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CHESSDEFENDER: Victoria Winifred


Parent-Teacher Conferences, 7 pm, New York City, 2007:

The man’s solemn eyes scanned my classroom as I introduced myself, and he took his seat across from me. He remained silent while I chattered on about his child’s positivity, academics, and future goals. His shifting body language told me there was something specific he had planned to say before he’d even entered my room.

And I was right. At the first pause in my presentation, he leaned forward, his face unreadable.

“My son tells me a lot of chess is played in this classroom.”

Inwardly, I flinched. I’d been anticipating this, and the time had come to defend my reasoning. In my second year of teaching, I was a fourth-grade teacher of all subjects. I’d recently gone all-in and embraced chess as the theme for my classroom community. Indeed, my planning connected our objectives and activities with parallels to the game, and synthesized it into most of our lesson extensions and culminating projects. And undeniably, this sometimes led to the choice time activity of classmates playing the game with each other.

Well, maybe not just sometimes. Daily…

“Yes, we do play it often.” I took a breath, and searched through my papers for my prepared statistics. “But it’s not just a game. Numerous studies have shown that chess—”

“How can I learn this game so I can play it with him?”

I looked up. THAT was his question?!

His eyes were wide with anticipation, and he was smiling.

And so was I.

Three Reasons Why Chess Made it to My Classroom

A Mythological Chess Fantasy
1. In early 2007, as I walked down the hall, I noticed students quietly playing chess in an after-school
classroom. It intrigued me, even though I hadn’t played the game since I was a young child.
2. Just the discussion of adding chess to our activities had an immediate effect of capturing even the most
distracted students’ attention.
3. Last but most important: There were materials, professional development, and ongoing encouragement available provided by the local Chess In The Schools program serving New York City. In my new role as an education consultant to Chess in Schools (not affiliated with Chess in The Schools) and contributing writer to the national Chess in Education Initiative, I am here to empower you and provide you with support, facts, resources, and inspiration to help get and develop chess in your classroom as a powerful learning tool and motivator.

Welcome to my ChessDefender Blog!


My name is Victoria Winifred. I’ve been teaching elementary students since 2006, and my rosters have included gifted and talented populations as well as inclusive classrooms. Doubly certified as a mentor for teachers, I also have a graduate certificate in Chess in Education. I’m here to provide support, strategies, facts, and resources for including chess in your classroom, regardless of the demographics of your students.

I am also the author of a new book.

Future Blogs

Future blogs will include:

  • The power of chess in classroom management
  • Reactions of administrators, colleagues, parents, and students to the integration of chess into the
    classroom and subsequent developments
  • Strategies and facts to help back you up on incorporating chess in your curriculum
  • Chess tie-ins and parallels with various disciplines
  • Chess and critical thinking
  • Beautiful examples from around the country and world of chess programs in motion
  • How lives are changed by chess

What would help you? I welcome your ideas and questions, and would love to hear about your own experiences on the topic.

Your feedback will be considered for the blog if submitted. (Permission will first be asked if selected.)

Please write me at

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