Mechanics’ Institute -- Scholastic Chess Program | Mechanics' Institute

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Mechanics’ Institute -- Scholastic Chess Program


Mechanics' Institute Chess Club
Scholastic programming

In-Person ClassesVirtual Classes - Clubs - Camps - Tournaments

If you wish to get updates on our offerings, including classes, camps, and tournaments,
please fill out our google form: 


What's new? 2022 Summer Camp registrations are now open!


1. Winter Chess Camps: In-Person and Online




Type of camp


Link to Register

December 19-22 TBD 9:30AM - 3:30PM (Half Days Available!) Regular In-Person Register HERE
December 27-30 TBD 9:30AM - 3:30PM (Half Days Available!) Regular In-Person Register HERE


Online camp via Zoom - Zoom link is shared in the Camp Welcome Email a few days before camp

In person camp @ Mechanics' Institute: these camps will be held live, in-person in the historic Mechanics' building at 57 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94104.



Our camps are an opportunity for beginner chess players to join and start a lifelong appreciation of the royal game of chess and play with other kids. Intermediate students will learn tactics, how to defend common opening traps, and review famous games.


              Sample Schedule for In-Person Camp

9:30-9:45AM warmup games, wait for everyone to show up.
9:45-10:30AM: first lecture
10:30-10:45AM: break (bathroom, snacktime)
10:45-11:30AM: paired play #1
11:30-11:45AM: break (bathroom, snacktime)
11:45-12:05PM: second lecture
12:05-12:20PM: tournaments/games/puzzle competition
----- Half day campers leave/arrive
Lunch time for full day campers: 12:20-12:45PM

12:30-12:45PM warmup games, wait for everyone to show up.
12:45-1:30PM: first lecture
1:30-1:45PM: break (bathroom, snacktime)
1:45-2:30PM: paired play #1
2:30-2:45PM: break (bathroom, snacktime)
2:45-3:05PM: second lecture
3:05-3:30PM: tournaments/games/puzzle competition, cleanup.

** All camps need a minimum of 5 campers to hold the camp. Decisions to cancel the camp in case of under-enrollment will be made Friday evening the week before. Please register ahead of time to make sure we can plan accordingly.


2. After School Enrichment Classes

Mechanics' Institute offers in-person chess classes at selected schools. Enrichment classes are 60 minutes long and have no more than 12 students per coach; all students are from the same school. Our coaches take roster, do an interactive lesson using the demonstration board, and then allow students to play against each other over the board. Class summaries are sent on a regular basis, and parents are encouraged to follow up with us if they have any questions about their child's progress.

Do you have a group of kids from the same school or organization? We can work with you to develop a class just for you and for your child's school!


3. Free Youth Outreach Programs

Mechanics' Chess offers free chess education for Title 1 schools in the San Francisco city area. These classes are made possible by generous donors & benefactors. Please reach out to us if you need more information or know of a school that would be a good candidate, or simply fill out the application form:


4. Mechanics' Classes - Virtual Classes via Zoom

Mechanics' Chess offers dediated classes for youth players at all levels. A variety of classes are available online via zoom.
Students receive a welcome email including a link to a zoom meeting prior to the class. Class is conducted by Coach sharing the screen, and also students playing against each other on an online platform (ChessKid or Class recording is made available to all students after each week.


2022 Winter & Spring sessions
Online Chess Classes via Zoom

More classes coming soon!


Session Class Day & Time 

Class Dates

Advanced Class
with Coach Andy
2022 Winter Mondays 6-7PM Jan 10 - Mar 21 (Feb 21 off) Register HERE
2022 Spring Mondays 6-7PM Mar 28 - Jun 6 (May 30 off) Register HERE
Intermediate Class
with Coach Andy
2022 Winter Tuesdays 5-6PM

Jan 11 - Mar 15 (no off)

Register HERE
2022 Spring Tuesdays 5-6PM  Mar 29 - Jun 7 (Apr 19 off) Register HERE
 Beginner Class  2022 Winter Mondays 3:30-4:30PM  Jan 10 - Mar 21 (Feb 21 off) Register HERE
Wednesdays 3:30-4:30PM  Jan 12 - Mar 23 (Feb 23 off) Register HERE



In-Person, Weekend Chess Clubs
On hold for now

We'll be restarting our in-person, weekend clubs very soon. Please check back in a few weeks.


Online Tournaments via

We offer two types of online tournaments:
- Daily FREE tournaments: open to any scholastic players, non-rated, no pre-registration necessary. More information here.

- Weekly USCF Online rated tournaments: open to any scholastic players. Special trophies or medals are awarded to the Top 5 overall players and Top 3 in the under800 and under400 category. Players must have USCF membership and register through jumbula prior to the event. Welcome email is sent to those who registered for the event. More information here. is a safe, secure and fun platform for kids to learn and play chess, and participate in a wide variety of activities, including listening to lectures, doing puzzles, playing with their friends, and participating in online tournaments. If you are interested in receiving emails about our online scholastic tournaments, please fill out the following form:


Tournament Schedule and more information, please visit:


Mechanics' Institute Scholastic Chess Bulletin

#1. May 29, 2021
#2. June 14, 2021
# 3. July 17, 2021
#4. August 31, 2021
#5. September 29, 2021
#6. October 22, 2021
#7. November 20, 2021
#8. December 23, 2021

If you are currently not receiving our Scholastic Bulletin, but you would like to get them to your inbox, please follow the steps:
1. In order for our email not to land in your spam folder, please put us on your list of saved addresses.
2. Sign up for our email blasts -- Click HERE and make sure to click Chess Club Email List.




Our coaching philosophy

The Mechanics' Institute Chess Club, established in 1854, is the oldest chess club in the United States, and we are proud of its rich history and legacy. Our enrichment program focuses on two important areas with our fun chess classes:

  • Developing chess skills: Teaching chess to beginners and providing advanced instruction to experienced players, thus improving critical thinking and problem solving in a fun and supportive atmosphere. 
  • Developing social and emotional skills: promoting good sportsmanship and learning from mistakes, skills that benefit kids beyond the chessboard.

Our professional and talented staff of coaches are trained to teach students of all levels, from beginner to advanced and keep them engaged in chess throughout the semester.

Beginner students will learn the name and values of the pieces, how they move, basic concepts of chess, purpose of the game. Class will also learn basic opening principles, easy to master tactics and basic checkmating strategies. Advanced students will learn mate in 1-2-3 techniques, opening lines, more advanced tactic concepts as well as being trained to use the chess clock and other important aspects that are useful for rated tournaments. Basic chess knowledge is required to take this class.


Need chess at your school? Contact us for more information.

Mechanics' Institute Chess Club and its team are ready to bring chess to your school and organization. We have different comprehensive packages to serve any type of school and community. For detailed information and start the discussion how to make it happen, please reach out to Dr. Judit Sztaray, General Manager for the Youth Outreach Programs and Special events at [email protected].




Online programming

"My kids have been playing chess for about two years, and it’s been great for them to have an activity they can continue doing during the pandemic. Thank you for offering so many online chess classes and tournaments for kids." Jill C.

"Thank you so much for your partnership this year. I'm so glad we were able to work together, despite the strangeness of this year. I so appreciate you creating a smooth and engaging online experience for our girls. I know they really enjoyed it!" Laura B.


From our Camps & Classes

"Thank you so much for holding this wonderful class for the kids! My son really enjoyed it and learned a lot." -Lena D., 2021 December

"Thank you very much for having the intermediate chess camp this year.  I had a great time.  It was a valuable experience and am only sorry that I could not attend the full week." -David R.

"I really enjoyed the 3 days that I was able to attend." -Mike B.

"My son had a great time last week at the intermediate class! We wanted to write an email to express our thanks. He really likes the current class format, which is more about teaching/ learning and less on chess-playing during class time among classmates. He loves the topics teachers chose and the examples they went over. Even though we live further away we feel that the commute was well worth it. " -Mark H.

"My husband and I have been very impressed with your Coaches and how the class is being run. My son is actually anxious to share the new chess moves with me! We are very happy with your program." -Sharon K.

From our Free Youth Outreach programs

"The students really enjoy chess and learning with Richard, we have had a great working relationship with him and look forward to continuing his fun classes here at AVS.  We even have students who seek out Richard as soon as he shows up on campus to help him set up and chat, it's quite adorable!" -Ms. McNutt, BookEnds Director and Art & Tinker Teacher, Alta Vista School

" The Mechanics' Institute Chess program has made a huge difference at Marshall Elementary. The students who attend our school are primarily from immigrant, working class families that struggle to survive in one of the most expensive cities in the world. This chess program has provided opportunities for students to develop spatial reasoning, attentiveness and sportsmanship. Mr. Nick (GM Nick de Firmian) has a gift for working with new players of this age."  -Mrs. Judy Viertel, Librarian, Marshall Elementary School, SFUSD

"The picture most adults have teens and tweens now days is of a hunched over a kid, staring mindlessly into a smartphone.  Maybe swiping at pictures or playing video games.  I think most adults would be surprised to come into the school library at Visitacion Valley Middle School.  First, to dispel the stereotype, it is not quiet and instead, there is a buzz of activity.  There are no computers, instead, students are playing games, reading comics and doing crafts. By far the most popular game is chess.  The students, whether they know how to play or not, are drawn to the chess boards especially when there is a chess teacher from the Mechanics Library.  They are usually shy at first saying, "I dont know how to play.".  When I tell them that is what the teacher is for and that six years ago I did not know how to play either and learned from the students, they hesitantly shuffle over to the chess tables.  Quickly they are playing, laughing, asking questions and having fun.  Students like the names of the pieces and how each one does something different, they like that there is a strategy, and that a beginner can really beat a more advanced player.  I use chess in other ways in the library, thanks to the Mechanics Library.  I read once that people who struggle to read can use chess as a strategy.  There is research that shows that thinking, looking at the chessboard and moving pieces with the hand can help struggling readers.  We have a significant number of students struggling to read and when they get frustrated in their reading classes they often come to the library, play some chess, and then return to class ready to try again, feeling calmer and more assured. At VVMS we are all very appreciative of the chess program at the Mechanics Library and look forward to working with the teachers each year."  -Callen Taylor, Teacher Librarian, Visitacion Valley Middle School SFUSD

"Both Assistant Principal Collins and I have been very happy with the chess program. We greatly appreciate the fact that it is provided to our students free of charge. Our students receive great benefits from engaging in positive social interactions through playing chess." -Dr. Barbara Berman, Principal, Tenderloin Community School, SFUSD

"Chess class is truly wonderful! Coach Colin is impressive and the parents and students are very grateful." -Adam Marquart, Director of Operations, Golden Bridges School, SF

"I like Chess Club because we get to play a game of chess at the end of class.  And we get to do cool techniques.  And sometimes we take turns doing techniques at the end of class before we do the game and that's fun.  Sometimes we do games, like from Paul Morphy.  Our teacher shows us the game--Paul Morphy--and sometimes other famous chess players and that's cool.  I can't wait to get to the next Chess Club class with Coach Colin!"    -Francisco W., Golden Bridges School

"Chess Club is great! I give it two thumbs up."   -Student at Golden Bridges School

"My son is teaching me how to play. He plays with gusto and knowledge. I am grateful he has an opportunity I never had as a child."

"Ishaan has enjoyed chess club immensely and expressed a lot of enthusiasm for playing in the tournament!"  

"Chess club has been such a wonderful addition." 

-Parents at Golden Bridges School