New: Dan Heisman Award for Excellence in Chess Instruction

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Dan Heisman
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Dan Heisman receiving a US Chess Meritorious Service Award in 2007

Through a generous gift from Dan Heisman, US Chess now has an endowed annual award for excellence in chess instruction. According to Heisman, “When contemplating my own legacy, it occurred to me that there was no award recognizing excellence in the field of chess instruction. The Heisman family has a long history of supporting philanthropic causes, and I thought the time was right to establish an award that celebrates and honors the people behind the players – the men and women who impart their knowledge and help students develop skills so that they can more fully understand and appreciate the game and play to a higher level of proficiency. It is my hope that acknowledging outstanding chess instructors will create a greater awareness of their indispensable contributions to the game of chess.”  

The goal of the award is to provide an annual recognition to a Chess Instructor who has demonstrated long standing commitment to developing chess players and in service to the chess and broader community. A chess instructor is a teacher first and foremost. While a coach often has these same attributes, an instructor conveys a broader concept. 

In creating the award, a few key attributes of potential winners were discussed, including:

  • Commitment to bringing along students of the game, at all levels of progress
  • Length of service in chess instruction
  • Chess service outside of chess instruction 

The award criteria include the following:

  • Must be a US Chess Member in good standing and have been a member throughout the period for which the award relates
  • Does not have to be a “certified” coach
  • Does not have to have 1-1 private students (can just teach groups or give internet group lessons)
  • Can coach players better than themselves but not to the extent they are exclusively a trainer for top player(s)
  • Can only win the award once
  • Instructors who benefit large groups (via schools, books, internet, etc.) would have slight preference over those who only influence a few 

The winner will be:

  • Recognized at the U.S. Open Awards ceremony
  • Recognized in the US Chess Annual Report
  • Receive a $500 cash prize
  • Receive a plaque

The Executive Board will review submitted nominations, which can be submitted here. The deadline for nominations is Monday, May 24 at 5 pm CDT.

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