Youth Outreach Chess Program | Mechanics' Institute

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Youth Outreach Chess Program

Autumn 2018

Much is happening with our little world of San Francisco youth chess. We continue with our outreach program to twenty schools and community centers, where new children begin every year and the continuing children improve their game and develop their minds.

There are some interesting stories from those who have continued chess for some years.

A bright star on the rise is 16-year-old Simona Nayberg, who had won the middle school division at our SF Scholastic Championship before moving up to high school. In addition to being a top-notch academic student, Simona has also developed a website with chess puzzles and news and was written about in Chess Life magazine. Simona has just returned from the World Youth Championship in Greece, played October 19-31, where she competed with the world’s best players in her age group. There were ninety players competing in the girls 16 and under division, from Russia, China, England, Norway and all major chess countries. Simona played well, though not scoring a medal this time. Yet, the experience of playing on the international chess circuit provided great rewards both for chess improvement and cultural expansion. (Mechanics’ Institute GM de Firmian was along as a coach with the rest of the US delegation).

The Mission District’s Marshall Elementary school is a Title 1 school in a low income district of San Francisco with large Hispanic influence. The avid chess class has a particularly promising 3rd grader named Dari who is now in his 3rd year of chess class and has played twice in our annual San Francisco Scholastic Championship. His progress was evident when last week the class reviewed the classic game Larsen vs. Boris Spassky from the old match USSR vs. the World. Former World Champions Spassky won the game with a brilliant knight sacrifice followed by a rook sacrifice. Young Dari was able to predict the key sequence of the game involving giving away the rook for nothing but an extra tempo for the attack. We expect a bright future for this talented student.

Glen Park area schools continue to see particular enthusiasm with teacher David Flores Gomez. Our returning chess teacher to the Bret Harte Elementary, Judee Shipman (who replaced Mel Malvar), received a very warm welcome from the staff and older students who remembered her from three years ago. Other news is our collaboration with the Bright Knight’s chess club for a youth tournament and simul at the main public library on National Chess Day (Oct. 13). We have reserved the County Fair Building again for our SF Scholastic Championship, which will be on March 23, 2019.

Big news for the Mechanics’ Institute is the hiring of a new chess club director, Abel Talamantez, starting this December. This is terrific for our scholastic program as Abel has been greatly involved in youth and scholastic chess in California and will be a great boost to our efforts here in San Francisco.

The World Chess Championship is being played now in London. Our American challenger, Fabiano Caruana is now tied 4-4 with World Champ Magnus Carlsen after 8 games played. The match is best score out of 12 games and will go to overtime (rapid game tiebreak) if the score is 6-6 at the finish of regulation timed games. We are rooting for our young American as he was born in Miami and developed his great chess skills with a start in the scholastic programs here in America.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Nick de Firmian
Mechanics’ Institute