Chessmates Founder/Owner established 2008
USCF National Chess Master
Colorado State Blitz Champion 2014
Colorado Open Co-Champion 2014
Colorado Closed Invitational 2nd place 2014
Past Colorado State Chess Association Scholastic Director
Past US National Scholastic sixth grade 3rd place
When did you start playing chess? Why?
I learned to play chess when I was four years old. I played a lot with both my parents. An amusing memory; when I was still four I would play chess with my mom outside my sister’s ballerina dancing class. Other parents were surprised I was winning against her. I remember how good it made me feel and never want to forget that joy when I am teaching young students. I played in my first scholastic tournament when I was eight and finished 2nd after getting back rank mated when I was totally winning in the final round! I was still very happy when I was awarded my first trophy. We even had local Fort Collins TV coverage and made the local news.
What is your memorable game?
I will share two new ones below… the first was a nice positional win over an International Master and the other a pretty tactical victory over a FIDE Master.
I’ve been playing in a number of great tournaments around the US in the past few years; National Open, Pacific Coast Open, San Diego Championship, St. Louis Open and some smaller master events in California; San Francisco, Los Angeles, Malibu.. along with more in Washington DC, Las Vegas and Florida.
I love endgames and have worked hard with endgame studies and count Grandmaster Pal Benko’s Chess Life endgame series and International Master Jeremy Sillman’s Chess Endgame Course as wonderful teaching tools. Many grandmasters recommend teaching chess from the endgame and that is always a priority in my chess classes and lessons.
Why do you like teaching chess?
For me its life. I love being around young people. Teaching them, sharing a laugh and doing all I can to foster an environment where kids learn pride, integrity, sportsmanship and develop life long relationships. I carefully handpick all my chess coaches. I look for good hearted people that love kids, have excellent teaching skills and advanced chess knowledge.
My goal with Chessmates is to encourage kids all over Colorado to play and learn chess. We are moving towards a dream I had many years ago in having a true chess program in every school in Ft. Collins. Chess has been proven to help kids math and reading scores as well as impact many important areas including logic, reasoning and problem solving. Chess is taught as a curriculum in the classroom in over 40 countries in the world.
In my own training, I am fortunate to have friends and mentors like Grandmasters Timur Gareyev, Alex Fishbein and International Master Keaton Kierwa. They have all been part of our chess camps and Ft. Collins Chessmates program. I also also use Chessbase, a program that has millions of games and rates moves success rates and frequency played in tournaments.
What other activities do you enjoy?
Life begins and ends with my personal faith. My wonderful wife, Deanna and my daughters Layla and Nicole are the best and most priceless things in my life.
I am a bit of a craftsman and make the wooden chessboards we give annually for awards at our school year ending tournament. I love to remodel houses and take pride in a job well done. I come from a large family and we enjoy hunting and fishing together.
I wrestled in high school and qualified for the state tournament every year. The strength and discipline required in wrestling and my even new passion of daily tennis matches both very much relate to the strategy, focus and will power chess students learn in chess.
You started an amazing organization when you started Chessmates. Can share some of that story?
During my senior year of high school I won a $1,000 scholarship with my Chessmates idea for a business venture. During the first couple of years Chessmates was coming together, I worked construction, worked on my chess game and never stopped believing. When I approached schools about putting in a chess program, I probably was rejected twenty times before finally we got a trial at one school… it went well. Then I had three schools and now all these years later we have most of Ft.Collins and are adding classes in Windsor and Loveland. We had a class in Greeley last year and I taught a full time chess program at Poder in Cheyenne last year. We now include and impact many hundreds of students and Wyoming and Colorado have been ranked as high as number one and two in percentage of new USCF chess members largely impacted by Chessmates.
It’s an exciting time as former students are becoming great chess coaches and new students are learning to play everyday life is all good!