2022-23 Elementary Team League Season Kicks Off

Representatives from 11 school teams came together the Saturday before Thanksgiving for the first round of the new season of the Elementary Team League.  As with last year’s competition, St. Luke’s Methodist Church was the venue.

For many of these students, it was their first time representing their school in a competitive chess event.  With several major competitions on the horizon, such as the national K-12 grade level championship in a couple of weeks, our number one goal is to help the kids build experience and confidence they need to compete.

Photos from Round 1 coming soon!

Round 1 Results

Westbriar 3-1 Greenbriar West

Poplar Tree 2-2 Churchill Road

Willow Springs 1-3 Spring Hill

Colvin Run 3.5-0.5 Ravensworth

Kent Gardens 2.5-1.5 Mixed Team

White Oaks 3.5-0.5 Mixed Team

Lorton Station 0-4 Mixed Team

Round 2 Results

White Oaks 3-1 Colvin Run

Greenbriar West 1-3 Willow Springs

Lorton Station 0-4 Kent Gardens

Churchill Road 4-0 Mixed Team

Westbriar 1-3 Mixed Team

Ravensworth 1-3 Mixed Team


Team Standings After Matchday 1

Kent Gardens: 27

White Oaks: 27

Churchill Road: 26

Spring Hill: 24

Poplar Tree: 20

Westbriar: 20

Willow Springs: 20

Colvin Run: 19

Greenbriar West: 12

Ravensworth: 11

Lorton Station: 8

Orange Hunt: 0

Our scoring system for the league is constructed to encourage participation.  Students who play a game earn 1 point for their school team, with an additional 2 points awarded for a win and 1 point for a draw.  Winning a match is worth 4 bonus points for the school, while drawing a match is worth 2 bonus points, so teams can earn a maximum of 16 points per match.  


New Metro Area Chess League Season Begins

Tuesday evening, November 15, was the start of the 2022-2023 season of the Metro Area Chess League.  Following the success of last year’s competition, the MACL has retained the same general format with the games taking place online on lichess.com on Tuesday evenings.

30 schools have signed up to play in the MACL this year, the largest participation rate in more than 30 years.  Last year’s top two finishers Montgomery Blair High School (Silver Spring, MD) and Richard Montgomery High School (Rockville, MD) won their Round 1 matches with 4-0 sweeps, as did fourth place finisher Gonzaga College High School (Washington, D.C.).  Also sweeping their matches were league newcomers Arlington Career Center (Arlington, VA), McLean High School (McLean, VA) and Seneca Valley High School (Germantown, MD), and the six schools share the early lead.  Round 2 will be on December 6.

Round 1 Results

Montgomery Blair High School 4-0 Falls Church High School

E.L. Haynes Public Charter School 0-4 Richard Montgomery High School

DeMatha Catholic High School 0-4 Gonzaga College High School

Col. Zadok Magruder High School 3-1 Sidwell Friends School

St. Anselm’s Abbey School 1-3 Winston Churchill High School

Arlington Career Center 4-0 St. John’s College High School

Sandy Spring Friends School 1-3 Rochambeau French Intl. School

St. Albans School 2-2 West Springfield High School

McKinley Technology High School 2-2 Bishop McNamara High School

Seneca Valley High School 4-0 Eastern High School

Centreville High School 3-5-0.5 BASIS DC

IDEA Public Charter School 0-4 McLean High School (forfeit)

Don Bosco Cristo Rey 2-2 Rockville High School

Washington Intl. School 2-1 Georgetown Preparatory School

Standings After Round 1

PlaceSchoolTotal Match PointsTotal Board Points
1st (Tie)Arlington Career Center14
1st (Tie)Gonzaga College High School 14
1st (Tie)McLean High School 14
1st (Tie)Montgomery Blair High School14
1st (Tie)Richard Montgomery High School 14
1st (Tie)Seneca Valley High School 14
7thCentreville High School13.5
8th (Tie)Winston Churchill High School13
8th (Tie)Rochambeau, the French International School 13
8th (Tie)Col. Zadok Magruder High School13
8th (Tie)Bishop McNamara High School13
12th (Tie)Don Bosco Cristo Rey 0.52
12th (Tie)Langley High School0.52
12th (Tie)Rockville High School 0.52
12th (Tie)St. Albans School0.52
12th (Tie)Washington International School0.52
12th (Tie)West Springfield High School 0.52
12th (Tie)W.T. Woodson High School0.52
20th (Tie)Georgetown Preparatory School 01
20th (Tie)McKinley Technology High School01
20th (Tie)St. Anselms School01
20th (Tie)Sandy Spring Friends School01
20th (Tie)Sidwell Friends School01
24thBASIS DC00.5
25th (Tie)DeMatha Catholic High School 00
25th (Tie)Eastern High School00
25th (Tie)E.L. Haynes Public Charter School 00
25th (Tie)Falls Church High School00
25th (Tie)IDEA Public Charter School00
25th (Tie)St. John’s College High School00

Round 2 Pairings

Georgetown Preparatory School – Montgomery Blair High School

Richard Montomery High School – Arlington Career Center

McLean High School – W.T. Woodson High School

Gonzaga College High School – Washington Intl. School

West Springfield High School – Seneca Valley High School

Rockville High School – IDEA Public Charter School

St. John’s College High School – St. Anselm’s Abbey School

Bishop McNamara High School – DeMatha Catholic High School 

Sidwell Friends School – McKinley Technology High School

Eastern High School – St. Albans School

Langley High School – Sandy Spring Friends School

Rochambeau French Intl. School – Col. Zadok Magruder High School

Winston Churchill High School – Centreville High School

BASIS DC – E.L. Haynes Public Charter School

Falls Church High School – Don Bosco Cristo Rey


Jennifer Yu Wins U.S. Women’s Chess Championship

The 2022 U.S. Chess Championships have concluded in St. Louis.  A day after Fabiano Caruana won the open section of the championship, U.S. Chess Center honorary co-chair Jennifer Yu won the women’s championship for the second time, following on from her win in 2019.   Congratulations to both the winners!

Jennifer Yu’s victory in particular is a testament to one of the most fundamental values we espouse at the U.S. Chess Center: the value of not giving up.  Going into the late stages of the tournament, Jennifer led her closest opponent, eight-time U.S. Women’s Champion Irina Krush, before losing their individual matchup in Round 12 to fall half a point behind her in the standings.  Undeterred by the loss of that game, Jennifer battled back to win in Round 13 whereas Irina could only draw.  This forged a tie for first place and ensured that the championship title would be settled the following day with tiebreak games at a faster time control.

Jennifer Yu, U.S. Women's Chess Champion, pictured in September 2018 giving a simul at the U.S. Chess Center.
Krush-Yu 2022 Black to move 9....

Diagrammed here is a position during the opening of the decisive game of that tiebreak match, with both competitors knowing that the winner of this game would be the new champion.  Jennifer, as Black, made an uncharacteristically big error with 9…Bg4, hanging the bishop, which Irina quickly took on the next move with 10. Qxg4.  In tournament games, it’s sadly common for players to resign after making a mistake like this. Facing the prospect of playing on down a piece against a player as strong as Irina Krush, perhaps to some players it would seem less unpleasant to just give up.  But Jennifer chose to play on and keep trying her hardest, and what happened later on is a testament to the merits of doing exactly that.

Krush-Yu 2022 Black to move 22...

The players eventually reached the position in the second diagram on the left.  Irina, still ahead by a piece, had just taken Black’s knight, 22. Nxd6.  But instead of recapturing right away, Jennifer combined an in-between move (zwischenzug) with a discovered attack: 22…Bxh2+ 23. Kxh2 Qxd6+ 24. Kh1 Rxe2 25. Rxe2.  After the tactics, Black ended up with a queen and pawn in exchange for White’s two bishops and rook – still a material advantage for White, but a position with the kings exposed like this tends to create tactical chances for the side with the queen, and Irina felt compelled to use a lot of time on the clock. 

White’s time ultimately ran out after the 47th move, giving Jennifer the win in the game and the championship.  The lesson to our students, as always – don’t quit, because until the two players shake hands to end the game, no outcome is guaranteed.

Chess Kids Returns on Saturday Mornings

We’re very happy to be back at the Elizabeth House in downtown Silver Spring for our Saturday morning Chess Kids class.  The first session started on September 24 and two dozen children in kindergarten through grade 6 are participating.  As always, the greatest priorities are encouraging the students to make new friends and improve their knowledge and skills together.

The Chess Kids program is stratified into six sessions of four weeks each. Registration for the second session, which starts on October 22, and the other subsequent sessions for the 2022-23 school year is still open.

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.

Photos from Saturday Chess Kids on October 23, 2021

Our Saturday Chess Kids program resumed again this past Saturday, October 23, 2021 at the DC Housing Finance Agency auditorium in the Shaw / U Street neighborhood of Washington, DC. 

Chess Kids, which has been operating since the U.S. Chess Center’s founding, is an individualized, highly structured program for students in Grades K – 6 that meets on Saturdays from 10:00 am – 11:30 am.  Chess Kids students are placed in groups based on their ability and everyone plays games each week and receives lessons. Through Chess Kids, we make learning chess fun!

To register your student for Chess Kids, click here.  Chess Kids operates in four-week sessions, and students are welcome to register for multiple sessions.  Session 2 begins November 20th.

Thank you to DC HFA for providing a great venue and support for this program.

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.


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.

Chris McCleary joins the U.S. Chess Center as Executive Director

Chris McCleary has been appointed the new Executive Director of the U.S. Chess Center.

The U.S. Chess Center is a DC-based non-profit that promotes self-confidence, social skills, and academic success for all.  The U.S. Chess Center provides students throughout the Washington metropolitan area opportunities to meet as friends and equals over the chessboard at our weekend classes, tournaments, and special events. The Center also operates numerous embedded school chess clubs and classes.  Our student programs have hosted World Champion Garry Kasparov, the national champions of Nigeria and Montenegro, and International Grandmasters including Maurice Ashley, the first African American Grandmaster.  Our students have played Internet matches with students from the Czech Republic, China, Norway, and Montenegro.

“I’m excited to be joining the U.S. Chess Center in this leadership role and look forward to continuing and expanding the programs we offer to area students. Chess was a meaningful part of my own academic life and had a positive impact on me. I’m proud that I’ll be doing my part to bring the benefits of chess to more students.”
Chris McCleary
Executive Director, U.S. Chess Center

Chris McCleary’s first official day with the U.S. Chess Center will be Monday, August 17th.  As Executive Director, McCleary will have responsibility for the day-to-day management and administration of the Center as well as resource and program development.  McCleary will be taking over from Robert Teachey, a United States Chess Federation Certified Advanced Chess Coach who was promoted to Executive Director of the Chess Center in 2017 and has served as a Teacher since 2010.  

Prior to joining the U.S. Chess Center, Chris McCleary served as the Vice President of Development for Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) and in the same position for SAFE’s sister organization, The Electrification Coalition.  McCleary is also the Chief Operating Officer of McCleary Psychological Services, a mental health practice that provides evidence-based therapy and psychological evaluations.  Chris also previously served as Development Director and chief fundraiser for the National Archives Foundation—the 501(c)(3) nonprofit partner of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)—and before that he held a series of senior management and fundraising roles with several DC-area think tanks and advocacy organizations, including Third Way, the Sunlight Foundation, and NDN & the New Policy Institute.  Before embarking on his non-profit career, McCleary spent over a decade as a political consultant and fundraiser for dozens of campaigns across the country.  McCleary holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University.