Thankful Thursday: Chess House

Each week, City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley will thank a person or organization for inspiring us in our service. This week Team Leader Sam Waller thanks Chess House for a generous donation for his Chess Masters Club.

This is the infamous paper chess board that the Chess Masters Club used for about a year.

During my first corps year, I ran a chess club called Chess Masters for a dozen middle school students. The only problem was, we didn’t have quality boards to play with. Our chessboards were cobbled together from miscellaneous pieces from other chess sets. We did not have a single set that had all its own pieces, and one of them had a board made from a piece of yellow construction paper with squares drawn on in black marker.

Pieces would drop, get stepped on, or roll away never to be found again. By the end of the year, we only had the construction paper board and miscellaneous pieces to use.  It was difficult getting the students to take the game seriously with these haphazard sets. As a Team Leader, I wanted to really provide something that felt real for my students in my second year of service; not something cobbled together.

After some googling, I came upon, and found the prices to be just right.  The team budget could handle paying out of pocket for four sets of durable, regulation size pieces and vinyl mats.  When the students got a hold of these, they where surprised by the weight and size of the sets.

These weren’t the dollar store variety from last year, these sets where built to be indestructible, and to play for years to come.  The tone these pieces set for the class was distinct, and every student knew that this year, the Chess Masters Club was serious business.

The day after the first lesson, a Chess House representative named Krista contacted me asking if the order came in and if I was satisfied with the product. I told her that it was more than satisfactory, and that I would need to get four more sets to accommodate the 17 students who signed up for the enrichment.

One of the students in Chess Masters contemplates his next move on one of the new chess sets from Chess House.

I also asked her if Chess House would be interested in donating any sets.  Within six hours, she had replied not only saying yes to the donation, but also to tell me that there would be FIVE sets out in the next day’s post courtesy of Raphael Neff, the owner Chess House.

If you are impressed by Chess House’s contribution and commitment to inspiring both the young and the old to develop new interests, skills, and confidence and challenging youth to think and learn, you can visit for more information.

Thank you Chess House for supporting City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley.  These sets will be invaluable for years to come.

Sam Waller, Team Leader CYSJ


One thought on “Thankful Thursday: Chess House

  1. Chess is fun and exciting offering wonderful opportunities to grow a childs self respect and build valuable social skills. Encouraging kids to study the game of chess is a great move you can make as a parent. Kids that are mentally gifted as well as children with lesser abilities and those that struggle in school will all benefit from the challenging game.Chess levels the playing field and allows every child an opportunity to succeed.

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