Volume 2, Issue 6 July-August 2002

over 1,500 readers

Edited by Bob Ferguson, Member of USCF Scholastic Council 

** Story Hour with the Grandmasters **

GM Joel Benjamin and GM Arthur Bisguier along with their moderator, Stephen Shutt, entertain and inform their audience by sharing little-known chess anecdotes in this 90 minute video.


Greetings to All Chess Folks,

Welcome to the ninth issue (Volume 2, Number 6) of the Scholastic Chess Update.  One of the Scholastic Council�s goals is to improve communication among members of the scholastic community.  This e-Newsletter is the second step towards reaching this goal.  Our first step was the creation of a Scholastic Chess Website to communicate what the Scholastic Council is and what goals are being pursued.  For details, visit or

If you are NOT interested in scholastic chess, please click the reply button and type �remove� in the subject line.  If you know others who would like to receive this information, please forward the URL for the website to them.  If you are receiving multiple copies, please let us know so we can correct our error.  If you would like to see an improved newsletter, VOLUNTEER! 

  • Welcome to Another Year in Scholastic Chess

  • Coaches' Corner Gets Facelift

  • Chess�Best Thing this Side of Heaven!

Welcome to Scholastic Chess
By Ralph Bowman, Chairperson

Welcome to another year in Scholastic Chess.  This message will address the following items: 1) Scholastic Council elections, 2) Items for the Scholastic Committee to work on this year, and 3) Items from the Delegates Meeting that will affect you.

Beatriz Marinello, Bob Ferguson, and I remain on the Scholastic Council for one more year.  Pat Hoekstra and Joe Ippolito just finished serving two years on the Scholastic Council.  On behalf of all of us I would like to thank them for that service.  Dewain Barber and Sunil Weeramantry were elected to the two open positions for two years.  The Scholastic Council voted on Thursday, August 1 for a chairperson and I was elected to that position for this year.

Work Projects:
We need to outline the items we wish to work on for this year.  I view it as the duty of each member of this committee to work on some item that will benefit USCF Scholastic Chess.  The following are four items that are already out there:

Website: Bob Ferguson has set up a website for us to exhibit information specific to Scholastic Chess ( ).

Coaches Manual: Bob Ferguson is editing a book that is designed as a "how to" manual for beginning Chess Coaches.  This book is divided into chapters with different people writing each chapter.  If you are interested in contributing in this manner, please contact Bob.

State Scholastic Coordinators: Bob Ferguson is taking the job of updating the list of State Scholastic Coordinators and Contacts.  This list is very important for two reasons: 1) when scholastic players move from one state to another it gives them a contact for Scholastic Chess in their new state and 2) when USCF needs to get information from a state, such as for the Denker Tournament, it gives them that important contact.  If you can help him about updating his list, please do so.  Whenever a new individual is elected or appointed to serve as a scholastic director, we would appreciate an email to [email protected] telling us who the new representative is.

Certified Chess Coach Program: Beatriz and I will be working on this with you.  This is a program that has been around for some time; however, the use of it has dwindled in recent years.  Eventually, we want to have a test based on the "Coaches Manual" to be able to qualify for this honor.  However, until the manual is completed and published we can still implement other standards.  There are three questions to be considered: 1) What reasons (i.e. benefits) can we give to persons that would make them want to pursue this? [Might consider such things as these would be the only persons to receive the Coaches Newsletter that would become a quarterly publication, there would be USCF Chess Coach of the Year that would be a member of this group, etc.]  2) What should be the qualifications for a Certified Chess Coach now?  3) What should be the responsibilities of a Certified Chess Coach will holding that title?

If there are any other issues that any of you wish to work on, please let me know so that we can form a subcommittee to work on that project.

U.S. Open:
USCF is finally able to see the light at the end of the financial tunnel.  The financial problems are not over, but the future is looking brighter than it has over the last six years.  To help this financial future there will be a dues increase.  I am convinced that this is not something that a few people were forcing through due to panic, but instead something that is really needed. The new rates will be Adult = $49, Youth = $25, Scholastic I = $19, and Scholastic II = $13.  There will be commissions on all memberships!  The Scholastic I membership will get six issues of Chess Life and an annual School Mates.  These six issues of Chess Life will have several articles directed to lower rated players, both kids and adults.  The annual School Mates will be an issue that will come out in the fall and will highlight the scholastic accomplishments of the previous school year.  The Scholastic II membership will only get the annual School Mates.

This committee cannot be successful without each of you doing your part. If Scholastic Chess is going to continue to grow each of you needs to do something.  How would you like to help, let me know?  You may reach me at [email protected].


** Story Hour with the Grandmasters **

GM Joel Benjamin and GM Arthur Bisguier along with their moderator, Stephen Shutt, entertain and inform their audience by sharing little-known chess anecdotes in this 90 minute video.




Recent Chess News

The Week In Chess (TWIC) Tournament News

Coverage of the 2002 US Open Championships


Coaches' Corner Gets Facelift

by Bob Ferguson

The Website continues to require more hours than I have to give.  If anyone has a burning desire (or even a spark) to serve as webmaster, please email me at [email protected].  

Gradually, I am attempting to add a few graphics, repair broken links, and identify the blunders I have committed due to my lack of knowledge about web page design.  

Recent changes at Coaches' Corner include a new graphic on the home page, an online submission form that actually works...or at least did in our beta testing.  Please take the time to visit the site and share your ideas, so we can continue to make it more valuable.



!!! Castle Chess Camp !!!

Dates for the 2003 Castle Chess Camp are June 13-20 at Emory University in Atlanta and July 20-27 at the University of Pittsburgh in Bradford.  If you would like to be placed on our mailing list for the camps, email us at [email protected].


Chess�the Best Thing this Side of Heaven!  Why Offer Chess in Schools

By Chessmaster Jerry Meyers

1) History

Chess is a classic game of strategy, invented more than 1500 years ago in India.  Legend has it that the ruler of India asked his wise men to devise a way to teach the children of the royal family to become better thinkers and better generals on the battlefield.  Chess was the result.  In the centuries since its invention, chess has spread to every country in the world.  While countless other games have died out, chess lives on.  In the United States, it has received endorsements by many educators, ranging from Benjamin Franklin to former U.S. Secretary of Education, Terrell Bell.  In Western Pennsylvania, more than 70 schools and a dozen libraries offer chess programs, reaching several thousand students each year.

2) Academic Benefits

We have brought chess to the schools because we believe it directly contributes to academic performance.  Chess makes kids smarter.  It does so by teaching the following skills:

Focusing - Children are taught the benefits of obseerving carefully and concentrating.  If they don't watch what is happening, they can't respond to it, no matter how smart they are.

Visualizing - Children are prompted to imagine a sequeence of actions before it happens.  We actually strengthen the ability to visualize by training them to shift the pieces in their mind, first one, then several moves ahead. 

Thinking Ahead - Children are taught to think first, then act.  We teach them to ask themselves "If I do this, what might happen then, and how can I respond?"  Over time, chess helps develop patience and thoughtfulness.

Weighing Options - Children are taught that they don't have to do the first thing that pops into their mind.  They learn to identify alternatives and consider the pros and cons of various actions.

Analyzing Concretely - Children learn to evaluate the results of specific actions and sequences.  Does this sequence help me or hurt me?   Decisions are better when guided by logic, rather than impulse.

Thinking Abstractly - Children are taught to step back periodically from details and consider the bigger picture.  They also learn to take patterns used in one context and apply them to different, but related situations.

Planning - Children are taught to develop longer raange goals and take steps toward bringing them about.  They are also taught of the need to reevaluate their plans as new developments change the situation.

Juggling Multiple Considerations Simultaneously -Children are encouraged not to become overly absorbed in any one consideration, but to try to weigh various factors all at once.

None of these skills are specific to chess, but they are all part of the game.  The beauty of chess as a teaching tool is that it stimulates children's minds and helps them to build these skills while enjoying themselves.  As a result, children become more critical thinkers, better problem solvers, and more independent decision makers.

3) Educational Research

These conclusions have been backed up by educational research.  Studies have been done in various locations around the United States and Canada, showing that chess results in increased scores on standardized tests for both reading and math.  A study on a large scale chess program in New York City, which involved more than 100 schools and 3,000 children, showed higher classroom grades in both English and Math for children involved in chess.  Studies in Houston, Texas and Bradford, Pennsylvania showed chess leads to higher scores on the Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal and the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking.

4) Social Benefits

In the schools, chess often serves as a bridge, bringing together children of different ages, races and genders in an activity they can all enjoy.  Chess helps build individual friendships and also school spirit when children compete together as teams against other schools.  Chess also teaches children about sportsmanship - how to win graciously and not give up when encountering defeat.   For children with adjustment issues, there are many examples where chess has led to increased motivation, improved behavior, better self-image, and even improved attendance.  Chess provides a positive social outlet, a wholesome recreational activity that can be easily learned and enjoyed at any age.

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The Scholastic Chess Update is a newsletter created to help coaches, parents, teachers, and others promote scholastic chess. It is read by over 1,500 chess aficionados.

The contents of this newsletter do not necessarily reflect the opinions of USCF Scholastic Council.  The Council makes no warranties about the contents of the Scholastic Chess Update.

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Copyright 2002 American Chess School

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