Congratulations to Sunday Chess student, Ryan, for his “Outstanding Performance”

Every year we recognize one or two kids who were particularly good students in our Sunday Chess program.  Our first award, for Outstanding Performance, was presented today to Ryan.

“Chess is cool,” Ryan said accepting the trophy recognizing his hard work and dedication during Sunday Chess this past year.  Ryan got excited about chess this year as he developed an appreciation for learning the strategy of the game and he looks forward to competing in person this year, including the tournament coming up next month for high school students at Eastern High School.

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 to play chess in order to promote self-confidence, social skills, and academic success.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ben N - Amanda
Amanda - Zach
Shirel - Shiloh

Time forfeit.

Zach - Ben N

Zach was in time trouble and in the scramble lost.

Ben T - Shirel
Ben T - Donovan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2021 Tournament of Champions: DC Representative Invitational Qualifier Series – Saturday, May 22nd

This Saturday, May 22, 2021 at 9:30 am ET, the qualifiers for the Denker (grades 9-12) and Barber (grades 6-8) Tournaments of Champions 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).

All competitors must also be members of the US Chess Federation to play, and due to COVID-19 and space restrictions, each category (students in grades 6-8 for the Barber, grades 9-12 for the Denker) is limited to a maximum of 16 players. 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

Inaugural DC Public Charter High School Chess League – Spring 2021 Results

The inaugural season of the DC Public Charter High School chess league concluded on Tuesday, May 11th, and went well. Among three teams it was close throughout, and Somerset is ready to be competitive in the fall.

In the fall, we will be re-launching the Metro Area Chess League (MACL) for all interested high schools in the DC metropolitan area.  The 2021-2022 MACL season will begin in mid-November 2021 and conclude with play-offs at the end of March 2022.  Schools that want to participate should send us a note at:  hs-league@chessctr.org 

We also welcome high school students to our Sunday Chess class.  Registration for the Fall 2021 session will begin in late August 2021.

Team Standings After Match Day 6 for the Spring 2021 PCSAA Middle School Chess League

Saturday, May 8 was the penultimate Match Day (Rounds 11 & 12) of the Spring 2021 PCSAA Middle School Chess League.  One more Match Day to go!

DC International School maintains their lead in first place and will face Howard University and Imagine Hope in the final two rounds on Match Day 7.  Both schools could present a challenge, but DCI just needs one more match point to insure their overall victory.  Meanwhile, our second place stalwart, BASIS DC, needs strong victories against both of their Round 13 & 14 rivals (Howard University and E.L. Haynes, respectively) and for DCI to endure their first two outright losses.  Anything could happen!  

Yet, the fiercest competition of the Spring 2021 PCSAA League continues in the fight for third place with Imagine Hope and Howard University continuing their rivalry.  Both are still in strong contention, but Howard University has the more challenging schedule to overcome as they face our two current leaders, DCI and BASIS DC, in the final rounds.  

Good luck to all the schools and players!

Results after Round 12 (Saturday, May 8, 2021)

Meet the Chess Center Team: David Mehler, Founder/President/Teacher

David MehlerThe seeds of my love of teaching were planted in college — not because I had inspirational professors, but through my experiences as a founder of the Pail & Shovel Party. (Google it. I was gone by the time the flamingos landed and the Statue of Liberty arrived, but was involved with the conceptual stage.) Pail & Shovel taught me that anything can be turned into entertainment, entertainment holds people’s attention, and through that attention, education takes place.

During the lead-up to the 1972 Fischer-Spassky match I first became a chess teacher. I was a decent player devoid of teaching experience but after a while found ways to impart the rules and strategy of the game to kids who quickly passed me in skill.

After college, I became a high school classroom teacher with classes in social studies and math. I was the fun teacher in a conservative Catholic school, but always had the goal of getting students to think. When struggling students came to me for additional help, I taught them to play chess and watched as their intellectual self-confidence rose. Inner-city teens who had heard throughout their lifetimes that they would not be able to succeed academically learned that was a lie. If they could play chess, they could do math and understand literature.

During my practice of law, I brought chess to underserved schools, working to convince small children that there was magic in the pieces of plastic they moved around the square board. As they assimilated abstract concepts, their smiles of understanding were more satisfying than favorable verdicts in courtrooms.

When then-World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov asked me to teach chess for a couple of weeks to children who lived in public housing, that was the start of something quite wonderful. The Washington Post editorial noting the value of chess garnered the attention of people who helped create what has become the U.S. Chess Center. I stopped taking new legal clients and never looked back.

 

Team Standings after Match Day 5 for the Spring 2021 PCSAA Middle School Chess League

Saturday, May 1 was Match Day 5 (Rounds 9 & 10) of the Spring 2021 PCSAA Middle School Chess League.

First and second place remain the same from last week with DC International School and BASIS DC comfortable in their positions. The intense struggle for third place continues, however, with Howard University Middle School for Mathematics and Science and Imagine Hope Community Charter School separated by only .5 match points (and .5 board points, too).  With two match days (or 4 rounds) still to go anything could happen. 

Good luck to all the teams!

Results after Round 10 (Saturday, May 1, 2021)

Team Standings after Match Day 4 for the Spring 2021 PCSAA Middle School Chess League

Saturday, April 24 was Match Day 4 (Rounds 7 & 8) of the Spring 2021 PCSAA Middle School Chess League.

DC International School held onto their lead and has pulled away from BASIS DC.  Howard University Middle School for Mathematics and Science and Imagine Hope Community Charter School continue their fierce battle for third place.  Meanwhile, Statesmen College Preparatory Academy For Boys made big gains — moving up two places.  We might be seeing the start of a Statesmen surge!

Three more Match Days (or 6 Rounds) to go. 

Good luck to all the teams!

Results after Round 8 (Saturday, April 24, 2021)

Team Standings after Match Day 3 for the Spring 2021 PCSAA Middle School Chess League

Saturday, April 10 was Match Day 3 (Rounds 5 & 6) of the Spring 2021 PCSAA Middle School Chess League.

DC International School moved into the lead with BASIS DC still in contention. Howard University Middle School for Mathematics and Science and Imagine Hope Community Charter School continue to spar for third.

Four more Match Days (or 8 Rounds) to go. 

Good luck to all the teams!

Results after Round 6 (Saturday, April 10, 2021)

WATCH LIVE: IM David Recuero plays blitz chess with US Chess Center students on Twitch – Sunday, April 18, 2021 at ~1:30pm ET

International Master David Recuero will play blitz games with students in the US Chess Center’s Sunday Chess class, broadcasting his commentary on Twitch of the games as he plays them. The games begin at about 1:30 pm ET on Sunday, April 18, 2021.

International Master Recuero, of Oviedo, Spain, lived in Washington, DC, until recently and is the 2020 District of Columbia Chess Champion. He is temporarily located in Lima, Peru.

US Chess Center provides chess sets to classes and students who need them

We are very happy to have provided chess sets to three schools in the past few months so that teachers and students have physical chess sets with which to learn and play.

In fact, some of the chess sets we recently distributed were used by Grand Master Lubomir Kavalek, one of the best players in the world.  GM Kavalek’s widow donated them to us after he passed away in January

Please consider supporting our mission with a charitable donation online (via credit or debit card), or by making an in-kind contribution of new or gently used (preferably tournament-style) chess sets.

Mrs. Bullock displays the chess book and sets she received for her 4th grade class.

Team Standings after Match Day 2 for the Spring 2021 PCSAA Middle School Chess League

Saturday, March 27 was Match Day 2 (Rounds 3 & 4) of the Spring 2021 PCSAA Middle School Chess League.

DC International School and BASIS DC continue their fierce battle for the lead with Howard University Middle School for Mathematics and Science and Imagine Hope Community Charter School close at their heels.

We still have five Match Days (or 10 Rounds) to go. Good luck to all the teams!

School Match Points Board Points
(Tiebreaker Only)
DC International School 4 16
BASIS DC 4 15
Howard University Middle School of Mathematics & Science 3 11
Imagine Hope Community Charter School 3 10
E.L. Haynes Public Charter School 1 5.5
Meridian Public Charter School .5 2
Statesmen College Preparatory Academy for Boys 0 2
The Children’s Guild DC Public Charter School 0 .5
Results after Round 4 (Saturday, March 27, 2021)

Welcoming New Schools to the Spring Season of the PCSAA Middle School Chess League

The new Spring 2021 Season of the PCSAA Middle School Chess League kicked-off this past Saturday, March 20th, and we’re pleased to welcome three new schools/teams to the league: Children’s Guild, E.L. Haynes, and Meridian Public Charter Schools.

 

In the Fall 2020 Season, BASIS DC narrowly edged out DCI to win, but with eight teams in the league now the competition has increased.  Good luck to all the teams! 

Standings after Match Day 1

School
BASIS DC
DCI
E.L. Haynes
HU(MS)2
Imagine HOPE
Meridian
Children’s Guild
Statesmen

Match Points
2
2
1
1
1
0.5
0
0

 

Re-match against GM Vassily Ivanchuk‘s Chess Club in Lviv, Ukraine

This past Saturday, March 13, 2021, elementary school students of the U.S. Chess Center played a friendly re-match with students from GM Vassily Ivanchuk’s Chess Club in Lviv, Ukraine. 

This is the third international match U.S. Chess Center students have played this year.

Fifteen students represented each team, playing for 90 minutes using the lichess.org Arena Chess platform.

These international matches are one of the great benefits of chess, as people from different cultures meet over the chessboard. Chess is the only language the students had in common and they had a wonderful time with their new friends.

The U.S. Chess Center welcomes friendly challenges from clubs around the world with the expectation that chess will continue to be a force for peace and goodwill among nations.

U.S. Chess Center
Students

GM Vassily Ivanchuk's
Students

Brooklyn Castle re-release on March 5th, Panel discussion following with Soledad O’Brien at 8pm ET

The Emmy-nominated documentary film Brooklyn Castle is being re-released this Friday, March 5, 2021.

BK_newPoster_crowns_01

BROOKLYN CASTLE tells the stories of five members of the chess team at a Title 1 – below-the-poverty-line – inner city junior high school that has won more national championships than any other in the country.

To celebrate, Soledad O’Brien will host a panel discussion with Rochelle Ballantyne and Pobo Efekoro (students in the film), as well as Elizabeth Spiegel and John Galvin (teachers from the film) on March 5th at 8pm ET following the nationwide re-release. Soledad will discuss the power of chess, teaching, and defying the odds.  Visit http://brooklyncastle.com/ for theater listings, streaming options, and more information.

Or rent the film right now for $1.99 (and up) from:
Amazon Prime Video: https://www.amazon.com/Brooklyn-Castle…/dp/B00BB1VDLC
YouTube Movies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYA98pBGqZA

Or stream online for FREE with participating Library Cards or University IDs at Kanopy: https://www.kanopy.com/product/brooklyn-castle

U.S. Chess Center students play exhibition match against students from Ukraine


On Sunday, February 21, 2021, the U.S. Chess Center fielded a team of twelve students to play an online exhibition match with students in GM Vassily Ivanchuk‘s Chess Club in Lviv, Ukraine. The match was held in an arena format at a fast time control of seven minutes plus three second increments. The two teams exchanged photographs of the students involved.

While playing online is never as good as playing in person, travel time is greatly reduced and everyone involved had a good time.

“Masterminds: Chess Prodigies” at the World Chess Hall of Fame [Virtual Tour]

Masterminds: Chess Prodigies 
Opening Thursday, February 11, 2021, 5:00 pm CST / 6:00pm EST

Masterminds is an exhibition that tells the stories of notable chess prodigies including Bobby Fischer, World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen, and the Polgar sisters. Through photographs, videos, and mementos of important chess matches and tournaments from the collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame, viewers will learn more about these talented young players as well as their later accomplishments. The exhibition will also highlight the achievements of players who took up the game later in life and still made a mark on the world of chess. 

“Unlike many other fields, in chess, kids can sometimes compete with—and defeat—adults,“ explains Emily Allred, curator at the World Chess Hall of Fame. “Whether we’re exploring the real-life story of Tanitoluwa (Tani) Adewumi, an eight-year-old Nigerian refugee who won the K-3 New York State Championship only a year after beginning to play the game, or fictional chess prodigy Beth Harmon from The Queen’s Gambit, the genius behind these chess prodigies is truly awe-inspiring.”

A virtual tour of the exhibition will be available on WCHOF’s YouTube and Facebook channels.  The exhibition runs through November 7, 2021.

Kamala Harris, vice president of the United States, credits early mentors, chess with her success

The U.S. Chess Center congratulates our newest, history-making and chess-playing Madam Vice President, Kamala D. Harris, who has frequently mentioned learning chess from her “Uncle Sherman” as a formative part of her childhood.

Photo by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ

“I had a lot of – I mean, there were a lot of people in my life who’ve mentored me along the way – men and women. And, I mean, I told a story recently about my uncle Sherman who was a lawyer who – when I was a kid, he said I’m going to teach you how to play chess because you need to – you need to understand strategy. You need to understand because chess is a metaphor for life in so many ways. It’s a – you know, there’s the board, and there are all these different players that can move differently – right? – and they each have a power, a pretty profound power. And he taught me through teaching me chess how, one, everyone can move differently, each has power – a pawn can take out a king – and also taught me to learn that you have to, you know, try to really think about the 10th step before you take the first step. So that’s early in my life a mentor.”

NPR POLITICS PODCAST, June 12, 2019
A young Kamala Harris at her mother Shyamala’s laboratory at UC Berkeley. (Courtesy of Kamala Harris)

“Other nights, I would go over to Aunt Mary’s house, and Uncle Sherman and I would play chess. He was a great player, and he loved to talk to me about the bigger implications of the game: the idea of being strategic, of having a plan, of thinking things through multiple steps ahead, of predicting your opponent’s actions and adjusting yours to outmaneuver them. Every once in a while, he would let me win.”

The Truths We Hold: An American Journey by Kamala Harris (Published by Penguin Books)

“Our family consisted of a lot of aunts and uncles who were not born, the brothers and sisters of my mother. But in every way were my aunts and uncles, my Uncle Sherman, at a very young age taught us how to play chess. He said, I want you to learn about that board. I want you to learn to think steps ahead.”

CNN Special Report, Kamala Harris: Making History. Aired January 17, 2021

Kamala Devi Harris is an American politician and attorney who is the vice president of the United States. Harris served as a United States senator from California from 2017 to 2021, and as attorney general of California from 2011 to 2017. Born in Oakland, California, Harris graduated from Howard University and the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. She began her career in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, before being recruited to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and later the City Attorney of San Francisco’s office. In 2003, she was elected district attorney of San Francisco. She was elected Attorney General of California in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. Harris served as the junior United States senator from California from 2017 to 2021. Harris defeated Loretta Sanchez in the 2016 Senate election to become the second African American woman and the first South Asian American to serve in the United States Senate. – Wikipedia

“Uncle Sherman” was Sherman L. Williams, an attorney and Harris family friend, who was married to Dr. Mary Agnes Lewis (“Aunt Mary”). Vice President Harris spent many evenings at their home where Uncle Sherman taught her chess and inspired her to pursue a career in the law.