Chess… Tool or Toy!?

If you want a chess scholarship from US Chess, here is the criteria.  Get on board as soon as possible.  Once you read this you should have a better understanding of why chess is such a good application builder and why chess deserves to be listed under the, “Accomplishments” instead of, “Hobbies and Interests”!  Chess can be a tool or a toy.  The choice is yours!!!

By US Chess|January 5, 2018|Administration, College, Kids, News
Are you a chess player and a scholar? If you’re a US Chess member, and a high school junior or senior, please apply for the 2018 Scholar-Chessplayer Award. Download the 2018 Scholar-Chessplayer Application (Word file).
If you are a current US Chess member you are eligible to apply for a 2018 National Scholar-Chessplayer award if you:

Played in at least 25 Regular-rated US Chess or FIDE games during calendar year 2017. Games that are not regular rated do not count towards the 25 game requirement.  

Have shown outstanding achievement both in academics and chess

Completed at least one year of chess-related community service since the beginning of 9th Grade

Articulate in an essay (of 500 words or less) how your selection as a 2018 Scholar-Chessplayer will enable you to further your education, and continue your chess activities in the future

A total of five awards of $1,500.00 each will be presented for a total of $7,500.00 in scholarship money. Previous recipients of this award are not eligible. These scholarships are awarded annually by US Chess, and funded by the US Chess Trust and The National Scholastic Chess Foundation. They recognize outstanding high school students who promote a positive image of chess.

Applications are available here.

Applications are scored equally in four areas: Academics, Chess Playing, Community Contributions, and the Personal Essay. Contact Susan Kantor, Scholastics Associate, at the US Chess Office, (931) 787-1234 x136 or email with any questions.

Your completed application consists of the documents listed below. Incomplete applications will not be evaluated by the selection committee.

The cover page of the Application, which contains basic information about yourself.

Your high school transcripts showing all courses and grades.
Your SAT or ACT scores (pre-SAT scores are not acceptable).
Evidence that you have played at least 25 US Chess or FIDE rated games during calendar year 2017.
A list and brief description of your best Chess Accomplishments.
Examples of your Chess-related Community Service since the beginning of 9th Grade or later.
A letter of recommendation from a teacher in a current or former school you have attended in 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th
A letter of recommendation from a Chess Coach or Tournament Director.
A letter of support from someone other than a parent, guardian or relative, attesting to the nature, duration and impact of your chess-related community service. We also encourage you to submit newspaper articles or web-based stories as evidence.
Your essay of no more than 500 words describing how your being recognized as a Scholar-Chessplayer would help you continue contributing to the greater US Chess community in the future.
OPTIONAL: A recent color photograph of yourself, either a headshot or full-length.
You can send your application to us in two ways—email or regular mail. If you use email, we must receive your application by Friday, March 2nd, 2018. If you send your application by one of many available postal carriers, it must be postmarked by midnight on Monday, February 26, 2018.

Recipients who attend the 2018 National High School Chess Championship in Columbus, OH on April 27th – 29th, 2018, will be recognized at the event. Attending the 2018 Nationals tournament is not a requirement to be eligible for the 2018 Scholar-ChessPlayer Award.

Send your completed application to:

US Chess Federation

Attn: Susan Kantor

P.O. Box 3967 Crossville, TN 38557-3967

OR Email – Attn: Susan Kantor at

No matter what you want to do in the field of chess, to be a complete chess personality means, you can’t play all the time!!  Strong coach, referee, and organizer activities and certifications will sometimes mitigate your rating, but never the other way around!!  Just being an applicant for this scholarship is an accomplishment worthy of discernment on a college or employment application!!  Master the rules, record your games, and continually prepare for increased leadership!  Stop playing around!! lol


k-3 student picks up 1132 points in just 65 games!

From 107-1010 in just 65 games.

Playing an average of just 5 tournament games a month, Saket Sambaraju has raised his rating from 107 – 1010!!  With help RCI coaching, the best chess mom a coach could ask for, and being tough when it counted Saket has learned how to improve and win at chess!  Saket became an RCI student last year just before the Commonwealth Games on July 23rd.   At the time, his tournament record was 1 – 9.  When I went over for the orientation, I just remember how happy and playful he was with the chess pieces at the board.  He was doing fake combinations, setting up pawn walls, and just generally goof balling.  Believe it or not, this is a good sign!  Stacking pieces to see how high you can get them… that’s another story!  When he and I played, he changed immediately into a serious thinker.  He had intensity.  I knew then and there he was going to be a great student. Just 5 weeks later he played in the VA Closed.  He played 5 games, and received best performance under 600 with a score of 3 – 2.  His rating jumped from 107 to 307.  He just kept smiling from ear to ear.  In total, Saket played 17 games in September and brought his rating up to 580.  Yes, that was 107 – 580 in just 17 games. His RCI record, 12 – 5.  Saket was proof that if you want your kids to really feel good about themselves when it comes to chess, it’s never to soon to start taking them to tournaments!  In October he took 1st place in the k-5 at Meadowdale with a perfect 4 – 0, then went 2 – 2 at a k-8 2 weeks later.  His rating jumps to 891.  That’s 784 points in just 25 games.  His RCI record is 18 – 7!!  Remember… 600 points in 24 games or you get a refund!!

Let’s take a moment to get in the chess students and parents heads for just a moment.  It’s really important in chess to stay grounded after success.  Once the winning begins, parents and players quite often feel ready to take on the world.  Remember this, when you raise the age group, you are having your child play against more mature children that have had to get their rating against other more mature players.  A k-5 player that is at 500 is not playing a player of equal strength even if the k-8 or a k-12 player has a rating of 500.  That k-8 you can add 100 – 150 points and the k-12 you can add 150 – 250.  If you want your child to play up, entering them in the class section of a non scholastic chess tournaments is in my opinion a better way to go!  Holding their own with and beating adults is what will really begin to make your child look at themselves differently!

For those reasons, Saket took a ding in December and January and his rating fell down to 762!  What Saket does next is what separates the tournament player from the enthusiast and it’s why you must be rated to impress anyone outside of America when you claim to be a chess player.  Saket’s enthusiasm was at an all time low.  He said it was getting tiresome and boring.  Translation: ” I can beat all of my friends and family members… these strangers are too tough.”  What did we do to correct it?  I sat Saket and his parents down and showed them the tournament records of all of his opponents.  I showed Saket his 1st 50 games and we compared his performance to theirs.  Over 90% of his opponents had played worse and had lower ratings than him at the 50 game mark.  Many of his opponents had played 2, 3, and even 4 times as many games as he had played and were not even over 1000 yet.  Saket and his parents were shocked.  Saket said, ” Why do they play so many games without their rating going up?”  I said, ” It’s because they always want to play and never want to study.  The other mistake they make is they don’t review their games to stop repeating the same or similar mistakes!”  He said, “Teach me openings!?” I didn’t think he was 100% ready to study openings but we went to work on them and he did extremely well. Since then he is 21.5 out of 31!  A 66% win ratio will keep your rating going up at any level! Last year he was k-3.  Watch out this kid is dangerous!!!!!

Want to become a dangerous chess player??  Join us every Thursday from 6-10 or get some private lessons from the best coach in VA.  804-426-6058. Mike Callaham.