Press Releases


Contact: Julie Young

503-295-1230 (office); 503-310-5910 (cell)

Chess for Success celebrates 25th anniversary

The mission of Chess for Success is to help children develop the skills necessary for success in school and in life through learning chess. In 1992 Dick Roy, Phil Margolin, and Frank Eiseman saw a need in our community for chess programs for vulnerable students. They knew from experience that chess teaches critical thinking, perseverance, and concentration among other skills. It improves behavior and school attendance, because children want to go to school so they can go to chess club. Through chess, children learn skills that help them become college and career ready.

With this goal in mind, Chess for Success was born. Chess for Success sponsors after-school chess clubs in high-poverty schools. A teacher is hired from within the school and provided curriculum and support. To promote club unity, every student in the program receives a t-shirt their club designs. The students receive free entry into all Chess for Success tournaments. At the end of the year, they get a chess set. By giving students the opportunity to learn an engaging game while learning important life skills, Chess for Success is at the forefront of developing our next industry leaders.

 This year Chess for Success is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The program started at nine elementary schools in the Portland Public School District: Applegate, Beach, Boise-Eliot, Brooklyn, Clarendon, Humboldt, Peninsula, John Ball (now Rosa Parks), and Vernon. Now, our reach stretches over 70 clubs across the state from Hermiston to Grants Pass, and one club in Vancouver, Washington. There are programs in therapeutic schools for students who struggle in a standard school setting, and schools for incarcerated youth. Currently, over 30% of program participants are girls, an unusually high number for a chess program. During the last 25 years, Chess for Success has reached 45,600 students, supplied 114,000 chess sets, and provided 1,824,000 hours of after-school chess lessons.

Chess for Success is grateful our community has risen to the occasion to help students reach their full potential through chess. We would like to thank our coaches, volunteers, donors, and advocates as well as the families of our participants. You are the unsung heroes of the program, and we are successful because of you.

Research found that students involved in Chess for Success had higher math and reading test scores than their peers. Participation in chess club led to an increased interest in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) for boys and girls. Our nation is facing an increased need for people in STEM careers. Encouraging children to play chess puts many of them on the path to STEM careers, an opportunity many need.

We are committed to our mission. I encourage you to support Chess for Success. There are programs in 22 school districts across 10 counties, and tournaments are held around the state from January through March. I invite you to visit a club to watch the joy chess brings to our participants. There is nothing like it.