Black, White and Red

The Chicago Chess Center and Hart Davis Hart Wine Co. present An Evening of Napa Valley Cabernet, a walk-around tasting to benefit the CCC at Firecat Projects, 2124 N. Damen Ave., Thursday, Nov. 13, beginning at 6:30 PM. Join us as we enjoy and compare Cabernet Sauvignon from six classic Napa Valley producers and explore the unique styles, terroir and vintages from the 1990s.

1993 Dalla Valle Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
1994 Caymus Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Special Selection
1994 Dominus (magnum)
1996 Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain
1998 Heitz Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Martha's Vineyard
1998 Joseph Phelps Vineyards Red Wine, Insignia
2002 Bond Winery Red Wine, Matriarch
2003 Dominus

Tickets to this benefit event are $150 (portion is tax-deductible). To purchase tickets or to make a donation if you cannot attend, click here.

Play Chess, Help the CCC

Chess Without Borders, a Barrington-based service learning and philanthropic charity organization, will hold a tournament benefiting the Chicago Chess Center at Countryside Elementary School in Barrington on Saturday, May 17.

The tournament is open to both U.S. Chess Federation members and nonmembers of all ages. Individual trophies will be awarded in all sections, and team trophies are available for schools that send teams to compete.

And in a zestful departure from the typical hot dogs–and–pizza fare served at such events, homestyle Middle Eastern food will be prepared and served by Zein Bertacchi, an award-winning chef known to Chess Without Borders players and volunteers as "the Falafel Lady."

All proceeds of the five-round, game/30 tournament will benefit the CCC.

The tournament's five-round format and quick time control make it a superb opportunity for beginners of all ages looking for an introduction to USCF-rated chess. (Please note, though, that if you're not a USCF member yet and would like to compete in any of the three rated sections -- Primary, Elementary or Open -- you'll need to become a member and obtain a player ID number before registering. Follow this link to reach the USCF membership webstore. If you don't care about getting a rating and just want to spend a day playing chess, the Nonrated section is open to everyone!)

The CCC extends its heartfelt thanks to Kiran Frey and Grandmaster Yury Shulman of Chess Without Borders for their support of the CCC and their generosity and initiative in putting this event together. We hope you'll come and give your thanks as well!

Chess Without Borders Countryside Tournament

Saturday, May 17

Countryside Elementary School, 205 W. County Line Road, Barrington. 5/SS, G/30. In four sections: Primary (grades K–3), Elementary (grades 4–5), Open (grades 6–12 and adult) and Nonrated (all ages). USCF membership required for Primary, Elementary or Open section. Rounds: Round 1 at 10 AM, later rounds ASAP (finish around 3 PM). Entry fee: $25 if postmarked by May 7; $30 if postmarked after May 7; $35 on-site before 9:15 AM. Free for players in any section rated over 1600. Mail entries to Chess Without Borders, 428 Waverly Road, Barrington, IL 60010, or click here to enter online. Prizes: Trophies for top 5 in each section, top 3 in each grade K–5, and top 3 in grades 6–12. Team trophies for top 3 school teams in each rated section. All kindergarteners get participation medals.

Help Us Open Our Doors so We Can Open Doors to Others

A message from director Keith Ammann:

Recently, I was at the Julius Meinl coffeehouse in Lakeview with another Chicago Chess Center board member. He was playing a game with one of our Founders' Court members. I was giving opening pointers to another customer, the organizer of a German conversation group, who had come over to see what we were up to. A couple of college-age women at the table beside us wondered aloud where the chess sets had come from; I offered them one of our extras, and they played game after game between themselves. It was an inspiring example in miniature of how chess can bring people together into a community.

But there were also a few spectators who declined our invitations to join us, despite their curiosity, because they felt they didn't know enough even to play casually. The very idea seemed to make them anxious.

Those of us who enjoy chess may sometimes forget how intimidating it can be. To many people, the world of chess appears closed-off, unfriendly, impossibly arcane. Even those of us who learn the game as youngsters and grow to love it may hit a wall of some kind—a stinging defeat, a losing streak, an unpleasant encounter with an obnoxious player, or simply a shortage of opportunities to play—and leave the game behind, never to return.

Why does that matter? Because thanks to its depth, chess brings not only enjoyment but benefits as well, from mental exercise to self-discovery and self-expression to the chance to meet other players with different life experiences.

I was one of those players who hit the wall. I learned the rules of chess at age 8—but learning the rules isn't the same as learning how to play, and by age 16, I'd become frustrated enough that I no longer played. It wasn't until five years ago that I returned to the game with the resolve to become a better player. And I owe what success I've had so far to Boston's Boylston Chess Club and its tournament director, Bernardo Iglesias, who not only made me feel welcome (and lured me in with a $10 tournament entry fee) but answered my questions about tournament directing between rounds.

I took that knowledge, and my renewed enthusiasm for the game, to Freeport, Ill., where I helped organize the Route 20 Chess Club, whose tournaments drew players from as far as 90 minutes away, and coached a middle school chess team to a fourth-place finish at its first-ever state tournament.

Jane Lethlean, Journal-Standard

As a TD, organizer and coach, my goal has been to throw the door wide open to anyone with even the most casual interest in the game, to eliminate barriers to entry, to give players every opportunity to achieve their potential, and to make the experience as enjoyable and fulfilling as it can be.

Now, as president of Chicago Chess Center NFP Inc., I want to do the same for Chicagoland, where I grew up and have lived for more than half my life, by establishing an educational and civic institution where anyone and everyone is welcome to play and learn—two of the activities that make us our most complete selves.

Please join me in this goal today by making a year-end gift so that we can open our doors in 2014.


When we meet our $30,000 goal, we'll be able to secure a site, furnish it, and begin offering classes, tournaments and other activities. A donation of $50 may buy five chess sets or a game clock; $250 will buy a table and chairs or a whiteboard; $1,000 will buy a computer and digital projector—or a year's membership for a dozen low-income students.

Click here to make your tax-deductible donation now.

Thank you for helping us to bring the pleasures and benefits of chess to Chicagoans of all ages, skill levels and backgrounds. If you have questions or would like to contribute in additional ways, such as by helping spread the word about the Chicago Chess Center or offering professional assistance, please feel free to send us an e-mail.

Keith Ammann
President, Chicago Chess Center NFP Inc.


P.S. We're determined to make this vision a reality in 2014. If we meet our fundraising goal by Dec. 31—and we're already halfway there—we can be up and running in a matter of months. Please donate now—and spread the word.

'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.