Tuesday, May 27, 2008

AEP Schools Dominate Title I Final

Riverside Elementary (AEP) Jarvis McClain
Scott Lake Elementary (AEP) Cheryl Polite
Norwood Elementary (AEP) Barbara Reed
Amelia Earhardt Elementary (AEP) Sandy Palacios-Garcia
Riverside Elementary (AEP) Jarvis McCLain
Flagami Elementary (AEP) Annette Perpignano
Edison Park Elementary (AEP) Webber Charles
Riverside Elementary (AEP) Jarvis McClain
Olympia Heights Elementary (AEP) Ruth Sommerfeld
Shenandoah Middle School (Elective) Israel Ordonez
Jose Marti Middle School Silvio Lores
Jose de Diego Middle School (Elective) Sergio Nieves
Miami Senior High School (Elective) Julio Aguilar
Homestead High School (Elective) Mario Deif
Mater Academy High School Jorge Leon

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Miami-Dade Chess Teachers Association Refutes Claim

Dear Ms. Dean,

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me on Saturday during the Title I CHESS tournament. I was with the group of parents and students that showed up to support all Chess programs because of our concern that Chess funds will be cut. You said that Title I CHESS would not be effected by the budget cuts. I want to make you aware that things will drastically change for all chess programs including and especially Title I CHESS next year. There will be much less participation and many programs will drop out altogether because without the continued support from all the chess funding we will lose valuable chess coaches that in turn will affect the entire chess program.
As you know, site administrators are authorized to use Title I money to support chess including to pay teachers, pay for entry fees to tournaments, and transportation etc. Principals also have the discretion to use Title I money to hire teachers, improve technology, or pay FCAT tutors among many other needs. Title I money is to support and not supplant. Many Title I schools don't even use Title I money for chess. They use AEP Chess allocations.
When AEP allocations get cut, the school will be left without funds to pay chess coaches. Without coaches to provide classes after school, organize field trips to tournaments, and recruit parent support, the chess program will lose the steady success we have seen in the past few years.
According to a Dade Chess Teacher's Association survey and the Division of Advanced Academics records, there are 100 schools using AEP (Academic Excellence Program) chess allocations. Of those 100 schools, 90 are Title I schools. The fact is that each of those Title I schools receives at least $3400 AEP money to pay a chess teacher for the year and a $250 dollar allocation for materials. Many schools, including co-national champion Edison Park Elementary (Title I school) do not use any funds from the Title I school wide allocation.
In fact, the most active and successful elementary chess programs are AEP funded including Edison Park, Amelia Earhart, Olympia Heights, Flagami, Riverside, Scott Lake, and Norwood. These schools dominated the Title I tournament this past Saturday. These schools have been paying their teachers through Advanced Academics/AEP. That is a fact. Any cuts will seriously affect these Title I schools and others less inclined to participate in authentic assessments.
The reality is that chess programs in the district are a combination of AEP, Title I, and the Division of Life Skills. There has been unprecedented growth and participation over the past three years. It has been through a combination of all these programs. Any cuts will greatly affect all of chess. Title I schools who use AEP chess allocations will be forced to dip into already budgeted resources to continue programs. With all the cuts, this seems highly unlikely. Please support NOT cutting any chess positions or programs.

Miami-Dade Chess Teachers Association

Monday, May 19, 2008

District Invitational @ Devon Aire K-8

Teacher/Coach Mr. Armesto of Key Biscayne K-8 with winners

Santa Clara Teacher/Coach Judy Flores with winners

Colonial Drive Teacher/Coach Katja Abousaleh with winners

Miami Springs Teacher/Coach Erik Peterson with winners

Hialeah Gardens Teacher/Coach Angela Granese with winners

Cutler Ridge Elementary winners with trophies

Alexandra Ochoa (scorekeeper) with winner Felipe Ochoa

District Invitational Results
1. Key Biscayne K-8 Center
2. Miami Springs
3. Colonial Drive
4. Hialeah Gardens
5. Henry S. Reeves
6. Vineland
7. Devon Aire
8. David Fairchild
9. Whispering Pines
10. Leisure City
1.Cutler Ridge
2. Hialeah Gardens
3. Santa Clara
4. Leisure City
5. Colonial Drive
6. Henry S. Reeves
7. Coral Reef
8. Devon Aire
9. Calusa
10. Oliver Hoover

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Killian Senior Visits Chess Hall Fame

Teacher David Freer and student who designed t-shirt

Sidney Samole was inspired to invent chess computer after watching Spock play three dimensional chess. Live long and prosper!

Killian students participating in a chess lesson

Killian students fighting for position.

Killian Senior took 24 students to the WCHF yesterday. Teacher David Freer has participated in several chess PDs and has involved his students in several scholastic tournaments this year. He said, " I am very impressed with this place. My students are enjoying the field trip very much." They had pizza delivered and ate in the courtyard. For more information contact Mrs. Samole at 786 242-4255. See a short clip of the museum below.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

GM Maurice Ashley Coming to Town

GM Maurice Ashley was born March 6, 1966 in St. Andrew, Jamaica, Maurice's family moved to Brooklyn when he was 12. He is the first and only African-American to attain chess’ highest title of International Grandmaster. The New York Times, USA Today, Time Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Reader's Digest, Ebony, and a host of other publications around the world reported his achievement. In addition, Ashley has appeared on the Charlie Rose Show, CBS News This Morning, NPR, CNN, Bloomberg Radio, and many other broadcasts.

Ashley’s major chess accomplishments include:
In 1991, he coached a team of kids from Harlem to victory at the National Junior High School Championships, in Dearborn, Michigan.
In 1993, he became the first African-American International Master in US history.
Finished 1st place in the prestigious Enhance International in 1993.
Won the title of Champion at the historic Marshall Chess Club Championship in 1993.
Tied for 1st in the Bermuda Open in 1997.

In 1999, became the first African-American International Grandmaster in history.

Tied for 1st in the 2000 Foxwoods Open.
In 2001, became the only back-to-back winner in Foxwoods Open history.
In 2002, became the 1st African-American in 157 years to qualify for the US Championship.
In 2003, the US Chess Federation awarded him the title of Grandmaster of the Year.

You have written that three of your greatest inspirations were Tiger Woods, Arthur Ashe, and Jackie Robinson. Aside from Tiger, what other contemporary figure inspires you the most, and why? What do you draw from each of them to add to your own character?
Maurice Ashley: I'm motivated by a number of contemporary figures. I think Nelson Mandela for very obvious reasons. His tenacity is unmatched in my opinion. Incredible how someone could have suffered that long and come back out of prison with such a good heart and positive things to say and do. I wish that I could mimic him in some way in my life and realize that nothing that I suffer even compares to what he had to suffer. Other people I admire, Andre Agassi, I think that the ability to go to the very bottom and come back up and rise again is admirable, I think is really truly the greatest of character traits. I guess Michael Jordan is another one, not for his excellence but for his hard work despite being so gifted. Certainly a great character. More recently I've come to deeply appreciate my mother. I know that sounds strange but she has sacrificed so much to make sure that my brother and my sister and I got to where we are today, and only now having my children and trying to do the best for them do I realize just how profound her sacrifice for us was.
So far as drawing from Arthur Ashe and Jackie Robinson, Arthur Ashe - just his modesty despite being so great, despite being so amazing - just his desire to contribute back to kids and to the African-American community. And Jackie Robinson, for his ability to stand up to the violence and evils with his head held high and his chest out proud, and never letting his spirit be broken despite everything people, I should say foolish people, threw at him and now he shines, as they say, like a shining Black prince. He is definitely a tremendous human being and I hope that I can mimic some of that quality of being able to stand tall despite any obstacle.
On your web site you wrote about one of your inspirations, Tiger Woods, the following: "Tiger's win at Augusta served as a wake-up call. It made me realize the need to make some serious changes in my life if I was going to get to where I wanted to be. I decided there and then that nothing else mattered, that I needed to prioritize my life if I was ever going to accomplish my goal. I had put on hold a career that I was very successful in to pursue one that had brought me confusion and frustration, but that I felt a deep passion for. It was that Sunday in April watching Tiger realize his dream that convinced me that I needed to change my life and go chase mine." Do you still have that single-minded focus about your own chess career, and how have your goals changed over time?
Maurice Ashley: I would say that I do not have that same focus for my chess career, because achieving the grandmaster title was probably the most significant achievement of my life. I mean I very much fancied becoming world champion one day, maybe even US Champion, but I don't think that even necessarily will leave the mark of the first, that becoming the first African-American did. Also I think it is a little late in my career, to be thinking about becoming world champion. And I have other goals now. My other goals are dramatically different. I see myself more as an ambassador of the game. And I hope to bring chess to a higher level in the United States. Making bigger tournaments, more interesting events. Making it a respectable profession for young people to be able to pursue in the future. And so as an ambassador, I see myself doing tournaments, I see myself traveling around, talking about the benefits of chess, writing books. Making chess fun, making the public realize that chess is something that people can have a great time at and enjoy as much as they enjoy any other traditional sporting activities or art or music. Chess has elements of them all and I think I can be a small part of making that happen here in the United States.
Susan Polgar recently spoke of her struggles in chess as a pioneering woman player, what struggles have you experienced as a pioneering Black chess player in the USA?
Maurice Ashley: I have to say that I got off very easy. There were incidents. Some crass incidents for example one Grandmaster remarking while I was playing against an International Master, Jay Bonin we were playing speed chess. And he looked at Jay after I defeated Jay a game and said, “Are you letting this shvarts beat you?” And you know this term is a derogatory one in Yiddish. But, you know, stuff like that , of course it angered me, but my best way to respond to that was over the chessboard and when I played this Grandmaster two games I defeated him both games and I had nothing to say. I let my game do the talking. I’ve had incidents like that but when I compare my own story to the stories that have happened forty or fifty years ago particularly to Jackie Robinson for example. I think I got off easy. I think that by and large chess players have been very kind. Like I said there have been a few incidents, but they certainly didn’t serve to bring me down any. And knowing the strength of character that African-Americans before me have displayed against much greater obstacles, I think that I have no reason at all to complain about how my experience went.
Who really is Maurice Ashley - what are your essential qualities?
Maurice Ashley: Well, I'm still looking for Maurice Ashley. My essential qualities. I think that more than anything, I try to do the right thing, I think about doing the right thing. I was brought up to be someone who gives back. Also someone who is very determined. Whenever I have a goal I come up with a million and one ways to execute that goal and I usually expect to fail nine times out of ten, but sooner or later I figure that I will succeed if I just keep trying hard enough. And I think that I want to see young people succeed. I guess from the way I grew up, just growing up as a poor boy in Jamaica. Finally getting an opportunity to show what I could do and then being able to work hard and do it. And I know what it feels like to not have opportunity or to dream and not be able to just do what it is you want or have what it is you want. So I have a soft spot in my heart for young people and giving to them and making sure that they grow and flower in the best way. But you know I have a lot of qualities. I don’t think I could really touch on only one or two that would take every thing and say that this is Maurice Ashley. But the couple I said, I think really speak to the things that I value. Pretty much more than most other things.
What are your professional goals in chess at this point, do you have specific rating gains in mind, or certain levels of competition you are working to achieve? Where do you see your life in chess developing in five years time? What plans do you have to achieve your goal?
Maurice Ashley: As a professional player I am almost in semi-retirement right now. I can pretty much say that I have achieved most of my goals in chess and I am at a point where I just want to get better. But I don’t have anything really specific in mind. Well, maybe winning the US Championship is something that I think is realistic, but you know if it doesn’t happen for me, it’s not going to kill me. As I said before, my big thing right now is to propagate chess, to spread it around the country. And that is a very difficult job and I think that I’m tailor-made as a chess player, coach, commentator, ambassador of the sport to be able to do that more than many of my colleagues. So I think that’s were my life is headed. In five years time I see my company, Generation Chess, exploding, really making a difference in the chess world. Bringing on sponsors, doing a lot of innovative ideas, executing a lot of interesting tournaments and plans that will keep the chess world abuzz. But as far as a player, I think right now I just want to get better. And keep enjoying the game.

You've been quite outspoken regarding the so-called "GM-draw", first with your editorial "The End of the Draw Offer?", and then the Generation Chess International Tournament where a no-draw rule was employed. Still, it seems this was all in the past, and we haven't heard much of late about this effort. What's new on this front, and are you going to keep "fighting the fight?" What's the next step in promoting your anti-draw initiative?
Maurice Ashley: Well the HB Global Chess Challenge is the next step in promoting this initiative. The point is if players don’t comply, they’ll be fined or they will be forfeited rounds or they won’t be allowed to play in our events. Well we won’t fine them, but we will prevent them from playing in our events and they will be forfeited that round. I think that the only way to convince players that this rule is important to us is to show that you mean business and if they want to play in the top event in the world then they will have to adhere to the rule. No we haven’t heard that much about it, but it really doesn’t matter. We feel as a company that we are on the forefront of something very important. That chess fans all around the world e-mail me in droves to say how much they appreciated my coming out and writing this article. I don’t think I did anything special, I just stated something very very obvious and just to me it’s not really a fight, although you know some chess players might disagree, but I don’t see it as a fight. I just see it as a natural evolution of the game. It's very natural, it not even something that should be considered unusual, except maybe to people who have it so ingrained in them that they can’t change, but I see it as very natural. A part of the game that simply has to change, it has to become current with the fighting spirit that is exhibited in all major sports. Hopefully all the top chess players will come around and see that this is the way it has to be and with enough money on the table they’ll start making an effort to make this change.
What sort of reaction did you receive privately from other GMs and tournament organizers about your anti-draw initiatives?
Maurice Ashley: Well, it was probably the strangest thing to me that GMs kept so quiet on this. But, actually the only public one I saw was Nigel Short who agreed that this is a rule that he feels definitely needs changing. I also saw Viswanathan Anand in an interview say that he is not sure about the way I wish to implement it but he thinks that something should be done and that it should be tried in every single chess tournament. Or by organizers, just try it and see what happens. That the important thing is in the attempt to try to work this out in a way that’s going to suit both players and fans. Privately I have received a great response from chess fans, from Grand Masters, for example Gregory Kaidanov. Kaidanov he said that this was really a big change for him, that after reading my article, he decided inside that this what he wanted to do, to just not have these quick draws anymore. And organizers, Jerry Weinkel, who organizes the Reno tournament he called me recently and said he wants to do one in March. The organizer of the Millennium Tournament in Virginia Beach, Tom Braunlich, wants to do the same thing also for his tournament in upcoming years. So its catching on. Recently in Corsica they had a tournament where they wanted to do no draws at all. No agreed draws at all and also three points for a win and one point for a draw. So I think the movement is beginning. And I think when people see the big tournament like the HB Global Chess Challenge work, they’ll start to realize that things aren’t as bad as they thought and that this is not some kind of bizarre rule that is being imposed on them from on high, that it’s just about playing chess.
What is the shortest draw that you ever played and under which circumstances did it occur?
Maurice Ashley: I've had a few quick draws. Mainly the quickest draws have been in the last round of major tournaments, that I was about to win. I remember playing in the Bermuda Open and Joel Benjamin and I tied for first place by just having a quick draw in the last round. I remember in both Foxwoods that I tied for first place in, having quick draws with my opponents, it was Wojtkiewicz one game and Serper the other. Look, this is something that's been part of chess. It's not something I'm proud of, but it's also something that was within the context (I say was, but it still is) of how grandmasters earn their living. Unfortunately the practice is terrible for chess, and I didn't wake up to it until after the US Championship of 2003, and after Kasparov drew Deep Junior in the last game of a huge match where if he'd won he would have won the match. So, I think it's something that I've only recently awoken to and now that I have I just have a passion for it and I want to see it changed.
In order to develop more home-grown American GMs, what needs to change? Have you ever considered opening a chess program that trains students to reach the levels of master and grandmaster, much like they do in Russia and other parts of Europe?
Maurice Ashley: I have considered opening a school, and I think eventually Generation Chess will open a school or have a camp. I think more needs to be done though. I think you'll find American grandmasters coming about when it seems as if chess is a real lucrative profession to pursue. When Bobby Fischer became world champion, American grandmasters came out in droves, and the reason for that was simply because they felt like there was excitement behind the game, there was potential dollars behind the game, there was a reason to play. With no real money behind the sport, smart young American kids - they are going to be lawyers and doctors and they should be, in my opinion, if there's no real promise for them then just to pursue the sport that's not going to feed them, why do it? So I think that's the final piece. I think if kids see a monetary opportunity, a lucrative opportunity, in chess then they'll continue to pursue it and you will see a ton of GMs coming out of the United States, but until then they're going to go and pursue regular degrees like all their friends and become successful business people or doctors and lawyers. That's only natural, so I think that's the real thing that has to change.
What are your thoughts on the scholastic chess movement?
Maurice Ashley: I think the Scholastic movement in chess is fantastic, it's growing, the USCF is really putting a lot of energy into it, and in groups all around the country they're doing the same. That really is our future, and that should be promoted as much as possible. They're the fans of the future, they're the stars of the future. So I am very pleased to see just how these different initiatives around the country are burgeoning and will continue to blossom over time.
When teaching inner-city kids chess as you do, do you make it a point to tie in the life lessons, such as thinking ahead, consequences of bad choices, etc? What have been the responses of such lessons (such as, any positive feedback from the kids as they got older and looked back on those lessons)?
Maurice Ashley: I can't help it when I teach but to incorporate life lessons, it's actually embedded in my style. I bring up all sorts of connections between chess and life and sports and success. I do it just naturally as I'm teaching. It actually enhances how the kids learn chess itself, learn even just basic tactics. And kids have great response. Years later now I have kids who have graduated from Harvard and Yale, kids who are pursuing PhDs in music programs and business degrees, MBAs. To a person they all tell me chess was fabulous and the way I explained chess to them really helped. They weren't able to articulate the benefits then, but now they say it's just so clear to them that they use chess constantly in the way they think, the way they approach life, how they think about life. So I'm real proud of the fact that that was something I had to offer, and I continue to watch them blossom. They're fantastic kids, now fantastic young men and women and chess really had a part, a big part, to do in their eventual success.
Drawn from your observations of teaching chess to children, what aspects of their character do you observe is being most developed?
Maurice Ashley: I really can't point to a single one but I think that a critical one is self-confidence. Playing chess is viewed by the rest of society as something extremely difficult to do. So when a kid plays chess well they get positive feedback from most adults, who just hearing it think 'Wow, you must be really smart.' And in fact chess does help your critical thinking skills, I know it helped mine coming up for sure and it's something that I try to stress with the kids all the time. So I think that as that happens, as you start to solve problems in an effective way, use your mind, you know it's you that's doing it, so you have a real sense of ownership over every single chess game. The strength of character that develops is really tremendous and I think that it definitely helps your self-confidence and anytime you're confident you've already won half the battle for anything that you have to do in life.
Describe one life lesson you have taken away from the game of chess that you apply regularly in your life.
Maurice Ashley: There's so many lessons I get from chess, it's incredible, but I think the biggest thing for me has always been is that losing is learning. Whenever I won a chess game it was so easy to forget the game, I almost didn't even feel that great. You know I felt pretty good, but it seemed like it was supposed to happen because I just kept making the moves and it happened, but when you lose, whoo. There's so much to learn from that. To identify mistakes and figure out what it was exactly that went wrong. That to me is the hardest thing, but it was always the thing that developed me the most. I go away from losses stunned, hurt, but thinking, analyzing, wondering. And I come out of losses so much stronger, almost to a point where I look forward to my losses. I know that sounds strange, but the things that kept me down, that got me down, brought me up, so much afterwards. I was so inspired by it, that to lose was just not a big deal. It just became part of the growth process. And I think that's the biggest lesson that I ever learned from chess - that you can grow from failure.
The perennial discussion about how to be a better player goes on and on, what combination of elements do you think are key to developing chess performance.
Maurice Ashley: There's no mystery, I don't think it's a mystery. I think hard work, truly hard work, study, examining your mistakes, the ability to bounce back from defeat - and to grow from it. Naturally it helps to have some talent and the ability to calculate and to analyze. But I think even if you look at a gifted youngster like Hikaru Nakamura for example; sure he's a great thinker, he's quick on his feet, but more than anything I like about this kid is he's so determined. And you'll find that top chess players have that quality time and time again. Their determination despite all obstacles and odds or challenges. The ones who stick it out, the ones who push themselves, push to learn more, push to become better players, are the ones who actually do become better players. I see that time and time again, the difference between mediocrity and excellence is effort. And that applies to everything. It's just no mystery; those who don't want to work don't go anywhere, and those who do always end up succeeding on some level. And I think that in addition to natural skills and talent that I think are pretty obvious in chess, I think to me that's really the quality.
What parting thoughts would you like to leave to the readers of this interview? Perhaps something we haven't touched upon yet, or something you would like to elaborate on.
Maurice Ashley: I think a strong message I would like to send to chess fans everywhere is that really and truly the fans are going to make the difference in chess. The fans have to mobilize. The fans have to show that chess is a meaningful activity and that they're willing to spend dollars to make chess successful. As fans, as players, traditionally we have been very lazy in showing our support for chess in real ways, in concrete ways that can make a difference, whether it's in terms of giving to chess charities, whether it's in terms of doing our own promotions for events. We tend to sit back and let other people do all the work. If we continue to do that chess is going to be at a standstill, but if each fan figures out a way to help grow chess then our sport really stands a chance. And one of the big ways to do that is to get our dollars behind it in some way, even if it means buying a bunch of chess sets and giving them to your local community center. Those things make a difference, and we will grow chess fans one by one. If each fan were to create just one more fan, if each member of the USCF were to create just one more member of the USCF then we'd have 200,000 members in the organization, and that's huge. So if each one teaches one, then we grow. So I would like to see the fans really take up this mission of spreading chess, so that we can see the game that we love really thrive.

*courtesy chessville.com

Dr. Alexey Root Supports M-Dade Chess

Dear Dr. Crew,

I'm writing to commend your public schools for your chess education program. Being from Texas, I'd heard about the wonderful results that the Brownsville Independent School District (ISD) has achieved. There, students learn chess in 45 of the 48 schools. Brownsville students are inspired to attend college because the University of Texas at Brownsville has full-ride chess scholarships. Positive publicity for the largely-Hispanic Brownsville ISD and UTB students has been constant. See, for example, http://www.houstonpress.com/2008-04-10/news/chess-masters-at-ut-brownsville/full
That article also mentions Miami-Dade College, a formidable college chess team. Now that M-DCPS, like Brownsville I.S.D., has Chess Education, I would expect that more of your students will benefit from the connections between chess and education, and chess and higher education. I've already read about some promising results of your M-DCPS students in chess competitions, and about your educators excited to provide this chess enrichment.
As the author of two books on the connections between chess and academic objectives, and as the instructor for online undergraduate and graduate courses for educators interested in those connections I wish you continued success with your Chess Education initiative. http://telecampus.utsystem.edu/catalog/programs/programinfo/chess.aspx,
Dr. Alexey Root--

Monday, May 12, 2008

Edison Park Ties for 1st in K-6 Under 1000

Edison Park Elementary chess club came as close as one can to being crowned national champion. The chess club finished tied with a private school from Philadelphia with 19 points after seven rounds of chess in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania over this past weekend in the K-6 Under 1000 section of the 2008 Burt Lerner K-6 Championship. Edison Park scored 71 to Philly's 78 in the first (Median)tie breaker. EP finished ahead of 30 other schools that included 259 students. Milton Canton scored 6 and tied for 2nd place. He comes home with the 7th place trophy. Woody Jean-Louis scored 5 of 7. Denaric Mikle and Cary Canton both four games.
Olympia Heights tied for 4th place and came home with 9th place (tie breaks). Eduardo Vega scored 5 points. David Lopez and Michael Larroche each won 4 games with William Santos winning 3 of 7. After Saturday, Olympia Heights was in first place. Teacher Ruth Sommerfeld retires at the end of the year after 43 years in the classroom and 13 years teaching chess.
M-DCPS chess was represented by 7 schools and 48 students including Bay Harbor, Everglades K-8, John Smith Elementary, Southwood Middle and Rockway Elementary in Pittsburgh. Congratulations to all.

FCA President Addresses Chess Cuts

Dear Dr. Crew:

I am Andrew Scherman, the President of the Florida Chess Association, which is the official state affiliate of the United States Chess Federation. I have been alerted by some members of the Miami-Dade Chess community that there is discussion of severe funding cuts for scholastic chess in your area. This is a terrible idea. Chess improves standardized test scores in every level of achievement: gifted students, challenged students, & mainstream students.


Chess is mathematical, and there are repeated patterns of tactical maneuvers. Once a student learns these tactical patterns, they look to use them. They are applying what they know to what they see. Now, every test they ever take is applying what they know to what they see, so playing chess reinforces that skill. With a clock running, as is usual among intermediate players and especially in tournament play, you are applying what you know to what you see with time pressure. That’s the FCAT’s and the SAT’s. I tell parents to have their children jump up onto the kitchen table 100 times every day. At the end of the year, their vertical leap will show improvement against other people their age, as they have exercised those muscles. Well, when they play chess, and exercise the mental muscles needed to take standardized tests, the result is the same. If your students are going to grow up and go to the NBA and earn their living rebounding, have them jumping onto the desks. If they are going to go to college and earn their living with their minds like the rest of us, keep your chess program going.


Any investment in chess is repaid by rewards obtained through better scores. Besides, chess is inexpensive. For the cost of outfitting one football player for one season, you can get twenty-five chess sets and fifty students can be playing chess every day. And, if you have 25 sets today, in ten years you have twenty complete sets. How many lives could be changed by that opportunity to hone critical thinking skills which will help them in and out of the classroom forever?


You have a magnificent program going in Miami-Dade. Taking away the funding for it wouldn’t put you worse than the ordinary county. It would just remove you from the ranks of the extraordinary, and deprive your students of a fabulous path to success.


Thank you for taking your time to consider this. If you need to see studies backing up these assertions I can provide them; I will happily answer any questions. By the way, I was a tournament chessplayer as a child. I got into law school with a 2.96 GPA. Because my LSAT score was in the top half of one percent in the nation. Because of chess. Please keep doors like this open for your students.

Andrew Scherman

Friday, May 9, 2008

USCF:Chess in Education Workshop

The United States Chess Federation (USCF) Chess in Education

Thursday, August 7, 2008:
1:00-1:30 USCF Chess in Education committee business meeting (John Buky and Joseph Eberhard, co-chairs).

1:30-2:00 Dr. Alexey Root, author of Science, Math, Checkmate: 32 Chess Activities for Inquiry and Problem Solving, presents a classroom activity.
Looking to combine educational goals with chess? Dr. Root presents an activity from her most recent book that teaches the geometry of the board along with the particular way in which knights move, all wrapped up in a fun story. Come hear, and participate in, “Coco Can’t Wait.”

2:00-3:00 Keynote Speaker Russell Harwood,
Chess Program Director
UTB/TSC, presents, The Chess Boom in Brownsville, Texas, and Tips for Duplicating it Where You Live.
Scholastic chess is booming in Brownsville, Texas, and the surrounding communities. Of the 50 schools in the Brownsville Independent School District, at least 35 have active chess programs. In addition to big numbers (we had a couple of local tournaments this fall with over 700 participants), we have had excellent results from local teams and individuals at state and national tournaments. Six different Brownsville ISD schools have won national chess championships, led by Dr. Americo Paredes Elementary’s seven national titles. Two elementary school students have tied for individual national championships, and many others have finished in the top five. The chess success of our local schools got the attention of Dr. Juliet Garcia, President of The University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College, who formed a chess program at UTB/TSC so that area students would have the opportunity to earn scholarships and compete in chess at the university level. The Brownsville Independent School District has gotten onboard, and now allocates about $400,000 per year to their chess program. Chess has become a source of pride to BISD, UTB/TSC, and our community, and is now part of our identity. How did all of this come about? How can these results be duplicated elsewhere? Are there other successful models in our area? How does the future look? These questions and more will be addressed during this informative presentation.

3:00-3:30 Break for refreshments.

3:30-4:00 Jerry Nash, Scholastic Director for USCF, presents Strategies to Introduce Chess as an Educational Tool: Coordinating the Five Communities.
Scholastic chess has seen a dramatic increase within the last twenty years. In 1988, the United States Chess Federation’s youth and scholastic members totaled approximately 7000. By 2002, the two age groups combined for over 53,000 members. In April, 2005, the USCF-sponsored Super Nationals (a combination of kindergarten through high school) registered over 5300 students. Whether by memberships, tournament participation, or by the number of scholastic programs and organizations created to advance scholastic chess, the growth of chess among youth in the U.S. has been amazing, especially considering the fact that chess receives comparatively little funding. The state of chess in education may be characterized by its status as two types of programs: after-school and curriculum instruction. By far the majority of scholastic chess programs fall within the after-school category. Few school systems allow chess to be taught as an optional curriculum subject and this tends to be in larger cities. While the education community clamors for the teaching of math skills, critical thinking skills, and character development, it has been slow to accept chess as a valid teaching tool. The coordination of four communities – educational, civic, business, and political communities – along with the chess community is critical for the development of opportunities to demonstrate the value of chess for instruction.
4:00-4:30 Rosalyn B. Katz, author of The New Jersey Chess Bill; Chess in the Classroom; Start Playing Chess; and, Play Better Chess, presents Make it Legal – Chess Legislation and Application.
New Jersey’s Chess Bill was passed in 1993. Fifteen years later, we examine such questions as: What good did it do? How and why was it done? How did we overcome obstacles and constraints? Is similar activity a viable option for your state? How can we go even further? Those interested in expanding chess in their own states in a legalistic and practical way, will find an organized approach to success. Booklets about the process will be provided for those in attendance by the NJ State Chess Federation. Roz will offer individual consultation, at no additional charge, from August 6th through August 11th for promoters developing action plans for their own states.

4:30-5:00 Dr. Tim Redman, editor of Chess and Education: Selected Essays from the Koltanowski Conference, presents Chess and Syntax: An Hypothesis.

Location: Held during the U.S. Open, August 2-August 10, 2008The Westin Park Central12720 Merit DriveDallas, TX 752511-888-627-7032$99 Chess Rate

Participant fee information:
For the U.S. Open workshop: $10 for participants post-marked by July 24th, $15 at the U.S. Open site.

Address for participant registration:
For USCF workshop, send advance fees (made out to U.S. Chess Trust Chess in Education fund) to:
Dr. Alexey Root
500 Sunrise Cove
Denton, TX 76209

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Looking Back: Fischer Beats Spassky in 1972

Courtesy of House of Stauton

In 1972, Robert James "Bobby" Fischer and Boris Spassky battled for the World Chess Championship in the most widely followed match in the history of Chess. It was a disastrous start for Fischer, who lost the first 2 games in strange fashion. The first game was lost by an uncharacteristic blunder in a clearly drawn endgame. The second game was lost by forfeit, when Fischer refused to play the game in a dispute over the playing conditions. When the tournament organizers refused to give into his demands and the match appeared destined for a forfeit victory for the reigning Champion, Spassky yielded since it would have been a hollow victory. The third game was moved to a back room, away from the cameras whose presence had upset Fischer during the first game.
The match continued and Bobby Fischer fought his way back and decisively defeated Spassky by a final score of 12.5 - 8.5, having won 7 and losing only 1 of the remaining games. Fischer's win was a momentous victory for the United States during the time of the Cold War. The iconoclastic American almost single-handedly defeating the mighty Soviet chess establishment that had dominated world chess for the past quarter-century.

M-DADE Schools to attend Nationals in Pittsburgh

Miami-Dade Public Schools will be represented in Pittsburgh at the 2008 Burt Lerner National Elementary Championships this weekend.Schools attending are Bay Harbor Elem, John I Smith Elementary, Olympia Heights,Everglades K-8 Center, Southwood Middle,Edison Park, and Rockway Elementary. Jan Dennard of Bay Harbor says,"Oh my gosh I am nervous. We leave at 5:45 AM tomorrow morning. I am just trying to get us on that plane." In all 7 schools and 48 students are going.


Olympia Heights has 16 students going and Everglades K-8 has 13 students attending. For Edison Park teacher Holly Warco it will be a homecoming of sorts since she is from the "steel city". I predict Edison Park will do very well in th K-6 Under 1000 section. Olympia Heights has 4 fourth graders and 1 third grader in the same section that should do very well too. OH also has 6 kids in the K-5 U900 section. Good Luck to all.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Florida Invitational Super Stars Tournament

Here are the results for the FISS tournament

Oak Hall 1st Place
University School 2nd Place
Olympia Heights 3rd Place
Berkeley Prep 4th Place
Snapper Creek 5th Place

Oak Hall 1st Place
Tampa Palms 2nd Place
Sweetwater Episcopal 3rd Place
Berkeley Prep 4th Place
Edison Park 5th Place

Rockway Middle 1st Place
Liberty Hall 2nd Place
University School 3rd Place
Osceola School 4th Place
Holy Trinity 5th Place

Mater Academy 1st Place
ArchBishop McCarthy 2nd Place
Miami Senior High 3rd Place
Heart School 4th Place

Friday, May 2, 2008

District Invitational @ Devon Aire K-8

What: District Invitational Chess Tournament

When: Saturday May 17th

Time: 9:00 am – 2:00 pm

Time Controls: 5 rounds (Game 20) 20 minutes per player

Where: Devon Aire K-8 Center 10501 SW 122nd Avenue

Sections: K-3 & K-5 Top four players’ scores will count towards awards.
K-8 4 players. Each school plays a different school per round.

Prizes: Trophies for top 5 individuals and top 3 teams. All players will receive a medal.

Food: Food will be sold on site for lunch (snacks too)

Venue: Students will play in cafeteria and move to covered shelter with picnic tables after each round.

Entry Deadline: List of players/grades must be received by May 13th

At the beginning of the year many teachers requested a tournament for AEP schools. This tournament is for your school! It is designed for schools who have never been to a tournament. It will be a relatively small event. I hope schools take this opportunity to give their kids a chance to play. There is no USCF membership required nor entry fee. I will consider allowing some schools with a little experience.