The Nerdery - Overnight Website Challenge

Chicago 2015, May 2-3

Youth Chess Foundation of Chicago

We organize six free scholastic chess tournaments every year for K-8 students from Chicago and it's surrounding areas. Our organization is comprised of a loose network of volunteer helpers.

The Chicago Chess Foundation is a startup non-profit that we are sponsoring for the Web Challenge. Their mission is giving every student in Chicago the opportunity to learn, play and compete in chess at low or no cost. They will be hiring an Executive Director and possibly other staff positions to support their broader goals.

What new functionality we are looking for

The Chicago Chess Foundation is planning to start a WordPress website before the Web Challenge, but understand that their means are limited. They will hopefully be able to setup a brochure website that will be able to present themselves to the public with information about their foundation and information about the summer camps. It is their dream to gain the Nerdery's Web Challenge participants' expertise in setting up a MySQL database in support of a registration feature and e-mail lead generation. They would also love to come out of the Web Challenge with a PayPal system for accepting donations, which could help them turn their "low-cost" option into a "free" option for future event offerings. Besides that, they would love any assistance that the participants could provide to help them optimize the performance of the website by taking care of short-codes, incorporating SEO best practices, incorporating web accessibility best practices and setting up WPML support. They do not anticipate completing all of that in 24hrs, but it is important to know that they have a list of prioritized features. We can dream with them and work together during the Web Challenge to make the dream into a reality.

How the new functionality will help

Our mission is to provide free scholastic tournaments for Chicago-area youth. The spirit of our mission is broader and encompasses the development of chess in Chicago. The Chicago Chess Foundation has pledged to pursue that mission. In doing so they will be in a position to expand the reach of their tournaments to a broader population and develop a larger audience for their philanthropic services. Their success will feed back into our mission as well. Developing a website will provide the Chicago Chess Foundation with a mechanism to announce new chess programs; provide logistical information for all parties involved; offer online event registration; facilitate donations; coordinate volunteer opportunities; provide educational opportunities to chess students, parents and coaches; and provide a collaborative environment centered around stakeholder feedback. The website will be the center of their online presence, which will be fed by their social media properties. The website is viewed as a key cog in attaining their vision for a more developed scholastic chess community.

How our organization will use the technology

Who will use the technology

37 Messages from Supporters

2015-04-02 03:03:53 UTC
Kathy Lim ( CHRISTIAN)

I never imagined chess being a part of our youngest (creative, energetic, nonstop active 9 yo) son's life. He absolutely loved the first session and couldn't stop talking about it. It compliments his creative active mind as he as to plan for the next move. Chess is not a static game! He enjoyed the tournament and it's so amazing to watch an active boy get excited about the moves he made and should not have made and learning and adjusting for the next game! Christian and our 15 yo son can spend a long time playing chess and it's precious to watch....thank you for making chess so fun and accessible!

2015-04-02 17:48:23 UTC
Amanda Biela

My son has benefited greatly from the years he has played chess with the Youth Chess Foundation of Chicago. The tournaments sponsored by the YCFC have taught him strategy, patience, teamwork, and endurance. I can't think of another sport or activity that offers such wonderful sporting experiences to so many urban youth free of charge! Please support YCFC!

2015-04-03 14:59:38 UTC
Sherri Tonozzi

I started playing chess with my son, Ellis, when he was 3 or 4 years old. He loves it still; as I do the opportunity to play with him. I no longer win! Additionally, he has grown because of organizations like this and possibilities they present. He competed in tournaments in Chicago from 4th grade thru 8th grade and I wish he still had opportunities to compete and learn more in high school rather than the small club his school offers. That is why this org and their work and the possible add on of a web site are grand. It allows all of us to learn more and provide additional opportunities for our children. Thank you Lee for letting us know about this.

Check mate-
Sherri Tonozzi

2015-04-04 01:11:33 UTC
Diane Mayer Christiansen

When my son, Jackie, was diagnosed with autism, all of the scary questions ran through my mind. Will he make friends, will he be able to play sports, will he fit in anywhere? It was a difficult time finding a place for him to belong. Typical sports didn't works; afraid of the ball in soccer, too boring in the outfield during baseball. As he got older he began to feel like an outsider socially. We celebrated all of the things that made him different; the photographic memory, the great sarcasm that he misuses constantly, but he always felt the difference. Then we decided to try chess. At first it was difficult. Losing has been a real challenge for him even in older years. Through the dance of chess, Jackie learned the skill of losing gracefully and even came to realize the importance of it. He used his outstanding memory and focus to excel, excel for the first time in something competitive. He was, and is, hooked. After his first real tournament, he lost every game but walked out saying, "These are my people," and they still are three years later. Children with neurological differences have been known to excel at chess. I have seen ADHD, OCD and Autism all sitting around a chess board waiting for a pick up game. This board is the place where they find their people, the other kids that "get" them. It's an amazing sight to witness.

2015-04-04 22:24:50 UTC

My child has greatly enjoyed the free chess tournaments sponsored by YCFC. We have met students and parents from all over the City of multiple ethnic, racial, and economic groups. My child has grown in confidence from being able to compete. The administrators of YCFC are kind and generous. YCFC is an amazing resource for the children of Chicago.

2015-04-07 04:49:44 UTC
Louis Fogel

Youth chess is an amazing thing. It teaches kids how to think critically and to take responsibiliy for their actions. Studies also demonstrate that kids who play chess do better in school and are less likely get in trouble compared to kids who do not play chess. And, chess is fun. It transcends cultures and age.

Reaching out to the Chicago youth and teaching them how to play, and excel, at chess and play in chess tournaments is a very worthwhile goal. And doing so at no cost to the student (or their family) is beneficial to everyone.

I encourage you to select this organizationn as a recipient of your award.

2015-04-07 04:26:56 UTC

every student in every neighborhood should get the chance to learn, play, compete in CPS Chess. To do so, we need support YCFC to grow this incredible program. Watching kids learn through instruction, choose to play in school because its fun and see students unify through competition is so exciting.

All kids regardless of their economic status should be provided the opportunity to learn not just how to play, but how to take notes during instruction, how to notate their game so they can learn how to improve and develop a plan to move ahead. This academic sport builds community, spirit, and friendships not just within a school or but throughout the entire city. The critical thinking skills developed from this game improve confidence and in turn raise grades which result in improved academic success.

As a parent, nothing is more exciting than watching kids motivate each other through knowledge learned from a teacher, a friend or a new experience.

When our school entered its first Chicago Chess tournament,the league welcomed us warmly, coaches loaned players boards to practice between rounds because we did not know to bring them, and others explained the method in which games were scored. Kids played each other between rounds, delicious food was served to those competing, and rules were explained whenever a question was raised.

The friendships developed through this kind of academic team sport are long-lasting. Teams get an opportunity to visit neighborhoods around town. Players, coaches and parents meet kids from across the city. They realize the love for the game has no boundaries. Every kid learns something. Parents learn. Coaches converse. The enthusiasm is contagious.

Our school got lucky.with each lessons, we watched our kids improve. As parents, we helped the school find some teachers and coaches to to support the passion of these dedicated players. The kids practiced. They improved. They started competing and they started winning. These victories inspired them to want to play more and learn more. They did win more matches. They want to play more and we are doing our best to support them.

I hope this program gets an opportunity to reach additional funders so it can expand access to more kids, instruction and education to players and coaches and improved communications so more schools can get in the game.

Chess is not a game of physical mite it is a game of the mind. Any person of any age can learn and can grow from practice. It is a game of life. It teaches you skills for life. It does not matter if you are shy or talkative, big or small, old or young. Let's get more students involved learning, playing and competing in this great game.

2015-04-07 19:11:47 UTC

Both of my children take chess class at their respective schools and love it. Providing them with an opportunity to play a game like chess enables them to expand their brains and experience with strategic thinking, good sportsmanship, logic and planning as well as countless things that I can't express in words. Giving children the opportunity to experience a game like chess at a low or no cost is a great service to many, both in the immediate and future.

2015-04-07 20:24:54 UTC
Eileen Schmakel

My son, Sam, began playing chess when he was six years old and in Kindergarten. He is now a Freshman in college and I don't think a day has gone by that he hasn't played chess, read a chess book or studied a position. Chess is as natural as breathing to my son and I am grateful that he has found something that he loves and has given him so much. My son is a 5 time National Champion but what I consider most important is that chess has given my son a voice and a passion along with a commitment to help others. Sam gets a big thrill out of teaching chess to the younger students and helping his former high school teammates. When you have been given so much it is your responsibility to pass along your knowledge and help ignite the spark and love of chess in others. We are eternally grateful to the chess volunteers that have helped us along the way.

2015-04-07 22:02:40 UTC
Raul E Plata

I really appreciate to the organizations that organizes this type of events for young 10 year old son Jeremy Enciso has benefited from playing chess tournaments since first grade and has help him to keep very good grades in school.

2015-04-07 22:37:58 UTC
Amy Keller (Soren and Jean-Luc)

Chess is a unique sport because it is a highly individual game the way singles tennis is but also a team sport in the way swimming or cross country are. By competing in YCFC chess meets a child learns accountability and a sense of accomplishment while also reaping the benefits of a team effort, learning from the success of peers, and friendship during the tournament's downtimes.

My children have gained several gifts as a result of learning chess. Let me know start with possibly the less obvious. They have gained respect for others, team work, self-control and good sportsmanship in the wake of an intense manu-e-manu match. These are hugely generalizable skills and attributes I'd want for everyone in the classroom or workplace.

Chess has also taught our children the probably more obvious skills associated with chess such as critical thinking, strategizing and concentration skills. Further, chess instills an enthusiasm for learning because it is a fascinating game of almost endless possibilities so one is constantly growing in knowledge. Another huge plus of chess is that it is a game for life because you only need one other player to pull it off.

Chess teaches mettle! The YCFC is a diamond in the rough out there so let's help its mission shine on to other children!

2015-04-08 14:10:42 UTC
Jerry Neugarten

The Chicago Chess Foundation has put together an outstanding group of committed experienced volunteer chess supporters working to do something important for Chicago, and is highly deserving of support. Their entry into the chess scene in Chicago has the potential of turning Chicago into a chess stronghold nationally and to bring the advantages of chess to thousands of students.

Why chess? Chess has a unique ability to rivet kids’ attention and simultaneously teach important life skills. Forty years of research have shown that chess improves test scores, academic performance, concentration, decision-making, creativity, problem solving, and social skills. A 2009 study in Philadelphia focusing on some of the poorest and most dangerous areas of Philadelphia found that chess not only improved students’ test scores by as much as 25% in math and 38% in reading, but also improved attendance and behavior. A 1999 New York study found that chess had significant effects on self-confidence, empathy, mood management, and frustration tolerance. Chess players outscored non-chess players in respect for others by 42%.

Chicago’s existing chess program lags far behind other cities. Approximately 1,500 Chicago students presently participate in chess programs, in relation to 23,000 in New York and 4,000 in many smaller cities. Chicago schools are virtually absent from state and national competitions. The main reason is the absence of a robust effort to build new programs, promote competition, and teach at multiple skill levels.

The mission of CCF is to partner with the Chicago Public Schools to accomplish two objectives: 1) to bring thousands of new students into chess by building new programs and strengthening existing clubs; 2) to build Chicago’s competitive strength by recruiting and training new coaches and setting up tiered instruction so that students are taught at appropriate levels of difficulty.

The expanded program would utilize both existing funding sources and private funds to be raised by CCF. CCF aims to facilitate the provision of services by setting up a transparent online competitive marketplace to offer schools the widest possible range of choices in the selection of providers. CCF will hire staff who will work closely with CPS. The CCF Fellows Program will provide specially-trained high school and college chess players to support club directors by serving as coaches, mentors, tournament directors, and club assistants.

Jerry Neugarten
Chair, Youth Committee
Illinois Chess Association

2015-04-08 14:19:50 UTC

As a young child, my son struggled a lot with impulsivity, attention problems and social difficulties. He has shown a lot of improvement and I believe that being on his school's chess team has been a big part of that. I want to thank you for the opportunity the chess team has given our family.

2015-04-08 16:11:43 UTC

My boy started playing chess in school when he is a second grader. The game of chess helped him become more confident, more caring, more competitive... It is also a life lesson to him when he looses or win. The game teaches patience, endurance, critical thinking, organization, memory, focus, and much much more. Thank you, YCFC for making this happen. I wish more kids can benefit from chess in the years to come.

2015-04-08 20:20:15 UTC

Chess has changed my life because it helped me learn life long lessons such as patience and when to take risks. It's also very fun competing in competitions

2015-04-09 12:59:20 UTC
Allison Clark

My son, Jonah, has played competitive chess for five years, which has mostly involved driving him to expensive tournaments in the Northern Suburbs of Chicago. YCFC provides the only free tournaments in the City of Chicago that is geared towards providing opportunities for children to participate in free, well-organized chess competition. Each tournament routinely has over 150 participants from all over the city, which creates an amazing and dynamic experience for all competitors. I am exceedingly grateful for the work that YCFC has done for the children of Chicago!

2015-04-09 14:24:55 UTC

I never knew a game like chess could create such a positive impact on kids. Every time I attend a tournament I am amazed at how many Illinois kids participate. These kids come from all over the state to compete and have a ball doing it. I hope to one day have my children attend and compete in these tournaments. Illinois is lucky to have such an amazing organization.

2015-04-08 23:58:14 UTC
Samantha DeKoven

My son has learned so much from chess, and he loves participating in tournaments. The chess tournaments have been a great experience and helped him gain confidence, patience, and focus. I look forward to seeing the chess program grow in Chicago, include more students, and create more opportunities for students to gain the benefits of chess.

2015-04-09 16:10:58 UTC
Benjamin Bologna

I am currently a fifth grade student at a Chicago Public School and I have been competing in chess for about five years. The thing that keeps me coming back to chess is the mental challenge, the skills and strategies, and the friends I've made on my team. I am involved in many different activities including soccer, karate and piano. But chess offers many unique and important benefits including teamwork, self-discipline, and perseverance. I think it would be outstanding if chess could be expanded to more schools and children in Chicago.

2015-04-09 16:26:37 UTC
Chess Mom

Chess teaches the life lessons of focus and concentration. Chess teaches kids to think hard, to plan ahead, and to be ready to win or to lose graciously. Children truly do benefit when they come together at YCFC tournaments and realize this game levels the playing fields across socioeconomic differences in the city of Chicago. Any child living in Chicago can learn to play a game of chess. We must spread this opportunity to all children who live here. Let's include learning to play chess as basic as learning to read. Chess is a skill that will help all our children grow into becoming thoughtful citizens who are mindful of their actions. Making good choices on the chess board translates into making wise decisions at home, school and on the streets.All Chicago kids needs chess!

2015-04-09 17:20:55 UTC
Kelle Cassidy

I was absolutely impressed the first time I attended a chess tournament with my eldest son. I didn't know what to expect, there are so many children participating, boys and girls, all colors and a few physically handicapped, how could this work? It appeared to be the makings of total chaos. Then the first pairings went up. My son followed the other children to a long list of names hanging in the hallway, he found his name with the number of the table on which he was supposed to play. There were over 100 tables in a huge gym, there were over 200 children looking for their appointed seats. The gym had a noise level where one gentleman could easily be heard giving instructions. There was no chaos, there was no screaming, there was no running. There were small children sitting in a chair with en empty seat opposing, and they waited patiently to meet there opponent. Then they all shook hands and room went quiet. It was amazing!
I have since been involved with chess for 4 years and have two boys currently participating. It has taught them discipline, patience, how to loose graciously, and how to learn from their losses. Winning has given them the confidence to continue and want to learn more. With all the activities my sons have taken on including athletics, chess has been the gold star for truly building character.

2015-04-09 15:29:49 UTC
James Altenbach

I was a chess coach in Chicago Public Schools for 14 years, and am also a school psychologist. I saw first-hand how chess provides positive developmental experiences for children, both in the thinking/learning realm and the social realm. Some areas enhanced would include concentration and planning ability, spatial reasoning (which is associated with certain mathematics skills), self-confidence, impulse control, and an overall sense of good sportsmanship and fair play. In other locations inside and outside the U.S., the benefits of chess are recognized to the point that it is part of the required academic curriculum. Let's expand opportunities for a greater number of Chicago kids to participate in a chess program, the sooner the better!

2015-04-09 17:50:28 UTC
Ben Wong

Many schools have sports teams that do not typically start until 5th grade. Being able to play on a school chess team allows students in the younger grades, starting as early as kindergarten, to be part of a school team. This opportunity definitely builds a nice camaraderie for everyone involved and a sense of belonging to the school. As a chess coach in CPS for the past four years, I have seen kids walk around the school with great pride wearing their chess shirts and at the YCFC chess tournaments. The YCFC plays a great role in team building and sportsmanship.

I also have four children (ages 5-14) who all play competitive chess and all of them got their start at the YCFC tournaments. Chess can be an expensive activity, especially paying the tournament fees for four children. Having the opportunity to sign up my children for a free tournament 5-6 times a year definitely takes the sting out of my pocketbook. I am pleased that the YCFC tournaments are offered to ANYONE who is interested in participating.

I hope that CCF can expand on the great momentum that the YCFC has built over the past decade.

2015-04-09 18:41:29 UTC
Chess Mom

The YCFC tournaments have been wonderful for our children. They give the children a chance to be on a competitive team at a young age. Being on a chess team is a wonderful opportunity where the kids get a chance to challenge themselves individually as well as play with others as a team. I have seen my children's concentration and focus grow from playing chess that has helped them in others areas of heir life and schoolwork. The YCFC tournaments have opened up a whole world of chess to our family that we otherwise would not have known about. We feel that all of the kids of Chicago should be able to participate in this great chess event!

2015-04-09 19:21:37 UTC
Erin Roche

As a school principal in the Chicago Public Schools and as a parent of three children in CPS, I'd love to see more organized, free (or very low cost) chess opportunities for youth. Chess helps children organize thoughts, make plans, strengthen mental stamina, develop strategy, socialize, analyze, and foster resilience. Our society needs to value these aspects through chess as much as it does through athletics (currently well supported in public schools). We owe a lot to Youth Chess Foundation for making this happen and need to do everything we can to support the effort.

2015-04-09 23:55:33 UTC
Alex (minor)

I used to go to YCFC tournaments to compete. It was really fun at Edgebrook Elementary School when I played there. Now that I am in high school I go to YCFC tournaments to volunteer as a judge and it's still fun. I'd like to play in more tournaments, but there are few opportunities to play in Chicago. There aren't many teams from Chicago in the high school league. When my high school team plays, we almost always have to go to places in the suburbs or even out of state. If the CCF starts a high school league, high school students all over Chicago will have way more opportunities to learn, play, and represent their high school team for chess!

2015-04-09 23:34:06 UTC
Spencer (minor)

I'm in 5th grade and played in YCFC tournaments for two years. It's fun. I sometimes meet new friends when I go to a tournament. No one else from my school goes to the YCFC tournaments. We have no team. If they had a website like they say they want, more people would know about the tournaments. I like that idea.

2015-04-10 00:33:08 UTC
Iwona Szczurek

My sons play chess in CPS schools. They also compete in non-scholastic tournaments with USCF rating. My nephews in Poland play chess at a different level. Europe has long understood the value of chess to teach children how to maturely compete, how to reason and how to think abstractly. They also have taken advantage of chess learning in school to augment science and mathematics. Chicago is behind other major cities in the United States. Chicago needs a stronger chess community. The Chicago Chess Foundation needs some help. You should give it to them. Please select them to have a website. Thank you.

2015-04-10 01:32:44 UTC
Lillian Hsu

My kids started playing competitive chess about four years ago when a teacher/coach at their Chicago Public school took them to a couple of scholastic tournaments run by the YCFC. Just recently my kids competed in their second State level tournament in Normal, IL, and they have also played in the annual Chicago Open national tournament. If it were not for the YCFC, my kids would probably have never come this far with their chess or even continued to play at all. A year after taking my boys to their first chess tournaments, the chess coach left their school. There has not been any formal chess program there ever since. Fortunately a group of committed parents at the school, including me, continued to pass along info about the YCFC tournaments and sign up their children year after year. The tournaments are highly accessible to Chicago youth and well-organized despite hosting close to 400 youth during the popular winter months. Unfortunately, chess programs exist in only a handful of CPS schools. As a result, I'm afraid that there are still many students throughout Chicago who have missed out on being introduced to competitive chess. My children have gained some wonderful experiences and deepened friendships through their participation in scholastic chess. I wholeheartedly support the expansion of this program and a new website so other kids in Chicago can access information and gain the same opportunities that my children have.

2015-04-10 02:46:08 UTC
Melaniece Abdur-Rahman

Over 10 years ago, I taught my class of fourth grade students how to play chess. Most of them had never even heard of the game. The next year, I started a chess club in my (Chicago) Public School. During that year, I kept a journal, which later evolved into a book. In an effort to increase CCF’s chance of being selected by the Nerdery, I would like to submit the following excerpts from my book as testimonials, (from myself, and former students), espousing the value of chess in every child’s life.

By the end of one month, I was able to identify the stronger chess players. I stepped out of the ring for a while and let these designated students coach the others. They took their positions of leadership quite seriously and so did the other students. I was elated to see the social hierarchy of the class slowly changing. Popular students with boisterous personalities (but weak chess games), were soliciting the help of quieter, less popular students. I started adding books about chess to our class library so these studious, competent readers had an obvious advantage over their counterparts with weak comprehension skills. It was fun to watch these students handle their sudden new popularity with such aplomb. These quiet souls that had probably become accustomed to being omitted from most birthday party lists were now being asked to spend entire weekends at their classmates’ houses to play chess.

Many years have passed since I first introduced chess into my classroom. Many of the friendships that began as a result of a common interest that year and in the years that followed have been sustained. Chess is a game that allows children to transcend barriers that many adults struggle with. Chess gives a child the opportunity to experience humility and tolerance through the same venue. Chess is a great equalizer.

That first year was incredible. I believe I had the most disciplined class in the school. If I put the word, “no” anywhere close to the word, “chess” in a sentence, my student’s hearts skipped a beat. If I even intimated that the actions of certain students might jeopardize chess time, the behaving students made their disdain for the misbehaving students known. They walked down the hall in perfectly straight lines. They spoke to each other respectfully. They did their homework and stayed focused in class.

When I introduced chess to my students, I hadn’t really anticipated that it would affect the culture and climate of my classroom so positively, but it had. It felt particularly good to witness many students that struggled with so many other things in their lives, (not just school related), finding solace in being good chess players.

My students ended the year with tears in their hearts. They realized that there would probably be no chess for them the next school year. That summer, I decided to start an after school chess club the following school year so we could continue our journey. Many of my former students had older siblings who had grown interested in chess and wanted to be included. I realized that I needed money. I also realized very early on that money was not forthcoming! After weeks of hearing, “No, No, No,” I found out about a grant that I could apply for. My grant proposal was entitled, “Say Yes to Chess.” A summary of my proposal follows:

[ I want to start an after-school chess club to teach children how to play chess. My previous experience with chess and children has shown me that chess strengthens skills like memory, recall, deduction and cognition. It teaches children to sit still and concentrate. It teaches patience and tolerance. It is my hope that my chess students will be able to transfer their new skills to other areas of their lives. I would also like them to teach chess to everyone that touches their lives, (classmates, family, teachers, neighbors) until they have formed a community (within a community) of chess players that all say “yes to chess.” Chess is a universal game, spoken in a universal language. It is an entrée into other cultures and societies. The number of people affected by this project will continue to grow long after we are done.] Thankfully, someone did say, “YES.”

Laquetta was a student in the first class that I introduced to chess. Laquetta’s self-esteem was not intact. Years of verbal and maybe physical abuse from her older siblings had seen to that. Her demeanor suggested that she considered herself ugly…..uglier than most….the ugliest of all. Much transpired during that first year. For some reason, the girls were slower to embrace chess. Laquetta feigned disinterest, but she found excuses to hang around after school and eventually revealed her intentions to me. She was, in fact, fascinated by chess. She had witnessed older male family members playing chess. After months of honing her game, I realized that when she was playing chess, she was able to scrape off the imaginary ugly. She felt powerful significant.

“Chess Is The Game”
Chess is the game that is just for me
Chess is the game that makes me feel free.
Chess is the game that I love to play
Chess is the game that makes me want to want say, “Hooray!”

I play chess day and night.
I need chess just to hold tight.
In chess you are always a winner,
Even if you are only a beginner.
Chess is the game that new people can join.
Chess is the game that I am hooked on.
Chess is the game that will make you SMILE.
I am 11 and proud to play chess as a child.

by Laquetta Neal

#5 Denzel was the antithesis of Laquetta. He was extremely short in height for his age, at least a foot and a half shorter than any of the other students in the room. He was, to say the least, an unlikely leader of any pack. Yet, lead them, he did.

Stubborn and defiant, Denzel had been a problem to many of his previous teachers who underestimated the influence that this small giant had on his peers. Most of the students, especially the boys, took their cues from him as to what was cool, acceptable, nerdy, and so forth. Denzel could silence the class with a facial contortion, but when Denzel laughed, they guffawed. If Denzel “dissed” you, you were ostracized by all but the bravest students until Denzel decided to allow otherwise.

In the beginning, we had our battles. Then a magical board with 64 squares and 32 pieces changed everything. By the end of the year, Denzel was one of my best students. His best friend was a wonderfully nerdy boy named Jackson. My heart still swells when I remember how the other boys first accepted Jackson because Denzel made them, but later, because they realized he was a very cool and interesting person.

Denzel is in high school now, but he pops in to “holler” at me once or twice a year.. I usually invite him to play a game of chess with me, but he always refuses. “Mrs. Abdur-Rahman, you know I’m rusty,” he professes. “We don’t have a chess team at my school. I haven’t seen anyone playing chess there.” I ask him if he’s seen or talked to Jackson. He shrugs his shoulders, “You know, here and there, around the hood. I mean, we’re still cool and all that.” He pauses briefly to gauge my reaction to his words. My face remains purposely noncommittal. He is silent for a few more moments, possibly remembering that magical first year of chess so very long ago. Then, “Man, if only we had gone to the same high school…. I bet we could have started our own chess team and then…….” his voice trails off. (Not many of the high schools that my students attend have chess programs.) He is broaching a subject that I find particularly painful, so l ask him what else he’s been up to. “You know; this and that. The wrestling coaches at my school want me to wrestle. I’m thinking about it, but I don’t know. I want something to stimulate my mind. Man I miss chess.”

#6 and finally.....
A dream of mine is that in lieu of the endless, boring, piecemeal teacher in-services that we (teachers) suffer through year after year, a modicum of chess instruction can be infused. In my dream, somewhere, an administrator will walk into a classroom and marvel at all of the well-disciplined, engaged, happy children. This administrator will be impressed beyond words and return to the classroom at random intervals to determine if this enigma was just an exceptional day or the norm for that classroom. When they are satisfied that it is the latter, they will invite the superintendent, who in turn will question the teacher and find out that all the wonderfulness” can be attributed to “chess in the classroom.” Then, the superintendent will make haste to fire most of the outside in-service providers and collaborate with the teaching staff on how to transfer the aura of that lone classroom into a school wide, no, make that a district wide,(dream bigger), citywide initiative.


2015-04-10 14:55:16 UTC
Chad Weiden- Edgebrook Elementary

The Youth Chess Program has done outstanding things for our students and our school. I wish that every school in the City of Chicago had the opportunity to offer this program to their students. As a principal, I am very grateful for the incredible work the organization does for my school.

2015-04-10 21:23:09 UTC
Chess Mom of Two

I have two children in CPS. They have been playing at YCFC tournament starting 3rd grade and loved it. I wish there are more low cost chess tournaments out there for kids. My older son now in high school and he can’t play at YCFC tournament anymore…so sad. I wish there are more tournaments like YCFC.

I wish I found out YCFC sooner. We desperate need a website that students and parents can have access to information and coordination easily.

2015-04-11 02:52:05 UTC
Player of the YCFC tournaments

At the YCFC Chess Tournaments, I have lots of fun. During the games and taking breaks, we all have a good time hanging out and trying to beat each other in tournament play. I've been playing in these tournaments since first grade and now I'm in sixth. I've grown up playing these tournaments and have been seeing some of the same players each tournament, making friends along the way.

2015-04-11 13:19:20 UTC
Dolly Biju

I have 3 sons who plays chess and love to go for tournaments. Chess helped them with self confidence, discipline and good grades.

2015-04-11 20:12:26 UTC
The Salazar-Sobin Family

We are honored to be part of YCFC. The organization thrives at being successful at enhancing our chess enthusiasts skills while providing a fun filled day at the free tournaments. As a volunteer, I have had the privilege of meeting the numerous hundred of children and parents dedicated to chess that have benefited from hard work and dedications of our friends and families who volunteer their time for the safety and successful of the tournaments. As the parent of a chess enthusiast, I am thrilled to see my child grow as a player as well as a person. Thank you to everyone for their dedication in preparing our youth. YCFC is an exceptional organization!

2015-04-13 10:28:44 UTC

Chess is a remarkable learning tool for students to learn critical thinking and problem solving skills. Chess teaches important life skills such as decision making, logic, persistence, coping, and patience. It enhances educational learning with new vocabulary and basic geometry. Students learn good conduct and sportsmanship. Offering chess to as many students as possible is an exciting opportunity.

2015-04-13 15:16:33 UTC
Audra Berg (Jonah Fienberg)

Our son started playing chess in kindergarten, but didn't start competing until he moved to Skinner North in second grade. Chess is his absolute favorite activity and he looks forward to his weekly chess lessons and competing in tournaments. He has built great friendships through chess and become a confident, strong player, who also values the importance of being part of a team.

Our Mission

To provide free opportunities for children around Chicago to develop through competitive chess tournaments. We want to sponsor a fellow startup non-profit with their efforts to coordinate additional chess opportunities for children in the Chicagoland area. Chicago Chess Foundation has a mission larger than ours and needs a helping hand in starting out. They are starting by planning free or low cost youth chess camps this summer. We, YCFC, will co-sponsor scholastic tournaments with them next school year. Their mission allows them to advance the reach of their tournaments into a high school league and to develop programs with other public and private institutions for the development of youth chess play. The Chicago Chess Foundation is developing their brand, logo and website, while they are setting up for the summer chess camps. They are in the process of submitting their 501c3 paperwork, which is why we are needed to sponsor them.