw me into a tight position. To exploit his advantage, he sacrificed a rook for a mating attack. However, he again allowed a chance for a repetition. Now a rook up, and holding, I felt like I could do better than a draw. I was wrong, and I lost.

Game three was a sorry affair that I am not proud of. All I could think of was how I was outplayed in last game, and distracted by a mechanical humming sound in constant one second bursts. Even with ear plugs in, or perhaps because of it, I couldn’t keep my mind off that humming and oh there goes my knight. I resigned far earlier than I would normally, because I had to admit I wasn’t giving nor could give my best. At least now I had time to rest between rounds. 

With 0.5/3, I was paired with another kid who had so far gone 0.0/3. Neither of us were having a good tournament. I got myself tangled in the opening (that mechanical humming was a Chinese water torture on my brain), but my gracious opponent allowed me to awkwardly unfold my position. By the time I was ready to attack, I noticed his isolated king’s pawn and seized on the weakness. I traded pieces, confident that I would be favored in the endgame. I was saved from defending that confidence when my opponent gave away his queen en prise and resigned. 

Not my best tournament, but learning all the way.

Elementary Team League 2023-24 Matchday 5 Results

Just two rounds remain after the latest Saturday of matches in the Elementary Team League.  Churchill Road and Spring Hill are still at the top of the leaderboard.  Poplar Tree, with a perfect eight wins from eight games, remained in fourth but made some big gains on the schools in front.

The next League match is on February 17, and then the season finishes up on March 3.  Any student from one of our after-school clubs who knows the rules of chess is welcome to sign up to play in the League, and we especially encourage those kids who have never played competitively outside of their school.  

Round 9:
Willow Springs 0-4 Poplar Tree
Churchill Road 3-1 Greenbriar West
Spring Hill 3-1 Poplar Tree
Oakton 1-2 White Oaks
Lorton Station 0-4 Kent Gardens
Ravensworth 0-2 Orange Hunt
Round 10:
Kent Gardens 3-1 Willow Springs
Spring Hill 4-0 Ravensworth
Orange Hunt 1-3 Churchill Road
White Oaks 3-0 Lorton Station
Poplar Tree 4-0 Colvin Run
Greenbriar West 1-1 Oakton
Standings after Matchday 5 of 7:
Spring Hill 130
Churchill Road 124
White Oaks 115
Poplar Tree 111
Kent Gardens 104
Greenbriar West 85
Colvin Run 81
Willow Springs 77
Orange Hunt 65 
Oakton 42
Ravensworth 32
Lorton Station 15

Fall Semester of Clubs Winding Down, Spring Session Starting Soon

The fall semester of our after-school clubs has drawn to a close.  At Greenbriar West Elementary this past Monday, we commemorated the last day of the session with a chess and pizza party.  Mr. Mehler, as he always does, took on six students at a time in a simultaneous exhibition, as did Mr. Carr.  Below are some photos from the simul and party.

The spring semester starts this week, and registration for the spring semester is still open.

Photos and Games from Our Match With the Icelandic Student Team

Iceland was instrumental in making chess popular in America. Without the small island nation stepping up to host the Fischer-Spassky match in 1972, the United States would not have had a native world chess champion and chess would not have grown in popularity in America as it did.

Chess in Iceland also boomed as a result of that match. Iceland became the strongest country in the world for chess with the most grandmasters per capita in the world, a distinction it still holds. Iceland is also one of only a small handful of nations with more grandmasters, the highest title in chess, than international masters, the second-highest title.

Following the match, the United States and Iceland established an annual match among juniors of the two nations, with Americans traveling to Iceland for matches in even-numbered years, and the reverse in the odd-numbered years.

Those matches ended after the 1989 match in New York City, but after 35 years, we decided it was time to bring them back. On January 27, young Americans and Icelanders played a match via the internet, using the platform.

We decided on a rapid time control (G/7;+3) so that each player would have the opportunity to play many players from the other side over the course of 90 minutes. Several of Iceland’s top young players were unexpectedly unavailable, giving the team from the District of Columbia and its environs a distinct advantage.

The first five games were won by the Americans, and while the Icelandic team gamely made it close at the halfway point (29-27) the US team pulled away for a 75-47 final score.

We hope to have a rematch sometime soon and are investigating playing in person again, perhaps as early as late spring this year.


Here are a few of the games.



[Event “DC – Reykjavik Match Team Battle”]

[Site “”]

[Date “2024.01.27”]

[Result “1-0”]

[UTCDate “2024.01.27”]

[UTCTime “18:34:38”]

[WhiteElo “1852”]

[BlackElo “1965”]

[WhiteRatingDiff “+187”]

[BlackRatingDiff “-45”]

[WhiteTeam “us-chess-center-pine”]

[BlackTeam “iceland-kids-skakskoli-islands”]

[Variant “Standard”]

[TimeControl “420+3”]

[ECO “A45”]

[Termination “Normal”]


1. d4 Nf6 2. Bf4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d5 5. f3 dxe4 6. fxe4 O-O 7. Qd2 Nc6 8. O-O-O Bg4 9. Nf3 Nh5 10. Be3 e5 11. d5 Nd4 12. Be2 Nxe2+ 13. Nxe2 Nf6 14. Ng3 a5 15. h3 Bh5 16. Nxh5 gxh5 17. Qd3 Qd6 18. Rdg1 b5 19. g4 h4 20. Nxh4 Qd8 21. Nf5 Nd7 22. Bh6 Bxh6+ 23. Nxh6+ Kh8 24. Rf1 Qg5+ 25. Qd2 Qxd2+ 26. Kxd2 Kg7 27. g5 Nc5 28. Ke3 Ra6 29. Nf5+ Kg8 30. Ne7+ Kh8 31. Nc6 Raa8 32. Nxe5 Rae8 33. Rf5 f6 34. gxf6 Nxe4 35. Kxe4 1-0




[Event “DC – Reykjavik Match Team Battle”]

[Site “”]

[Date “2024.01.27”]

[Result “1-0”]

[UTCDate “2024.01.27”]

[UTCTime “19:14:56”]

[WhiteElo “2072”]

[BlackElo “1579”]

[WhiteRatingDiff “+4”]

[BlackRatingDiff “-7”]

[WhiteTeam “us-chess-center-pine”]

[BlackTeam “iceland-kids-skakskoli-islands”]

[Variant “Standard”]

[TimeControl “420+3”]

[ECO “B32”]

[Termination “Normal”]


1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. c3 d3 5. Bxd3 d6 6. O-O e5 7. Bc4 Be7 8. Ng5 Bxg5 9. Qh5 Qf6 10. Bxg5 Qg6 11. Qh4 h6 12. Be3 Nf6 13. f3 O-O 14. Na3 a6 15. Rad1 b5 16. Rxd6 bxc4 17. Rxc6 Be6 18. Nxc4 Bxc4 19. Rxc4 Rfd8 20. Rc6 Rab8 21. b3 Rd3 22. Bxh6 Qxh6 23. Qxh6 gxh6 24. Rxf6 Kg7 25. Rxa6 Rxc3 26. Rd1 Rbc8 27. Rd2 Rc1+ 28. Kf2 Ra1 29. Ra7 Rcc1 30. Rdd7 Rf1+ 31. Kg3 Kg6 32. Rxf7 Kh5 33. Ra6 Rxf3+ 34. gxf3 Rg1+ 35. Kf2 Rg5 36. Rf5 1-0



[Event “DC – Reykjavik Match Team Battle”]

[Site “”]

[Date “2024.01.27”]

[Result “1-0”]

[UTCDate “2024.01.27”]

[UTCTime “19:10:14”]

[WhiteElo “1705”]

[BlackElo “1904”]

[WhiteRatingDiff “+103”]

[BlackRatingDiff “-81”]

[WhiteTeam “us-chess-center-pine”]

[BlackTeam “iceland-kids-skakskoli-islands”]

[Variant “Standard”]

[TimeControl “420+3”]

[ECO “B46”]

[Termination “Normal”]


1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Nxc6 bxc6 7. Be3 Qc7 8. Be2 Nf6 9. O-O d5 10. exd5 cxd5 11. Qd2 Bd6 12. h3 O-O 13. Bg5 Be5 14. Bf3 Rb8 15. Rab1 Rxb2 16. Rxb2 Bxc3 17. Qc1 Bxb2 18. Qxb2 Nd7 19. Be2 h6 20. Be3 Bb7 21. Qa3 Qxc2 22. Bd3 Qc7 23. Rc1 Qe5 24. Qa4 Nf6 25. Bd4 Qg5 26. Be3 Qe5 27. Bf4 Qh5 28. Rc7 Bc8 29. Bd6 Ne8 30. Rxc8 Nxd6 31. Rxf8+ Kxf8 32. Qxa6 Qe5 33. Be2 g6 34. a4 Nf5 35. Qd3 Nd4 36. Bf1 Nc6 37. Qb5 Qc3 38. Qe2 d4 39. Qd1 Qb4 40. Qc1 Na5 41. Qxh6+ Ke7 42. Qg5+ Ke8 43. Bb5+ Kf8 44. Qh6+ Kg8 45. Qc1 Nb3 46. Qd1 e5 47. Bd3 f5 48. Qc2 e4 49. Bc4+ Kg7 50. Bxb3 d3 51. Qc7+ Kh6 52. Qf4+ Kg7 53. Qe5+ Kh6 54. Qh8+ Kg5 55. h4+ Kg4 56. Bd1+ Kf4 57. Qh6+ Ke5 58. Qg7+ Kf4 59. g3# 1-0

“Cassia Rewards Those Who Endure Her Wrath” – Riley Dosh blogs from The Tyson’s Corner Action Tournament

I have always loved Pinball. A girlfriend in high school had many renovated Pinball machines in her basement which I would play for hours on end (the Terminator-themed one was the best). I would also play the Microsoft Pinball program, which introduced me to the concept of tilt. Tilting, or slam tilting, is when a player too aggressively handles the machine. This immediately ends the round or the game, and is generally considered bad sportsmanship. The term carried through to poker, and later chess. A player becomes tilted when they become too angry or upset to properly play the game. This results in more blunders, more loses, and more tilt. 

In my last tournament, I was tilted. I had quickly racked up two wins, which earned me the chance to play a National Master for the first time in a rated game. I played into a completely winning position, against someone rated over 800 points higher than me, before one bad move caused the whole position to go up in flames. I couldn’t focus, my eyes blurred, and thinking logically became impossible. The following two games are not even worth talking about. 

That was the losing streak I was on before the DMV Chess’s The Tysons Corner Action tournament. About a year ago, I won the U1500 section, so I felt confident enough to play in the Open Section, despite qualifying for both. 

Round 1
True to my principles, I didn’t check my opponent’s rating before the round. I had a strong start, catching my opponent off balance and creating a dense pawn majority in the center. However, more tension on the board means more complications, and I didn’t notice my Achilles heel until it was too late. He found it first, and my center evaporated. Only down a pawn, I already felt like I had lost – a prophecy which is always fulfilled. An [obviously] unsound tactic lost my knight and I was forced to concede a few dozen moves later. My 4th straight loss. 

Round 2
I was buoyed by the fact that my previous opponent was rated 1900, so I wasn’t likely to have won anyways. I rallied for another game. I didn’t want to play anything too fancy, just get out some solid development and play some chess. Instead, I was met by a prepared line whose 2nd move was already a novelty to me (1. e4 e6 2. b3!?). Unlike my opponent, I didn’t know what was coming. It was a crushing defeat, which might’ve been even faster if my opponent was looking for tactics. My 5th straight loss.

I sulked back to the skittles room and sat in my chair. I wanted to quit. Chess was a dumb game, and I clearly wasn’t any good at it. My losing streak was mirroring my recent online losing streak; no end in sight. Maybe today just wasn’t my day. I was ready to withdraw and go home early. But I didn’t. I wallowed in self pity, while continuing my doodle. I hadn’t even bothered to take my ear plugs out, preferring the silence. The pizza box near me made my stomach rumble, but I just kept on doodling. Die another day.

Round 3
For the only time of the tournament, I was facing a kid. I had the bad luck of seeing his much higher rating, but I didn’t let it faze me. He played what I’m told is a London, which is silly because that’s a city. But, like all London players, he preferred his memorized development, and didn’t give much thought to locking out his dark square bishop, or my queen on b6. I sacrificed development to get him out of his comfort zone, causing him to eat up a lot of time. After every move he’d jump up and wander around the room, waiting for this stupid 1400 to discover she’d been beat. 

But I hadn’t been beat. If I had just lost two games, so had he, and he was clearly more tilted about it than me. Experience has taught me to never underestimate your opponent, no matter her rating.  He long neglected the critical push in the center, and allowed me to untangle myself. Soon enough, his passive pieces ran out of options, and more importantly, his clock ran low. I allowed him to panic into a mistake. To his credit, he played out the endgame, surviving on only seconds and his delay. He took the loss well, and my losing streak was broken. 

Round 4
This round started at 8 pm, which meant I wasn’t getting home until almost 11 pm. My opponent played fast, so I did too. He opted for an unusual line, which allowed me a central passed pawn in exchange for a 2v1 majority on the queenside. If he wanted to quickly trade down into that endgame, fine by me. He let me blockade his pawns, which freed my rook from pawn duty to attack his king. I sacrificed Abby (my A pawn) for a rook on the 7th. The coup de grace came a few moves later, when my opponent, with still ⅔ of his time on the clock, blundered a mate in 1. It was the same mating pattern that I blundered (but wasn’t punished for) during a simultaneous game at White Oaks Elementary this past week. I not only finished with a respectable 2.0/4, but also clinched my highest rated win yet. 

Losing hurts. There’s no other way to put it. Some losses hurt worse than others, and some still sting to this day. But every lose is another’s win, and Caïssa blesses those who can endure her ire. The only way to win is to lose. So, I won’t be quitting chess today, and you’ll see me in my next blogpost.

Elementary Team League 2023-24 Matchday 4 Results

The snowy weather impacted this weekend’s Elementary Team League somewhat, as several of the participating teams were missing players.  Those who did come join us yesterday at St. Luke’s enjoyed some exciting games of chess.

With the absences this week, schools who fielded full teams had an opportunity to move up in the overall standings.  Spring Hill was one of the schools who did exactly that, winning both their matches to assume the top spot in the overall standings.  Churchill Road was another to take advantage, picking up two match victories to advance to second place.  With the season now more than half finished, lots of schools are still in contention.

Round 7:
Orange Hunt 1.5-0.5 Willow Springs 
Kent Gardens 0-4 Greenbriar West
Spring Hill 3-1 Poplar Tree
White Oaks 2-1 Colvin Run
Lorton Station 0-4 Churchill Road 
Ravensworth 1-0 Oakton
Round 8:
Greenbriar West 3.5-0.5 Orange Hunt
Churchill Road 4-0 Ravensworth
Oakton 0-3 Kent Gardens
Colvin Run 2-0 Lorton Station
Poplar Tree 2.5 – 1.5 White Oaks
Willow Springs 0-4 Spring Hill
Standings after Matchday 4 of 7:
Spring Hill 104
Churchill Road 96
White Oaks 93
Poplar Tree 79
Greenbriar West 77
Willow Springs 74
Kent Gardens 74
Colvin Run 67
Orange Hunt 53 
Oakton 34
Ravensworth 30
Lorton Station 15

Potomac Youth Chess League Spring 2024 Season Has Begun

The Potomac Youth Chess League, the middle school chess league the Center ran from 1997 to 2010, has been brought back for a new season in Spring 2024.  Any middle school in the D.C. area may field a team.

The first round of matches took place last Saturday, January 13.  BASIS DC and DCI are the early leaders after recording 8-0 victories.

Matchday 1 Results

Capital City PCS 0-8 BASIS DC

DCI 8-0 Meridian

Capital Village 4-4 Two Rivers PCS

Washington Latin 7.5 – 0.5 Ingenuity Prep

Chess Kids Enters New Session at Eastern Middle School

Chess Kids (then known as Little Players) started in 1992. Bringing together children from DC, Maryland, and Virginia, we believe it to be the most valuable class we run. Children from different backgrounds become friends and learn that what they have in common greatly outweighs their differences.

Terrific friendships are created over the chess board.

This year, Chess Kids has moved to Eastern Middle School in Silver Spring, just a block from the Beltway. Players ranging from kindergarten through sixth grade gather to learn the rules, strategy, and etiquette of the game. Some of the students are learning the rules for the first time, others are nationally rated tournament players, and most are somewhere in between.

The class meets for 90 minutes starting at 10:00 am. Students register for four-week sessions at We are in the middle of the fourth of six monthly sessions for the school year, and there are openings for the final two sessions.

Elementary Team League 2023-24 Round 3 Results

Back from the holiday break, we were pleased to resume the Elementary Team League yesterday at St. Luke’s.  The rain and cold that we experienced in the morning eventually gave way to clear skies and some good chess games.  The first board game in the White Oaks-Willow Springs match, in particular, was one of the more exciting games we’ve seen in the league this year.

Partially as a result of winning the aforementioned match against Willow Springs, White Oaks moved past them into the lead of the overall standings, with Spring Hill now close behind in second position.  With more than half the season to go, there’s still plenty of time for anyone to make a run.  The next match is next Saturday, January 20.

Round 5:
White Oaks 2.5 – 1.5 Willow Springs 
Poplar Tree 2-2 Kent Gardens
Spring Hill 3-1 Orange Hunt
Lorton Station 1.5-1.5 Ravensworth
Churchill Road 3-0 Oakton
Colvin Run 3.5 – 0.5 Greenbriar West
Round 6:
Greenbriar West 1.5-1.5 Lorton Station
Willow Springs 0.5 – 2.5 Churchill Road
Oakton 0-4 Poplar Tree
Orange Hunt 3-1 Colvin Run
Kent Gardens 0.5 – 3.5 White Oaks
Ravensworth 1-3 Spring Hill
Standings after Matchday 3 of 8:
White Oaks 78
Spring Hill 74
Willow Springs 71
Churchill Road 64
Poplar Tree 60
Kent Gardens 58
Colvin Run 55
Greenbriar West 46
Orange Hunt 45 
Oakton 34
Ravensworth 26
Lorton Station 15

Thank you to Marc Rotenberg for years of service to the Chess Center

The U.S. Chess Center acknowledged Marc Rotenberg’s years of service to our organization with Executive Director Chris McCleary presenting him a token of our appreciation. Mr. Rotenberg first became involved with the Center as an active participant in the tournaments and other activities at our original location, where he won the District of Columbia Chess Championship three times.

Mr. Rotenberg (pictured on left) joined our board of directors as we transitioned from 1501 M Street, where we began, first to collocate with BASIS DC public charter school, then to our current office in Silver Spring. He became the chairman of the board in 2015, a position he retained until he retired from our board last year.

He has been generous with his time and resources, hosting events at his beautiful home that included Queen of Katwe star Phiona Mutesi, and several political figures. The Center benefitted in myriad ways from his help.

Metro Area Chess League 2023-24: Round 2 Results & Round 3 Pairings

Round 2 Results

White on Boards 1 & 3 – White on Boards 2 & 4

Magruder 1-3 Poolesville
DeMatha 1-3 McNamara
E.L. Haynes 4-0 Girls Global Academy
Richard Montgomery 3-1 Gonzaga
Rockville 2.5-1.5 Arlington Career Center
Oakton 4-0 West Springfield
St. Albans 0-4 Don Bosco Cristo Rey
BASIS DC 0-0 Marshall
Montgomery Blair 0.5-3.5 Chantilly
St. Anselm’s 2-2 Jackson-Reed
Hayfield 0-0 McLean
Rochambeau 4-0 BYE
St. John’s 0-4 Langley
McKinley Tech 0-3 Georgetown Prep

Round 3 Pairings

Below are the pairings for the third round to be played by January 12

White on Boards 1 & 3 – White on Boards 2 & 4

Poolesville – Chantilly
Bishop McNamara – Richard Montgomery
Langley – Rockville
St. Anselm’s – Oakton
Rochambeau – Magruder
Jackson-Reed – EL Haynes
Georgetown Prep – McLean
BASIS DC – Blair
West Springfield – Marshall
Gonzaga – McKinley Tech
Girls Global Academy – St. John’s
Hayfield – DeMatha
Don Bosco Cristo Rey – Arlington Career

League Standings

Teams are ranked by Match Points, then by Board Points.

PlaceSchoolTotal Match PointsTotal Board Points
2nd (Tie)Chantilly27.5
2nd (Tie)Langley27.5
4th (Tie)Poolesville27
4th (Tie)Richard Montgomery27
7th (Tie)St. Anselm's1.56
7th (Tie)Bishop McNamara1.55
9thDon Bosco Cristo Rey15
11th (Tie)E.L. Haynes14
11th (Tie)Magruder14
11th (Tie)McLean14
14thMontgomery Blair13.5
15thGeorgetown Prep13
17th (Tie)BASIS DC0.52
17th (Tie)Jackson-Reed0.52
17th (Tie)McKinely Tech0.52
17th (Tie)St. Albans0.52
17th (Tie)West Springfield0.52
22ndArlington Career Center02.5
24th (Tie)Girls Global Academy00
24th (Tie)Hayfield00
24th (Tie)Marshall00
24th (Tie)St. John's00

Elementary Team League 2023-24 Round 2 Results

Twelve school teams came out to St. Luke’s Methodist Church yesterday for matchday 2 of this season’s Elementary Team League.  Among the players who turned up, we were especially happy to see so many students representing their schools for the first time.  Our biggest goal is always practicing and building confidence for future tournaments.

Willow Springs continued their winning streak with two more match victories to extend their lead at the top of the standings.  As is the custom each season, the League now enters its holiday break with the matches resuming on January 13 of the new year.

Round 3:
Spring Hill 1.5-2.5 White Oaks
Poplar Tree 1-3 Churchill Road
Orange Hunt 1-3 Kent Gardens
Greenbriar West 4-0 Ravensworth
Colvin Run 1-3 Oakton
Willow Springs 4-0 Lorton Station
Round 4:
Kent Gardens 0.5 – 3.5 Willow Springs
White Oaks 2-2 Greenbriar West
Churchill Road 3-1 Colvin Run
Oakton 1-3 Spring Hill
Lorton Station 0-4 Orange Hunt
Ravensworth 0-3 Poplar Tree
Standings after Matchday 2 of 8:
Willow Springs 61
White Oaks 50
Spring Hill 47
Kent Gardens 43
Churchill Road 39
Greenbriar West 36
Colvin Run 34
Poplar Tree 34
Oakton 32
Orange Hunt 25
Ravensworth 15
Lorton Station 4

Metro Area Chess League 2023-24 – Round 1 Results & Round 2 Pairings

The Metro Area Chess League has returned for a new season.  27 schools from around Washington, D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia comprise this year’s field of participants.
This year the round-by-round organization protocol has changed a bit: rather than gathering everyone to play all the games for one round in a single online meeting, the students and staff sponsors can coordinate amongst themselves to play the matches when it works for them.  In addition to allowing greater flexibility in student participation, we also hope that this format change will allow for some individual matches to be played in person this season.
Round 1 is nearly finished, and McLean, Poolesville, Richard Montgomery and Rockville share the early lead after recording 4-0 sweeps in their opening matches.
Round 1 Results

White on Boards 1 & 3 – White on Boards 2 & 4

Don Bosco Cristo Rey 1-3 Magruder
McLean 4-0 DeMatha
Poolesville 4-0 Hayfield
West Springfield 2-2 McKinley Tech
Girls Global Academy 0-4 Rockville
Bishop McNamara 2-2 St. Albans
Langley 3.5-0.5 Rochambeau
E.L. Haynes 0-4 St. Anselm’s
Georgetown Prep 0-4 Richard Montgomery
Gonzaga 2-2 BASIS DC
Arlington Career Center 1-3 Montgomery Blair
Chantilly 4-0 St. John’s 
Marshall 0-0 Jackson-Reed
Oakton 4-0 BYE

Round 2 Pairings

White on Boards 1 & 3 – White on Boards 2 & 4
DeMatha – Bishop McNamara
McKinley Tech – Georgetown Prep
E.L. Haynes – Girls Global Academy
Richard Montgomery – Gonzaga
Rockville – Arlington Career Center
Oakton – West Springfield
St. Albans – Don Bosco Cristo Rey
BASIS DC – Marshall
Magruder – Poolesville
Blair – Chantilly
St. Anselm’s – Jackson-Reed
St. John’s – Langley
Hayfield – McLean
Rochambeau – BYE

We have 27 teams registered for the league as of today. We are trying to find a 28th team. If another school registers this week, that school will replace the bye.

Following this round, the pairings will be based on a modified Swiss system, so that the teams that are doing well will play others that are having success while still allowing us to have category champions, such as the top team from each jurisdiction and the top charter school.

Results from the first Bishops+Beers Blitz Tournament, Nov 7th

Nearly every Tuesday over the past year, the U.S. Chess Center has hosted Bishops and Beers at Silver Branch Brewery, an evening event for our grown-up clientele to gather in downtown Silver Spring for some good food, good company, good potations and good chess.

The first week this month, we added a competitive element, with the first Bishops + Beers Blitz Tournament kicking off at 6:30 p.m. on November 7. Our instructor Riley Dosh was on hand to make up the pairings, tally the results, and generally help facilitate the fun.

The tournament was well-attended with 16 total players, and the excitement also hooked in a few spectators. Don McLean (pictured below, right) won convincingly with 7.5/9, Christian (pictured middle) came in second place with 6/9, and Jason (pictured left) came in third, losing on tiebreaks to Christian.

Given the general success of the tournament, we’re looking into running more blitz events at future Bishops & Beers outings. If you haven’t come to downtown Silver Spring on Tuesday night (and you’re at least 21), come join the fun!