One Move at a Time: DOROT and Intergenerational Chess

Welcome to One Move at a Time, the show where we highlight people and organizations that are advancing our US Chess mission statement to Empower people, enrich lives, and enhance communities through chess. I’m Dan Lucas, the Senior Director of Strategic Communication at US Chess, and my guests today represent DOROT, named with the Hebrew word for “generations.” DOROT is a dynamic partnership of professionals and volunteers dedicated to enhancing the lives of homebound and homeless elders and fostering friendship and respect between the generations. Since 1976, DOROT has provided food, companionship, education, and cultural enrichment to thousands of elderly New Yorkers and those who care for them. Located on New York’s Upper West Side, DOROT is a non–sectarian, culturally Jewish agency open to all seniors, caregivers, and volunteers. 


Every Wednesday in Westchester, NY, a group comes together after school to meet face-to-face across the chessboard. Older adults and students in grades 9-12 teach and learn chess from one another while building mutually beneficial relationships in the process. They belong to an in-person Intergenerational After-School Chess program, established through DOROT. 

And while you may think it’s just the older adults showing the students how to play, the learning and teaching goes both ways, with everyone exhibiting patience, respect and an open mind to what they can learn from one another, including gaining new perspective on another generation. While everyone has a varying skill level, the one constant is the enthusiasm in the room. They all have a competitive spirit yet they’re quick to help and teach each other.

In addition to many of the players gaining confidence in the game, friendships often form, with the students and older adults sharing stories and creating meaningful connections. One of the older adults says the program is a wonderful way to help keep the older adults’ minds busy, as well as giving them the chance to serve as a grandparent of sorts for the teens. He says they’ve all made new friends – both older and younger – and added a new dimension of fun to their week.

Joining us today to talk about DOROT are Nathan Goldberg and Alex Mastey.

Alex is 15 years old and has been playing chess for about 8 years. This is his first year playing with DOROT. They met this year at the program. Alex heard about the program because his older brother participated in it when he was in high school.

Nathan Goldberg has been a lifelong chess player, first learning to play at age 6 or 7, and considers himself part of the Fischer genertion.  Self taught, his highest rating was 1999 (just below “Expert” level), about 25 years ago. He  started teaching chess in 1999 with Chess-in-the-Schools in NYC.  and become an elementary math teacher for the New York DOE (PS 119 in Parkchester), but continued to find ways to work chess into his curriculum.  Since retiring in 2017, he went back to teaching chess part time to elementary school children.  In the past couple years he began looking for ways to volunteer his services in meaningful ways.  He say, “I heard about DOROT’s chess program in October 2022, and joined up immediately!  It is a wonderful way to mingle with other older adults and high school kids in a community that shares my interest.  And I hope I make a difference in the lives of others who participate in the group.”

Watch the podcast on our US Chess YouTube channel: