Meet Our Instructors

Instructor Chris WelcomeChris Welcome has been teaching chess to children of all ages since 2000 and has taught chess within the curriculum in over 30 public schools. His vast experience in both curricular and after-school programs has trained him  to handle large groups from kindergarten to high-school. Chris has also coached several school chess teams to prominence in national competition and guided three young players over the 2000 rating level to the rank of Candidate Master.

Chris was part of a group in Brooklyn affectionately called the “Black Bear School of Chess” which fostered the growth and development of many African American chess players in the late 1970s. From this group of self motivated players emerged many masters such as Ernest Colding, Ronald Simpson, William Morrison, and GM Maurice Ashley. Chris earned his National Master’s title in 1982.

Chris says: “I believe that it is important to show every child regardless of age or ability how to enjoy chess. Not all children will one day become masters. Those that aspire to that goal and desire to do so will need a clear path to develop their interest. But even those who do not can experience a lifetime of pleasure creating a beautifully played game."

nstructor Polly Wright

Polly Wright is a former New England Women’s Champion and is currently ranked among the top 100 women in the U.S. 

 Polly teaches in a number of schools in Westchester and Fairfield counties and enjoys sharing her chess experience with students of all levels, ranging from beginner to tournament level. 

”If I can impart a love and understanding of chess to them I feel I have contributed to their enrichment.”      

Polly has been a tournament director for over 30 years. She holds the title of Senior Tournament Director of the USCF and directs all NSCF tournaments as well as tournaments at the National level.

Mike McDermott

Mike McDermott is a former student of Grandmaster, and seven-time US Champion Samuel Reshevsky. Mike has attained the rank of Candidate Master in the USCF. A full-time chess instructor for the NSCF, Mike’s students include a National Scholastic Champion. He loves to entertain his students with stories of his games against famous chess personalities, especially his loss against Bobby Fischer and his simultaneous exhibitions draws against two other former World Champions, Gary Kasparov and Boris Spassky.

A retired Physical Education teacher, Mike makes good use of his experience during the NSCF Summer Chess Program, when he serves as both a chess coach and recreation coordinator.

Silvio Rosato has been an NSCF instructor since 1999 and teaches both enrichment and curricular classes for the NSCF. A master of classroom management and teaching strategies, Silvio effectively uses many sources and varies his approach, adjusting his tone, activity and interaction to best meet the needs of the children.

Silvio's private students have earned first place in their respective scholastic sections, including the 2014 Westchester County Grade Championship.

As a NSCF tournament director, Silvio directs tournaments held in Westchester and Southern Connecticut. He is also a TD for the New York State Championships. Silvio excels at directing the young players in the K-1 section, where his calm manner while maintaining high standards makes events a pleasure for our youngest players and for their parents.

Instructor Jon Rigal

Jon Rigai is a professional chess instructor and a Class A player. He joined NSCF in 2010 and has now taught at over 20 different schools as well as at summer camps and community chess classes.

Jon’s father was a classical pianist who taught music and inspired Jon to also want to work with children. An athlete and former fitness trainer, Jon teaches his students that “a chess game is like mental boxing. If you want to win, you have to fully commit yourself to every move in the game.” Jon finds that this approach teaches students to focus and stay on task, valuable skills that they can apply towards their schooling and whatever other challenges life presents.

Instructor Jason CianoCoach Warren Williams, aka Dr. Gambit, aims to have his students develop their minds and social skills through chess education, discipline and mentorship. Named Dr. Gambit by the late Tharin Chadwick, who was known as Dr. Chess, Coach Warren brings 42 years of chess playing and 17 years of enthusiastic teaching experience to his NSCF classrooms. The kids love when he brings his large chess set and fuzzy board!

Warren is a Retired NYS Peace Officer with 25 years of service, 15 years of those as Community Affairs Officer. During his tenure, he taught chess to youth and seniors, organized tournaments within the Bronx community and received many awards and citations, including a 2012 NYS Proclamation Award for Youth Leadership from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz.