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:

Meet the Chess Center Team: Georgina Chin, Teacher

Bam! Bam bam!

As a teenager, the sound of palms slapping analog clocks would reverberate throughout our house for hours at a time. In the living room, a row of chess trophies sat on a shelf, witnessing my two younger brothers battling over a well-worn chessboard for hours at a time. Yet, despite the number of hours devoted to chess in my household, I was relatively removed from this activity — chess was something that girls didn’t really do.

Many years later, my interaction with chess was reignited by a challenge I faced as a teacher at McNair Elementary school in Herndon, Virginia: coming up with creative challenging ways to engage my students. At the time, McNair was a Title I school with many students receiving free and reduced lunches, so I was especially interested in a low-cost mentally engaging activity that might not otherwise have been available to them. Although I had not played for many years, I knew chess was definitely the avenue to pursue.

Luckily, thanks to my brothers’ ongoing interest in chess (both were holding outside jobs as chess coaches), I was able to consult them on how I might get started. With the support of my principal and the PTA I purchased some chess sets, a few books, and a teaching board. McNair’s first chess club was on its way! Much to my surprise and delight, initial interest greatly exceeded my expectations.

Fast forward ten years and the chess club remained hugely popular. With the club being consistently offered throughout the years, many McNair students had become skilled players, and several of them could now play beyond my abilities. Meanwhile, McNair had also changed and was now an Advanced Academics school.

Perhaps inspired by memories of the chess trophies sitting on the living room shelf, I thought it might be time to push the chess club in a more competitive direction. The parents supported this idea, and in 2011 we ventured off to the Virginia Scholastic Chess Championships where we placed ninth and fourteenth in the K-3 and K-5 divisions. The kids, their parents, and the rest of the school were thrilled!

At the urging of some of the parents as well as the PTA, I began organizing monthly USCF (US Chess Federation) rated tournaments at McNair. The only catch for me was that, to become a local Tournament Director, I had to start competing myself — a true eye-opener! My first tournament convinced me that I still had much to learn about the game.

Last year I retired from Fairfax County. During my 20 years at McNair I had the pleasure of working with hundreds of students and organizing more than 80 tournaments. I am happy and proud of all my students accomplished as well as how many of them were introduced to an experience they might never have encountered. My hope is that all of my students will continue to play and enjoy all that chess has to offer. As for myself, I am still learning and competing!

Meet the Chess Center Team: Robert Teachey, Teacher

After observing me tutor students in mathematics at a library, a librarian asked me to start a chess club.  Initially, I believed that it would be easy for me to meet this obligation.  My first step was to read the official rules of chess.  I was surprised to learn that even though I had played chess irregularly since elementary school, I had not been playing by the rules.

Daaim Shabazz, founder of The Chess Drum online magazine

During the first chess club meeting I noticed that the chess club members’ enthusiasm for the game was markedly different from the typical student’s enthusiasm for mathematics.  After the first few chess club meetings, I was surprised to discover that teaching chess is more challenging than teaching mathematics.  Fortuitously, renowned chess educator Fernando Moreno, author of the book Teaching Life Skills Through Chess: A Guide for Educators and Counselors, facilitated a chess club at a community center that was next door to the library.  When he heard about the new library chess club, he kindly introduced himself to me and donated sorely needed resources, including a demonstration board.  After visiting Mr. Moreno’s chess club and losing game after game to his students, I realized that I had much to learn.

GM Timur Gareyev after he defeated me in a blindfold simul

Step by step I became engrossed in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area chess scene by visiting different chess clubs including the U.S. Chess Center.  I played casually for approximately 9 years before entering my first chess tournament.  I should have followed the advice of others who told me “You love the game, go ahead and play in a rated tournament”, however I believed that I was not ready to deal with the chess clock and the process of recording the moves.  After playing in my first tournament, I understood that 10 additional years would not have made any difference because playing tournament chess is like swimming, one must simply dive in.

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

Meet the Chess Center Team: Norman Constantine, Teacher

I started to play chess over 60 years ago. I will continue to play as long as I can set up the pieces. I am not a super player for sure, but I can play a solid game. Chess has made a significant difference in my life. I am a better teacher because I play chess.

I started to play when I was about 8 years old. The older kids on my block taught me how to play so that they had someone to beat. They defeated me for quite awhile but I got better each time I played a game. I still remember like it was yesterday the first time I won a game. I ran off Hankey Pauley’s front porch all the way down the street shouting and yelling to tell my mother!! I was so happy!

It made me want to read books about chess. There were a few books in the local library and all the kids on the street fought over them. We all got chess sets to play with, most of them cheap plastic designs with hollow pieces and masonite boards. I filled my pieces with plaster of paris so that they were heavy enough to stay on the boards outside in the wind. I used to read Treasury of Chess Lore under the covers with a flashlight after lights out.

Next my friends and I wanted to learn more so we all signed up at the Buffalo Museum of Science for chess lessons. We all gathered together every Saturday morning and rode the city bus across the city to the museum. In the winter we brought out snow saucers with us and rode them down the  large hill that was being built for the new City Expressway. It was wonderful. Everything was about chess and no one was telling us what to do. We learned to take care of ourselves.

I will always remember my chess teacher from the Museum. He only had three fingers on his move hand (no thumb) and used to throw the pieces – it seemed – across the board but they all landed where they were supposed to be. We played every Friday night at each other’s houses and every Saturday Morning at the museum. We took turns.

After the museum we all wanted to go to the Queen City Chess Club in downtown Buffalo, NY. I didn’t go. My parents didn’t want me to go down there on Friday night so they offered me a new catcher’s glove in lieu of the dues to the club. Baseball was my other love (girls were coming) and I sort of deserted chess for it. I ignored chess for a few years but I never forgot it.

I rediscovered chess in high school and made the school team in senior year. I watched Johnny Bench play his first game in Buffalo and knew I was never going to be a major leaguer. I joined the USCF at 19 and finally became a member of the Queen City Chess Club. I still watch baseball but I play chess!

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