Student Chess Players Vs. the White House Staff

by Bladimir Castillo

On Thursday, April 8 1999, several high school students who are attending Montgomery Blair and who are members of the Chess for Success Club visited the White House office building to play chess with a group of senior White House staff members.

Mr. Fernando Moreno the sponsor of the club spoke to Mr. Bill White who works on the White House staff and he arranged this event. He got some staff members to play with the students.

At 12 o'clock on the big day, the club members and the White House staff members met in a conference room that had an interesting history. From 1965-1969 this room served as the office of Vice President Hubert Humphrey. During the Nixon years, President Nixon used it as a second office. During the Bush years, Mrs. Bush used it as her office.

Each Chess for Success member played with a different staff member of the President. Camilo Torres played with Jay Dunn. Roy Peña played with Mona Mohib. Ngan Nguyen played with Bill White. Matthew Harding played with Jonathan Young. Binh Tran played with Sean O'Shea. After they played one match they all changed players. They played 16 matches of which the students won 15 and the White House staff members won 1.

According to Bill White, "The purpose of the event was to test the skills of the Chess for Success players against the President's staff." Unfortunately the White House staff members didn't do well. "It was a resolving defeat of the White House and a tremendous victory for the Chess for Success players," added Mr. White.

Mr. Moreno hoped this would help the club members show their skills. "This experience will expose the players to think positively towards the future and inspire them to set high goals," he said.

Matthew Harding, one of the students, felt very happy for this opportunity. "I liked it a lot. It gave me the chance to know the White House staff." he said.

Ngan Nguyen has won several tournaments around the Metropolitan area of Washington D.C and is one of the most talented players of the club. "I felt special," he said. "I will never forget it."

"The students use the game of chess, as a vehicle to enhance the development of healthy, functional and successful students," said Mr. Moreno.

Mr. Moreno added that research has shown that chess is an effective means of teaching critical thinking skills. More importantly, chess improves social skills by teaching responsibility, discipline and concentration while improving self-esteem.

"Chess is ideal for teaching all of us that, although we come from various backgrounds and speak different languages, our minds can work in similar ways when trying to reach a goal." Mr. Moreno said.

Copyright © 1999, Silver International, Montgomery Blair H.S., Silver Spring, MD USA (This page was created by BG.)