The Second Koltanowski International Conference on Chess and Education

The U.S. Chess Trust is a proud sponsor of the Second Koltanowski International Conference on Chess and Education

By Myron Lieberman, Secretary, US Chess Trust with help from Secretary’s Assistant Rachel Lieberman


The Second Koltanowski International Conference on Chess and Education was held at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas, TX, on November 18 and 19, 2011. The conference was invaluable in providing resources for those interested in well researched and documented studies as well as those looking for ideas for teaching chess. Anyone who wants to understand the value of the Koltanowski Conferences needs only to compare the status of chess in education today with its status ten years ago when the first conference was held. Please note that most of the presentations at the conference will be available at


The conference could not have been held without the insightful sponsorship of the US Chess Trust (USCT), The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), The Texas Chess Association (TCA) and the US Chess Federation (USCF) or the hard work and dedication of organizers Dr. Tim Redman, Dr. Alexey Root, James Stallings, Luis Salinas, and their helpers. They deserve our thanks. Successful events don’t happen on their own. Our thanks and gratitude go to all of the sponsors, organizers, volunteers, and participants.


The conference was appropriately named in honor of George and Leah Koltanowski and serves as a memorial to them. George Koltanowski excelled as a chess player, a chess organizer, a chess tournament director, and a chess journalist. His creativity and sense of humor enabled him to make significant advances in chess tournament procedures while popularizing the world of chess to countless new devotees through his syndicated newspaper column, books, TV show, and especially his personal appearances which focused on remarkable demonstrations of memory and humorous chess stories. He became the National Chess Champion of Belgium and later, after moving to the US, was awarded the title of Dean of American Chess. His wife, Leah, was always by his side and fully supported his constant promotion of chess. Her name was always on the chessboard when George did his popular Knight’s Tour exhibition. They were both wonderful people that enriched the lives of those who knew them and countless others who didn’t.


USCT Chairman Harold Winston, President Emeritus Shane Samole, VP for Scholastic Chess Sunil Weeramantry, VP for Chess and Education Dr. Tim Redman, and Secretary Myron Lieberman visited or participated. UTD was represented by the event organizers Dr. Tim Redman, Dr. Alexey Root, James Stallings, and Luis Salinas. TCA President Clemente Rendon was one of the presenters. USCF Executive Director Bill Hall and Assistant Executive Director Patricia Knight Smith visited. USCF provided the rooms for the conference as they were running the 2011 National K-12 Championships concurrently with the conference. That enabled conference attendees to have the opportunity to see a large scholastic chess event when not attending conference sessions and to see the IS318 chess team, which was the subject of one of the presentations.


Sessions were scheduled for 75 to 90 minutes each with a break for networking between sessions and an additional hour for lunch. Each session focused on one general topic and included from one to three presentations related to that topic. The room was physically divided into two separate meeting rooms
(except they were combined for the Keynote Address and plenary lectures). Dr. Tim Redman chaired the proceedings in one room and Dr. Alexey Root chaired the proceedings in the other room. Everything went flawlessly. Many of the sessions qualified for credit hours for the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented (TAGT) Awareness Certificate.


Professor Frank Brady is the Chair of the Department of Mass Communications, Journalism, Television and Film (and founder of the chess program) at St. Johns University. He was the founding editor of “Chess Life” magazine and author of “Profile of a Prodigy” and “Endgame”, both popular books about
Bobby Fischer. A New York Times review of “Endgame” can be found at Professor Brady is currently the President of the Marshall Chess Club in NY City. His presentation was “What we can learn from Bobby Fischer”, which was based on his decades of interaction with his friend Bobby Fischer. He presented material from “Endgame”, his newest book about Bobby Fischer, answered questions, and signed copies of his books. Professor Brady’s advice in conclusion was “Teach the student to embrace the aesthetics of the game, not just to lust over winning, and you will lead them to a great enjoyment and possibly a fulfilling life.” Be sure to read his lecture, which can be found at


Margaret Murphy, President of the US Virgin Islands Chess Federation, FIDE Executive Board member and FIDE Chess In Schools (CIS) Commission member, was a High School Science teacher and currently is a Resource Room Teacher for High School age children with academic and behavioral issues.

Her presentation, entitled “Teaching Chess Simultaneously: A Program for Students and Classroom Teachers” focused on the simultaneous teaching of teachers and students and described her successful program to ease the shortage of chess instructors in the USVI. The presentation included a number of photos. It was funded in part by a local sports department, Educational Grants, Title V, Police Departments, Local Businesses, Olympic Committees, and Rotary Clubs. Instructors included Retired Teachers, University Students, Local Chess Club Members, Military Personnel, Scout Leaders, Police Officers, and Senior Program Participants. The administrators key on the Benefits of Chess, an Integrated Curriculum, School Image in the Community, an Enrichment Activity, Chess Speakers at Education Events, Chess League, and Interscholastic chess competitions. Chess in the curriculum is attractive to
schools and leads to donations to the school from parents as well as grants to the school. Other benefits to the school include enhanced learning scores, raised evaluation scores, enhanced school image and representation of the school at competitions. Needed equipment includes a reference guide, age appropriate puzzles and worksheets, a chess library, a tournament kit to build comfort level, a demonstration board, 10 chess sets and 5 chess clocks.

Chess Teachers are recruited who have a willingness to learn but previous chess experience is not needed. A stipend for teachers acts both as an encouragement and a token of appreciation. There is an initial meeting with teachers in which the Chess in the Curriculum program is explained as is the teacher’s role as a student, the classroom setting (lighting, noise, etc.), and integrating chess into the curriculum. An interesting metaphor in integrating Geography compares ranks and files with latitudes and longitudes. Benefits to teachers include: students view teachers in a different light; teacher learns new teaching skill; integrated curriculum; personal development lessons; student attention span increases; a reward system; etiquette; a new outlet for fun activities; establish relationships with parents in other areas; and a stipend. Benefits to students include: an enrichment activity; social skills within the classroom; etiquette; pattern recognition; foresight; consequences of actions; planning; time management; decision making; critical thinking; organizational skills; and visualization.

Chess involvement can be expanded for the classroom chess educator. Among the development paths might be Chess Teacher, Chess Educator, Chess Coach, Club President, Tournament Director, Tournament Arbiter, Coach/Chaperone, Community Chess Teacher, Tournament Organizer, International Member of CIS. It was presented that if one coach were to teach one hour per week for six ten week instruction seminars to six classroom teachers with 20 students per class over a three year period, 240 students would have been taught. If you have any questions Margaret Murphy can be reached at The presentation can be found at

Professor Charles Moura Netto, Vice President of the Brazilian Chess Federation and member of the FIDE CIS Commission, described how chess can develop cognitive and social skills outside of a formal educational setting. He focused on the “Chess That Brings Freedom” project, which works with 22 prisons in Espirito Santo, Brazil and involves 2250 prisoners, many of whom were arrested for such crimes as murder, robbery, and drug dealing. The program aims to rehabilitate prisoners through chess. It is a partnership between Santa Maria de Jetiba municipality Pro-Chess (Program of Pedagogical Chess) and the Espirito Santo State Secretary of Justice. (Program of Imprisoned Workers). Both programs were awarded a prize by the state government and coordinated by the Brazilian Chess Federation. The presentation noted that The Pro-Chess Program gives an opportunity for all public students in the municipality to practice chess as a pedagogical tool in order to help in the development of the cognitive shrewdness and improve the teaching/learning process as well. A slide in the presentation stated “We have as objective the practice of chess as a playful activity in order to develop the cognitive, moral, and social shrewdness among the prisoners and to give them a chance to learn a new profession by being responsible for the creation of the boards and pieces of the game.” A photo shows a table with four boards and clocks set up and eight prisoners in their places shaking hands before the start of a game. The comment with the photo was “As a result we noticed a better relationship and less violence among the prisoners who are practicing chess. Now the ones who took part in the program are working as volunteers, teaching other prisoners to play chess…” It was noted that 1556 new chessplayers from this program were recognized by the Chess State Confederation. A short video about this project can be found at the FIDE CIS website at and the presentation can be found at

Kevin O’Connell is a FIDE Senior Trainer, and International Arbiter, and FIDE Master. He was Ireland’s Delegate to FIDE for 33 years and President of FIDE Zone 1 for 16 years. He has served as Chairman of the FIDE Titles and Ratings Committee and FIDE’s Computer Chess Committee, is Executive Secretary
of FIDE’s CIS Commission, and has been a member of other FIDE committees and commissions including 33 years to date on the FIDE Qualifications Commission. Kevin O’Connell is also an Honorary Life Member of the Irish Chess Union. He has coached Olympiad teams from both Ireland and the UK
and is a prolific chess journalist. His presentation focused on the successful effort to get chess in schools in Turkey and to provide information on the FIDE Chess in Schools program worldwide.

The Turkish Chess Federation’s (TCF) CIS effort, referred to as “the Turkish Delight”, not only benefited the children and society, but the program can be used as a model in developing similar programs around the world. TCF President Ali Nihat Yaziki has become the chairman of the FIDE CIS Commission and the TCF now powers the FIDE websites.

Kevin O’Connell’s presentation at the conference, with appropriate links, is currently available for download at FIDE’s CIS website Those interested in more information on what FIDE’s CIS program is doing worldwide are encouraged to go to that site.

Dr. Teresa Parr, a Doctor of Clinical Psychology, works with families and children in a variety of therapeutic, educational, medical and research settings. She is working with Cambridge University’s Instruct Research Group on the “Exploring the Malleability of Executive Control” study that has been funded in part by a million dollar grant from the US Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, awarded to Cambridge University for an internationally collaborative project between the University of Cambridge, Virginia State University, and Ashley-Parr LLC. The research team includes Dr. Michelle Ellefson of Cambridge, Dr. Zewelanji Serpell of Virginia State University, and GM Maurice Ashley and Dr. Parr of Ashley-Parr LLC. Cambridge University’s Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technologies and Psychometrics Centre are also involved. Dr. Parr’s work with the Instruct Research Group is noteworthy because it represents a government supported serious effort to scientifically confirm what chess can do for learning. That study will test the hypothesis that chess improves performance in a broad range of academic subjects. We have all seen the difference that chess can make in children and in their lives. Dr. Parr explained why chess works with young children and now has the opportunity to help prove it. She focuses on Executive Control (Executive Functions), the specialty of Drs. Ellefson and Serpell.The presentation can be found at


Joseph Eberhard, EdD, TAGT Statewide Teacher of the Year in 2002 and many time TAGT Regional Teacher of the Year received the 2002 Christi McAuliffe Grant for Teaching Excellence for providing chess instruction on his campus from the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE). He has taught history at William Adams Middle School in Alice, TX, for fifteen years and sponsors the middle school and high school chess teams in Alice, TX. He elaborated on an earlier South Texas study where there was an emphasis on classroom chess instruction and its impact on economically disadvantaged students. A key point in this presentation was that one semester of classroom chess instruction improved the academic potential of economically disadvantaged students, many of whom would have qualified for the gifted and talented program. He provided an excellent literature review and talked about chess in education within the context of changes in education. He pointed out that Alvin Toffler’s “The third Wave” in 1993 expressed that in the Agricultural Age the only skills needed were planting and harvesting and the only influence was the school calendar. The Industrial Age (mid 1700s to early 1900s) brought factory work, city people, and the concept of time. The skills needed were to show up on time, discipline, and productivity. The influences were an industrial model for school organization and a business model for curriculum. The Information Age (Mid 1950s to Present) saw the average person make a living processing information. Skills needed were attention, working memory, long term memory, processing speed, visual processing, auditory processing, reasoning and logic, and comprehension. Outside influence was minimal as education is rooted in the earlier ages. What has changed in the ten years since the First Kolty Conference? Dr. Eberhard indicates that technology has gone from dial-up to smart phones, The amount of information available now is staggering, and the role of the educator is changing faster than our ability to comprehend the shift into this new age that will require a different skill set. He suggested chess as an environmental change rather than preparation for tournaments. Bughouse, for example, is now OK. It’s how he gets kids hooked on chess. Bughouse is social, exciting, fun, and kids learn to use pieces in combination. He finishes the presentation with a number of happy group photos of chess teams and individuals with medals. The presentation can be found at

Professor James Bartlett, head of UTD’s doctoral program in Cognition and Neuroscience, his doctoral student Amy Boggan, and Professor Dan Krawczyk of UTD’s Center for Brain Health presented three related papers. Professor Bartlett presented “On Holistic Processing with Faces and Chess”. Their work on expert chess perception has been published in “The Journal of Experimental Psychology”. Professor Bartlett noted that facial inversion affects spatial perception and showed that differences in facial features that can easily be seen in the context of a normal face are not as evident if the face is inverted. Faces are recognized as wholes, not parts, and it is hard to distinguish parts out of context. One example was the “Margaret Thatcher Illusion”, where two images of Margaret Thatcher are presented side by side with the faces inverted. One had been altered, but it was not immediately clear which one. The same images were then shown in proper orientation. The altered face was clearly evident. Reference was made to the 1993 work of Bartlett and Searcy, which generalized this effect to moved features as well as distorted features and their 1996 work which shows that misorientation does not make facial distortion harder to detect. Additional examples were shown and other reports were cited. Professor Bartlett pointed out that upright presentation allows processing spacial relations across the whole face. His next finding was that a feature studied in the context of a face is better recognized than in no context or an altered context. Additional references were cited on this point as well. His conclusion was that people do not perceive parts independently of other parts. When you change a part you change perception of the whole …. He next focused on the composite effect, citing Young, Hellawell, and Hay’s 1987 work, which showed that in a face configuration it is hard to attend to a part. Additional examples were given. His overall conclusion was that faces are processed as wholes.

Amy Boggan presented “Behavioral Evidence of Long Term Neural Plasticity in Response to Extensive Visual Expertise.” She started with two related points, which were “recent research has found that true experts have something at least as valuable as a mastery of the rules: gut instinct, an instantaneous grasp of the type of problem they’re up against. Like the ballplayer who can ‘read’ pitches early, or the chess master who ‘sees’ the best move, they’ve developed a great eye.” and “Now, a small group of cognitive scientists is arguing that schools and students could take far more advantage of this same bottom-up ability, called perceptual learning. The brain is a pattern-recognition machine, after all, and when focused properly, it can quickly deepen a person’s grasp of a principle, new studies suggest.” She then talked about generalization of chunking theory to more areas of education than chess and cited references. She referenced the expertise hypothesis that maintains mechanisms for face processing are not only engaged by faces, but also applied in expert-within-class discrimination of non-faces (citing studies by Diamond and Carey and by Gauthier and Tarr). Amy Boggan noted that practice and experience are key to expertise. She pointed out that chessplayers’ relative expertise is quantifiable and can be measured through a recognized rating system, citing Elo (1986). She pointed out that chess masters have demonstrated a remarkably better memory than novices (citing Chase & Simon and Goldin). Additionally she indicated that the average chess master has practiced and/or studied chess over 10,000 hours (Gobet & Campitelli, 2007) and has a rating three standard deviations above an average tournament player. She then compared chess with face recognition as follows: Both face and chess game processing require both part-based and configural processing; True chess novices are readily available; Chess experience may better compare to (relative to other domains) the amount of expertise many people have with faces; while face processing skill has some genetic links, no such heritability of chess skill has been identified; unlike faces, chess games have no constant configuration or biological characteristics. She referred to the Gauthier Interference Paradigm (Gauthier, Curran, Colby & Collins 2003) and focused on congruency with many examples.

Professor Dan Krawczyk presented “The Brain and Chess Perception”. He referred to Chase and Simon’s studies and raised the question of whether chess expertise is better developed by an algorithm or a heuristic process. Chase and Simon point to a memory test for “in game” and “scrambled” chessboards. Experts show a large memory advantage, but only for “in game” boards. Functional MRI brain scans of car experts and bird experts indicated activity in their area of expertise but not the other’s area of expertise. Professor Krawczyk pointed out that the MRIs show that Face Experts do not strongly respond to chess. He noted that chessplayers sometimes can see their own position in the context of their side of the board, but not see it as readily if looking at it from the other side of the board. The inverted board may have the same effect as the inverted face. The presentation ends with an extensive bibliography. This presentation is available as “The UT Dallas Neuroscience Group”at

ESL teacher and chess sponsor Mike Bowden has taught in Title I schools for 16 years. He has taught chess during the school day to 2nd through 5th grade students and teachers in Lewisville (TX) ISD. He presented “Academic Chess – Chess For Reluctant Administrators”. He differentiated Academic Chess from Scholastic Chess in that the emphasis is on higher order thinking, collaborative (rather than individual) problem solving, and is language based. Students discuss possible solutions, anticipated outcomes, and write responses. Components of Academic Chess are given as Topical Question, Essential Understanding, Content Objective and Language Objective. A Topical Question is posted and provides the focus for instruction and effort. Essential Understanding is what the student must know or do for the learning to be effective. Mike Bowden noted that solving any problem requires us to think through potential solutions and outcomes before acting on an idea. The problem does not need to be chess centric as making a general statement assists with transferability. The Content Objective is to begin with the end in mind. Tell the students what they will do after instruction. You will analyze problems to determine alternate solutions. You will visualize the results before moving chessmen. Anticipate the outcome of your solution with If/Then thinking. The Language Objective is to inform students of the academic vocabulary expectation they are to meet and implement to be an effective speaker and writer. An example is given of how the concept works. The Topical Question is “How can I solve a chess problem using a piece that only moves in a diagonal line?” The Essential Understanding is “Diagonal lines connect point to point on the chessboard. Diagonal lines can be from 2 to 8 squares long”. The Content Objective is “Learn the name and moves of the Bishop.” The Language Objective is “Complete this statement: Moving in diagonal lines is different from moving on ranks and files ….” Academic Chess is a way to use chess to teach problem solving, anticipation of outcomes, and critical thinking. The presentation can be found at

IM Dmitry Schneider (AKA Dmitri Shneider) is an International Master and has earned the USCF Original Life Master and Life Senior Master titles. He is a former captain of the UTD Chess Team where he helped the UTD team take a number of Pan American championships. He has also won the individual Pan American Junior and Pan American Youth Championships. IM Schneider is currently an Investment Banker in New York City and talked about how skills acquired through chess mastery transfer to the world of investment banking and capital markets. His presentation was introduced by a mosaic of Chess in Popular Culture, which included photos from the movies “From Russia With Love”, “Searching for Bobby Fischer”, “Alice in Wonderland”, “Casablanca”, “The Luzhin Defense”, and “Queen to Play” as well as Bobby Fischer’s “Life” Magazine Cover, the Star Trek 3D Chess Set, The Kasparov vs. the Pepsi Machine Super Bowl Commercial, cover artwork from Karna Small Bodwin’s “Checkmate” and “Gambit” novels, and a photo from the German work by Siegfried Zandernach “David und Goliath Spielen Schach.” He also pointed out that Pay Pal founder Peter Thiel, artist Marcel Duchamp, and “Art of Learning” author Josh Waitzkin are chess masters and noted trader Victor Niederhoffer was a solid chess player. He noted that chess and investing both involve competition where one must quickly evaluate the risks and rewards of various moves and strategies by relying on their ability to spot underlying trends and patterns while calculating several moves ahead. Chess and investing have overlapping skill requirements including Critical Thinking, Pattern Recognition, Being Calm under pressure, Vision and Awareness of Opponents’ Ideas, Preparation, Perseverance, Pragmatism, and Decisiveness. He illustrated critical thinking and pattern recognition with stock trend charts and a mate in two chess problem. He pointed out that it is much harder to make good decisions if there is pressure, uncertainty on future moves, or limited time to make a decision (illustrated by a chess clock face with less than a minute left and a sharply declining market chart). He referred to Preparation, Perseverence, and Pragmatism as the three P’s of winning the close ones and noted that whether it is studying games in chess or reading research and analyzing companies, you must work harder than the competition. He concluded that chess has made inroads into education in the US but there is more to go. There is no reason why there shouldn’t be a chess program in every school in the US. The presentation is available at

Please note: One point in support of an even broader application of this idea involves a Grandmaster who eventually left chess to establish himself as one of the world’s leading economists. Dr. Kenneth Rogoff has worked with a number of prestigious institutions including the IMF and the Federal Reserve Board. He was the winner of the 2011 Deutsche Bank Prize in Financial Economics. Details can be found on the Center for Financial Studies website at / The prize carries with it a 50,000 Euro award and the prizeholder will be appointed a distinguished Fellow of the Center for Financial Studies.

David Barrett EdD used a 30 week chess instructional program as a tool for sequential transfer within middle school level special education math classes. His presentation was entitled “Our Move: Using Chess to Improve Math Achievement for Students Who Receive Special Education Services.” He introduced the Study in chess terms. The Opening referred to the Context and Purpose of the Study. The Context of the Study was Educational Reform and its Impact on Special Education. Some points were the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Federal and State Accountability, High Stakes Testing, and Preparing all Students for the Workplace Demands of the 21st Century. The purpose of the Study was to evaluate the use of chess instruction as a tool for sequential transfer within middle school level special education math classes and assess its impact on the students’ math achievement as measured by course grades and the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS). The Middle Game contained a Literature Review and elaborated on the Method of Procedure and the Presentation of Data. The Independent Variable was Chess Instruction (derived from the works of The Kasparov Chess Foundation, David MacEnulty, and Alexey Root). The Dependent Variables were listed as End of Year Course Grades, TAKS Scale Scores, and TAKS Percentage Scores by Objective. Thirty one middle school students participated, split between a Treatment Campus and a Comparison Campus. A table of Math Achievement Scores was presented. The Endgame contained the conclusions, discussion, implications and significance of the Study. Four of the eight measures showed a statistically significant difference in favor of the chess group. The Study has practical and research implications for special education services and for the use of chess instruction in public schools. It provides empirical support for the use of chess as a pedagogical tool in mathematics education for students who receive special education services, provides empirical support for the use of chess as an instructional tool in public education classrooms and provides evidence for data-driven decision-making by educational leaders. The Study’s main limitation was the small size of the sample. The Endgame was followed by Review and Analysis, which included Recommendations for Future Research and a Question and Answer Session. Recommended future research includes Replication on a larger scale, preferably including random assignment and Elementary and High School participation; Explore in detail the underlying factors for transfer with a focus on specific math objectives; Qualitative and mixed method designs; Exploration and Development of Chess Curriculum.The presentation is
available at

Stephen A. Lipschultz MD presented “Advances in Cognitive and Neurosciences: Impact on Educational Chess.” in addition to his talks on his scholastic chess software (See Chess Teaching). The goals of this presentation are to review recent research in Neurophysiology and cognitive Psychology, examine how new perspectives are impacting educational practice, discuss the impact of these findings on the role of chess in education, and to compare Chess in Education with Educational Chess. He noted that the Educational Benefits claimed for chess include improved reading math and critical thinking skills, improved memory, attitudes, behavior and self esteem, and increased attention span and concentration.

Dr. Lipschultz showed a slide entitled “Distribution of Cognitive Functions in the Human Brain” This was a map of the brain from a 2008 study by Hackman and Farah which related the function to its region of the brain. The map showed Language Function in the Left Perisylvian, Executive Functions were shown in the Prefrontal, Memory in the Medial Temporal, Spatial Cognition in the Parietal, and Visual Cognition in the Occipital-Temporal. Executive functions were described as a set of cognitive abilities that control and regulate other abilities and behaviors. They include the ability to initiate and stop actions, monitor and change behavior and plan future behavior. They enable us to anticipate outcomes and adapt to changing situations. He noted that per Diamond and Lee (2011) Executive Functions include Cognitive Flexibility, Inhibition, Working Memory, Problem Solving, Reasoning, and Planning. Dr. Lipschultz stressed the importance of Executive Functions in noting that they are more important for school readiness than is IQ, they continue to predict math and reading competence throughout all school years, and they remain critical for success throughout life, predicting outcomes in career, marriage, and health. Self Control is described as a combination of concepts and measurements including impulsivity, conscientiousness, self regulation, delay of gratification, inattention-hyperactivity, executive function and willpower. He pointed out that children have different skills and needs so educational tools, including chess, must be targeted to specific audiences. Dr. Lipschultz compared low SES children with middle class children on several cognitive issues and described the effects of poverty on cognition and brain development. He reported on both Neurophysiological and Sociological effects of poverty and noted a
2008 Neurophysiological finding that poverty directly affects brain development in a possibly reversible fashion. He mentioned that per Diamond and Lee (2011) Interventions that might aid Executive Function development in children include computerized training, hybrid computer and non-computer games, aerobic exercise and sports, martial arts and mindfulness practices, classroom curricula and add-ons to classroom curricula. More details on each of these interventions can be found in his complete Powerpoint presentation which will be available to download from

Dr. Lipschultz also focused on Grandmasters and noted that most GMs do not look farther ahead or consider more moves, but find the right moves faster. Eye movements reveal that GMs look at the edges of squares and absorb information from multiple squares at once, spending less time at any one spot. The major difference between GMs and lower rated players is the ability to memorize entire board positions after a brief glance. He pointed out that this ability is one of the best correlates of chess skill, not through visual memory but via a specific chess related skill and that GMs achieve expertise by an immense amount of practice which enables them to store a “recognition-active repertoire” of 50-100,000 positions and responses. Memory Chunking also enables advanced pattern recognition skills. Dr. Lipschultz mentioned that the basic principle of cognitive psychology includes three points about expertise. Expertise in one area does not often generalize to skills in other areas, expert level knowledge and skills are domain specific, and training time dedicated to one area is often at the expense of others. He also pointed out that beginning chessplayers use their medial temporal lobes to encode information while advanced players use frontal and parietal lobes, which suggests that they are recalling organized information from memory. Please note that more on expertise can be found in the report by Bartlett, Boggan, and Krawczyk presented at this conference (See above). Dr. Lipschultz concluded that the best way to improve executive functions and school would probably be those that: *Engage students’ passionate interests, bringing them joy and pride, *Address stresses in students’ lives and strengthen the ability to form calmer healthier responses, *Involve vigorous exercise, Allow a sense of belonging and social acceptance, and *Offer opportunities to repeatedly practice at progressively more demanding levels. He advocates implementing “Educational Chess” as a tool to teach executive function skills and makes the observation that many current chess programs probably fall far short; He noted that it is about the process, not the chess outcome. The process includes systematic learning of early and intermediate skills, verifiable skill development and ample practice time. He advocates linking chess to other subjects and concepts, peer to peer mentoring, and accessible learning materials that develop executive function skills.

Julie Blasingame has been a public school teacher for 15 years. She presented data that indicated that students who play chess show more improvement on benchmark test scores than those who do not play chess. Those who play chess also benefit greatly by attending a structured chess club in which a curriculum is taught, homework is given, and time is spent to practice chess-playing skills. A comparison was made in 2005 of Third Grade students at William Lipscomb Elementary School. The chess group scored higher on Math, Reading, Science, and Social Studies than the non-chess group. A similar study was made in the fall of 2010 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Elementary School. The results again showed the chess group having higher benchmark scores than the non-chess group in those four subjects. Her conclusion was that “Regardless of why chess-playing students score better on their standardized test
scores, data shows that this improvement does occur.” Her presentation is available at

Saheli Nath is an undergraduate student at UTD who is working with Dr. Alexey Root. She conducted a study on the effects of playing chess on self esteem of college students age 18-40. She noted that “Proficiency in chess needs considerable self-study apart from the actual playing hours. Chess requires a high level of concentration, which may affect an individual’s other activities. Despite these considerations, chess has been incorporated in many colleges with the idea that it may improve students’ general self-esteem and overall college performance involving academic, health, and social life.” She pointed out that “Previous research indicates that students with higher self-esteem often work better in groups, display greater pro-social tendencies and are more easily accepted as leaders by their peers compared to students with relatively low self-esteem. Studies have also shown that people with higher
self-esteem tackle failures more easily, take more initiatives, and are relatively happier (Roy, 2003).” She offered several literature references. The study did not find statistically significant evidence that chess is associated with higher self esteem in college adults. Her presentation is available at


Not enough has been said of the value of chess in schools from a counselor’s point of view. As we find repeatedly that exposure to chess does have behavioral benefits, school counselors should be very interested to see how they can use chess as a tool. Fernando Moreno became a school counselor in the Baltimore, MD, area shortly after arriving in the US from Spain. He saw chess as a metaphor for life and began to use chess as a counseling tool. Since then he has advocated chess as a tool for school counselors and presented papers at counseling conferences. His book, “Teaching Life Skills Through Chess”, was well received. He was assisted in his presentation by media specialist Eric Henderson who provided information about Broad Acres Elementary School, where Fernando Moreno was the counselor. The presentation considered chess to be more than a school subject, but rather they identified their presentation as “Chess as an Integral Part of School Culture”. It received key funding from the Maryland State Department of Education. Fernando Moreno showed chess positions that could immediately be seen as applicable to life situations. One example is about conflict resolution / fight. A position is shown with White Pawns on g5 and h5 and Black Pawns on f7 and g6. The Kings are not nearby. If the h Pawn moves forward its promotion cannot be stopped and later the Black King will be checkmated. If the h Pawn instead takes the Black g Pawn it will be recaptured by the Black f Pawn and nobody will win. It will be a draw. He provides this advice for life: When somebody challenges you, bothers you, or steps into your space, your first reaction may be to bother or fight them back. Is it the best decision? It may be best to think before you move, focus on your goal, and move away from trouble. Fighting does not solve anything Nobody wins. An important slide in the presentation makes the statement “The Chess Board represents our lives. The Chess pieces become us. Each piece represents the skills that we have. The way we move them will lead to success or failure.” Eric Henderson indicated that the school uses a broad range of extracurricular activities in addition to chess. They attempt to involve every child in activities that will help them succeed. The students receive the benefits of chess, but there is no way to quantify the results of each activity. It is important to commend the school administration for their forward thinking and dedication to their students. The report can be found at


Dr. Alexey Root was the US Women’s Chess Champion in 1989 and has taught college credit Chess in Education courses at UTD since 2001 as well as taught at chess camps and Denton ISD schools. Dr. Root has written several articles for “Tempo”, the TAGT Journal and has authored five books since 2006 which have become resources for chess educators. She outlined the benefits of chess for children and demonstrated exercises that can be used with Preschool, Kindergarten, Primary and Elementary grades. The exercises are from her soon to be released
book “Thinking with Chess: Teaching Children Ages 5-14.” Educators and parents learn how these exercises identify giftedness and instruct. Special thanks to Dr. Alexey Root for providing this insight while also functioning as co-organizer of the conference and chairing a series of sessions both days. Her report can be found at

Stephen A. Lipschultz MD, created the “Think Like A King” (TLAK) school chess software, which is very widely used interactive software that addresses management, motivational and teaching needs of scholastic chess programs and is USCF’s official scholastic software. Dr. Lipschultz, a Board certified Internal Medicine Specialist in Evanston, IL, was the recipient of UTD’s Chess Educator of the year award in 2009. He demonstrated how the TLAK software worked and introduced a new title, “Major League Chess”, which enables school chess teams to create their own chess seasons, leagues, and conferences similar to major league sports teams so they can compete online without the travel expense. He also presented a medical perspective on recent data for brain function and cognitive processes in at risk children, and explained why chess works with at-risk children (See Research).

Leah Martin Dagher is a graduate of Texas Tech and a student of Dr. Alexey Root at UTD. She taught chess full time at Briarmeadow Charter School in Houston at all grade levels. She teaches chess for Tarrant County College’s “College for Kids” program and is the author of “Classroom Chess: A Primary Teacher’s Handbook”. She applied Dr. Carol Ann Tomlinson’s curriculum differentiation theories to chess in the classroom.

Differentiated learning enables a teacher to provide a variety of ways to teach the same content to classes with widely varied backgrounds and abilities so they can learn at their own rate without affecting others in their class. Please note: Dr. Tomlinson explained in a 2008 paper that differentiated instruction is the process of ensuring that what a student learns, how he/she learns it, and how the student demonstrates what he/she has learned is a match for that student’s readiness level, interests, and preferred mode of learning. Differentiation stems from beliefs about differences among learners, how they learn, learning preferences and individual interests. Research indicates that many of the emotional or social difficulties
gifted students experience disappear when their educational climates are adapted to their level and pace of learning. Differentiation in education can also include how a student shows that they have mastery of a concept. This could be through a research paper, role play, podcast, diagram, poster, etc. The key is finding out how your students learn. Learning that meets their specific needs is displayed. Leah Dagher applied this to chess instruction. She stated “My good news here today is that Chess and chess- related activities fit very nicely within the framework of most classrooms which would seek to differentiate…. In a teacher-led classroom, it is up to that individual teacher to select chess as an option for developmental
learning. Chess as a choice??! Whoever thought of that? Actually, this is a new idea. Chess has been a mandatory part of many European schools’ curricula.” “The real question is ‘Which teachers would be qualified to include chess?’ The teacher with chess knowledge to be sure! What about the teacher who has chess interest, but no real chess knowledge? What about the teacher who has chess knowledge , but lacks the tools to present chess to the classroom as a subject of study? These are just two examples of a need to ‘educate’ the educator.” Her presentation is available at

Selby Anderson is a chess master who tied for the Texas State Chess Championship in 1995. He is also the Editor of the TCA’s magazine “Texas Knights” and an active chess coach and teacher. He reported on his lesson sequence for elementary grade students of St. Luke’s Episcopal School in San Antonio. His emphasis is on developing the back row pieces except the King and he uses the film “The Magnificent Seven” as a metaphor for those pieces. That metaphor makes it easier to explain to students how the Magnificent Seven back row warriors must develop early to protect the pawns and King. The presentation is available at

Tricia (Trish) Dobson, is a dedicated “Chess Mom”, Certified Teacher and USCF Level 1 Chess Coach. She started, coaches, and coordinates the Lovejoy ISD chess program “Sport of the Mind”, which includes the Lovejoy High School Competitive Chess Team, and started and runs the Stone Creek Middle School Chess Club. Her presentation focused on how chess connects with lifelong learning, helps students develop emotionally, and enhances their social skills. Chess connects with lifelong learning through planning ahead, time management, flexibility, critical thinking, problem solving, dignity and grace, self improvement and creativity. These are life long skills. Chess helps students develop emotionally by seeing outcomes based on input, individual accountability, evaluation, encouragement, communication, confidence in their abilities, and intellectual maturity. Chess develops social skills by developing human contact (making friends), sportsmanship, respect, patience, sharing, sense of belonging, good manners, self esteem, and reasoned judgments as well as integrating diversity. She
presented charts from Dr. Robert Ferguson’s 1979-1982 study “Developing Critical and Creative Thinking Through Chess”, which showed significantly higher results for creativity in the chess group compared to the non-chess group with a statistically significant increase in all three factors in creativity (fluency, flexibility, and originality). She also presented a chart from a 1990 report by Christine Palm on Nychess, a NYC school chess program which indicated that:

a. Chess instills in young players a sense of self-confidence and self-worth;
b. Chess dramatically improves a child’s ability to think rationally;
c. Chess increases cognitive skills;
d. Chess improves children’s communication skills and aptitude in recognizing patterns;
e. Chess results in higher grades, especially in English and Math studies;
f. Chess builds a sense of team spirit while emphasizing the ability of the individual;
g. Chess teaches the value of hard work, concentration and commitment;
h. Chess makes a child realize that he or she is responsible for his or her own actions and must accept their consequences;
i. Chess teaches children to try their best to win, while accepting defeat with grace;
j. Chess provides an intellectual, comparative forum through which children can assert hostility i.e. “let off steam” in an acceptable way;
k. Chess can become a child’s most eagerly awaited school activity, dramatically improving attendance;
1. Chess allows girls to compete with boys on a non-threatening, socially acceptable plane;
m. Chess helps children make friends more easily because it provides an easy, safe forum for gathering and discussion;
n. Chess allows students and teachers to view each other in a more sympathetic way;
o. Chess, through competition, gives kids a palpable sign of their accomplishments, and finally;
p. Chess provides children with a concrete, inexpensive and compelling way to rise above the deprivation and self-doubt which are so much a part of their lives.

She offers a Scholastic Chess Pyramid of Success, which shows: Level 1 is casual chess at home and school, Level 2 includes school chess clubs and non-rated in-school clubs and tournaments, Level 3 includes chess classes and courses, city league and local unrated tournaments, Level 4 includes USCF memberships and local and state rated tournaments, Level 5 consists of chess camps and advance group instruction, Level 6 includes National Tournaments, scholastic invitationals, and state adult tournaments, Level 7 is personal training, and Level 8 is a high national ranking. Her presentation can be found at

Utah State Chess Champion Damian Nash is a teacher of gifted and talented students at the high school level. He offered a curriculum model that uses chess as a visual metaphor for teaching higher order thinking skills directly and presented his plan on “Making Chess Attractive to Educators in the Classroom”. He noted that among the problems faced by US Education are: teachers are overwhelmed, there are continuous upgrades in technology, new programs and mandates must be learned, educational priorities change with political winds, budget shortfalls, and budget and program cutbacks are prevalent. Standards based education includes content standards for each subject and grade level as well as process standards for thinking skills. The problem that chess can help address is that process standards often get left behind or addressed superficially since educators are rushed to teach content standards. What schools need is a simple way to teach thinking skills in a fun and motivating arena where the main challenge for kids is to explore and develop the way that we think. He emphasizes that the solution must focus on thinking skills as opposed to chess skills. He refers to resources such as Maurice Ashley’s “Chess for Success”, Fernando Moreno’s “Teaching Life Skills Through Chess” and Peter Kurzdorfer’s “The Tao of Chess” He advocates evolution to chess variants such as bughouse, Fischer Random (960), and even Fischer Random Bughouse in order to eliminate memorization. His entire presentation, including his proposed curriculum and sample lesson plan are available at It is also available with narration at

Chouchanik Airapetian teaches chess to elementary school students and in public libraries. Her presentation was entitled “Have Fun in Chess Club”. She focused on five factors to make a professional or scholastic player. They are: the coach, finance (some students are involved with other activities as well), students’ motivation (must be willing to practice chess), students’ talent, and parents’ involvement.

She noted that coaches can:

a) Develop curriculum with the lesson plans
b) Use/create chess variance games, short activities. If that is fun, then review it with them again
c) Reward with participation points and/or candy to promote their homework/extra home taking activities and create motivation for outside of chess club
d) Promote blitz game with different time control at certain ages
e) Share names of famous players and assign children’s group with those players’ names to create role models among children
f) Assign different team captains each week to motivate leadership skills
g) Invite famous players to come and present their tournament experiences
h) Promote chess scholastic tournament participation
i) Encourage chess gatherings and reward points that students had solved problems together outside of club time
g) Use any technological tools of that classroom (white board, projector, chess demo board, personal laptop computer & etc.)
k) Watch the professional chess players game on the screen of white board/laptop computer to promote skills of team guessing

Chouchanik Airapetian also encouraged promotion of more girls in chess clubs and scholastic tournaments. She suggests to coaches that they: Improve their chess level by competing in chess tournaments, Consult with educators and with the school administration about their children’s learning styles to promote competitiveness and good sportsmanship in the club, Follow up with the recent studies about chess and education, Use instruments from other coaches to adjust their styles, Write reflections of their lessons to create the team spirit, Keep a folder with chess lesson plans, Follow up with chess news on, and other well-known chess web sites, Be aware of similarities and differences in mixed-gender chess session to handle emotional stress and gender and child specific differences, Encourage parental involvement in their chess club, Work with tips from other professional coaches, and Enroll in chess coaching courses and workshops (such as are offered by UTD, and FIDE). Her presentation is available at

Lior Lapid has a BA in Philosophy and an MA in Political Science. He has 15 years experience teaching chess to private students as well as in the schools. He is currently teaching chess to the Pueblo people of New Mexico. He presented “Chess Training and Motivation: Ideas for Coaches”, which spoke of challenges facing chess teachers today, including the high rate of players who lose interest around age 13 and players who quickly reach a rating plateau, then do not improve despite years of lessons. He suggested training methods that will increase USCF renewal and retention rate and motivate students to do more studying on their own. Among his ideas to reduce dropouts were to use speed chess and bughouse, encourage more girls to play, and use tee shirts, jacket patches, and buttons. He also suggests studying with others, chess parties with food, and the Internet. He provides his ideas of how to teach the opening, middle game, and endgame and suggests teaching simple endgames, then progressing to openings. He advocates chess heroes, anecdotes, history and trivia – just like in sports. He points out that the use of student teachers is good since more advanced students enjoy the role of teacher and it develops leadership skills. Be creative. He suggests the use of humor such as Koltanowski jokes, chess problems, retrograde analysis, and children should try to invent their own chess problems and jokes. The presentation can be found at


Bronx, NY – David MacEnulty is a very effective chess teacher at many grade levels. Rachel and I, along with Beatriz Marinello and visitors from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and some of the CDC’s project communities, had the opportunity to sit in on one of David MacEnulty’s Kindergarten classes in the South Bronx in 1997. Please note: Beatriz Marinello was USCF Scholastic Director at the time and is currently a Chess Trust Trustee. Rachel was USCF Secretary and I was chair of the USCF Outreach Committee and am currently a Chess Trust Trustee.

Not only were the students attentive but they were learning geometry while they were learning chess. Several requested chess to be taught during summer school and said they would attend. It was hard to picture any child at that school to want to go back to school if it wasn’t required – but they did. The general public was made aware of what chess could do for inner city kids when the Arts and Entertainment Network (A&E) released the 2005 made-for-TV film “Knights of the South Bronx” based on David MacEnulty’s work with fourth grade students in the South Bronx.

David MacEnulty has developed a chess curriculum based on Stephen Lipschultz’s “Think Like a King” software and has released many children’s chess books and videos. He addressed the psychological preparation necessary to get young children ready for tournament play. He also had some comments for adults.

He said that “The adults in the room – parents, coaches and TDs, also need to give a lot of thought to their own emotional states, influences on, and investments in the proceedings.” He told a number of stories to express his points. One that involved a parent was an all too common situation where a parent, upset because his child lost a game that should have been won acted worse than any child. We all have seen similar situations. The story is: “There was a third grade student on the team who wanted to play the exchange variation of the Spanish. It was clear that he didn’t understand a lot of the ideas of the variation, so I offered to give him a couple of private sessions. When showing the pin variation, where Black offers up a bishop sacrifice in exchange for a devastating attack, we got to the key position and I asked if he could safely take the bishop. He patiently studied the position and, after about five minutes proudly
announced that the bishop should not be taken. He then proceeded to give me a verbal rundown of the moves leading to mate. Two weeks later at the national tournament in Nashville, that position arose in his very first game. He was all keyed up and excited, and instantly snapped off the bishop, going down to an ignominious defeat several moves later. He was of course the first one back to the team room. He had tears in his eyes, and was trembling—as I soon realized—with fear. His father, a 1500 player himself, ripped the score sheet from his son’s hand, saw what had happened, and in a frightening display of temporary insanity, grabbed his son, lifted him in the air and snarled in his face, ‘How could you be so #$@# stupid!’ The rest of us stood in stupefied shock.” David MacEnulty analyzed this problem as: “The father … had invested too much of himself in his son’s achievements. Rather than allow his son the freedom to make his own mistakes and learn from them, he gave in to his rich fantasy life of imagining his son as the perfect embodiment of all he thought he would have been, given his son’s opportunities. When reality clashed with that fantasy, he came completely unglued.”

Another story involved a coach. “A coach from another team was at the table giving last minute encouragement to his player. He asked my student if he could look at his scoresheets from the previous rounds. Rather ingenuously, my boy complied. After a quick perusal, the coach derisively threw the book down on the table and told his player, in a loud voice, ‘He’s a fish. You can beat him easily.’ My boy then played the most craven game of his career and quickly lost.” David MacEnulty’s analysis was: The story of the intimidating coach “is a clear case of destructive behavior. If a child is your enemy, there is something seriously wrong with your approach to your job. Yes, we all want to win, but the person across from your student is a child. We, the adults, are supposed to be nurturers, not destroyers. If victory is that important, stay away from children.”

The TD was the star of this story: “A girl on my team was winning her final game. Victory makes her City Champion. Her opponent started acting sick, and asked her for a draw. She said no. He persisted, saying he didn’t feel well. She said no again. He raised his hand for a TD. One came over and the boy said he was sick and wanted a draw. The TD told her she should be a good sport and give him the draw. She said no again. He said she wasn’t being fair, and she should take the draw. Finally she succumbed to the pressure and said OK. She came in third on tie breaks, and our team placed second on tie breaks. Had she won, she would have been the individual city champion and our team would have been clear first. Ten minutes later the allegedly sick child was running all over the place, laughing and playing tag with his friends in the hotel hallway.” David MacEnulty’s comment was “As for the TD, I have nothing good to
say about him. Learn the rules and apply them appropriately. The young girl he deprived of a well deserved victory in the story was angry and distraught for days. Her parents, one of whom could charitably be called a tiger mom, were equally upset at the obvious dereliction of justice. This was one of several such incidents that eventually drove this phenomenally talented girl from the game.”

When asked whether he prepares his teams as enemies in a war he said “I want my students to love chess. We have many opponents, but no enemies. They may not like us, they may even dislike or revile us, but I will not return the favor, nor will I tolerate it in any of the students or parents at my school. It takes two (or more) to make a fight, and this is one I do not want to engage in. Our battle is on the board and only on the board. No child is my enemy. Of course I want to win, but only by having my students make better moves on the board, not by vilifying another school or the children who happen to go to a different school. I teach my students to appreciate good moves, no matter who makes them. If your opponent makes a good move, that means you have to find a good response; good moves by our opponent bring out the best in us.”

David MacEnulty’s advice to adults was “Parents and coaches need to understand and accept, not just intellectually but deep in their visceral being, that it is normal for young children to do foolish things, to make huge mistakes, to make incomprehensible errors. The parent’s job is to give the child a reassuring hug and say you love them. The coach’s job is to analyze the mistake and, more importantly, assess the level of disturbance the child feels at his or her error, and either work on it then and there if the child is up to it, or give the child a little space, tell him to go wash his face, relax, and we’ll talk about it later. Above all, lay no blame. The children are under tremendous pressure at these tournaments, and we need to lighten that pressure as much as possible. We also need to protect the children in our care. When getting your child situated to play, I now tell the parents not to leave the playing area as long as the parent or coach of the opposing player is there. And above all, be a good role model for both your child and the other player.”

He described the neurophysiology (what is happening in the brain) and described the function of the amygdala. He pointed out that patterns of behavior are as knowable as patterns on a chessboard and identified some that can cause stress and discomfort to a small child. Those identified were intimidating or obnoxious behavior before a game or during a game, breaking the rules, unethical behavior, and losing a game. He provided examples and suggestions to address these issues. He concluded with “Let’s teach our children to love the game, follow the rules, study hard and often and respect their opponents. Persist with that, and you will get a good result.”. He emphasized that in a team setting it is very important to stress team camaraderie. His report can be found at

Brooklyn, NY – Congratulations to Brooklyn’s IS318.  Not only are their chess teams the subject of an upcoming documentary film, but while the conference was in process they won the National 8th Grade Championship and did well in the 6th and 7th Grade Championships as well. The games were played in a room near the conference. Katie Dellamaggiore, “Brooklyn Castle” Producer and Director, Executive Producer Robert McLellan, IS318 Assistant Principal and Chess Coach John Galvin, and IS318 chess teacher Elizabeth Vicary described “Brooklyn Castle”, a documentary based on Brooklyn’s IS318 that is due to premiere in January 2012. Scholastic’s (publisher) Families and Communities Engagement (FACE) symposium discussed it as a central part of a presentation on extending school time. Katie Dellamaggiore explained their presentation as “So today I’m going to share the ‘Brooklyn Castle’ trailer and 2 scenes from the film, we’re going to talk with John and Elizabeth about what they’ve created at 318, and then after we’re going to talk a little about our outreach campaign, and how ‘Brooklyn Castle’ might benefit your efforts to further scholastic chess in your own communities.” They seek to show how chess and other after school activities benefit students in acquiring academic and other skills. The film shows that despite severe financial crises PS318 has assembled the best Junior High chess team in the US. It follows five chess team members for one school year. A six minute video is available on the Brooklyn Castle website. The presentation is available at

Please note that the Brooklyn Navy Yard Cogeneration Plant, a Brooklyn power company, has donated $25,000 to IS318 to help fund the school’s chess program. A December 2, 2011 “New York Daily News” article quoted company Spokesman Sean Lane as saying “We rely on New York to be successful so that we can be successful and that starts with the kids in our own community…It’s a way for us to give back to the community we work in every day.” The article then pointed out that “The team spent yesterday (Dec 1) at Google’s offices in Chelsea wiping the floor with the search engine’s best and brightest on the chess board, cruising to an easy 45-9 win.” John Galvin was quoted as saying “It just reinforced our belief that our kids are the intellectual equals of anyone….They’re proud of what they’ve accomplished and they’re proud to show it off.” The article can be found at

Brownsville, TX – Clemente Rendon is currently the President of the TCA and was the longest serving President of the UTD Chess Club. He convinced the President of the University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB) of the value of a chess program. UTB started a chess program which, with Clemente Rendon’s continuing advice and support, became one of the top four college chess programs in the US. His presentation described chess in Brownsville, including Brownsville ISD as well as UTB. 98% of students served by Brownsville ISD are Hispanic and 94 % qualify for free or reduced price lunch. Brownsville is located at the southernmost tip of Texas on the north bank of the Rio Grande. Its location gives it a rich history but also contributes to problems today because of the threat of violence due to drug traffic and a high poverty level. Brownsville ISD is by far the city’s largest employer.

Brownsville ISD won the 2008 Broad Prize for Urban Education. The details are available at While the Broad Prize does not specifically mention chess it was clear that the chess program was a major factor in their achieving the performance that led to the award. The Brownsville success in chess and its national recognition by the Broad Prize award (and the million dollars that it included) resulted in an ongoing boost in morale, increased parental support, and numerous national chess championships. The presentation is available at

Note: HBO’s “Real Sports” aired an episode about chess in Brownsville on June 22 of 2010. UTB’s Chess Director Russell Harwood and Brownsville ISD chess coach JJ Guajardo were interviewed by HBO reporter Mary Carillo. Russell Harwood since noted that many people don’t think of chess as a sport, so the appearance of chess on “Real Sports” was very rewarding. We have seen the HBO program and strongly encourage anyone who hasn’t seen it to do so. It leaves an even stronger impression than some of the more widely distributed and publicized films because it was a show about real people and how they made the most of a real problem through chess. Russell Harwood also indicated that a documentary is in the works that may become a feature film.

St. Louis, MO – Alex Vergilesov is currently the Scholastic Director for the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis (CCSCSL). He reported on the new chess merit badge for Boy Scouts, which was announced in a special ceremony in September. He described the requirements for the merit badge and also provided an overview of the CCSCSL. He indicated that at the CCSCSL they can become Merit Badge Counselors, Participate in Boy Scout events, and help introduce a brand new audience to chess. Scouting also had a representative in the tournament area where more information was available. Thanks are in order for Jeanne Sinquefield, who was the final driving force to get the Chess Merit Badge program approved and to her husband US Chess Trust Trustee Rex Sinquefield for his support.

Claire Grothe, Program Coordinator for the World Chess Hall of Fame (HOF), which reopened in St. Louis in September as a major part of the same celebration when the Merit Badge was introduced, then presented an overview of the HOF. She indicated that the mission of the HOF is to educate visitors, fans, players and scholars by collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting the game of chess and its continuing cultural and artistic significance. She mentioned school tours, family programming, public programming, and technology as HOF programs. More information is available at Please note that the US Chess Trust is a major sponsor of the HOF.

Both the Scouting and HOF presentations are available at

Dennis Raveneau retired from the Dallas ISD after 22 years and has coached chess at many Dallas schools, YMCAs, and chess camps. He has run numerous low cost tournaments for schools and community groups. He prepared a presentation entitled “Do I Really Want to Start a Chess Club?” which was scheduled but not presented. It can be found at

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