'I ♥ Chess so so Much'

A message from director Bill Brock:

A couple of years ago, I was introduced to two dedicated Chicago Public Schools volunteers: Joseph Ocol, a math teacher at Marshall High School on the West Side and the coach of Marshall's chess team, and Cederrall Petties, the principal of Marshall's sister school, Faraday Elementary. Both schools sent teams to the U.S. Chess Federation's Supernationals scholastic championship last year. Kiana Hobbs of Faraday even won her 329-player section. (I wasn't that surprised. A couple of weeks earlier, Kiana—now attending Whitney Young High school—had been the one solving all the tactics exercises in Chess! Lessons from a Grandmaster.)

I've been volunteering occasional lessons at both schools. We were short-staffed for our last lesson because of a volunteer's illness, and I was trying to give simultaneous lessons to the high school and elementary kids. Mr. Ocol, himself multitasking as a math tutor, rescued the elementary kids from me and brought them to another classroom. A couple of hours later, after they re-joined us, I slipped an abandoned, water-stained doodle into my briefcase: "I ♡ Chess so so Much".

It's great to have students who are so passionate and motivated. It's also tragic that I wasn't able to give that student—who was in my class for only a few minutes—any time at all on that Saturday morning.

And that's one kid out of the 400,000 students in CPS.

Good people are working to expand chess programs in Chicago Public Schools, but learning happens outside the classroom, too. Please make a year-end gift to the Chicago Chess Center so that we can provide the critical assistance that these young chess players need.


We recently sponsored a free public lecture at Faraday by Grandmaster Alex Yermolinsky, a two-time U.S. champion. For the first time, the students were exposed to a grandmaster's thought processes. These young people are hungry for knowledge, hungry to learn critical thinking skills, skills that will readily transfer to academic and career success. For many of them, chess may turn out to be a way out of poverty. (It's worked for others.)

Your generosity will help the Chicago Chess Center secure a location and begin offering instruction by our target opening date of summer 2014. A gift of $40 may buy four tournament-quality chess sets or a game clock; $250 will buy four chairs or a whiteboard for teaching and analysis; $1,000 will buy six sturdy tables—or a year's membership for a dozen low-income students.

We've raised about half the money we need to open the Chicago Chess Center. Let's raise the other half this month. Click here to make your tax-deductible contribution now.

Thank you for your generosity and your civic pride. Your support means a lot to all of us.

Bill Brock
Treasurer, Chicago Chess Center NFP Inc.


P.S. What we need right now is unrestricted money, but if you'd like to also pledge an additional gift restricted to benefiting disadvantaged youth, the Chicago Chess Center will deposit these funds in a separate account, every penny of which will be dedicated to helping young people in need. Before we can spend a dime of such money, though, we have to open our doors. Please donate today and help us meet our $30,000 startup goal.

P.P.S. At the risk of diluting our fundraising pitch (and for such a cause, it's a risk worth taking): Marshall and Faraday are sending teams to the National K–12 Grade Championships in Florida on Dec. 13. If you'd like to help sponsor their trip, please drop me a line.