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  • Writer's pictureHenry Lien


Updated: Apr 14, 2023

Welcome to the blog! I am excited to share my love of chess with you. I started teaching chess to elementary school kids in 2018 because playing chess has significantly bettered my life and I want to bring the game to others. My first time playing chess was at a school tournament in first grade. I did well enough that the coach asked me to join the team. I remember how proud I was. This came at a time when I was struggling with a speech impediment and handwriting dysgraphia so it was especially impactful to be told I was good at something.

I began taking lessons after school with Lanette and Jeff Gordon, the "parents"of Marin Chess and participating in state tournaments on behalf of my school. My win/loss record was just in the middle of the pack but I really enjoyed the camaraderie of going to tournaments with my friends and hanging out with them between matches. I liked it so much that I started going to Lanette and Jeff's summer camp where I learned a fun game called bughouse. We would play chess for a few hours and then run around their yard and Lanette always had delicious treats for us.

Jeff and Lanette believed in my potential and would give me sound advice that I followed to the best of my ability (which was not very much!) Mainly, Jeff wanted me to slow down and look at the whole board, which is crucial for anyone to be a good chessplayer. During those years, I was most interested in how quickly I could finish. Even though I didn't win, Lanette and Jeff were always supportive of me and encouraged me to keep playing.

When I was in 5th grade, I tied for 1st to be the CalChess state champion for the JV section. The trophy was almost as tall as me. I remember the feeling of accomplishment. I stopped competing in tournaments soon after that to pursue other interests like musical theatre and soccer but kept playing and taking lessons purely for the fun of it.

Now, I love to teach chess and I have returned to play competitively. I am currently ranked 1700 and I am training to be a master. It isn't easy but I have finally internalized Jeff's most important lesson which is to take my time and make every move count.

Chess can serve many functions for people from a social interaction to a serious endeavor. Like Lanette and Jeff, I don't know how my students will wind up using chess but I want them to know how to play and enjoy playing the game which is a skill they will have for the rest of their life.

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