International Conference to Highlight Booming Digital Chess Realm

ChessTech2020 will be held virtually this weekend, December 5-6, as the first international conference covering all online and digital aspects of chess – a particularly timely conference, since nearly everyone is interacting with chess in virtual spaces rather than over-the-board.  

Conference topics are set to include both playing and teaching chess online, using self-learning systems, as well as chess through various journalistic mediums. Featuring presenters from all over the world, the U.S. is especially well-represented with a host of presenters representing American companies like, one of the virtual event’s sponsors.  

Registration to attend ChessTech2020, as well as more information on the conference, can be found on its website. Below is a small list of presenters who may be familiar to American audiences, and who are confirmed for Saturday and Sunday. Note that the conference schedule continually updates and may have changed since this article’s publication. 

ChessTech2020 Presenters on Saturday, December 5: 

Roland Walker is the director of research for and will present about best practices in anti-cheating. Walker deals with the mathematics behind’s cheat-detection algorithms, and has found that World Champion GM Magnus Carlsen is the most-accurate of any historical player his team has analyzed. 

Jim Egerton is the CEO and owner of Business on the Board. He teaches business people to use chess strategies to maximize competitive advantages, and presents reasons to sponsor chess today. 

Greg Shahade is the founder of the PRO Chess League and will join the Champions Chess Tour's Arne Horvej and others in a round table discussion asking Is Chess an eSport?

David Joerg presents on developments in chess learning technology. The chief learning officer for, Joerg is also the creator of "Learn Chess with Dr. Wolf," a virtual chess coach app with over one million installs around the world.  

Jerry Nash will present on Strategic Resources for Chess in Education, as the national chess education consultant for the Alabama Chess in Schools Initiative.  

Macauley Peterson will be confirmed as the facilitator of ChessTech2020’s Business Pitch Competition: Best Chess Startup 2020. He was the chief editor for the ChessBase news site for three years, and also the former content director for Chess24. He recently graduated in Law and Business from the Bucerius Law School. 

Judit Sztaray  is the general manager of youth outreach and events for the Mechanics’ Institute in San Francisco, presenting on issues in an online chess environment. Sztaray holds a Ph.D. in chemistry and was named the 2017 Organizer of the Year by US Chess. 

Chris Callahan is a chess coach who works with the Charlotte Chess Center, helping promote events, edit code, and smooth the overall experience for online users. He is also a Lichess volunteer who will present on open-source chess.  

Salome Thomas-EL is perhaps more famous outside the chess world than inside. Through appearances on the television show Dr. Oz and on National Public Radio, Thomas-EL has been called a “superstar educator” who says chess is important to the schools he leads. 

ChessTech2020 Presenters on Sunday, December 6: 

Jennifer Shahade and Adia Onyango will join a Q&A interview about online projects for girls and women. Shahade is the women’s program director for US Chess, commentates for the Saint Louis Chess Club, and heads two podcasts and a Twitch channel. She is also a professional poker player, as well as a two-time US Women’s chess champion. Onyango is worldwide chess traveler and chair of the US Women’s Chess committee

John Hartmann, Ben Johnson and Dylan Loeb McClain will present together on new formats for chess journalism. Hartmann is the editor of Chess Life and Chess Life Online for US Chess, and Johnson is the host of The Perpetual Chess Podcast which recently celebrated its 200th episode with special guest GM Boris Gelfand. McClain is a master known for his chess writing in The New York Times, and also created the chess news digest series, The Check Weekly

Mike Klein is the director of content for and, pre-pandemic, was the face of the booth. Known as FunMasterMike online, his ChessKid videos have earned him fame among kids worldwide. Last year, he was particularly excited to learn that he was the preferred teacher for former World Champion GM Viswanathan Anand’s son. Klein will present on the topic of online tournament services, with a second presentation on artificial intelligence and chess variants.

Elizabeth Spiegel is the 2019 Chess Educator of the Year and will present on chess education. She was featured in Brooklyn Castle, a documentary film about her school’s championship-winning chess teams and players. 

Alexey Root is presenting on psychological issues in chess. The 1989 US Women’s Chess Champion, Root has a Ph.D. in education and is the author of seven books about chess in education. 

Ranae Bartlett is the executive director of the Madison City Chess League, a past U.S. District Court law clerk, and now the director of education for She will present on chess in education and show how her district uses ChessKid in every school.  

James Canty is a National Master from Detroit, presenting on streaming chess. Canty is fast becoming one of the most popular chess streamers while also pursuing the GM title – reflected in his channel name:


A full list of international presenters can be found at ChessTech2020 is set to kickoff Saturday at 9:00 a.m. GMT (4:00 a.m. eastern U.S. time) with comments by FIDE president Arkady Dvorkovich, European Chess Federation president Zurab Azmaiparashvili and conference director John Foley. 

General admission tickets have sold out but professional and conference tickets, which provide entry to special sessions and exclusive social networking, may be found here.

ChessTech2020 Quick Links: 

Main conference page 

Speaker list 

Saturday Program 

Sunday Program 

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