Thursday, December 27, 2012

A solar system without a sun

Source: The Chess Drum
Have you seen the documentary movie Brooklyn Castle? It's an enthralling portrait of a group of New York City middle schoolers who triumph in the field of competitive chess and grow personally thanks to supportive adults, a strong after-school program, and tremendous motivation and hard work. But their success also depends on a factor that is just touched on in the movie: the existence of a robust chess scene, centered on New York's 97-year-old Marshall Chess Club (pictured).

I'd like to ask you to imagine a young chess player who attends a Chicago public school. Maybe the school has a coach provide after-school lessons one day a week; maybe not. Regardless, this young player shows promise and drive and would like to be able to get the same kind of practice and participate in the same kinds of competitive opportunities as the champs in Brooklyn Castle. Unfortunately, 90 percent of all competitive chess activity in the Chicago area takes place in the suburbs -- places like Northbrook, Wheeling and Oak Lawn -- and the player's school and family are unable to provide the necessary transportation to these events. If there were a club in the city, comparable to the Marshall, that offered opportunities to practice and receive structured guidance from experienced players, this player would at least have that chance. But the last such club in Chicago shut its doors 22 years ago.

Are you aware that out of the top 10 urban areas in the United States, Chicago is today the only one without a primary metropolitan chess club? The Chicagoland chess scene is like a collection of planets orbiting a large void where a star used to be -- and city residents of all ages and backgrounds are missing out on the benefits and pleasures of chess as a result.

We want to restore Chicago's place among America's great chess cities and revive the tradition that was lost with the dissolution of the Chicago Chess and Checker Club and our namesake, the original Chicago Chess Center. But we're not creating just another club: the new Chicago Chess Center will be a school of chess, a destination and gathering place, and the focus of a vibrant and expanded chess scene.

Donate now so that we can open our doors on our target date of May 1, 2013.

You may already know about how young people benefit from chess: not only in the logical reasoning skills that chess imparts but also in the "soft skills" of patience, attentiveness, self-discipline, conflict management, sportsmanship, and connecting effort and practice with success. But experience shows that chess is also part of a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle for adults -- like a gym workout for the mind. Your donation will allow us to begin offering classes, tournaments and open play to residents young and old across the city of Chicago.

Click here to make your tax-deductible donation before Dec. 31, 2012 -- or, if you're waiting until 2013 to make donations to charities, send us an e-mail pledging the amount you'll give before Jan. 18.


Keith Ammann
President, Chicago Chess Center NFP Inc.

P.S. We're off to a great start . . . and we have a long way still to go. You can help us raise the $30,000 we need to secure and furnish a site by clicking here now. Thank you for your support.


Anonymous said...

Well written, but it sounds like a pipe dream. Chess clubs don't work. In fact the people advocating for this club don't themselves go to the existing clubs!!!

Bill Brock said...

Some skepticism is healthy: things have changed in the past twenty years

It's hard for a PURE club to work today. But a center can derive enough teaching revenue to turn a profit: I've seen this done in In two cities smaller than Chicago.

The positive cash flow could go in someone's pocket (which is what happened in the two models I've seen). Or it can be plowed back into the mission to make the nonprofit sustainable. I'd like to help create something that will remain after we're gone....