When a principal asks me “Why set up a chess program in my school?”, I answer “Within 2-3 months you will see students making a name for their school in tournaments.” Whether we do curriculum classes, after-school club or professional development in a school, we always love to instill a chess culture. We want chess to be what all the ‘cool kids’ in the school are doing. Psychologist Nava Silton shares how unity is one of the main three pillars of happiness. Whether it be at a the pre-school Thistlewaith Early Learning Center, the law firm Kramer Levin, the nursing home Village Care or Uri Secondary School on our Annual Make a Difference Teaching in Africa trip, we love building communities for students ages 3-100.
Often students of all ages are overwhelmed and do not want to play in chess tournaments because they feel they need years of practice and are not ready. I frequently tell them how they should not overthink it as they will never be ‘ready’ if they keep waiting. A few day after my brother and father I taught me how to move the pieces in second grade, I joined Women International Master’s Shernaz Kennedy’s chess club at the Churchill School. A month after that I won first place in my quad at my first tournament at the Manhattan Chess Club. Two months later I was off to the Nationals with the Churchill team. While I wasn’t the most popular kid at school, I enjoyed becoming good friends with all the folks on the chess team. One of those, Fabio Botarelli, owns Chessability, which specializes in programs for special education schools. On that note we also have the privilege of running curriculum classes for 4th-8th graders at one special education school, Summit.
In order for a school to develop a strong chess community, you need four fundamental players:
- Faculty Advisor
- Chess Parent
- Student Ambassador
While you can get a program started with one one or two of those players bought it in, it is imperative to have all four to get it to grow and have a strong number of students playing in tournaments.
To instill chess cultures, we often get creative. One of our instructors Brian Wolff, who also owns a wellness business, decided to create a chess dollars system at Summit. He hand designed dollars with images of famous chess players- Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Magnus Carlsen, etc. Kids now have extra incentive as they try to earn the most and win fun prizes.
While chess has given many benefits, including critical thinking skills, judgement training, and healthy drive for competition, likely the most substantial one has been the community aspect. I have played chess tournaments in 10 countries and have chess friends all over the planet. Next week I am leaving to Rome to play a tournament in my 11th country. Learn more about my chess travels around the globe here.
Off the chess board, community plays a key role in Premier Chess’ Business Development. Many chess companies stick to their own; however we fine the need to have close partnerships with other chess companies, including:
- Our Official Equipment Vendor, American Chess Equipment
- Our Preferred Vendor for Online Playing and Practice: chesskid.com
- Top Level Chess, who we co-host tournaments with
Check out a full list of closest partners, on and off the chess board, here. If you’d like to meet some of them in person, come join me at one of 3 New York networking groups I am part of:
- Business Networking International Manhattan Chapter 54, Meets every Wednesday from 7-8:30 at Society of Illustrators.
- Astoria, NY Entrepreneur Club, Meets on one Tuesday and one Thursday each month.
- Jewish Business Networking, Meets in Midtown East third Thursday of each month.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to visit any of the above networking groups.