Theophilus Thompson Chess Club Begins for the Year

The Theophilus Thompson Club, the U.S. Chess Center’s Sunday class for students in grades 7 – 12, just had its first meeting for the 2022-23 school year. The club is for students who know the rules of chess and want to improve their skills. We intend to prepare the students to compete successfully in the national chess championships that are coming to the DC area this year.

The club is named after noted African American chess champion Theophilus Thompson. As a teenager, Thompson saw his first chess game in April 1872, when he watched two players compete in his hometown of Frederick, Maryland.  Fascinated by the complexities of chess, he decided to learn the game.  This thirst for knowledge intrigued John Hanshew, the publisher of The Maryland Chess Review, who taught Thompson the fundamentals, lent him a chessboard and pieces, and gave him several chess problems to solve.  Within weeks, the 17-year-old Thompson was not only solving chess problems, he was also devising new ones and contributing his work to the Dubuque Chess Journal, a pioneer problem-solving magazine of the time.

 

In 1873, Thompson had a book published titled Chess Problems By Theophilus Thompson.  A review of the book in City of London Chess Magazine praised “the compositions in this book, and consider that they display real genius, both of a conceptive and constructive order. . . .  We consider Mr. Thompson a composer of great merit and of rare promise.”

Theophilus Thompson in 1873.

After competing in tournaments in Philadelphia and Chicago, Thompson returned to his native Frederick, where became a respected mathematician and schoolteacher.  We named our Sunday afternoon chess club for him in respect for his achievements and with the hope that local young people will follow his example and improve their academic skills as a result of mastering the game of chess.

Interested in joining us on Sundays?  Click here for more information and registration.

Some thoughts on the recent tragedy during the Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis

If a chess player is caught cheating, every notable accomplishment that follows is viewed with suspicion. The recent controversy during Sinquefield Cup in St. Louis serves as a reminder to our students that nothing good comes from dishonesty. If Hans Niemann had never been caught cheating before, his win over Magnus Carlsen would have been seen as a magnificent performance, perhaps a once-in-a lifetime accomplishment. That he has admitted cheating repeatedly in his young life, however, has caused this result to be viewed more skeptically.

Many prominent figures in the chess world have weighed in on the likelihood or lack thereof that Niemann broke any rules during the game in question.  This much is certain: in the third round of the annual elite Sinquefield Cup round-robin event, Niemann, the lowest-rated player in the tournament, defeated Carlsen, the long-time World Champion and highest-rated player.  The day after the loss, Carlsen withdrew from the tournament, the first time in his career he has pulled out in the middle of an elite event.  Carlsen’s only public explanation for the withdrawal was an enigmatic Twitter post that was viewed by many as a possible allegation that Niemann had received some form of outside assistance in the game the day before.

At the present moment, any evidence of foul play during that game is subjective and inconclusive.  What has truly amplified the contention is Niemann’s self-confessed history of cheating in online games, some as recently as three years ago.

Our experience shows that most people enjoy playing with strong players but nobody likes playing without confidence that the game will be played fairly. If players don’t follow the same rules, the game is no fun. Trash-talking diminishes the competition, as distracting or annoying an opponent is not supposed to be part of chess. Trying to get away with a touch-move violation, taking a move back, moving an opponent’s piece, or using a computer during a game, all are things that might tempt a player, but players of character resist those thoughts.

There is no game, and there is no tournament, so important that it is worth damaging your reputation or honor. Once either is lost it can take a long and miserable time to get it back.

Chess Center Founder David Mehler Receives USCF’s Outstanding Career Achievement Award

Earlier this summer David Mehler, U.S. Chess Center Founder and President, was presented with the Outstanding Career Achievement Award from the national U.S. Chess Federation, in honor of his many decades spent teaching and promoting the game of chess in the greater Washington area and throughout the country.

Mr. David Mehler
Founder, U.S. Chess Center

• Arranged for the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame and Museum to move from upstate New York to a facility five blocks from The White House
• Organized student trip to meet chess players in Cuba
• Organized Internet chess matches with students from countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe
• Staged chess exhibitions in many places, including the National Mall, the Smithsonian, and the Charles Sumner Museum
• Taught tens of thousands of students and trained dozens of instructors

Chess Teacher, including teaching students who won:

• U.S. Junior Invitational
• Denker Tournament of National Champions
• U.S. Cadet Championship
• U.S. High School Championship
• U.S. Junior High School Championship
• U.S. Elementary School Blitz Championship

Organized and directed:

• U.S. Armed Forces Championships
• U.S. Cadet Championships
• U.S. Junior Invitational Championship
• International invitationals at which IM norms were earned

Maryland Chess Association: Vice President and President

D.C. Chess League: Executive Director, Scholastic Coordinator, and Newsletter Editor

Region III Vice President

Member, US Chess Bylaws Committee

Member, US Chess Scholastic Committee

Chair, US Chess Development Committee

Chess club president: University of Massachusetts/Amherst

Chess club president: University of Wisconsin at Madison

Sacramento Chess Club Director

Arlington (VA) Chess Club Director

The Lessons and Legacy from Bobby Fischer’s 1972 World Championship Win

Fifty years ago today, Boris Spassky resigned the 21st and final game of his match with Bobby Fischer, making Fischer the World Chess Champion.  Fischer’s rise to the top had long been a story that transcended the world of chess, and the Cold War undertones ensured that the 1972 championship match in Reykjavik would be the most followed chess competition in history.  His PBS coverage of the match made Shelby Lyman a household name in America, and the PBS coverage of the match had higher ratings than the commercial broadcasts competing against it.

 

The image of the self-taught Fischer, working alone against the Soviet Union’s combined force of world-class coaches and players who helped Spassky prepare, fueled the narrative of the triumph of individual brilliance over collectivism.  No player outside the USSR had even qualified for a championship match since the end of World War II, so his title win was an improbable underdog story as much as it was the tale of a generational talent realizing his potential. Although Fischer’s run to the World Championship included a string of twenty wins in a row against world-class players (even today the closest any player has come to that record is eight straight wins), Fischer had failed to win any of the five games he had previously played against Spassky so there were plenty of doubts about his ability to defeat him in a match.

Bobby Fischer in 1972. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

 

It also caused a surge of popularity for chess in the Western world, and in the United States in particular.  Sales of chess sets reportedly climbed more than 20 percent in the wake of the 1972 match, and tournament participation ticked up as more Americans were drawn to learn the game to better identify with Fischer’s genius. It was that year that David Mehler, the founder of the U.S. Chess Center, first taught chess to people who wanted to know what all the fuss was about.

Spassky took an early lead in the 1972 match, after an infamous blunder by Fischer in the first game and an even more infamous forfeit in the second game.  Fischer then won the third game, his first-ever win against Spassky, and after a draw in game 4 the two players reached the position on the left in game 5.  It was Fischer’s (Black’s) turn to move here.  What is the best move?

The answer is at the bottom of the page!

 

The events of 1972 secured Fischer an iconic legacy in the history of chess.  The events after 1972 ensured that that legacy would be a complicated one.  It is saddening to recount how Fischer tarnished his personal reputation with his abhorrent public statements. And the chess element of Fischer’s life story following his win in Iceland is also disheartening to retell, because the 50th anniversary of Fischer winning the title is also the 50th anniversary of his departure from competitive play.  After that 1972 match victory, Fischer became a recluse for 20 years.  He declined to compete in any tournaments, turning down what would have added up to millions of dollars in endorsements and appearance fees, and he refused terms for any future world championship matches and forfeited the title three years after winning it.  

 

For Fischer, giving up chess meant not only vanishing from the public’s eye, but also disappearing from the lives of nearly everyone he had met during his years as a chessplayer.  He resurfaced only briefly in 1992 for another, unofficial, match against Spassky, who at that point was no longer a contender for the world championship.  By playing that match in war-torn Yugoslavia in possible violation of international sanctions, Fischer became the subject of a U.S.-issued arrest warrant. Fischer never returned to the United States, nor did he ever play a public game of chess again after winning the second match against Spassky. He eventually received political asylum in Iceland, where he died in 2008.

 

As much as we may take inspiration from Bobby Fischer’s immense talent and try to follow the examples Fischer set with the strategies and tactics he used to win his games, we implore young people to not have the same approach to the game that Fischer had.  We want our students, whether or not they become top-class players, to be interested in playing chess and to sustain that interest for their entire lives, because that is more satisfying than becoming world champion and leaving the game before turning thirty. Don’t set out on a chessplaying journey with the sole goal of achieving a specific rating or attaining a specific title – even if it is the world championship title.  Instead, play to improve your skills, play to make new friends, and play for the fun of playing.

Solution to the above puzzle: Fischer won with 27…Bxa5.  If 28. Qxa4 Qxe4 quickly forces mate, due to the dual threats of Qxe1# and Qxg2#.  If White moves the queen to b1, c1 or d2, Fischer would have continued 28…Bxd1 29. Qxd1 Qxe4 30. Qd2 Nxg2 and he is three pawns ahead, so Spassky resigned.  After drawing level by winning game 5, Fischer then immediately won game 6 to take the lead of the match, a lead he would never relinquish.

Highlights From This Summer’s Nationals Prep

Over 20 students joined us on Wednesday evenings over the past two months to practice for the National Grade Level Championships coming to Baltimore in December.  We were impressed by how quickly the students improved during the eight weeks.  We are confident the effort they put into their practice games will serve them in good stead when they compete later this year.

Published below are a few of the game scores from the class.  The games we watched were nearly always full of hard deliberation and determination as the students battled for advantages no matter what kinds of positions they found themselves in.

 

Jerry – Zohran

1.e4 c5 2.c3 d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.d4 e6 6.Bb5+ Nc6 7.O-O a6 8.Ba4 b5 9.Bc2 Be7 10.Bf4 O-O 11.Ne5 Bb7 12.f3 cxd4 13.Nxc6 Bxc6 14.cxd4 Rfd8 15.Be5 Nd7 16.Bb3 Nxe5 17.Bxd5 Rxd5 18.Nc3 Rd7 19.Re1 Bf6 20.Ne4 Bxe4 21.Rxe4 Nc6 22.Rc1 Nxd4 23.Rc3 Rad8 24.Qe1 Nxf3+ 25.Rxf3 Rd1 26.Qxd1 Rxd1+ 27.Kf2 Rd2+ 28.Re2 Rxe2+ 29.Kxe2 Bxb2 30.Rb3 Be5 31.Ra3 Kf8 32.Rxa6 b4 33.Ra4 Bd6 34.h3 Ke7 35.Kd3 f5 36.Ra7+ Kf6 37.Kc4 g5 38.Rxh7 Ke5 39.Rb7 Kf4 40.Rb6 Ke5 41.Rb7 Kf4 42.Rg7 Bf8 43.Rg8 Bd6 44.Rg6 Bf8 45.Rxe6 Kg3 46.Rf6 Be7 47.Rxf5 Kxg2 48.Rxg5+ Bxg5 49.Kxb4 Kxh3 50.a4 Be3 51.Kb5 Kg4 52.a5 Kf5 ½ – ½

 

Aaron – Ameya

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 d6 4.Bxc6+ bxc6 5.d4 cxd4 6.Nxd4 Bd7 7.O-O g6 8.Nc3 Bg7 9.Nf3 Nf6 10.Bg5 Rb8 11.Rb1 Qc7 12.Qd2 O-O 13.Rfd1 Rfd8 14.h3 Rb4 15.Nd5 Nxd5 16.exd5 Re4 17.Re1 Rxe1+ 18.Rxe1 cxd5 19.Rxe7 Qc5 20.Qf4 Be8 21.Bh6 d4 22.Bxg7 Kxg7 23.Nxd4 Kg8 24.Qf6 Rb8 25.Ne6 Qe5 26.Qxe5 dxe5 27.Ng5 h6 28.Nf3 f6 29.b3 a5 30.Nd2 Ra8 31.Nc4 a4 32.Nd6 Bc6 33.Re6 Kg7 34.Re7+ Kg8 35.Re6 Rf8 36.Kh2 Kh7 37.Re7+ Kg8 38.Re6 Kh7 39.Kg3 Kg8 40.Nf5 Be4 41.Nxh6+ Kg7 42.Ng4 Bxc2 43.Rb6 axb3 44.axb3 e4 45.Ne3 Bd3 46.b4 f5 47.Kf4 Kh6 48.g3 Kh5 49.Rb7 g5+ 50.Ke5 f4 51.g4+ Kg6 52.Rb6+ Kg7 53.Nf5+ Kg8 54.Rg6+ Kh7 55.Rxg5 e3 56.Rh5+ Kg8 57.fxe3 f3 58.Rg5+ Kh7 59.Rh5+ Kg8 60.Ne7+ Kf7 61.Nf5 f2 62.Rh7+ Ke8 63.Nd6+ Kd8 64.Nf7+ Kc8 65.Nd6+ Kb8 66.Rb7+ Ka8 0-1

 

Bryan – Zohran

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.Bc4 Bf5 5.d4 e6 6.Bd2 c6 7.Nf3 Nf6 8.Ne5 Nbd7 9.Ne4 Qc7 10.Nxf6+ Nxf6 11.g4 Be4 12.f3 Bd5 13.Qe2 O-O-O 14.O-O-O Bxc4 15.Qxc4 Bd6 16.Rhe1 Bxe5 17.dxe5 Nd5 18.f4 Rhe8 19.Qe4 h6 20.Be3 Nxe3 21.Qxe3 Rxd1+ 22.Rxd1 b6 23.Qd3 Rd8 24.Qxd8+ Qxd8 25.Rxd8+ Kxd8 26.Kd2 Ke7 27.Ke3 f5 28.h3 g5 29.a3 Kd7 30.b4 a6 31.fxg5 hxg5 32.Kf3 Ke7 33.Kg3 Kf7 34.h4 gxh4+ 35.Kxh4 f4 36.Kh3 Kg6 37.Kg2 Kg5 38.Kf3 a5 39.bxa5 bxa5 40.a4 c5 41.c4 Kg6 42.Kxf4 Kf7 43.Kg5 Kg7 44.Kh5 Kh7 45.g5 Kg7 46.g6 Kg8 47.Kh6 Kh8 48.Kh5 Kg7 49.Kg5 Kg8 50.Kf6 1-0

 

Zohran – Ameya

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.c4 Bg7 6.Be3 d6 7.Nc3 Nf6 8.Be2 O-O 9.O-O Bd7 10.f3 Rc8 11.Nd5 Ne5 12.Rc1 Nxd5 13.cxd5 Rxc1 14.Qxc1 Qa5 15.a3 Rc8 16.Qd1 Nc4 17.Bxc4 Rxc4 18.Qd3 Rxd4 19.Bxd4 Bb5 20.Qc3 Qxc3 21.Bxc3 Bxf1 22.Kxf1 Bxc3 23.bxc3 Kg7 24.Ke2 Kf6 25.Ke3 e6 26.c4 exd5 27.cxd5 Ke5 28.f4+ Kf6 29.Kd4 Ke7 30.e5 Kd7 31.g4 Ke7 32.f5 dxe5+ 33.Kxe5 f6+ 34.Kd4 gxf5 35.gxf5 Kd6 36.a4 Kd7 37.Kc5 Kc7 38.d6+ Kd7 39.Kd5 b6 40.Kc4 Kxd6 41.Kb5 Kc7 42.Ka6 Kb8 43.h4 h5 44.Kb5 Kb7 45.a5 bxa5 46.Kxa5 Kc6 47.Ka6 Kd5 48.Kxa7 Ke5 49.Kb6 Kxf5 50.Kc5 Kg4 51.Kd4 Kxh4 52.Ke3 Kg3 53.Ke2 Kg2 54.Ke3 h4 55.Ke4 h3 56.Kf5 h2 57.Kxf6 h1=Q 58.Kf5 Qh4 59.Kg6 Kf3 60.Kf5 Qe4+ 61.Kf6 Kf4 62.Kf7 Kg5 63.Kg7 Qf5 64.Kg8 Qd7 65.Kf8 Kf6 66.Kg8 Qg7#

 

Jerry – Ameya

1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nc6 3.Nf3 d6 4.d4 cxd4 5.cxd4 Bg4 6.Nc3 Bxf3 7.Qxf3 Nxd4 8.Qd1 Nc6 9.Bb5 g6 10.O-O Bg7 11.f4 Qb6+ 12.Kh1 Bxc3 13.Bxc6+ Qxc6 14.bxc3 Qxc3 15.Rb1 Qc7 16.Bb2 e5 17.fxe5 dxe5 18.Rc1 Qe7 19.Qa4+ Qd7 20.Qxd7+ Kxd7 21.Rxf7+ Ke6 22.Rxb7 Rd8 23.Ba3 Kf6 24.Rxa7 Kg5 25.Ra5 Kf4 26.Rf1+ Ke3 27.Rxe5 Nh6 28.Be7 Nf7 29.Bxd8 Nxe5 30.Bb6+ Kxe4 31.Ra1 Ra8 32.h3 Nc4 33.Bf2 Kf5 34.a4 Nd2 35.a5 Nb3 36.Ra3 Nd2 37.a6 Ne4 38.Bd4 Ke6 39.a7 Kd5 40.Be3 Nc5 41.Bxc5 Kxc5 42.Kh2 Kb4 43.Ra6 Kb5 44.Ra1 and White went on to win.

Connor – Jin

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Nc3 b6 5.O-O Bb7 6.d3 Nf6 7.Be3 Qe7 8.d4 exd4 9.Nxd4 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Nxe4 11.Bxc5 Qxc5 12.b3 Nxc3 13.Re1+ Kd8 14.Qd3 Qg5 15.g3 Qh6 16.h4 Qc6 17.f3 Qxf3 18.Qxf3 Bxf3 19.Re3 Bd5 20.Rxc3 Bxc4 21.Rxc4 b5 22.Rb4 a6 23.Rf1 f6 24.Rg4 Rg8 25.Rf5 Ke7 26.Re4+ Kf7 27.Rc5 c6 28.Rd4 Ke6 29.g4 Rae8 30.Rc3 g5 31.h5 Ke5 32.Rxd7 Kf4 33.Rd4+ Ke5 34.Rcd3 Re7 35.Rd6 Rc7 36.h6 Rg6 37.Rd7 Rxd7 38.Rxd7 Rxh6 39.Rc7 Kf4 40.Rxc6 Rg6 41.Rxa6 Kxg4 42.Rb6 h5 43.Rxb5 h4 44.Kh2 Kf3 45.c4 g4 46.Rh5 g3+ 47.Kg1 Rg4 48.c5 Rd4 49.Rf5+ Rf4 50.Rxf4+ Kxf4 51.c6 h3 52.c7 h2+ 53.Kh1 Kf3 54.c8=Q g2+ 55.Kxh2 Kf2 56.Qc2+ 1-0

 

Aaron – William L

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Bg5 Bg7 7.Bd3 Nc6 8.Nf3 Bg4 9.h3 Bd7 10.O-O O-O 11.Qd2 Rc8 12.Rad1 Re8 13.Rfe1 Nh5 14.Bh6 Nb4 15.Bxg7 Kxg7 16.a3 Nxd3 17.Qxd3 Nf4 18.Qe3 Ne6 19.Qxa7 Nc5 20.Nd5 e6 21.Nb6 Rc6 22.b4 Nxe4 23.Nxd7 Qxd7 24.Rxe4 f5 25.Qd4+ Kg8 26.Ree1 Rd8 27.Re2 Qg7 28.Red2 b5 29.Rc1 Rc4 30.Qd3 Qf6 31.Nd4 Rb8 32.Nxb5 d5 33.Nd4 Rd8 34.Nb3 e5 35.Qf3 e4 36.Qe3 Rc3 37.Qd4 Qc6 38.Kf1 Rxb3 39.Qa1 Rc3 40.a4 Ra8 41.a5 Qb5+ 42.Ke1 Qxb4 43.Rxd5 Rc5+ 44.Rd2 Rcxa5 45.Qf6 Rd5 46.Qe6+ Kg7 47.Qxd5 Qa3 48.Qd7+ Kh6 49.Rcd1 e3 50.fxe3 and White went on to win.

 

Bryan – Vanya

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Bc5 5.c3 d6 6.cxd4 Bb6 7.h3 Nf6 8.Bg5 h6 9.Bxf6 Qxf6 10.e5 dxe5 11.dxe5 Qe7 12.O-O O-O 13.Qe2 Re8 14.Re1 Be6 15.Bxe6 Qxe6 16.Nc3 Rad8 17.Rad1 Nd4 18.Qe4 Nxf3+ 19.Qxf3 c6 20.b3 Bc7 21.Rxd8 Rxd8 22.Qe3 Bb6 23.Qe4 Rd2 24.Rd1 Rxd1+ 25.Nxd1 Bc7 26.Qd4 Qd5 27.Qxd5 cxd5 28.f4 g5 29.g3 h5 30.fxg5 Bxe5 31.Kf2 Kg7 32.h4 f6 33.gxf6+ Bxf6 34.Kf3 Kg6 35.Kf4 b5 36.Nf2 a5 37.a4 b4 38.Nd3 Bg7 39.Kf3 Bh6 40.Ne5+ Kf5 41.Nc6 Bg7 42.Nxa5 Bd4 43.Nc6 Bc5 44.a5 d4 45.a6 d3 46.Nxb4 d2 47.Ke2 Ke4 48.Nc6 Kd5 49.a7 Kxc6 50.a8=Q+ Kb5 51.Kxd2 Bd6 52.Qd5+ Kb4 53.Qxd6+ Kxb3 54.Qc5 Kb2 55.Qc3+ Ka2 56.Qb4 Ka1 57.Kc2 Ka2 58.Qa4#

.

 

Summer Camps Wrap Up in Oakton

The chess camp season ended with a terrific camp in conjunction with AlphaSTEM in Oakton. Many of the students were new to us and the geographic diversity was great, with kids coming from Washington, DC, two communities in Maryland, various parts of Fairfax County, and Loudoun County.

Everyone who came was engaged and enthusiastic about learning the strategy of chess and all left with the skills to be able to compete effectively in the national scholastic championships that will be in the National Capital region this year.

 
We appreciate the help we got this summer from various volunteers, especially Zach (who helped for two full weeks).
 
We’ll see most of our campers in after-school clubs this fall, and others in the Theophilus Thompson Club on Sundays.

Chess Camp Comes to Northwest DC

Our staff was excited to return to the headquarters of the DC Housing Finance Agency in the Cardozo-Shaw neighborhood of Washington for our latest week of camp.  We had a range of ability levels represented among the dozen students who showed up, and everyone, regardless of playing strength, worked hard and learned something new this week.

We now move to Oakton, Virginia for the final week of our summer camp season, at Alpha STEM for the Gifted, and there is still time to register to join us.

Scenes From the Second Week of Colvin Run Camp

August 1 to 5 was the second week we spent at Colvin Run, traditionally one of our strongest camps.  The students were subjected to some rigorous tactical and endgame exercises over the course of the five days and they rose to the challenge.  As usual, we were impressed with the level of skill on display, especially in the Friday tournament that concluded the week. 

Summer Camp Season Continues at Colvin Run

Approximately 20 students joined us this past week at Colvin Run Elementary to improve their chess skills, play outside, and make new friends.
 
The first week of camp at Colvin Run is typically designed for children at the beginner to intermediate level.  Throughout the five days we rehearsed the opening principles, practiced finding tactics, and studied up on fundamental endgames.  The students learned a lot throughout the week and, come the Friday tournament, they put that knowledge to good use.
 
We’ll stay at Colvin Run next week with the camp for intermediate to advanced students.

Bishops & Beers Is Now Every Tuesday

Even with the inclement weather in Silver Spring, Bishops & Beers still brought out chess enthusiasts on Tuesday night.  Players turned up to Silver Branch Brewery for some good drinks, good food and good games of chess.

Moving forward, our meetings at the brewery will be a weekly occasion, beginning at 6 p.m. every Tuesday.  The next event will be the evening of June 19.  Whether you’re a seasoned tournament player or still learning the ropes, we hope you’ll come join us (as long as you’re over 21).  Our Meetup group has more information about Bishops & Beers and our other regular activities open to the public. 

Planning Ahead for the Nationals

Playing in big competitions is a rewarding experience for students no matter what the result.  Over the course of the next year, the greater Washington area will play host to three major national youth tournaments; this December the 2022 National K-12 Grade Championships will be held at National Harbor, followed in the spring by the National High School Championships in downtown Washington and the National Elementary (K-6) Championship at the Baltimore Convention Center.

The best way to prepare for a big tournament is to practice under the same conditions that the tournament games will follow, and this past Wednesday, over 20 of our students got together to do exactly that.  Based on the diligent efforts of theirs that we’ve observed so far, we are confident when the Nationals come to town that the local area will be represented well.

Photos From Our Friday Tournament at Churchill Road

We concluded our first week of summer camps with a tournament, during which the students had the opportunity to show off the skills they learned this week.

A champion is crowned.

We have no doubt that the students will put their knowledge to good use in other tournaments and in their school clubs when they resume in the fall.

This was our first in-person chess camp since 2019 and the students and teachers were very happy to get back into our summer routine.  There’s still time to sign up to join us at one of our later camps at the end of July or in August.
 

Chess Camp Returns at Churchill Road

The Chess Center is excited to be able to resume our in-person summer camps.   Our camp season began this past Monday at Churchill Road Elementary School in McLean.  Nearly 30 students are joining us this week to hone their chess skills and make new friends.

Our day camps combine high quality chess instruction and practice with outdoor recreational activities.  The chess lessons are structured so that all the students are challenged and no one is bored.

Our camps typically run from from 9 A.M. to 3 P.M. on Monday through Friday with aftercare available until 5.  Registration is still open for several weeks later in the summer, including camps in Vienna, Oakton and northwest Washington, DC.  

Chess Class at the Seafarers Foundation’s Summer Youth Program in Annapolis

The US Chess Center was pleased to resume our summer chess classes in partnership with Seafarers Foundation’s Summer Youth Program in Annapolis, MD.  Led by Greg Acholonu, the chess class has approximately 90 minutes of instruction and play each day over the two week camp, culminating in a camp tournament on the final Friday. 
 
Thank you to our board member, Dr. Derrick L. Cogburn, and the Seafarers Foundation for allowing us to share chess with their campers.
 

U.S. Chess Center Celebrates A Successful First Year at Sousa Elementary

The U.S. Chess Center was pleased to run a during-school chess class this past year for students in grades 6th through 8th at John Philip Sousa Middle School in Washington D.C.’s Ward 7.  More than a dozen students participated in chess class each week as part of the school’s Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) elective program and became enthusiastic players.  So much so that when a school closure was announced for the same day as our weekly chess class, Ms. Edmonds (who hosted chess in her classroom for us each week) reported that the students were disappointed to miss chess class, adding, “That is the first time I have EVER seen students unhappy about school being closed. Your chess class has surely made a positive impact on them!” 

A special thank you to Ms. Chiba Edmonds for allowing us to host chess in her classroom each week, and thank you again to the DC Housing Finance Agency, Share Fund, and all our donors for their financial support which enabled us to supply the equipment and offer chess class at Sousa at no cost to the students or school.

Pictures from Bishops & Beers on Tuesday Night

Bishops and Beers kicked off Tuesday, June 7 at Silver Branch Brewery in Silver Spring. A wide range of players, from novices to experts, showed up to socialize and play. 

Silver Branch provided a great atmosphere to meet up with old friends and make new ones over the board, and we’re already looking forward to the next event.  To stay abreast of future meetings and see more of the photos from Tuesday night, you can join our Meetup group.

Chess in the Park Comes to Eastern Market Metro

40 students showed up to Eastern Market Metro Park last Saturday, June 4 for the latest event in our series of casual drop-in tournaments.  We had a wide range of experience levels represented – some of the students were already seasoned tournament players while others were taking part in their first chess competition.

As always, it was nice to see new friendships being formed over games of chess.  We hope participating in events like these helps provide the experience and confidence the students can carry with them into other competitions.

Sunday Chess Concludes For The 2021-22 School Year

Yesterday was our last meeting of Sunday Chess before the summer. Our classes for students in grades 7-12 brought together nearly 50 students during the school year. We will start up again in the fall under a new name, the Theophilus Thompson Club, when our focus will be having our students prepared for the national scholastic chess championships.

With school pressures and competing spring activities, our last day had a smaller turnout than usual, but there were quality games of chess nonetheless.

Photos From the E.L. Haynes Junior Open

Approximately 20 elementary, middle and high school students came out this past Saturday, May 21, to play in the E.L. Haynes Junior Open.  The tournament was another successful collaboration among the U.S. Chess Center, Chess Girls DC, and E.L. Haynes Public Charter School, who hosted the event on their campus in northwest Washington.

Congratulations to Our National Elementary School Championship Participants

More often than not, when students travel to compete in strong tournaments like the state and national championships, it makes for a fantastic experience.  It’s exciting when the kids bring home trophies, and it’s also exciting when they bring back things they’ve learned from competing that they can then share with the other students in their school clubs.

At the recent National Elementary School Championships, held May 13-15 in Columbus, our students at Spring Hill got to do both.  In all, ten Spring Hill students traveled to Ohio to play, and the school finished 6th in the K-5 Championship section, while also winning trophies in the K-3 U-900 section (17th place overall), and the K-3 U-700 section (9th place overall). 

Below, Principal Eck accepts the three trophies the school brought back from Ohio after last week’s tournament.  

When the Elementary School Nationals come to Baltimore in 2023, we hope to see even more of our students come out to represent the local region.

A full list of results from the 2022 tournament is available at USCF’s website at  http://www.uschess.org/msa/XtblMain.php?202205151282.

Chess in the Park at Eastern Market Metro on June 4

Chess In The Park continues the first Saturday in June with a free outdoor tournament at Eastern Market Metro Park, staged in partnership with the DC Department of Parks and Recreation.  Any student in grades 2 through 8 may register to participate.

The tournament will follow a similar format to the event we recently held at Fairview Road Urban Park in Silver Spring.  The first round of games will begin at 10 a.m. and the tournament will finish up around 1.  Students who play need to be familiar with all of the rules of chess, including castling, stalemate and the touch-move rule.  No membership in any organization is required to take part.

There will be areas where family members and non-participants to wait during the games, but owing to space constraints, we will be unable to accommodate more than 40 students at the tournament tables at any one time, so early registration is encouraged.   Online sign-up is available here: https://register.chessctr.org/a/easternmarketmetro
 

Results from the Rockefeller Qualifier on Saturday, May 14th

Eighteen DC elementary school students turned up for the DC K-5 Championship qualifier this past Saturday, May 14th, to determine who would have the honor of representing the District at this summer’s national Rockefeller Tournament of Elementary School Champions.  Congratulatons to Lenox Serrette who won the tournament with victories in all five rounds.

We were happy to see that, among the field of participants, there were ten children playing in their first nationally rated competition.  Playing in important tournaments is the fastest and surest way to improving your playing strength, no matter the result.

To view the full standings from Saturday’s event, click here.

Come Play Chess at Silver Branch Brewing Company on June 7

The Chess Center invites all of our grown-up patrons (over 21 years of age) to join us the first Tuesday of each month for Bishops and Beers at Silver Branch Brewing Company.  

Starting June 7, participants will be able to come out and play chess while enjoying the beverage offerings at one of Silver Spring’s finest local production breweries.  One of our certified U.S. Chess Center instructors will be hosting proceedings.  Board, sets, and some clocks for those who wish to play rapid and blitz games will all be provided.

Whether you’re a complete beginner or a seasoned master, you’re welcome to come play with us.

Registration is available here: https://chessctr.org/play/bishops-and-beers/.

A Fun Saturday of Outdoor Chess at Fairview Urban Road Park

Yesterday, fifty-five children ranging from second- to eighth-graders played chess at Fairview Road Park in Silver Spring, the largest urban park in Montgomery County and just a few blocks from our headquarters.

 

The weather was beautiful as experienced tournament players and beginners alike battled wits on tables and on oversized chess boards that Montgomery Parks laid out.

Some students played as many as eleven games during the three hours while others played only three. It was great seeing new friendships formed over the board and we look forward to seeing the kids playing more.

We will have another Chess in the Park on June 4, using a similar format, at Eastern Market Metro Park in Washington, DC.

DC K-5 Championship on May 14

In just over two weeks, the District of Columbia will select its representative in the national tournament of elementary school champions.  This year’s qualification tournament is to be held at the Kellogg Conference Center at 800 Florida Avenue NE, Washington DC 20002, on Saturday, May 14.  The winner earns the right to play in the Rockefeller National Tournament of Elementary School Champions later this summer.

The tournament is open to D.C. residents in kindergarten through grade 5.  This is a nationally rated tournament, so players must be or become U.S. Chess Federation members in order to play. The tournament starts at 9:30 the morning of May 14, but registration closes on Thursday, May 12 at 3:00 P.M., so players interested in taking part should be sure to sign up before then.

More information and online registration is available at https://dcscholasticchess.org/tournaments

 

Three Sunday Chess Students Competed in National High School Championships

Three students from Sunday Chess attended the 2022 National High School Championships in Memphis over the weekend. The tournament had been cancelled for the previous two years because of the pandemic, so there was a lot of pent-up enthusiasm for this year’s event.

 

This was the third Nationals Anish attended, but the first major national for Zach and Ret. All three had wonderful experiences and are more prepared for the series of national championships coming up in the DC area over the next few years.

The tournament was run exceptionally well, with professional staff handling every detail efficiently. The rounds started on time, the side events were fun for the students, and the conditions of play were the best ever for a scholastic tournament. We look forward to spectacular events at National Harbor in December and in downtown DC next March.

Posted below is a win of Zach’s from the first half of the competition.  Zach, playing the black pieces, managed to hold on against an intimidating attack during the first 25 moves.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. d3 b5 6. Bb3 d6 7. c3 Be7 8. O-O O-O 9. Nbd2 Na5 10. Bc2 c5 11. Re1 Re8 12. Nf1 h6 13. Ng3 Bf8 14. a4 Bb7 15. axb5 axb5 16. Nf5 c4 17. d4 exd4 18. N3xd4 Bxe4 19. Bxe4 Nxe4 20. Nxh6+ gxh6 21. Qg4+ Ng5 22. Rxe8 Qxe8 23. Bxg5 hxg5 24. Qxg5+ Bg7 25. Nf5 Qe5

White is down a piece, but looks as though he will regain it after 26. Ne7+ Kf8 27. Qxe5 Bxe5 28. Nc6 .  However, Zach’s 28….Ra6 kept him in the driver’s seat, since after 29. Nxa5 b4 30. cxb4 Bxb2, the pin on the a5-knight means that White can’t stop Black’s dangerous c-pawn without losing material.

Instead, White played 29. f4, and the game concluded: 29…Rxc6 30. fxe5 Nb7 31. Ra7 Rb6 32. exd6 Nxd6 33. h4 Ne4 34. g4 Nc5 35. Kg2 Na4 36. Kf3 Nxb2 37. Ke4 Nd3 38. Kd5 Kg7 39. g5 Re6 40. Rb7 Re5+ 41. Kd4 Rf5 42. Rb6 Nc5 43. Ke3 Na4 and White resigned.  0-1

The full set of results from the 2022 tournament is available here

Congratulations to the Denker and Barber Qualifiers from DC

The District of Columbia’s qualification events for the national Denker and Barber championships took place this past Saturday afternoon, April 2.  Students turned up from all around DC to compete for the middle and high school championship titles.

Ben Tyrrell (below left, playing black) won all four of his games to take first place in the high school section and earn the right to represent the District at the Denker Tournament of High School Champions later this summer.  Ethan Crawford (below right) put up the same perfect score to win the middle school section and qualify to represent Washington at the Dewain Barber National Tournament of Middle School Champions.  Both events will be held this July 30 – August 2 in Rancho Mirage, California.

We’re grateful to the DC Housing Finance Agency for hosting the event at their headquarters, and to Robin Ramson for her efforts organizing and promoting the tournament.  The full set of results from both the middle and high school sections is available here: 

US Chess MSA – Cross Table for DC BARBER DENKER QUALIFIER (Event 202204022192)

Metro Area Chess League 2021-22: Playoff Results

Montgomery Blair’s domination of the Metro Area Chess League continued through the play-offs as they swept to the championship winning all three of their matches. The play-offs were held Saturday, March 26, in the museum of United Therapeutics in Blair’s home turf of downtown Silver Spring, Maryland. The league is grateful to United Therapeutics for providing such a convenient and comfortable location for the play-offs, and for the snacks.

The Montgomery Blair team posing with the winner's trophy.

Richard Montgomery High School of Rockville finished in second place with a 1½ – 1½ score (one win, one draw and one loss), followed by Woodrow Wilson High School of the District of Columbia (1 – 2) and Gonzaga College High School (½ – 2½).  

The league included 22 teams this year from the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, starting play in November. This is the first time the league was run virtually, but with the success of this year, we will run the league this way again in the 2022-23 school year. Any high school in the metro area may join.

Playoff Results

Round 1

Montgomery Blair High School 3-1 Woodrow Wilson High School

Richard Montgomery High School 2.5-1.5 Gonzaga College High School

Round 2

Richard Montgomery High School 2-2 Woodrow Wilson High School

Gonzaga College High School 0-4 Montgomery Blair High School

Round 3

Woodrow Wilson High School 2-2 Gonzaga College High School 

Montgomery Blair High School 3-1 Richard Montgomery High School

DC Denker and Barber Qualifiers This Saturday

The Denker Tournament of High School Champions is an annual invitational event for the champions of all 50 states  and the District of Columbia.  Named for the late Grandmaster Arnold Denker, a former U.S. Champion and a tireless promoter of chess among young people, the tournament has been one of the most prestigious national events for students in grades 9-12 since its inception 38 years ago.

The Dewain Barber National Tournament of Middle School Champions, now in its 12th year, is the corresponding annual event for students in grades 6-8.  This year both the Denker and Barber tournaments will be held in the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage, California, from July 30 – August 2.  This coming Saturday, April 2, Washington, DC will hold its qualification tournaments to determine who will represent the District in these events.

The qualifiers will be held at the DC Housing Finance Agency at 815 Florida Ave., NW., Washington DC 20001.  The event is open to DC residents only, and is nationally rated by the U.S. Chess Federation, so participants must join the USCF if they are not already members.  Proof of COVID vaccination is required to participate. 

The entry fee is $20.  This is a four-round Swiss system tournament with time control: Game/25 + 10.  Players should bring clocks if they have them.  The first round starts at 1 P.M.

Online registration is available at: https://dcscholasticchess.org/tournaments (scroll midway down the page).

Photos from the final class of Chess Kids 2021-22

This past Saturday, March 26, 2022 was the final class of our Chess Kids program for 2021-2022.  Stay tuned this fall when we open registration again for the 2022-2023 sessions.  In the meantime, here are some photos from Chess Kids this spring.