Posts Tagged ‘Alan Kirshner chess’

Calchess Scholastic Super State Championship: Preview 2

March 31, 2014

Throughout its 39 year history, there have been many great leaders who organized the Calchess Scholastic State Championships. Each of them has led with unique talents and in different circumstances. Tonight I present to you my brief interview with one of the best chess promoters in the history of California chess, Salman Azhar.

One of the best chess promoters in the history of California chess, Salman Azhar.

One of the best chess promoters in the history of California chess, Salman Azhar.


(For ease of reading, Salman’s answers to my questions are in bold)

When did you first learn how to move the chess pieces?
I first learned to move the pieces when I was four. My father and brother taught me how to play chess.
Why did you decide to get your boys involved in chess?
My oldest son started to learn chess Weibel and at a class taught by you. He was inspired by you and his other teachers and joined Weibel Chess team and went on to win many state championships for himself and help Weibel keep its winning streak alive in 2004.

Congratulations on Aamir(Salman’s oldest son) being recently accepted to Duke, Berkeley, and other schools. Do you feel chess has helped him in his scholastic career?

Chess has definitely helped him develop his analytic skills and logical thinking. He lost interest in competitive chess some time ago because he was targeted by some parents and coaches due to local chess politics.
Who first convinced you to start organizing tournaments?
Dr. Alan Kirshner hand picked me to run tournaments and was instrumental in my success. I owe much of what I have learned about organizing tournaments to Dr. Kirshner.
Why do you think Alan chose you?
I believe he said I was a, “combination of someone who is thorough and also who can interact with the people in a professional way.” I am honored to be his protege. 
A happy Alan Kirshner standing with Salman Azhar at the 36th Calchess Scholastic State Championship.

A happy Alan Kirshner standing with Salman Azhar at the 36th Calchess Scholastic State Championship.

This will be your seventh consecutive year organizing the Calchess Scholastic State Championships . What have you learned from running this tournament?
<smiling> As Richard Shorman said, “You will know the true nature of people.” I have learned a lot about human psychology and behavior and also developed the courage to do the right thing regardless of personal gain, external threats, financial temptations, and other things that cause many good people to lose your integrity.
Your name has become synonymous with quality tournaments. How has that changed your life?
There are many excellent organizers all over the world and I have a lot to learn. However, I do enjoy people coming up to me in restaurants, grocery stores, business meetings, and other places to express their appreciations. It helps me sleep better at night that I have given something back to the community that has given me so much.
One of your detractors was an individual who used to be your mentor and most vocal supporter. Why do you think that is?
I cannot speculate on someone else’s intentions but I have a lot of respect for him and have learned from him. I hope some day we overcome local adult politics and realize that scholastic chess is about children.
What is your advice to parents who have children who are currently attending Weibel Elementary School?
I don’t like to advise people who don’t ask for advice but I have always welcomed Weibel players and their parents at my tournaments. They should rise above the local chess politics and do what is best for their child(ren).
Why have you decided to rename the Calchess Scholastic State Championships the Calchess Super States?
This is patterned after National Super States indicating that it is a championship sections encompassing all grade levels. Many other states have separate elementary, junior high, and high school champions or Super States where all sections are in the same tournament.
Why do you think that you have become the most popular tournament organizer in the history of California chess?
You are a great danger to my desire to be humble, aren’t you? I see many shortcomings in every tournament I run and perhaps recognize them with humility so that I can improve the next time. This pholosophy has made me get better.
I am honored to be respected by this community and feel that honor is largely due to heeding Dr. Richard Feynman’s advise: “So I have just one wish for you – the good luck to be somewhere where you are free to maintain the kind of integrity I have described, and where you do not feel forced by a need to maintain your position in the organization, or financial support, or so on, to lose your integrity. May you have that freedom.”

What is the funniest moment you have ever experienced while running a chess tournament?

Most of them center around children trying to get out of touch move rule but the funniest was a child whose excuse was that he accidentally picked up the King to dig his nose.
What advice would you give to someone who plans on running their first large chess tournament?
Run small tournaments first and have a person who has run large tournaments watch your back when you run your first one. That his how my mentor and friend, Dr. Alan Kirshner, taught me.
You are also heavily involved in the High-tech industry? How do you think technology will change scholastic chess tournaments? What will a chess tournament look like in 20 years?
Yes, I am. I think computer analysis has already influenced the development of players. I think it is changing interactive teaching as well. Coaches like you are using iPads in their class. All this will help players get stronger much faster. However, I am concerned about taking the fun out of the experience of learning. 
I also think we will also see more online play but nothing can replace the social aspect of coming together physically for a tournament or a class.
For more information on this years tournament, please refer to “Calchess Scholastic Super State Championship: Preview 1.”


Chris Torres: A Chess Coach, a Music Teacher, and an Advocate for Quality Education.

August 22, 2013

Chris Torres has been successfully managing and creating school chess programs for his entire adult life. His most recognized accomplishments include the co-founding of Success Chess Schools, the creation of the Torres Chess and Music Academy and consistently coaching the best young chess players in California for 15 years.

Chris found himself drawn into chess education in 1998 when

Chris Torres is the Bay Area's chess coach.

Chris Torres is California’s chess coach.

Dr. Alan Kirshner needed a replacement teacher for his famous Weibel Chess Club. Chris was an obvious choice beause he had been teaching Alan’s son classical guitar and often played chess with the Kirshners. Soon after joining a group of chess instructors at Weibel, Chris coached his first state champion student. Copying from the success of the Weibel Chess Club, Chris went on to establish State Champion chess programs at Argonaut Elementary School in Saratoga and the Harker School in San Jose. Shortly later, Alan Kirshner promoted Chris to Vice President of Success Chess and Chris turned all of his independently run programs over to the newly formed nonprofit.

As vice president of Success Chess, Chris Torres established chess programs and taught chess at schools all around the Bay Area. Many of the schools still have chess programs to this day. Some of these chess programs are at: Warm Springs Elementary School(Fremont), Leitch Elementary School(Fremont), Mission Valley Elementary School(Fremont), Ardenwood Elementary School(Fremont), Gomes Elementary School(Fremont), Blue Hills Elementary School(Cupertino), Collins Elementary School(Cupertino), Dilworth Elementary School(Cupertino), Muir Elementary School(Cupertino), Regnart Elementary School(Cupertino) Matsumoto Elementary School(San Jose), Meyerholz Elementary School(San Jose), Silver Oak Elementary School(San Jose), Covington Elementary School(Los Altos), Duveneck Elementary School(Palo Alto), Palo Verde Elementary School(Palo Alto), International School of the Peninsula(Palo Alto), Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School(Palo Alto),  Laurel Elementary School(Atherton), Las Lomitas Elementary School(Atherton), John Muir Elementary School(San Bruno), Crestmoor Elementary School(San Bruno), Dougherty Elementary School(Dublin) and quite a few other schools. During his time at Success Chess, Chris Torres also became a notable tournament director and a board member for Calchess. Through Success Chess, Chris Torres was able to achieve his goals of bringing scholastic chess to children all over the Bay Area.

After leaving Success Chess Schools in 2004, Chris Torres spent several months working for Richard Peterson of the Chess Education Association. After the school year concluded, Richard suggested to Chris that he set up his own organization and offered to sell all of the chess equipment from the CEA at a discount price. A couple months later, the Torres Chess and Music Academy was born.

Through the Torres Chess and Music Academy, Chris Torres has brought world class instruction to California’s most talented young chess minds. Some of his accomplishments included running a “Chess Study” with the Kern County Superintendent of the Schools and U.C. Berkeley from 2006-2008. In addition to the study, Chris was able to educate the children in Kern County’s migrant farm worker community in chess and even coach them to prestigious Southern California regional chess titles. In the Bay Area, Chris was able to instruct several individual National Chess Champions as well as coach for the Mission San Jose Elementary School chess team alongside Joe Lonsdale, which in 2009 and 2013 took first place at the USCF Super Nationals Chess Championship. To date, no other elementary school from California has ever placed first in the Elementary Championship division of the USCF Super Nationals.

Acknowledged today as a pioneer in the field of chess and education, Chris Torres has been invited to speak at numerous educational forums and events. Aside from his reputation as a successful chess teacher, Chris is also known throughout the Silicon Valley as a top notch classical guitarist who still finds time to teach groups of youngsters the enjoyment of playing classical music.

Chess Players in Fremont, California are the Best in the United States

May 16, 2012

Two Schools in Fremont, California won National Championships at the recent United States Chess Federation’s National Elementary (k-6) Championships in Nashville, Tennessee.  Both Mission San Jose Elementary School and Weibel Elementary School have reputations of excellence in chess due to being the dominate teams at both state and national events. After their incredible results at the 2012 National Elementary (k-6) Championships, both teams seem determined to put Fremont, California on the map for being the city with the strongest scholastic chess clubs in the United States.

It was not an easy path for Weibel Elementary School at the 2012 National Elementary Chess Championships. In order to clinch the k-6 national championship, Weibel had to make a stunning comeback after being in fifth place with just one round to go.  Head Coach Alan Kirshner informed his team that the only chance they had to win the national title was if all four members won their final round games. Team members Kevin Moy(National Chess Champion), Michael Wang, Anthony Zhou and Steven Li answered his call and did just that. In doing so, Weibel became the second school from California ever to win the National Elementary k-6 chess championship. The first school to do this, in 2009, was their rival Mission San Jose Elementary School.

Winning first place team chess trophies is a regular occurrence at Mission San Jose Elementary School. Having taken all the Team State Championship trophies possible at the Calchess State Championships, Mission San Jose Elementary headed out to Nashville Tennessee with another National Championship in mind. Head coach Joe Lonsdale knew his kids’ chances were good of bringing home another national championship but also was acutely aware of the many other strong teams present at the National Elementary Chess Championships. At the end of the weekend, his youngest players in the k-1 championship section proved themselves to be the big heroes of the chess club. Rishith Susarla won six of seven games and tied for third place.  Rishith took home the fourth place trophy.  Edwin Thomas won scored 5.5 points (five wins and a draw) and tied for 15th place.  Amulya Harish, Annapoorni Meiyappan, and Kevin Pan each scored four points. By winning the k-1 national chess championship for the school, these young MSJE players have signaled to the other scholastic chess teams in California that Mission San Jose Elementary School’s supreme dynasty is likely to continue for years to come.

It is worth noting that players from both schools regularly attend camps and classes put on by the Torres Chess and Music Academy. For more information on our summer chess camps please visit

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