Thursday, July 14, 2022


As long as Ted Castro posted the official announcement of my receiving the U.S. Chess Federation Scholastic Service Award on my Timeline and it has been made public by the US Chess Federation I might as well saying something about this honor. I received this information on June 17th but I had been waiting for the actual presentation on August 5th before posting anything.

I have written a long acceptance speech that will likely not be read at the Award Ceremonies. I just wanted to get it down on paper for my own record. A far shorter commentary that my designated recipient Jim Eade, a well known name for his years of service to the chess community and a friend, will present on my behalf at Rancho Mirage, CA on August 5. For those that have a lot of time, here is what I have written to date and only edited twice. I am told by my former colleague and friend Dr. Howard DeWitt that things must be edited 17 times at least

When I read the e-mail that said I was selected to receive the U.S. Chess Federation’ Scholastic Service Award in conjunction with the U.S. Open and Annual meeting I thought it was spam or someone was spoofing me. I decided to check the U.S.C.F website to see if such an award even existed. When I clicked on the a message appeared that the site was down while material from the new website was being added. I said to myself, “OK, what else is new.” I tried again the next day and was able to search the site. I came to the realization that the letter was for real and somehow I was actually getting the U.S. Chess Federation’s 2022 Scholastic Service Award.

I will start my thank you’s to those who made this honor possible with Jim Eade who has kindly agreed to play me since I cannot be here. Jim deserves my thanks not just because he is here picking up my award, or that he is one of the best examples of someone who has donated, often without thanks, his energy and time to the chess community, but also because I doubt I would be receiving this honor if it weren’t for him. Back in the early 90’s when Jim was President of CalChess he talked me into joining the Northern California Board as they needed someone there who was working with scholastic players. My mother always had a hard time turning down a request to volunteer her time. Like my mother I often went overboard in my community participation. I loved it! Jim also convinced me to do some writing and submit photos for the very professional CalChess Journal he had created.

There had been no one within the scholastic community on the CalChess Board for quite a while. Hard to believe today when it is hard to find someone for the CalChess Board who is not part of the scholastic community. Jim also got me involved in chess outside of California when he convinced me to serve with him on the University of Texas, Chess Board. We traveled there together and got to know each other fairly well. I did get something quite nice for my short time on that Board. I obtained a blue blazer with the UT Dallas Chess logo. I could then look official when I organized tournaments or served as the Chief TD.

There was a Northern California Scholastic Chair at the time, Ray Orwig, who I was told did not want to serve on the CalChess Board. I call Ray the father of scholastic Chess in Northern California. He not only ran the NorCal Scholastic State Championship but a few USCF scholastic quads in the North Bay. His wife was an Alameda County children’s librarian in the East Bay and she arranged for him to run free, non-rated chess tournaments in most of the libraries there. That is how I met Ray who became an inspiration for everything I have done. My middle son played in one of Ray’s non-rated events and did very well. We then went an hour north to Ray’s rated events and later that school year, 1988-1989, my son in First Grade won the K-3 Championship Division in the States. I decided to take him to the 1989 Elementary School Nationals in Phoenix. I there learned what scholastic chess was all about and saw how well a large tournament could be organized. I later mimicked much of what I saw when I organized our State Championships.

My Weibel Elementary School Chess Club began to grow and parents from other schools in the area began to contact me about how to create a chess club. One year Weibel Chess obtained 240 kids out of 770 children in this districted Elementary School. Very few schools at that time in the southern East Bay and the South Bay had chess programs. I helped them organize. I note that this was before any large chess profit or non-profit scholastic chess businesses came into the area. There was a program in Berkeley that I knew nothing about.

With Ray as an inspiration, I began to hold a few small USCF tournaments. Ray decided to leave his position as Scholastic Chair and later turned over the State Championships to me. I held the Scholastic Chair position for 12 years helping programs develop not just in Northern California but in a few other parts of the country.

When I decided to become active in the chess community, I gave up my position in the American Drug Free Powerlifting Association that I and my training partner had brought to California. I had organized many powerlifting events in the 1970’s and 1980’s including a large National Championship. I started holding a few small chess tournaments instead of powerlifting meets. I found that nearing the senior citizen age it was much easier to move chess equipment than barbells. I decided to even hold a large chess event and I created the California Chess Grade Level Championships which I held at two schools about two miles apart due to the need for space--Weibel Elementary School and Mission San Jose Elementary School. Mission had begun program two years after Weibel. A chess guru in the area, Richard Shorman, influenced the programs in both schools. Both schools did well at the National level and won a number of championship titles.

When Ray Orwig decided not to continue running the NorCal State Scholastic Championships, I took over. I turned the California Grade Level over to CalChess. By that time, an agreement had been reached with the Southern California State that we would take turns running the event.

Tom Dorsch, who had been holding open tournaments for many years in Northern California, which seldom had any scholastic players, became my mentor. He took me with him so I could learn how to negotiate with hotel managers and convention center directors. He also funded the first few scholastic states through his Northern California Chess Tournaments business. Once we moved it from a school site to a hotel the event exploded in the number of players, topping 1300. I left running the States for a few years in 2000 but returned in 2006 when CalChess was having trouble locating a local organizer. CalChess funded the event. I volunteered my time, and all the profit went to CalChess, pulling them out of a financial bind. In 2008 I helped CalChess find a local organizer, Salman Azhar and his Bay Area Chess. I continued running smaller events and working with the local chess community. I recently decided that at 84 years young it was time to step aside from my chess organizing activities.

My wife deserves loads of Kudos for her continued support. I also thank my two youngest sons for without their desire to participate in chess events I would not have been volunteering my time. My oldest son knew how to play chess but made soccer his primary goal in life. I had even helped organize soccer events. Now 53 my eldest cheered when I informed him that the US Chess Federation was providing me with an award for my service to the scholastic chess community. He said: “That is so great. Too often people are not around anymore when an organization recognizes them for their achievements. I am glad you held on.”

I am glad that I held on as well for I can provide my heartfelt thanks to the U.S. Chess Federation for this completely unexpected honor.

Saturday, June 4, 2022


A New Weibel Chess Hall of Fame Inductee: Adrika Kashyap

Adrika Kashyap won the third-grade section of the Girl’s State Championship in Berkeley on Saturday, June 4, 2022. To enter the Weibel Chess Hall of Fame a person must obtain one of the following: a National or State Championship title, qualify for the World Youth Championships, obtain the U.S. Chess Federation or a FIDE title of Expert or higher at or after leaving Weibel, obtain a U.S. Chess Federation rating of 1600+ while still at Weibel. The inductees in the Weibel Chess Hall of Fame are listed from a red banner at the bottom of the Weibel Chess website.

The title “Championship” or “Champion” is only given to someone that wins an open/varsity division. The State and National Championships have numerous other divisions with names like K-6 Under 1000 or Junior Varsity. Winners of these divisions cannot officially call themselves “Champions.” They are first place winners, but certainly champions in their eyes and those of others.

Adrika also was one of the players who enabled Weibel Chess to obtain another school team State Championship in tying for first in the Third-Grade section of the CalChess State Grade Level on May 21, 2022.

The photos below are of Adrika with her championship trophy* and with her teammate Ahana Karaje holding a Grade Level team trophy. Also, in that photo are two former Weibel Chess teachers, Jenny Ly and Bada Norovasambuu who are now teaching at Weibel with Bay Area Chess helping BAC continue the winning ways of our past! Thanks go to Adrika’s parents for the photos.

A plaque existed on one of the walls of the Weibel School office with plates that had the names of the Weibel Chess Hall of Fame members. I do not know if it is still there.

*I was told that this year’s CalChess Girls States did not have any team awards. Weird!

Thursday, March 24, 2022


As most of you know, after 32 years of directing the Weibel Chess program I announced I would retire a month or so before the pandemic hit. I had hoped a committee of parents would continue Weibel Chess following the same principles, vision, and mission. Sadly, for reasons that would take too long to discuss this could not come to pass.

Finally, the Weibel Principal gave Bay Area Chess (BAC) permission to start a chess program again at Weibel that could not be connected to the school as Weibel Chess had been. On February 4 BAC started up chess in three classrooms on Friday afternoons. Salman Azhar, the founder and Chair of BAC, son did attend Weibel for a couple of years, Aamir Azhar in 2004 won the CalChess State Championship. The family moved from Weibel, but the school has always been in Salman’s heart. BAC hired four former Weibel Chess instructors to teach the classes at the school along with a fifth individual. The four are, Grand Master Enrico Sevilliano, Jason Cruz, Jenny Ly and Bada Norovasambu.

In 2007, Salman Azhar took over the CalChess State Championships that I had been running. His Bay Area Chess continues to organize that prestigious and large event. A bit under 20 Weibel students attended the 47th year of the Championships this last weekend, March 19 & 20, 2022. In recent years Weibel Chess had 80 to 100 attendees. Yet, considering the very recent start of chess again at Weibel that was a good turnout. More exciting was how well they did.

As indicated on my Weibel Chess webpage and the back of the T-shirts the players wore, Weibel Chess had won a division in a CalChess sponsored event since 1990. CalChess is the Northern California affiliate of United States Chess Federation. Just a month before my program of Weibel Chess closed its doors for good on March 13, 2020, we won a few sections in a CalChess Girls State Championships. There were no face to face CalChess tournaments in 2021. At the reopening of a CalChess Scholastic Championships with numerous subdivisions students from Weibel proved their nettle once again and kept Weibel’s chess winning streak alive. Most of the students were in the BAC Weibel classes.

The Weibel Teams took first places in the K-3 Beginner and K-3 Junior Varsity sections. NOTE: Only the winners of the Champions sections can be officially referred to as Champions. For some reason most of the top players at Weibel did not attend. For me, as an outsider now, the best news was that girls were the leading players in the two sections Weibel chess students won. Hopefully BAC will be willing to encouraging them to attend the All-Girls Chess National Championships in Chicago in future years and send along a coach. Weibel has won eight All-Girls National Chess since 2011.

Kudos to the following Weibel students at the States:

Team winners – the points of the top four players count for the team. There were five rounds.

K-3 Junior Varsity
Anenya Balakrishnan 4.5 (Anenya also took first place an amazing accomplishment for a young girl that when Weibel Chess closed down was in our Raw Beginners class under the excellent instruction of Amy Chan.)

Adrika Kashyap 3.0 (Adrika also competed the next day in the K-5 JV. She joined because Weibel only had three players and she wanted to help the team. Much to her surprise two of the Weibel players dropped out.)

Sama Bagga 1

K-3 Begginers: Vihaan Kumar 3 Amyra Bhatia 3 Ahana Karaje 2 Tiya Lintu 1.5 Jasper Chung 1.5 (his points did not count for the team)

The following players won individual trophies:

K-5 Championship (46 players) Alexander Pn Ng 3.5 (12th) Lucas Immanuel Oh 3,5 (tied 12th)

K-5 Rookie (54 players) Mihika Agarwal 3 (tied for 11th)

K-3 JrV (40 players) Anenya Balakrisdhnan 4.5 (1st) Adrika Kashyap 3 (tied 10th)

K-3 Beginners (31 players)

Vihaan Kumar 3 (7th) Amyra Bhatia 3 (tied for 7th)

If you want information about chess at Weibel please contact the Director of Bay Area Chess, James Bethany,

I am not connected to their chess program so I cannot provide you with any information or direction. The Weibel Chess Website, the Facebook page and the blog will remain up as an historical memory of the past and anything I decide I want to celebrate about chess at Weibel. Two of my three boys attended Weibel in the beginning of the school and my chess program under the auspices of the PTA and then the PTO existed for 32 years. The umbilical cord has been severed, but a part of my heart is still there with the students, parents, teachers an staff. Salman Azhar and Minanshu Jha (Adrika Kashyap’s mother) provided me with the photos of the winning Weibel Teams. I did attend for a short period of time on Saturday afternoon to watch my grandson competing in the K5 Championship and the K5 Blitz. He had a very poor showing in the K5 Championship but did win the K5 Blitz. That is exactly what I predicted to one coach before the event for he and his dad play blitz most of the time with his Dad playing 1 minute against Elizur’s 5 minutes. As I walked into the Blitz area, they were giving out the trophies and Tom Langland, one of the Chief Tournament Directors told me that Weibel won the K3 JV and they were presenting the awards. He asked if I was going to go up with them for a photo. I simply replied, “No, it is not my program anymore.” I did rush over and shoulder my way through the crown and got one photo with other parents’ hands in it.

Saturday, December 4, 2021


I regret to report that the 32 years of Weibel Chess as both an educational, recreational and a competitive program has come to an end. My belief that the program would continue with a semblance of the 32-year history I established will not occur. Due to changes in the Fremont Unified School District’s facilities process and a loss of enthusiasm at the school office the hopes I had along with the parent committee have been dashed. I am sure that sometime in the future Weibel Elementary School will have chess taught after school through one of the many chess businesses in the Bay Area. However, I do not believe it will be “Weibel Chess” for these companies, while teaching the basics of chess, are in the end a chess business not a chess school program.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021


Earlier today, on an exchange on critical thinking, a friend stated that to learn critical thinking people should learn chess. The comment provided me an opportunity to explain my view on chess teaching and critical thinking. This has been the foundation of Weibel Chess in the past and I hope it will remain the teaching philosophy in the future as I leave the program. Here is what I wrote with a couple of edits: Yes, only if they have an instructor that is interacting with the students and not just talking to the Demo board. As I said earlier, critical thinking isn't taught it is experienced and demands interaction and challenges--thinking about what you are thinking while you are thinking. While chess demands critical thinking, I would also say, that a fair number of the better chess players had "critical thinking" in their blood. Their skills were simply enhanced. I can't prove that, however.

Those of us who have run school chess programs over the years know that a few students sent to the chess classes are there because the parents want babysitters in the afternoon when the school lets out or simply want their child to learn the basics of chess. They are unaware of the studies that show how much chess not only improves analytical thinking but also improves student performance in school courses. Unless you have Socratic like instructors who can challenge every student, they only learn how to move the pieces.

With teachers (not coaches) who can challenge, most of the students want to return. The program does not become, what I refer to as revolving door chess where your instructors teach the same material year after year to new groups of “recruits.” The students return and soon you have different levels of instruction to meet the needs of your little critical thinkers. Stated simply, you have thinkers not stinkers.

Some children get to a level of analyzing, knowledge, and chess skill with a love of the sport and art of the game where they continue to extremely high chess levels where they likely need and often obtain coaches. Weibel Elementary School, a public school limited to one neighborhood, has been blessed to have had several outstanding chess students in its 33year history and has fared well against private schools and open area public schools where they often have a very select group of students. Yet, for all levels of those who learn chess, our slogan says it all, “Chess is Forever!”

A few of the students at Weibel could even "learn" from a demo board talking head, one who seldom if ever looks at or questions/challenges the students, because they love analyzing and studying on their own. I have not kept demo board talking heads. OK, I lied, I did keep one at the school, Hans Poschmann, who you knew well. He was such a warm, loving, and bubbly person, perhaps personified in his playing only one chess opening, "The Orangutang."😂 Please don’t ask me to explain that. 🙃 Hans, RIP, without interacting with the students while always looking at his demo board, somehow brought something else to his students-humanity's warmth & love which I would argue is even more vital than critical thinking.

Monday, September 27, 2021


I am upset and sad to announce that Weibel Chess cannot begin next week as previously thought. The Parent Teacher Organization CPA advised the Chess Committee against hiring instructors even though the hiring and salaries would be paid by an outside individual with reimbursement from the PTO who would have collected the tuition. The PTO felt they had no choice but to withdraw the permits for they would have had to lay out a substantial amount of money without any knowledge if it would be refunded. The CPA did provide five other possible options. The Chess Committee had held off registration when the PTO, despite getting the go ahead from the Weibel School and the District, expressed concern about reimbursing that individual for the payroll costs and rightly decided to check with their CPA. I decided to wait before posting anything until the Chess Committee met and perhaps came up with a Plan B after discussing the five other options. Last night the Chess Committee decided to go with one of the other options. If this Plan B works, I will post the information. Based on an information sheet that was distributed, there should be no trouble in filling the 45 slots for the Club and the 45 for the Team.