Community Engagement

Commissioner Samuelian Tournament - November 2022

On Sunday, November 20, the NSCF, in partnership with the City of Miami Beach Parks & Recreation Department, produced the first Commissioner Mark Samuelian Memorial Chess Tournament.  A National Master chess player, Commissioner Samuelian opened the doors for the NSCF to bring a robust community-focused chess program to the city he loved and served. Sadly, Mark passed away before he could see any of these efforts come to fruition.

Mayor Dan Gelber paid tribute to his colleague at the opening of the tournament and also introduced Mark’s life partner, Laura Dominguez; Laura stayed to speak to parents and cheer on the players.  Despite torrential rains and high winds,  78 aspiring chess players competed in two sections: Elementary and Middle-High School. Some fantastic chess was played and the top section even went into a sudden-death armageddon match to determine first place!

Special thanks to the city’s photographer, Jackie Gonzalez for the first 34 beautiful pictures, the rest are from NSCF.

Community Chess in MIAMI BEACH - MAY 2022

The NSCF is excited to be partnering with Miami Beach Parks & Recreation Department to launch a community and scholastic chess initiative to the city. Championed by Commissioner Mark Samuelian who earned his National  Master title in high school, the effort includes free open play chess every Saturday and Sunday, plus chess instruction to almost 400 students in the city’s summer camp programs.

Our partnership kick-off was a Mayors’ Chess Challenge on Sunday, May 15 at Scott Rakow Youth Center hosted by Mayor Dan Gelber. Our special guests included Elizabeth Tejada, the chess coordinator for Miami-Dade Public Schools, and most of our NSCF Florida staff were on hand to teach and play. (MCC Photos courtesy of Aaron McLellan.)

Community Chess in Sunrise - may 2022

Another successful year for chess in education and in the community was given a special recognition when Mayor Michael Ryan and the Commission declared Saturday, May 14 as Dr. Amelia Hernandez Chess Day in the City of Sunrise. May 14 was also the day for our annual Champions of Chess Tournament. Of course, our Open Play Chess on Saturdays and our special events with Leisure Services continue all year round! (Photos courtesy of the City of Sunrise and Aaron McLellan.)

Community Chess in Sunrise - June 2021

Our open play chess has resumed each week in Sunrise and, on June 12, we had our first tournament in over a year. Instruction, competition, and community events in Sunrise are all generously supported by The City of Sunrise. The programs are facilitated by the City’s Leisure Services Department who help our NSCF/Sunrise Center for Excellence in Chess staff create amazing cross-generational engagement for residents in Sunrise and across Broward County. Photos courtesy of Jillian Leigh Photography. (Thanks, Jill.)

Community Chess in Coral Springs - January to May 2021

The Coral Springs Parks & Recreation Department asked us to help create a series of events that would engage the community and allow everyone to reconnect while still being cognizant of the need for social distancing and extra precautions. One Wednesday each month from January through April, we had an evening Open Play event. These were a great success and drew most of the city commissioners as well as parents and children from across the area. Then the finale event was a free tournament open to students from across the county. We even added a friends and family section for a few adults to play, including Mayor Scott Brooks and Vice Mayor Joshua Simmons.

Our special guest for the event was National Master AJ Steigman who grew up in Coral Springs and was one of the nation’s top chess players during his school years. He went on to Emory University and earned his MBA from Wharton. Now involved in real estate software he recently moved back to Coral Springs so the event gave us a chance to highlight how chess can help our students prepare for success in life. AJ was joined by his mom and his former coach, also from Coral Springs, NM Bill Cornwall, who helped NSCF launch its teacher training programs in Broward County. (Photos courtesy of the City of Coral Springs, plus NSCF staff.)

Family Chess Night at Greenwich Country Day School – January 2020

It’s always fun to get together with our students and their families in a social setting, so when our schools host a Family Chess Night, you can be sure our instructors will be there to answer questions and to encourage parents to play chess with their children. Thanks to our PTA chess coordinators, DeAnne Sneddon, Karla Farach, and Joe Day, to Greenwich Country Day School for hosting, and to our chess teachers NM Ricardo Perez-Billinghurst, FM Ramon Lorente-Pupo, and Danny Rade. As you can see, a good time was had by all!

Fall 2019 Programs in Sunrise and South Florida

In the Fall of 2019, NSCF’s Florida programs twice welcomed visits from Executive Director FM Sunil Weeramantry. On the first trip he guest taught at Bair Middle School in Sunrise. A few days later, NM Evan Rabin guest taught at the same school. We had several Mayor’s Chess Challenge events, including in the cities of Lauderhill and Tamarac, and Robert McKenzie taught an intro class for the Boca Raton library, our first effort outside of Broward County.

Sunil returned for a visit to the Pompano Youth Treatment Center, one of our juvenile justice programs, where the students had a tournament. We were joined by staff from BCPS Equity & Academic Attainment Office, along with Mayor Mike Ryan of Sunrise and Mayor Rex Hardin of Pompano Beach. On Saturday, we had Open Play at the Civic Center and Sunil delivered one of our Demystifying Chess Workshops. Hosted by the Sunrise Police Department, the workshop was for First Responders, and veterans, along with staff from another of our juvenile justice programs.

Finally, one of our supporting groups, The Broward Sheriff’s Advisory Council invited NSCF to present at their annual dinner. We were proudly represented by Mayor Mike Ryan, some of our chess playing officers and one of our students.

Chess at the Library – New Rochelle, Columbus Day 2019, 2018 & 2017

Our annual celebration of chess, produced in partnership with the New Rochelle Public Library, brings out chess players young and old out for a fun afternoon playing our favorite game!  In addition to lessons and open play, simuls against Senior Instructors NM Ricardo Perez-Billinghurst and FM Ramon Lorente-Pupo, are always a hit. New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson has graciously joined our NSCF Executive Director FM Sunil Weeramantry each year, and many of our NSCF instructors have come out to offer free lessons and play with the students. Special thanks also to NSCF board member Betsy Harding who always marks this day on her calendar.

The NSCF has been working in New Rochelle schools since its inception 30 years ago and we are always pleased to see our players who come from schools all across the City to participate. Many times they bring parents who were our students in years-gone-by. Photos are presented with the newest year first. Photos from 2017 are a highlight as that year we presented our longtime partner, teacher Mark Hegenauer with an award recognizing his role in inspiring generations of young chess players at Columbus Elementary School. You can read more about Mark and the Columbus program here. And you can read more about the 2017 Chess at the Library celebration here.

Sunrise Back to School Roundup - August 2017

In January 2017, the NHL’s Florida Panthers Foundation awarded $25,000 to the National Scholastic Chess Foundation allowing us to more than double the number of children reached in summer camp programs across the City. From schools to area parks and free lunch programs, the NSCF was able to introduce chess to over 1,200 school children, all at no cost to the parents. This initiative became known as The Sunrise Center for Excellence in Chess and continues today, bringing chess as both an educational and community engagement tool to the City of Sunrise and neighboring communities. When the City of Sunrise invited us to make chess be a featured activity for their annual Back-to-School Roundup, we invited Stanley Panther to come join the fun. He’s great on the ice, but his claim to be the first cat to ever become a National Master is rather suspect!

Chess in the Park – October 13, 2014

Each year on Columbus Day, we celebrate all things chess with an afternoon of open play, lessons and simuls where our younger players get to challenge a master. Here are images from the 2014 event in Library Park in front of the New Rochelle Public Library. Highlights of the day included a special acknowledgement to one of our favorite volunteers, Joan Waldron, a visit from New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson, and a simul against National Master (now IM-elect) Joshua Colas.

The Queen of Katwe Visits - Spring 2014

In the Spring of 2014, the NSCF helped facilitate a US tour for Phiona Mutesi and her coach, Robert Katende, whose stories are told in the book and Disney feature film “The Queen of Katwe.” Local events included school visits (R.J. Bailey in Greenburgh, Bronxville and Greenwich Academy); a fundraiser graciously hosted by one of our former students, Hunter Korn; some time to just hang out; and even a chess lesson with Sunil.