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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!

Elementary Team League 2023-24 Round 1 Results

The U.S. Chess Center’s Elementary Team League is back for a brand-new season of action.  The first day of matches took place this past weekend at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Tyson’s Corner.

Teams consist of four players from each school, and every team plays two matches on each of the eight match days.  Willow Springs is off to an early lead after recording 4-0 and 3-1 scores in their first two matches on Saturday, with White Oaks in second place as the only other team to have won both matches.

Round 1:
Ravensworth 1-3 White Oaks
Kent Gardens 3-1 Colvin Run
Greenbriar West 0-4 Spring Hill 
Churchill Road 0-4 Willow Springs
Poplar Tree 2-0 Orange Hunt
Oakton 1-0 Lorton Station
Round 2:
Spring Hill 2-2 Kent Gardens
White Oaks 2.5 – 1.5 Churchill Road
Willow Springs 3-1 Greenbriar West
Lorton Station 0-2 Poplar Tree
Colvin Run 4-0 Ravensworth
Orange Hunt 0-2 Oakton
Standings after Matchday 1 of 8:

Willow Springs 30
White Oaks 27
Spring Hill 26
Kent Gardens 24
Colvin Run 22
Poplar Tree 16
Oakton 12
Churchill Road 11
Greenbriar West 10
Ravensworth 10
Lorton Station 2
Orange Hunt 2

Any student in our after school chess clubs can sign up to play in the ETL, and we especially like to encourage participaton among those students who have never played in competitions outside of their schools.   With a total of eight match days in the season, there are plenty of opportunities for everyone, so if your child is interested in playing, reach out to their chess club instructor.

2023-24 season of the Metro Area Chess League starts this week

We have 26 high schools competing so far this year.  Visit Metro Area Chess League (MACL) – Overview for more information.

Round 1 Pairings

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

Book Review – “The Match of All Time” – An Important Contribution to Chess History

No American made a greater impact on chess than Bobby Fischer, and his phenomenal ability would be reduced to an interesting series of chess tales had he not captured the World Chess Championship in the most-watched chess match ever. The Cold War implications of the 1972 match brought attention to chess from the whole world, including millions of people who had never played the game.  

Gudmundur Thorarinsson’s book, The Match of All Time, featured as New in Chess’s eBook of the Week for this week, describes in brilliant detail the intrigue, luck, and phenomenal effort that allowed this match to be played. No one was in a better position to record the drama: Mr. Thorarinsson was the President of the Iceland Chess Federation at the time the small island nation produced the winning bid for the match, and it was Mr. Thorarinsson who negotiated with all the parties involved with the match that changed the chess world forever.

The Match of All Time sets forth the context of the match, provides excellent short biographies of Fischer’s predecessors as World Chess Champion, and describes coherently and concisely the personalities of the parties who made the match a reality. Thorarinsson’s perspectives are fascinating, as he was the organizer of the event and ultimately responsible for all its details. While he was never privy to the discussions taking place in America or the Soviet Union, he was the force that brought the two sides together despite the many obstacles thrown up by the American player and the leadership and bureaucracy of the Soviet Union. 

The Soviet World Champion, Boris Spassky, described by everyone who knows him as a perfect gentleman and sportsman, wanted to play the match. His score against Fischer up to the point of the match (three wins, two draws, no losses) gave him confidence. Soviet leaders, however, were more concerned with keeping the championship title a Soviet possession, which it had been since 1948. Those who ran the Soviet Union needed to be convinced, both by its own citizens and by the match organizers, to allow Mr. Spassky to play against Fischer, who flouted the norms and rules of the sanctioning body of chess, FIDE.

Of course, dealing with Fischer was not easy. He refused to commit to play and made demands of the organizers, which became more strident as negotiations lurched forward. Even by the time of the opening ceremony, it was not clear that Fischer would board the airplane in New York to come to Iceland to play. With the intervention of National Security Advisor (and later, Secretary of State) Henry Kissinger, Fischer finally showed up. Thorarinsson describes his involvement in getting leaders of the greatest antagonists of the Cold War to agree to have a chess match played.

Bobby Fischer (left) in 1972 with then-FIDE President, Max Euwe. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Thorarinsson criticizes the United States for the way it treated Fischer late in his life, complaining that our country wanted to incarcerate the chess hero it had celebrated in 1972. It is true that Fischer was indicted by a District of Columbia grand jury for alleged crimes committed by playing chess in former Yugoslavia. It is also true that he was not indicted during the George H.W. Bush administration, when the match was played, and was not indicted during the eight years of the Clinton presidency. 

It was not until years later, after Fischer commended the 9/11 attacks on the United States, that the George W. Bush administration decided to prosecute Fischer. (Boris Spassky, who performed the same acts as Bobby Fischer, and as a French resident was subject to the same UN sanctions as pertained to Fischer, was never charged with a crime.) However, as a chapter of Julius Kaplan’s legal memoir,
Secrets and Suspense, suggested, the prosecutors had no great interest in putting him in jail but wanted to confiscate much of Fischer’s money.

Nobody but Thorarinsson could have written this book, and its value for the posterity of chess history cannot be matched. It is wonderful for the game that he wrote the book, and it will be a valuable resource for chess historians to come.

Chess Kids Is Back For The New School Year

The first few sessions of this year’s Chess Kids are being held at Eastern Middle School in Silver Spring. Two dozen students from kindergarten through sixth grade have joined us during the first two weeks of the new session.

The Chess Kids program has run on Saturday mornings for 30 years, and the goal has always been the same: helping children cultivate a basic understanding of the rules, etiquette, and strategy of chess through structured lessons and practice play. The class attracts students from throughout the metro area, including kids from Montgomery and Prince George’s County, Maryland, as well as the District of Columbia and northern Virginia.

In addition to playing with kids from other backgrounds, the students receive lessons that focus on the fundamental strategies of the game, such as the importance of playing aggressively rather than passively. Thousands of elementary school students have joined us in the program over the years, including many who have gone on to become strong tournament players.

Chess Kids operates in four-week sessions, and registration for the second session, which starts on October 28, is open now.  You can also register for sessions 3-6.

Chess Kids operates in four-week sessions, and registration for the second session, which starts on October 28, is open now.

Photos From Robert Katende’s Visit to Lanham

If there are any better tools than chess to teach life skills to young people, we don’t know what they are.

Robert Katende has spent the last two decades helping impoverished Ugandans escape some of the hardest slums in the world using sports, especially chess. Every year, he comes to the Washington, DC, area to host a free chess tournament, most recently this past Saturday in Lanham.

Several volunteers, including Scott Low and Andy Tichenor, helped make the event fun for children and adults. (Scott played in events at the U.S. Chess Center as a child and teenager. That was 15 years ago, and we are proud that we contributed to his development as a chess player and terrific human being.)

Katende’s best-known student is Women’s Candidate Master Phiona Mutesi, who was illiterate and hungry when she entered his chess classes in Katwe, Uganda, looking for food. Now a college graduate and an analyst for Deloitte, she credits learning chess for developing the skills she uses as an adult.

Hundreds of students come through Sports Outreach, Katende’s organization to help impoverished Ugandans and we appreciate that the Washington Education Zone in Lanham provided beautiful space in which to host a screening of Disney’s movie Queen of Katwe, the free tournament, and a simultaneous exhibition of chess. We will see them back here next year.

Spend National Chess Weekend (Oct 13-14) in Lanham, MD and meet Robert Katende

On Friday, October 13, you have a chance to meet Robert Katende and support Sports Outreach. On Saturday, October 14, the Washington Education Zone (Miles Hall at 8401 Good Luck Road in Lanham) will host its annual free chess tournament and a simultaneous exhibition by Mr. Katende.

Phiona Mutesi (seated left in the photo below) is one of the most inspiring stories to come from the chess world. As an under-nourished child in a slum of Uganda, Phiona discovered chess and became a champion of the African continent. Her story was written in The Queen of Katwe, then turned into a successful Disney movie.

We never would have heard of Phiona, however, had Robert Katende not created a chess program that welcomed her. Katende’s story, while not as well known, is equally inspiring. He also was brought up in difficult circumstances by his grandmother in Uganda. Through hard work and perseverance, he went to college, played soccer at a high level, and created a charity to help impoverished young people in his home country.

On National Chess Day this year, you have a chance to meet him and hear him speak.

New Year of Chess Classes Begins at Burroughs Elementary in DC

We are excited to be back at Burroughs Educational Campus in northeast DC. Every week, we teach all of the second, third, and fourth graders the rules, strategy, etiquette, and discipline of chess.

Teachers from the U.S. Chess Center have been coming to Burroughs since 2019, and are pleased that the school is growing. With forty more students in our chess classes this year compared to last, we are providing an additional twenty chess sets so that more than 100 students learn the game every week.

The students are excited about learning to play the game, and we hope to have them become tournament players and join millions of others around the world who form friendships over the board.

The second graders have started learning the Pawn Game, which has been our method of teaching the strategy of chess to students as they learn the rules, while the third and fourth graders began this week with the full game. Nearly all of the students in those grades had learned chess from us in school last year and the year before.

Across the Battlefield: A Pawn’s Journey, a review of a children’s book

A book that describes not just the rules of chess but also abstract concepts and basic strategy, while at the same time introducing a plot with about 10 named personalities in 48 pages, is asking a lot of a pre-adolescent reader.  In my opinion, it’s too much.

Jonathan Ferry’s Across the Battlefield, beautifully illustrated by Caroline Zina, is such a book. He takes an interesting game, gives pawns and pieces individual names and personalities, and creates a story about the development of Prunella the Pawn. That would be enough, but the book uses the story as a vehicle to describe the rules and strategy of chess. For many readers, especially early readers, the effort to remember characters and their traits will take precedence over the chess vocabulary and chess strategy the book describes.

A child could well be captivated by the pictures on each page. If read to second graders who had not been exposed to the game, the book could generate interest in learning to play. However, children are likely to be overwhelmed by the firehose of information about the rules, vocabulary, and strategy of the game.

In short, the excess ambition of Across the Battlefield works against its effectiveness in introducing chess concepts to its target audience of 6- to 10-year olds.

Across the Battlefield: A Pawn’s Journey, written by Jonathan Ferry and illustrated by Caroline Zina, is published by Chess Tales, LLC, of St. Louis, MO.

Theophilus Thompson Club Resumes on Sundays

In some places, school has started. In others, it is about to begin. For any local student, however, the last Sunday of August means that the Theophilus Thompson Club brings students in grades 7-12 together for chess.


Kids who enjoy the game and want to improve arrived in McLean yesterday for practice, lessons, and socializing. They played some blitz, as well as a game with a normal tournament time control. We discussed the strategy of the game and found some cool tactics.

This year, we plan to have students compete in the National High School Championships in April in Baltimore. We also are working on organizing internet matches with students from other countries and, if things go well, travel abroad for in-person matches as we have in previous years.


The Club meets nearly every Sunday from now through the end of the school year.  Online registration is available for those who wish to join us.

U.S. Chess Center Founder David Mehler Profiled in Washington Jewish Week

Since forming the U.S. Chess Center over 30 years ago, David Mehler has been at the center of our efforts to teach the game to young people.  In a feature published earlier today by Washington Jewish Week, he touches on several topics related to the Center, including the philosophy that has helped us reach tens of thousands of students in the greater D.C. area with our instruction. 

From our beginning, we’ve always encouraged the idea of chess not as an exclusive vocation for some cadre of intellectual super-elites, but rather as a pastime that everyone can enjoy with their friends.  As Mr. Mehler explains, anyone can learn to play and anyone can profit from learning.  Children who may be used to thinking only about short-term consequences learn the value of strategizing and planning ahead toward a long term goal, and students in the habit of acting out in the classroom can find an outlet for their energies that is equal parts competitive and mentally demanding.  Our preference for in-school chess classes over after-school clubs exists for the simple reason that those students least likely to sign up to learn the game are the ones likely to benefit the most from doing so. 

Our perspective on teaching the game runs along those same egalitarian lines.  Aside from a required rudimentary understanding of the rules, strategy and etiquette of chess, there’s not necessarily a correlation between playing strength and the ability to effectively impart the fundamentals to children.  Beyond Mr. Mehler’s jest about how “I make terrible moves while I’m playing competitively, but I can teach kids not to follow my example,” there’s a great deal of truth to the idea that you don’t have to be a grandmaster to be a good teacher of the game; you just need patience and a basic knowledge of what makes chess so useful. 


You can read the entire article on Mr. Mehler and the beginnings of the U.S. Chess Center here.  And, if you agree that chess can be a valuable tool to sharpen the minds of children, please consider donating to support our charitable work.

Postcards From The Bobby Fischer Center In Iceland

Fifty-one years ago this month, the chess match that changed the game forever began in Iceland, and since then that tiny island in the North Atlantic has been excited about the game. Iceland has had the most grandmasters per capita in the world since the 1970s and is unique in being the only country with more International Grandmasters (14) than International Masters (12).

In 2005, Iceland conferred citizenship on Bobby Fischer and sent a plane to retrieve him from Japan, where he was being held in custody at the demand of the United States. Fischer remained on the small island nation for the rest of his life.

After he passed away, a group of chess enthusiasts created the Bobby Fischer Center near his final resting place in Selfoss. The Center celebrates Fischer’s life and chess career with particular emphasis on his connection to Iceland.

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit. Its director, Aldís Sigfúsdóttir, is very knowledgeable and gave my wife and me a comprehensive tour. The museum emphasizes Fischer’s life in Iceland and has an excellent display of photos from the 1972 match. We also saw the Letters of Citizenship prepared by Iceland’s Parliament granting Fischer a method of exit from the Japanese jail where he had been held.

The 1972 match pitted the Soviet Empire, which had dominated high-level chess since the second world war, against a young American who eschewed assistance. Fischer knew the world champion, Boris Spassky, but had never beaten him over the board. He had lost three times while securing two draws in their previous matches. However, Fischer had gone on a record-setting run of victories leading up to the World Championship match, including winning 20 games in a row against players competing for the right to challenge for the world championship. Fischer’s international rating was 125 points higher than Spassky’s, a formidable difference.

The match attracted more attention than any previous chess match because of the international politics involved. Fischer made demands on the match organizers up until the games began, and for a while refused to travel to Iceland for the match. It took a series of efforts, including a call from the U.S. National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger to implore Fischer to play the match and win for his country, to convince him to compete. By then, the match had been postponed for two days and the Soviet Union had to be persuaded to allow Spassky to compete after the insult of waiting for Fischer to arrive.

At last the match began, and the daily analysis of the games became the most-watched television in America. I had a personal stake in this, as it was in the run-up to the match that people asked me to teach them the game. It proved to be an avocation I would never relinquish.

The museum provides quite a bit of space to Boris Spassky, mainly about the 1972 match. It also covers their second match twenty years after the first, this time in the former Yugoslavia, which led to the indictment of Fischer for violating the U.S. embargo.

Despite their rivalry, the two World Champions became friends. The moving note of condolence that Spassky sent to be read at Fischer’s funeral in 2008 called Fischer his brother.

The Bobby Fischer Center also is used as a place to teach junior players. A substantial library of chess books is available for students to use, and there is space for about a dozen students at a time to play or receive lessons from volunteer grandmasters.

The Bobby Fischer Center is one of only three museums dedicated to World Chess Champions. (Emmanuel Lasker and Max Euwe are the other World Champions to have museums devoted to their memories.) Iceland is a fascinating and beautiful country, and chess players who travel there should make a point of visiting Selfoss, about 45 minutes outside Reykjavik on the Ring Road, and plan to spend an hour or two there.

Summer Camp Season is in Full Swing

Our summer season of chess has kicked off with day camps at Churchill Road Elementary School in McLean, Virginia.  During the last week of June we drew two dozen campers for the first week of camp designed for newer players, and twenty students have joined us at this week’s camp geared toward more advanced students.


The camp curriculum is designed to be challenging to every student who shows up.  Our beginner students are learning basic endgame skills like checkmating with king and queen versus king or king and rook versus king, while our more advanced students are figuring out more difficult endgames.  No matter their skill level, everybody leaves camp at the end of the week with more knowledge than they had at the beginning.

In between games of chess, we take the students outside for Capture the Flag and other competitions.  It’s important to be able to take a break from chess every so often, but it’s also important that we’re always strategizing, even when we’re running around outside!
Each camp finishes up on Friday with a tournament.  Many of the students already come to us as tournament veterans, but for some of our newer players this is their first ever experience in any kind of chess competition.  Win or lose, they have all acquired skills and confidence to put to use as they continue to branch out into chess.
After this week, our camps move to Fairfax, Virginia (Greenbriar West Elementary) for the week of July 17-21, before two weeks of camp in Vienna, Virginia (Colvin Run Elementary).  We then finish up the summer spending the week in Takoma Park, Maryland (Piney Branch Elementary).  Space is still open at all our remaining camps, so there is still time to sign up to join us later this summer!


More information and registration: Summer Chess Day Camps – U.S. Chess Center (

Lessons and Memories From the 51st World Open

The 51st Annual World Open of Chess just concluded in Philadelphia. It was my first tournament in several months, and I looked forward to taking one of the top places in my section. It was, in a word: humbling. As chess players, we expect to study and see improvements in the form of wins and higher game accuracy. As an instructor, I felt I was in a good position to crush opponents at the rating that I’ve held flat for 2 years. Instead, I found that Caïssa comes for all of us. Of my 14 classical games, only 2 entered what could be called an endgame. Four ended because of significant blunders: 2 were mine, 2 were my opponents’—4 more than I had hoped, but I’ll take the wins with the losses.

I finished 2.5/5 in the women’s tournament (winning the U1400 prize), and 5/9 in the World Open. A supremely average result, in my opinion. I performed poorly in the blitz side tournament but did well in the rapid one. Both were extremely fun aspects of tournaments that I had never experienced before, but that I will seek out every chance I can. I learned some things about chess, and about myself. But what will stay with me forever is not Rxe6 in Game 9 (well maybe that too) but the time I spent with friends.

At the previous tournament that I competed in, the Eastern Open last December, I met a friend who has become my primary training partner. We’re evenly matched, but play very differently, which proves useful. Every Friday we’d meet to play a long time control game and analyze afterwards. At the tournament, we shared a hotel room and excitedly called each other after our games. When we got back to the room together after the round, we’d go through each other’s games and explain our reasoning to each other like sinners in a confessional. I met other new friends as well and exchanged numbers.


Chess can’t be learned in isolation, as so many are inclined to do these days. Meeting other people, with wildly different backgrounds and philosophies, adds diversity to our understanding of the royal game. Some of them have bad ideas, some ingenious, and some ideas have questionable merit but are fun to explore. What I do know is, I’ll be back.

Chess in the Park Closes Season With Another Big Crowd

The sun shone, the birds chirped, and 73 students came to Eastern Market Metro Park to play chess in the park. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (pictured below) greeted the players and their families at its conclusion, handing out a dozen trophies to winning individuals and teams and 16 medallions to those who won more games than they lost.

Today marked the final of three events sponsored by Barracks Row Main Street, which also hosts free chess play every Friday evening. It was an exciting day for the players. 41 different schools from across the District of Columbia, Maryland and northern Virginia were represented.  Washington Latin Public Charter School won the championship team trophy for the third consecutive tournament, and School Within School brought home the second place team award, edging out Brent Elementary and EW Stokes Public Charter.

We plan to continue these Chess in the Park events in the 2023-2024 school year.  Be sure to subscribe to our emails to learn about future tournaments and other events/programs.

Great day of Chess at DC Public Library’s Battle of the Branches

On Saturday, June 10th, the DC Public Library System held it’s first “Battle of the Branches” chess tournament at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.  The Chess Center’s own, Ms. Riley Dosh, served as Tournament Director and students from our Friends of Cleveland Park Library Chess Club were among the 57 competitors (of which 26 were children and 31 were adults).  Chess players were divided into two leagues by self-declaration – a Beginner League with 16 players and an Intermediate League with 41 players.  

Congratulations to Richard Wu (10 years old), representing MLK Library, who won the Beginner League with an undefeated 7 of 7 wins!  Meanwhile, Jesse Webb took second place and Elbert deGuzman, representing Bellevue Library, was third.

The Intermediate League was won by Jarock Davis, representing Cleveland Park Library (one of our students!).  Larry Jefferson, representing Benning Road Library, took second place; Nathan Pho, representing Southwest Library, was third; and Richard Aiken, representing Tenley-Friendship Neighborhood Library, took fourth place.

In the “Battle of the Branches” overall competition where the scores of the top three players from each branch were compared, Benning Road Library emerged victorious with 13 of their 17 games won.

DCPL Battle of the Branches 2023-06-10

Thank you to Dubian Ade, Carol Auerbach, and the rest of the DCPL staff and librarians for organizing the tournament.  Thank you to NM David Bennett for assisting Ms. Dosh in running the tournament, and thank you to Robin Ramson of ChessGirlsDC, for providing chess sets and other logistical support.

Congratulations to all the winners and players!

Another great day of Chess in the Park on May 20th

Our second drop-in tournament this spring at Eastern Market Metro was held under blue skies this past Saturday, May 20.  Staged in cooperation with Barracks Row Main Street and the DC Department of Parks and Recreation, this event had over 40 students showing up to play over the two and a half hours.  The players ranged from grades 2 to 8, and from experienced USCF tournament players to first-timers.  

On June 24 we will hold a third and final Chess in the Park Tournament at Eastern Market Metro Plaza with the same format and again we will present awards to the top players, including top girl and top DC school (so encourage others from your school to register and play).  Pre-Register online for June 24 at:

Magruder High School Live Streaming Chess Competition

Metro Area Chess League participant Col. Zadok Magruder High School is in the middle of their spring chess competition.  Games are taking place in the auditorium during the school day, and Magruder’s chess club sponsor, Mr. Sanders, has put in the effort to set the event up for streaming.  The games can be followed live on the school’s YouTube channel.  The semifinals and finals are currently set for May 17 and 24, respectively.

We are very pleased to see school faculty members devoting time, space and energy to promote chess among students.

Chess in the Park Kicks Off 2023 Season at Eastern Market Metro

Despite the gray skies and raw temperatures, 37 students representing 28 schools (14 of them in DC) came to play in the first of three Chess in the Park events the U.S. Chess Center is organizing at Eastern Market Metro Park. Working in collaboration with Barracks Row Main Street and the DC Parks and Recreation Department, we were happy to welcome children in grades 2-8 to a friendly competition.

For some players, this was their first tournament. Others were experienced players, arriving with national ratings. The event is held using an informal method in which players are matched with others as soon as they finish each game. Keeping waiting time between games to a minimum means that some people played only two games while others played as many as eight. This makes it more fun for everyone.

Former ANC Commissioner Brian Ready not only provided a welcoming atmosphere for the event, at the end he provided half-price coupons for chess players and their families to come to Smoke & Mirrors, a magic show at Miracle Theatre on May 25.

DC Councilmember Charles Allen, himself a chess player, came to distribute trophies and medals to those who won more games than they lost. Mr. Allen has been a great supporter of activities at the park, located in his ward.

Washington Latin won the team championship trophy, with Brent Elementary winning the second place team trophy.

We will help with similar events at the same location on May 20 and June 24.

Upcoming Chess Tournaments This Month

Spring is turning into summer but the chess calendar is active year-round. 
After everyone had such a good time last June at the free Chess in the Park event at Eastern Market Metro, which drew students from all around the District of Columbia, Maryland and Northern Virginia, we will be hosting an additional three tournaments at the same location this year in partnership with the DC Department of Parks and Recreation.  The first such tournament takes place this coming Saturday, April 29.  Any student in grades 2 through 8 may sign up to participate.  
No membership in any organization is required to play, but students do need to be familiar with all of the rules of chess, including castling, stalemate, and the touch-move rule.  We also strongly encourage participants to sign up online in advance to secure their space.  We have additional tournaments at Eastern Market Metro scheduled for May 20 and June 24.
On May 21, Chess Girls DC will be staging a USCF-rated all-girls’ tournament at the headquarters of the Institute for Educational Leadership in northwest Washington.  The tournament is open to all women and girls, not just those residing in the District of Columbia, and there will be separate sections for children and adults.  All players must be, or become, members of the U.S. Chess Federation in order to take part.  (NOTE: This tournament has been rescheduled from its originally slated date of May 6 to Sunday, the 21st.)
Finally, two weekends from now is the National K-6 Championship, to be held in Baltimore from May 12-14.  It has been many years since the last time a national championship was held in the greater Washington area and we hope that lots of students from our schools decide to go to this year’s competition.  Regardless of how many games they win, playing in such a strong tournament is an experience they will remember fondly for the rest of their lives.  No formal qualification other than membership in the USCF is required to play.

Chess as a “Senior”

“Competitive chess is for the young,” a chess master once told me. Looking at the top players in the world, one might suspect this to be true. Carlsen, Liren, Nepomniachtchi, So, Caruana are all in their 30s and of course have been playing chess for many years. I began playing competitive chess at an “advanced age” (over 45) and wondered if this statement might have some validity to it. I decided to speak to several “senior” players and get their takes on this theory. 

Most older players relayed to me that they felt there were two areas where younger players had an advantage. They included memory and processing speed. From a personal standpoint, I might agree that memory does seem to diminish as we get older; however, it is not necessarily a given. With enough repetition and practice, older players can improve their ability to remember openings, strategies, etc. In terms of processing speed i.e. the ability to make and spot a strong move more quickly, this could be dependent on the amount of time a player has to practice and study and how long they have been playing. (For the most part my experience with younger players has been that they tend to move very quickly, but often their move is not the optimal one.) 

As we age, it is a known fact that our brains shrink and learning new skills may take more time; however, it is also a known fact that older adults can still learn new information and should do so in order to keep their brains healthy. This concept is called neuroplasticity or the forming of new neural pathways.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a well-known neurosurgeon, medical writer and journalist says in his book Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age that reasoning and problem solving are “key to building cognitive reserve” (brain resiliency). He goes on to say that the greater one’s “cognitive reserve”, the more likely we are to “stave off the degenerative brain changes” associated with many of the common brain diseases including dementia.

Even though we may not have any illusions about becoming chess masters, playing competitive chess can be a wonderfully challenging brain building activity. At the very least it is definitely a cognitively stimulating activity that I am sure Dr. Gupta would approve of. I would encourage anyone, including seniors, to give it a try. After all, who knows for sure what the long-term benefits may be!

Montgomery Blair Retains Metro Area Chess League Title

The Metro Area Chess League playoffs for the 2022-2023 season have concluded.  Just like last year, the championship was decided in a quadrangular round-robin tournament with the top four schools from the regular season, and like last year, Montgomery Blair High School (Silver Spring, MD) edged out Richard Montgomery High School (Rockville, MD) to take the title, with Richard Montgomery finishing as runners-up.

Gonzaga College High School of northwest Washington defeated Arlington Career Center (Arlington, VA) in their individual match to take third place, and also earn the award for the top DC school this year.  Congratulations to all four playoff teams on their outstanding seasons!

Playoff Standings

1. Montgomery Blair High School (2.5 match points)

2. Richard Montgomery High School (2 match points)

3. Gonzaga College High School (1 match point)

4. Arlington Career Center (0.5 match points)

Elementary Team League 2022-23 Matchday 8 Results 

The final matchday of this year’s Elementary Team League wrapped up earlier today.  At the end of a close race for the season championship, Spring Hill Elementary took the title ahead of Churchill Road, who settled for the runner-up spot.   White Oaks swept both of their matches by 4-0 scores to earn the final spot on the podium.  Congratulations to the winners!

We’re grateful to St. Luke’s for providing the venue and tables for most of the matchdays this year, and thankful to the over 200 students from 12 schools who took part in the League this year.  Playing in the ETL helps these students build the skills and confidence to represent their schools in strong tournaments.  With the national elementary school championships being staged later this year in Baltimore, we anticipate some of these students will be taking part.

Round 15 Results

Westbriar 1-3 Spring Hill

Churchill Road 0-4 White Oaks 

Poplar Tree 3.5-0.5 Kent Gardens

Colvin Run 4-0 Ravensworth

Orange Hunt 0-4 Greenbriar West

Willow Springs 3-0 Lorton Station

Round 16 Results

 Greenbriar West 2-2 Westbriar

Spring Hill 3.5 – 0.5 Colvin Run

Ravensworth 2-2 Willow Springs

Lorton Station 2-0 Orange Hunt

White Oaks 4-0 Poplar Tree

Kent Gardens 1-3 Churchill Road

Final Team Standings After Matchday 8

Spring Hill 196

Churchill Road 184

White Oaks 176

Greenbriar West 174

Kent Gardens 164

Colvin Run 154

Westbriar 153

Willow Springs 153

Lorton Station 128

Poplar Tree 126

Ravensworth 88

Orange Hunt 85

Elementary Team League 2022-23 Matchday 7 Results

This season of the Elementary Team League is in the homestretch and last Saturday’s matches again drew a near-maximum turnout.  Churchill Road won an important match against leaders Spring Hill and is now just a single point behind heading into the final day of matches.  Third place Kent Gardens is also still in with a chance but would need results in the top two schools’ matches to go their way in order to catch up.

The final matches are on Saturday, March 25 and all of our after-school chess club members are welcome to sign up to join in the fun.  If your child is interested in participating, please reach out to their school club instructor.

Round 13 Results

Lorton Station 1-3 Greenbriar West

Westbriar 2-1 White Oaks 

Ravensworth 2-2 Kent Gardens

Colvin Run 2-2 Orange Hunt

Churchill Road 4-0 Poplar Tree 

Willow Springs 1-3 Spring Hill

Round 14 Results

 Poplar Tree 3-0 Westbriar

White Oaks 3-1 Colvin Run

Greenbriar West 2-2 Willow Springs

Orange Hunt 1-2 Ravensworth

Kent Gardens 3-1 Lorton Station 

Spring Hill 1-3 Churchill Road

Team Standings After Matchday 7

Spring Hill 167

Churchill Road 166

Kent Gardens 155

Greenbriar West 148

White Oaks 144

Westbriar 137

Colvin Run 133

Willow Springs 131

Lorton Station 117

Poplar Tree 107

Orange Hunt 85

Ravensworth 74

Metro Area Chess League 2022-23 Round 7 Results

This season’s Metro Area Chess League competition so far has been even closer and more exciting than we thought it would be.  No school has secured a playoff berth yet going into the final round, and depending on the results of those matches, any of nine schools may make it in.  On Tuesday night, Montgomery Blair edged a narrow match with West Springfield, 2.5-1.5, to tie Richard Montgomery on match points and move into the lead on the board points tiebreaker.  Langley, Falls Church and Arlington Career Center are just half a point behind the two leaders, and along with Gonzaga College and McLean, can guarantee a final four spot by winning their last round matches.  Centreville and Seneca Valley are also in with a chance of making the playoffs, although they would need to win in Round 8 and get help from results elsewhere.

Round 7 Results

Centreville High School 2-2 Richard Montgomery High School

Arlington Career Center 2-2 Falls Church High School

West Springfield High School 1.5-2.5 Montgomery Blair High School

Col. Zadok Magruder High School 1-3 Langley High School

 Seneca Valley High School 2-2 Gonzaga College High School

Don Bosco Cristo Rey 0-4 McLean High School

Winston Churchill High School 1-3 Rochambeau French Intl. School

W.T. Woodson High School 3-1 St. Anselm’s Abbey School

BASIS DC 2-2 Washington Intl. School 

Sandy Spring Friends School – DeMatha Catholic High School

Sidwell Friends School 0-4 Georgetown Preparatory School

Rockville High School 4-0 Eastern High School

St. Albans School 4-0 St. John’s High School

E.L. Haynes Public Charter School 1-3 Bishop McNamara High School

Standings After Round 7

PlaceSchoolTotal Match PointsTotal Board Points
1stMontgomery Blair High School5.519.5
2ndRichard Montgomery High School 5.519
3rdLangley High School519
4th (Tie)Arlington Career Center518
4th (Tie)Falls Church High School518
6th (Tie)Gonzaga College High School4.518
6th (Tie)McLean High School4.518
8th (Tie)Centreville High School4.516
8th (Tie)Seneca Valley High School4.516
10thRockville High School417
11thWest Springfield High School416.5
12thCol. Zadok Magruder High School416
13thRochambeau French Intl. School415.5
14thW.T. Woodson High School415
15th (Tie)Winston Churchill High School3.514.5
15th (Tie)Washington Intl. School3.514.5
17thBASIS DC3.513.5
18th (Tie)St. Anselm’s Abbey School313
18th (Tie)Georgetown Preparatory School313
20thSt. Albans School312
21stBishop McNamara High School311
22ndSidwell Friends School2.512
23rdSandy Spring Friends School2.511.5
24thDon Bosco Cristo Rey2.510.5
25th DeMatha Catholic High School2.510
26thSt. John’s College High School210.5
27thEastern High School210
28th E.L. Haynes Public Charter School 0.54.5
29thMcKinley Technology High School01
30thIDEA Public Charter School00

Round 8 Pairings

McLean High School – Montgomery Blair High School

Richard Montgomery High School – Gonzaga College High School

Falls Church High School – Langley High School

Arlington Career Center – Centreville High School

Rochambeau French Intl. School – Seneca Valley High School

West Springfield High School – W.T. Woodson High School

DeMatha Catholic High School – Col. Zadok Magruder High School

Washington Intl. School – Winston Churchill High School

Georgetown Preparatory School – Rockville High School

St. Anselm’s Abbey School – BASIS DC

St. Albans School – Don Bosco Cristo Rey

Bishop McNamara High School – Sandy Spring Friends School

Sidwell Friends School – E.L. Haynes Public Charter School

Eastern High School – St. John’s College High School


Metro Area Chess League 2022-23 Round 6 Results

This past round of the Metro Area Chess League was the most closely fought of the season so far.  Most of the matches were swayed by the outcome of a single game, with several ultimately ending up as 2-2 draws.  Richard Montgomery still holds the overall lead in the standings despite ceding a draw to Falls Church, who stayed half a point behind.  Montgomery Blair and Arlington Career Center also tied their match 2-2 to remain in the other two playoff positions.  Six other schools are half a point out of the top four.

Round 6 Results

Richard Montgomery High School 2-2 Falls Church High School

Montgomery Blair High School – Arlington Career Center

Langley High School 1-3 Centreville High School

Rochambeau French Intl. School 1-3 West Springfield High School

Washington Intl. School 1-3 Seneca Valley High School

Col. Zadok Magruder High School 2-2 Winston Churchill High School

McLean High School 3-1 DeMatha Catholic High School

Georgetown Preparatory School 2-2 W.T. Woodson High School

Bishop McNamara High School 1-3 Don Bosco Cristo Rey

Rockville High School 2-2 Sandy Spring Friends School

Gonzaga College High School 3-1 Sidwell Friends School

St. John’s High School 1-3 BASIS DC

St. Anselm’s Abbey School 2-2 St. Albans School

Eastern High School 4-0 E.L. Haynes Public Charter School 

Standings After Round 6

PlaceSchoolTotal Match PointsTotal Board Points
1stRichard Montgomery High School 517
2nd Montgomery Blair High School4.517
3rd (Tie)Arlington Career Center4.516
3rd (Tie)Falls Church High School4.516
5th (Tie)Langley High School416
5th (Tie)Gonzaga College High School416
7th (Tie)Col. Zadok Magruder High School415
7th (Tie)West Springfield High School415
9th (Tie)Centreville High School414
9th (Tie)Seneca Valley High School414
11thMcLean High School3.514
12thWinston Churchill High School3.513.5
13th Rockville High School313
14th (Tie)Washington Intl. School312.5
14th (Tie)Rochambeau French Intl. School312.5
16th (Tie)W.T. Woodson High School312
16th (Tie)St. Anselm’s Abbey School312
18thBASIS DC311.5
19thSidwell Friends School2.512
20th (Tie)Sandy Spring Friends School2.510.5
20th (Tie)Don Bosco Cristo Rey2.510.5
22ndSt. John’s College High School210.5
23rdEastern High School210
24thGeorgetown Preparatory School29
25th (Tie)DeMatha Catholic High School28
25th (Tie)Bishop McNamara High School28
25th (Tie)St. Albans School28
28th E.L. Haynes Public Charter School 0.53.5
29thMcKinley Technology High School01
30thIDEA Public Charter School00

Round 7 Pairings

Centreville High School – Richard Montgomery High School

Arlington Career Center – Falls Church High School

West Springfield High School – Montgomery Blair High School

Col. Zadok Magruder High School – Langley High School

 Seneca Valley High School – Gonzaga College High School

Don Bosco Cristo Rey – McLean High School

Winston Churchill High School – Rochambeau French Intl. School

W.T. Woodson High School – St. Anselm’s Abbey School

BASIS DC – Washington Intl. School 

Sandy Spring Friends School – DeMatha Catholic High School

Sidwell Friends School – Georgetown Preparatory School

Rockville High School – Eastern High School

St. Albans School – St. John’s High School

E.L. Haynes Public Charter School – Bishop McNamara High School