US Chess Accepting Nominations for Dan Heisman Award for Excellence in Chess Instruction

Deadline approaching! The deadline for nominations is May 23, 2022 at 5 p.m. CT.

US Chess is accepting nominations for the Dan Heisman Award for Excellence in Chess Instruction.

This annual award recognizes a chess instructor who has demonstrated long-standing commitment to developing chess players, in service to the chess and broader communities. A chess instructor is a teacher first and foremost. While a coach often has these same attributes, an instructor conveys a broader concept.

This award is made possible through a generous gift from Dan Heisman, whose family has a long history of supporting philanthropic causes.

“It occurred to me that there was no award recognizing excellence in the field of chess instruction,” Heisman said. “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."

Heisman also believes the award is opportunity to highlight and celebrate the importance and value of chess instruction. "It is my hope that acknowledging outstanding chess instructors will create a greater awareness of their indispensable contributions to the game of chess.”

Bruce Pandolfini was the first award winner, receiving the honor in 2021.


Key attributes of potential winners include:

  • 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 

To be considered for the award, a nominee:

  • 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
  • Be recognized in the US Chess Annual Report
  • Receive a $500 cash prize
  • Receive a plaque


The US Chess Executive Board will review nominations, which can be submitted online here.

The deadline for submissions is Monday, May 23 at 5 p.m. CT.