GM Maurice Ashley plays a simultaneous exhibition at the US Chess Center.

The U.S. Chess Center teaches chess to children in the D.C. metro area as a means of improving their academic and social skills. In 2017, the Center received a Congressional Certificate of Special Recognition from Representative Jamie Raskin on the occasion of our 25th anniversary. Since 1992, we have taught the game of chess to more than 35,000 schoolchildren in well over one hundred schools in the National Capital Area. Many studies have indicated that learning chess at a young age is highly correlated with academic achievement. A 501(c)(3) charitable organization, the Chess Center focuses on children in need in Washington, D.C., and its surrounding jurisdictions.

Rep. Jamie Raskin presents a Congressional Certificate of Special Recognition to David Mehler of the U.S. Chess Center as World Champion Garry Kasparov looks on.
Rep. Jamie Raskin presents a Congressional Certificate of Special Recognition to
David Mehler of the U.S. Chess Center as World Champion Garry Kasparov looks on.

The Chess Center offers weekend chess classes, chess camps, scholastic tournaments, and classroom-based chess training. The Chess Center also supports school chess clubs and works closely with public and charter schools in the Washington, D.C., region to promote chess. Our program teaches students to make positive choices and produces people who can enter higher education or the work force with the critical thinking skills they need to succeed. The foundation we help children build improves their academic and social skills.

Through your donation, we can teach chess to children who are unable otherwise to afford our services, giving them the thinking skills they will use for life.


Our Mission

The U.S. Chess Center teaches chess to children and teens as a means of improving their academic and social skills.

We provide students from throughout the Washington metropolitan area opportunities to meet as friends and equals over the chessboard at our weekend classes, tournaments, and special events. Our student programs have hosted World Champion Garry Kasparov, the national champions of Nigeria and Montenegro, and International Grandmasters including Maurice Ashley, the first African-American Grandmaster. Our students have played Internet matches with students from the Czech Republic, China, Norway, and Montenegro.


Our History

The concept for the U.S. Chess Center started in 1989 when World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov came to Washington, D.C., to introduce the idea of using chess to battle drug use among children. He secured support for two weeks of summer chess camp for 50 children living in public housing developments held at the Capital Children’s Museum. David Mehler, then a practicing attorney and now the President & Founder of the U.S. Chess Center, taught the camp, which received great reviews from the participating students and the media.

The children who learned chess thrived on the game, starting chess clubs upon returning to their schools in the fall. Their teachers were impressed with the students’ newfound interest in intellectual subjects and encouraged more chess activity.

The following summer another series of chess camps for District youth was run at the Museum. Again, the program was a great success. Children from the camps started chess clubs at their schools. Teachers noted that students' behavior improved upon learning chess.

Feeling that chess could serve many valuable goals, several community leaders started forming the idea that was to become the U.S. Chess Center.

Our goals included:

After an intensive year of work, in the summer of 1992, the third session of the summer camp became the initial program of the newly established U.S. Chess Center. Since then, the U.S. Chess Center has offered a wide range of classes in various locations in the city and its suburbs.


Accolades

In 2012, the U.S. Chess Center won the National U.S. Chess Federation Scholastic Service Award.
Congressman Jamie Raskin (8th District, MD) recognized the U.S. Chess Center's work by awarding a Special Congressional Recognition.
D.C. Councilmember Tommy Wells sponsored a Ceremonial Resolution in the Council of the District of Columbia recognizing the U.S. Chess Center's work.

Success Stories

Read letters from teachers and former students explaining how chess taught them invaluable skills to succeed in school and in life.


Staff & Teachers

Robert Teachey, Executive Director/Teacher

Robert Teachey, a nationally certified advanced chess coach, has been a U.S. Chess Center teacher since 2010 and in 2017 became its executive director. Before immersing himself in chess, Mr. Teachey designed electronic data communications systems. While an undergraduate, he taught electronics to high school students. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

David Mehler, Founder/President/Teacher

David Mehler is the Founder and President of the U.S. Chess Center. One of only five nationally certified professional chess coaches, Mehler has been teaching chess for about 45 years and has trained all of the U.S. Chess Center's teachers. His lesson plans, available on this website, are in use in dozens of chess programs throughout the country. His students range from beginners through national champions. He is the 2012 recipient of the United States Chess Federation's Scholastic Service Award and ten times was named Chess Coach of the Year in Virginia. An attorney by profession, Mr. Mehler has also been a high school and middle school classroom teacher.

Jeffrey Kramer, Executive Coordinator

Jeff Kramer has degrees in philosophy and law. He worked as an attorney in Washington for many years, specializing first in criminal defense and later in cases involving neglected or abused children. He also played numerous chess games at local clubs and in tournaments. Jeff is convinced that chess, when taught the right way, can help kids develop important skills and attributes.

Ronald Jones, Manager

Ronald Jones, the reigning District of Columbia Chess Champion, has been an instructor and manager at the U.S. Chess Center since 2008. He teaches students at Sunday Chess and handles numerous administrative tasks. Prior to coming to Washington, D.C., Mr. Jones was an active member of chess communities in Chicago, Atlanta, and New York, and has mentored many young players along the way. In 2008, Jones won first place in the Garry Kasparov Problem Solving Contest in Harlem.

Dan Maxwell, Teacher

Dan Maxwell has the title of national master.  After playing chess in many parts of the US and Europe as a representative of his school, his college, the army, or various chess clubs, he finds teaching chess to children to be a learning experience for himself as well as for his students.  He believes this incredible experience merits his enthusiasm and dedication.

Justin Swain, Teacher

Justin Swain has helped to run chess clubs and tournaments in the Washington D.C. area since joining the U.S. Chess Center as an instructor in early 2012. A graduate of St. Mary's College in southern Maryland, Justin has enjoyed chess as a pastime since he first learned to play in elementary school. After becoming acquainted with the U.S. Chess Center, he gained a new appreciation for the value of chess in an educational setting. Justin continues to be surprised at how chess helps to sharpen his students' minds, and the extent to which they can use problem-solving skills they have acquired through the game to succeed in the classroom.

Board of Directors

Dr. Derrick L. Cogburn, Executive Director, Institute on Disability and Public Policy; Faculty Director, Internet Governance Lab; and Associate Professor, School of International Service and Kogod School of Business, American University

Leonard Haynes, Executive Director, retired, White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges

Akshay Indusekar, Secretary, U.S. Chess Center; Senior Consultant - Booz Allen Hamilton; Founder, Chess Adaptive Reconditioning Program, U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command

David Mehler, Founder and President, U.S. Chess Center

Eugene Meyer, President and Executive Director, The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies

Ralph Mikell, Treasurer, U.S. Chess Center; President, D.C. Chess League

Dr. Pablo Molina, Chief Information Officer, Association of American Law Schools

Anthony Priest, Chief Operating Officer, Washington Education Zone

Marc Rotenberg, Chairman of the Board, U.S. Chess Center; President and Executive Director, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)