As winter turns into spring, the chess tournament calendar is in full swing. Below, students in our Theophilius Thompson Club (for students in grade 7-12) are practicing on Sunday afternoon. At least three of our Sunday students will be participating in the National High School Championship in two weeks in downtown Washington.
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.”
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.
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.
Sunday Chess is a weekly class on Sunday from 1:30pm – 5:00pm ET. The class meets in-person in the basement of 1340 Old Chain Bridge Rd, McLean, VA 22101 (Map) or students may participate online via Zoom.
Open to students in grades 7-12. All ability levels are welcome.
Sunday Chess is revving up for this year. This year we have a hybrid, with many students joining us via Zoom, like last year, but even more coming in person to our McLean location (view on map).
We expect to have our normal range of activities on Sundays for the teens, including visits from distinguished strong players and Internet matches with young players from other countries. Lessons are designed to help the students have fun and improve, and it’s not too late to sign up. Learn more here.
Every year we recognize one or two kids who were particularly good students in our Sunday Chess program. Our second award, for Outstanding Performance, was presented to James.
He earned the trophy both for being the most improved player during the year and for his leadership in the group. Despite his relative youth (being in middle school) other students respected his opinions and enjoyed their games with him.
When asked what he likes about chess, James said, “Whether you are a master or a beginner, chess is an incredible way to unleash your creativity and experience the joy of learning and competing.”
He and others are returning to Sunday Chess this coming week. Sunday Chess will be a hybrid this year with many students coming to McLean in-person while others will be joining us online.
Students in grades 7 – 12 are welcome to register for Sunday Chess classes (either in-person or online) at https://chessctr.org/classes/sunday-chess/
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.