On Thursday, May 19, the National Scholastic Chess Foundation held its first-ever awards dinner at the Marriott Brooklyn Bridge. Presented in partnership with ICC, the 2022 Chess Service Awards honored four women who have made a lifetime contribution to growing scholastic chess. Keeping with the FIDE Year of the Woman in Chess theme was almost accidental when selecting our honorees. We not only celebrated these women for their great accomplishments but as our very good friends.
Generously underwritten by ICC, the event brought together many influential people from the New York chess community to celebrate chess and to rebuild the community post-pandemic. The evening doubled as a fundraiser for the National Scholastic Chess Foundation.
After cocktails and dinner, the formal program began with NSCF Executive Director Sunil Weeramantry introducing Marty Grund, one of the founders of ICC. Marty shared how, as a player of modest ability and living in Iowa far from the chess capitals of the world, he was humbled to have built so many friendships through chess, including with the evening’s honorees. ICC has secured new funding and we were pleased to welcome principals James Chin and Mendel Pinson, and to introduce the new chairman of ICC, Ehud Berlach.
Our first NSCF/ICC Chess Service Award was given posthumously to renowned FIDE Arbiter Carol Jarecki, who passed away in 2021. In addition to her many accomplishments in international chess, Carol was a great supporter of Sunil for over four decades and of the NSCF since its inception. While slides showed some highlights from Carol’s life, Sunil shared stories from his many years of friendship with her.
We were especially honored to have Carol’s daughter, Dr. Lianna Jarecki travel from Chapel Hill to accept the award. Sunil’s first student, Carol’s son John Jarecki, was once the youngest-ever National Master in the US. John was traveling out of the country, so Lianna videotaped the event and sent it to him. John sent us a heartfelt thank you note afterwards.
Our second honoree, Beatriz Marinello is well-known to the scholastic and competitive chess worlds. Beatriz became the national women’s champion of Chile when she was just 16 years old. Awarded the title Woman International Master (WIM) by FIDE in 1980, Beatriz came to the United States in 1990 and, in 1991, became assistant coach of the Dalton School. She is now the Director of the Chess Program.
Beatriz became the first woman to be elected president of the US Chess Federation in 2003. In 2010, she was the first woman elected Vice President of FIDE. One of her most significant accomplishments during her eight years on the FIDE Board was founding FIDE’s social action commission.
A champion of chess for all, Beatriz has worked to expand the reach of chess for the disabled, and as a tool that helps maintain mental acuity as we age. In 2008, when Beatriz was awarded the University of Texas at Dallas Chess Educator of the Year Award, her presentation was on chess and the development of social skills for at-risk children. As someone who has made a lifetime contribution to growing chess in New York, in America and around the world, the NSCF was very pleased to honor WIM Beatriz Marinello with one of our inaugural Chess Service Awards.
Honoree Diana Tulman was raised in Moldova where she was exposed to the famed Soviet methods of chess training that helped develop generations of world champions. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Diana brought her young daughter, Hana, to the United States. Teaming up with four-time Soviet women’s champion WGM Irina Levitina, who also won three US women’s championships, they formed the International Chess Academy (ICA) in New Jersey in 1995.
While ICA has produced many scholastic chess champions, and introduced more advanced students to Grandmaster level instruction, Diana feels ICA’s biggest accomplishments are not with prodigies, but are in linking chess education to broader academic success. In 2015, to celebrate ICA’s 20th anniversary, Diana reconnected with many of her former students who had gone on to Ivy League schools. Two of those students attended the dinner to recognize their former teacher. Natasha Komarov earned her PhD at Dartmouth and is a professor of mathematics. Eli Stavsky is a graduate of Columbia with a masters in Neurobiology. Diana’s daughter, WFM Hana Itkis, a successful chess educator in her own right, joined us to celebrate her mom.
Our fourth honoree is not a chess player yet is still a tireless champion for the inclusion of chess instruction as a cornerstone of elementary school education.
Dawn Roy was first introduced to the game of chess in third grade. Years later, now a teacher herself, Dawn observed her students’ weekly chess lessons and witnessed the impact chess had on her students’ development.
Dawn is now the principal of Hunter College Elementary School. In addition to ensuring chess has on-going administrative and classroom support at Hunter, the school hosts the most well-established and popular scholastic chess tournament series in the city. After the shutdowns of COVID, Dawn helped navigate the many challenges in bringing this tournament back for our city’s aspiring young chess players.
Funding our NSCF Chess Girls Initiatives
The NSCF has recently been awarded a grant from US Chess to support a mentoring initiative that encourages girls to remain involved in chess throughout their middle and high school years. Proceeds from the Chess Service Awards dinner will help match that grant to serve many more players.
To see photos from the event, click here to go to our Special Events gallery.