About The Founder

The Founder of the Richmond Chess Initiative Is Michael (Mike) Anthony Callaham.  Mr. Callaham learned how to play chess from a friend of his mother at the age of 14.  Having to work after school to pay his tuition and help support his family, made it impossible to participate at his high school chess club.  After leaving school Mr Callaham picked up chess again at the age of 17 during down time while working at a car wash.  He has never put it down again.

Mr. Callaham’s chess career spans 30 years and has been on 2 continents.  Mr. Callaham chess experience covers every area of chess activity!  Since this page is about him let’s go into some detail!?

Mr Callaham enjoyed a rating high of 1943 as early as 2007!  He is currently ranked within the top 9% of all the active players in the country and in the top 7% of all the active players in the state!  As a player Mr. Callaham has played chess everywhere he’s lived.  The east coast from NY-SC, Spain, Italy, England, and Germany.  While stationed in Germany he played 4th board on the  Deitzenbach City and 2nd board on the Offenbach City teams.  As a player Mr. Callaham has scored wins against the State champions and/or former state champions of VA, West VA, and SC.  Mr. Callaham’s  most rapid period of growth saw his rating go from 1628 to 1903 in just 12 months.  He scored 36 points from 48 games!  This created the basis for his exponential learning system!  Mr. Callaham still has a goal of becoming a Candidate Master and will be participating in this year’s State Championships!

Mike has a long history as a tournament director.  While stationed in Germany he was the chief tournament director for the European chess district for 2yrs.  His crowning accomplishments there were chief tournament director for the 7th Corp and Army Europe Championships.  He attained the title of local director and maintained that through 1990.  He currently holds a club level directorship.

Organizer.  Mike started out organizing base championships.  By the time he left Germany he was the co-director of the European Chess District.  This was an organization that organized tournaments and a newsletter for more than 600 service members stationed throughout the European theatre.  He organized the Dover, DE chess club after over a decade of that capital city being dead for chess.  He did the same thing in Columbia SC,  And intends to do the same thing here in Richmond!

Coaching:  Coach Callaham does all types of coaching for pupils of all ages and groups of all sizes.  Coach Callaham is a United States Chess Federation, USCF Certified, District Chess Coach.  At this writing there are only 24 coaches in the entire country that hold this credential and he is 1 of only 2 in VA!  Coach Mike C is one of the few coaches out there that is serious about tournament training!  ” Everyone can teach you how to play, it’s a totally different animal to teach them how to study efficiently and compete!”  4 students stand out over the last 3 years; Arvind Chava went from 501 to 1214 in just 12 months.  Kaustav Rajesh went from 595 to 1016 between Dec 2011 and March of 2012.  We did it in just 24 games.  Ronit Jain, with only 4 training sessions, went from 669 to 894 in just 4 events between August and November of last year.  After 3 months of training Daniel Jones took the trophy for best performance by a player in their 1st tournament at the State Championships.  Allison Hughes between Nov 2013 and May of 2014 received 16 lessons Her rating improved from 412 to 962! In 2013/2014. Tuckahoe Elementary School 1st place and 2nd place in their 2 tournaments and 2nd place in the k5 at the same 2 tournament. With the help of the VSCA, the US Chess Trust and Carolyn Goode,(a S.P.A.C.E. teacher and long time chess lover) we were able to get more than 15 RPS children to a club meeting and 10 to a USCF tournament. As Coach of Thompson Middle school he helped them earn a 1st place showing in June of 2013 against statewide competition.

Columnist and Analyst.  Mike has distinguished himself as a writer and columnist.  He created and wrote a column for the Dover Post of Dover De.  Mike was the staff analyst  for the European Chess District for over 18 months.  He analyzes games for his students and is the staff analyst for the VSCA’s newsletter column, “It’s Your Move”!  Mike researches and writes all of his own training and camp material to ensure that he will be giving the student and accurate perception of the game.  Mike states that more than 75% of his training material comes from correcting attacking or defensive inaccuracies of puzzles or analyst!!

Theoretician.  Mike believes every puzzle is inaccurate until proven differently.  Mike says that over half of the tactics and strategy exercises people are studying have errors that can really hurt their game. Annotators are constantly quoting variations that do not work under critical scrutiny, even when reporting on the world championships!  To Mike’s credit, he does have some proof.  Mike cooked a position from Irving Chernev’s, Combinations, The Heart of Chess that was published in Chess Life magazine in August of 1986.  In September of 1986 Mike was published again for pointing out a bad line in the Philidor’s Defense he had found in the Encyclopedia of Chess Openings Volume C.  Only masters can claim having their theoretical work published in back to back issues of a national chess magazine!  In 2010 Mike blew the lid off Philidor Defense opening theory again with an article he wrote for the Va Newsletter.  In his 6 page article, he reviewed the available books on the Philidor’s Defense, destroyed the Pickett line that had been the standard in the opening for over 50 years, and demonstrated an entirely off the grid gambit attack that he had used successfully against 2 state champions and a career expert!  He has fittingly named it the Callaham Attack and is teaching it to select students!

Philanthropist;  In the last 5 years Coach Callaham has donated coaching, chess mentoring, coach training, simultaneous exhibitions,  materials, home and public analysis, and his own money to increase and/or improve chess activities throughout central Virginia. Coach Callaham has performed volunteer services for Richmond Public Schools, The Virginia Scholastic Chess Association, VSCA, Henrico County Schools, Nandua, Smithfield, Fork Union, Newport News, Va Beach, Williamsburg, Hopewell, Norfolk etc.

VSCA-Secretary  Mike Callaham is the Secretary of the Virginia Scholastic Chess Association.  The VSCA is non-profit group of volunteers that oversees, directs, and encourages children’s chess.  In addition to his other duties as secretary, Coach Callaham provides free analysis at all of the VSCA tournaments, free analysis of any games sent to him by the members, free simultaneous exhibitions to school clubs, free coach training, and free classes to school clubs throughout central VA.!

VCF Board Member, Mike is a Board Member of the Virginia Chess Federation. This is the USCF recognized state organization. The VCF is a non-profit group of volunteers that for more than 80 years has been helping to educate and promote chess across the entire state.

Author:  Coach Callaham is in the process of finishing 2 books which we hope to see within the next 6 months.  One is entitled, “Before You Move” a tournament prep book.  Every thing a tournament player needs to know about rapid improvement without the 25 book wait!?  And the other is, “Let Them Have It”  a companion book to a great existing work.

Thank you for your time.  I hope you found this to be interesting reading.  Please find one way you can help RCI put a kid on the road to scholarship!


3 thoughts on “About The Founder

  1. Can’t say enough wonderful things about Mike Callaham. My son recently submitted a game for review while at the National Elementary Championships in Nashville. Mr. Callaham completed a thorough review with suggested variations and commentary within a matter of a couple of hours. The review came back so fast that my son was actually able to read it and take some of the insights into his next round!

    This is a guy that pours his heart and soul into scholastic chess. He cares about the game, and about the kids, and it shows!

    Thanks so much for all you do for scholastic chess Mike!

    …Mike Rousseau, Forest, VA

  2. I have recently gotten to know Mike and observed him patiently teaching kids. “In this position, how many ways can the king be checked? If you mone there as white, what are the next moves-black, white, black, white, black. Be patient. Listen to me.” Yes, he is definitely a coach that cares. He’s authentic.

  3. Mr. Callaham is certainly very knowledge about how to play chess and how to train kids playing chess. I was very impressed to watch him teaching my son how to think, visualize and analyze each move in the game. As my son said to me:”Coach Mike didn’t just teach me what to do, he showed me how to think.”

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