By Bert Eljera
LAS VEGAS – A Filipino-American chess school has been featured on the cover of Chess Life, monthly magazine of the U.S. Chess Federation in recognition of its efforts to promote chess among young people in the Bay Area.
NorCal House of Chess in Fremont, California was honored on the cover of the magazine’s May issue for winning an unprecedented third national U.S. amateur team championships, among many other accomplishments this year.
“We’re very happy and excited because it seems our hard work has paid off,” said Ted Castro, founder of the chess school. “We’re proud that we not only can teach but show our students by example how to win championships.”
A life-long chess enthusiast, Castro opened NorCal after teaching chess to several kids and getting early success, including mentoring an eighth-year-old, who became the world’s youngest FIDE master, a title bestowed to normally older players.
The school has won team titles in the regional and state level as well. In addition, Castro’s students have captured individual honors, including the gold medal in the North American Youth championships in Mexico.
Another student, Ashrita Eswaran, won the U.S. Junior Girls championship last week in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and will compete in the World Youth championship in Greece later this year.
Fourteen other students are taking part in the Greece Youth championships, and five others are going to Colombia for the Pam Am Youth tournament.
“It’s been a great year, and we’re not even halfway there,” Castro said.
Aside from developing chess players, Castro said they are also keen on hiring coaches, particularly Filipino grandmasters.
“They are great teachers – and we can also provide them jobs,” said Castro, who has on his staff Grandmasters Enrico Sevillano, Ricardo de Guzman and FM Ronald Cusi.
Most of the 100 or so students admitted to the school each year, few are Filipino-Americans, however, and Castro said he wants to see more of them.
With plans to open similar schools in Canada and Los Angeles, and maybe in the Philippines, more Filipino and Filipino-American kids are expected to join, he said.
Castro said that right now, the school is self-funded. “But we hope to strike up partnerships and sponsorships with more companies to train more kids and hire more coaches,” he said.