Uncategorized

Chess Camp Returns at Churchill Road

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pictures from Bishops & Beers on Tuesday Night

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

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

Chess in the Park Comes to Eastern Market Metro

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

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

Sunday Chess Concludes For The 2021-22 School Year

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

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

Photos From the E.L. Haynes Junior Open

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

Congratulations to Our National Elementary School Championship Participants

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

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

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

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

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

Chess in the Park at Eastern Market Metro on June 4

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

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

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

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.