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Chess & Charity Combination Scores a Touchdown Print E-mail
By Paul Swaney   
February 6, 2013
Stacey, Brian, Garrett, & Gabby Heller
On Super Bowl Sunday close to 70 players gave up their afternoons to come and support the 2nd annual Chess 4 Charity event in Vienna, Virginia. The Heller family of Stacey, Brian, Garrett, and Gabby started the tradition last year with the aim of finding charities to donate all the tournament profits to once or twice a year.

The charity event idea was born last year when the brother and sister team of Garrett and Gabby presented the concept to their parents. Parents, Brian and Stacey were touched and could not help but make this dream of their children a reality. This year the family found a way to help the Hurricane Sandy victims through the Red Cross Relief Effort. Their goal was to raise $4,000 dollars, double the amount that they raised for last year’s event for the Ronald McDonald House of Charities of Greater DC. The community responded generously and the charity generated over $5,000 dollars!

The creators of Chess 4 Charity Garrett and Gabby Heller

Gabby and Garrett gave a brief speech at the beginning of the event thanking all the participants and families for making time for this cause. They spoke on the importance of charity events and encouraged others to walk in their footsteps. One idea I enjoyed hearing was when Gabby said, “We want to encourage all the kids to find ways to make time for charity with whatever activity they might be involved with, just because we are small does not mean that we cannot make a difference!” As a chess coach, this is the kind of teamwork, sportsmanship, and problem solving skills I am inspired to see!

There were several volunteers that came forward to lend their support. Two local tournament directors Paul Serrano of Sterling Chess and Anand Dommalapati of Chess Kids Va donated their afternoon to running the tournament. The US Chess Center in Washington DC donated the use of all the chess sets that were used during the event. I enjoyed helping out in the tournament room, answering chess questions, analyzing some of the student’s games, and donating about 50 chess books for prizes.

Rated quads


There were several rated and unrated quads running simultaneously throughout the day. The overall vibe of the day was not what you might experience at scholastic chess tournaments. It was not about wins and losses so much as it was about supporting a good cause and having fun! Today, everyone walked away a winner…

Here, top quad winner Camden Wiseman playing black found a simple tactic to end the tournament with a perfect 3-0 result!

The Hellers are excited and inspired to continue the tradition in the near future. Brian and Stacey’s goal is for their children to take complete control and responsibility of the event and to keep it going for many years to come. They believe that this is a wonderful learning opportunity for their children and will keep them thinking of others who might be in need of a hand.

Please visit to donate, read more about their story and charities, list of all the sponsors, and to get news on future Chess 4 Charity events.

August - Chess Life Online 2013

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