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

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Mechanics’ Institute -- Scholastic Chess Program

After School Classes -- Weekend Clubs -- Seasonal Camps -- Tournaments



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 check mating ways. Advanced students will learn mate in 1-2-3 techniques, opening lines, more advanced tactic concepts as well as get trained to use chess clock, and other important aspects that are useful for rated tournaments. Basic chess knowledge is required to take this class.


Chess in Schools: Lunch and After School classes  

Mechanics' Institute Chess Club is offering chess classes in schools in and around San Francisco city. 

Two different type of classes are offered:

  • free club type of class offered for all students at qualified schools. These classes were made possibly by our generous donors & benefactors.
  • fee for service based chess classes offered during after school period. Parents should sign up at either through school page, or through our Jumbula registraiton page.
School City Day & Time 2019 Fall dates Flyer Register
Burlingame Intermediate Middle School Burlingame Thursday, 3:10-4:10p 9/12-12/19   Link to register
Hillsborough West Hillsborough Friday, 3-4p 9/13 - 12/13   Link to register
Hillsborough South Hillsborough Monday, 3-4p 9/9 - 12/9   Link to register
Hoover Elementary Burlingame Wednesday, 2:10-3:10p 9/11 - 12/18   Link to register
Lincoln Elementary Burlingame Tuesday, 2:10-3:10p 9/10 - 12/17   Link to register
Washington Elementary Burlingame Wednesday, 2:10-3:10p 9/11 - 12/18   Link to register
West Portal Elementary School SF Friday, 2:30-4:00p 9/6 - 12/13 Flyer Link to register
WP Lutheran (West Portal) - Sloat campus SF Tuesday, 4:30-5:30p 8/27 - 12/10 Flyer Link to register
WP Lutheran (West Portal) - Sunset campus SF Friday, 4:30-5:30p 8/30 - 12/6 Flyer Link to register
Hamlin School SF Tuesday, 3:15-4:30p 8/27 - 12/17   thorugh school
Prescidio Knolls SF Wednesday, 2:45-4p
Wednesday, 4:05-5:20p
9/9 - 10/30
11/13 - 12/18
1/15 - 3/25
4/15 - 5/27
  thorugh school
Alta Vista Elementary SF Friday, 4:15-5:15p 8/30 - 11/22   N/A
Dolores Huerta (Fairmount) Elementary SF Wednesday, 9:45-11:15a
Friday, 9:45-11:15a
8/21 - 12/18
8/23 - 12/20
Everett Middle School SF Thursday, 4:20-5:30p 9/12 - 12/12   N/A
Francisco Middle School SF Friday, 11:45a-12:30p 9/13 - 12/13   NA
Glen Park Elementary SF Wednesday, 12-1p
Friday, 12-1p
8/21 - 12/18
8/23 - 12/20
Marshall Elementary SF Wednesday, 3-4p 9/11 - 12/11   N/A
Martin Luther King Middle School SF Wednesday, 12:30-1:10p 9/11 - 12/11   N/A
Redding Elementary SF Tuesday, 11:40a-1:15p 8/20 - 12/17   N/A
Roosevelt Middle School SF Wednesday, 11:49-12:29p 9/11 - 12/11   N/A
Sunnyside Elementary SF Tuesday, 10:10-10:45a
Thursday, 11:20a-1:25p
8/20 - 12/17
8/22 - 12/19
Tenderloin Elementary SF Friday, 11:30a-12:30p 9/6 - 12/6   N/A
Visitacion Middle School SF Monday, 11:45a-12:30p 9/9 - 12/13   N/A


Refund policy: We are applying the following refund policy to all fee-based classes: 100% refund before second class starts, 50% refund before third class starts. No refund after third class started.
Late pickup policy: students are expected to be picked up within 10 minutes of the class end time. Anytime when they are picked up later than 10 minutes after class end time, we will ask parents to pay $1/minute late pickup surcharge.

Weekend Clubs

We offer weekend clubs during the weekends at multiple locations. These 2 hour fun chess clubs are great for beginners to intermediate players.

@ Mechanics' Institute - Saturdays 11AM-1PM - FREE for all kids
Coaches: WGM Carla Heredia & Coach Andy and volunteers

More location is coming...

Seasonal Camps

Seasonal camps are the best way to have an intensive course in chess, and spend the break with educational yet fun activity. We aim to offer chess camps for all groups: from absolute beginners to advanced groups. 

Upcoming Camps:

Date Day Location Start time End time More information Registration link
11/11 Mon Mechanics' Institute Chess Club - 4th floor 9AM 4PM Click here for more information Click here to regsiter
11/25-11/27 Mon thru Wed Mechanics' Institute Chess Club - 4th floor 9AM 4PM Click here for more information Click here to regsiter




Scholastic Tournaments

We hold montly scholastic tournaments for kids. All players have to be USCF (United States Chess Federation) members.
Swiss tounaments start at 10am and have 4 rounds. Time control is G/30 (game in 30 minutes.)

More information can be found here:


Need chess at your school? Contact us for more information

Mechanics' Institute Chess Club and it's 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 jsztaray at



From our Camps & Classes

"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.

Fom 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 dispell 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 hestitantly 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