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Knight’s Tour: Chess for Charity Print E-mail
June 13, 2013
This article was scheduled to run as one of the July Chess Life's "Knight's Tour" items, but had to be cut for space reasons. Knight's Tour is a tournament travel section featuring events from the Tournament Life Announcements section. If you would like your event to be considered for this department, please write to [email protected].

Every year since 2003, on the first Sunday in August, about 80 players gather for a very unusual USCF-rated G/30 chess tournament just across the street from Philadelphia, in Wynnewood, PA. There are three sections but no entry fees, no set prize list, and all those involved volunteer their time. This event is the Holly Heisman Memorial charity fundraiser, to benefit the fund by that name at The Philadelphia Foundation (www.philafound.org ).

In 1994 Susan Hollis Bloom Heisman died after a nine-year bout against breast cancer. Holly was first a social worker, and then a travel agent. After her death, sister-in-law Eileen Heisman, then with The Philadelphia Foundation and currently President of the National Philanthropic Trust, suggested that the family start a charity trust in her name, with the charter of supporting three of the women's causes Holly worked for: runaway teens, battered wives, and breast cancer.

When I took over the coordination of the Fund from Eileen in 2003, I felt obligated to do something proactive to enhance its endowments and grants. Since chess was my living and, at that time, I was an active organizer and TD, I thought a tournament would be a great fundraiser, but how would it work? I had no models to use as a reference. So I came up with the ideas described above and contacted potential sponsors to donate prizes. Publishers donated books, online sites gave memberships, software companies gave samples of their software, individuals gave refurbished trophies, the Kaiserman Jewish Community Center provided the playing site and janitorial fees, and the USCF the TLA and rating fee.  Tax-deductible donations to the charity by participants were at first mandatory, and in later years became optional. No expense money is set aside - all donations are made out directly to The Philadelphia Foundation.

In recent years former student Howard Stern graciously donated a trip to his studio. At first I used this as a prize but this hardly attracted more donations. The good news is that I got to accompany the winner, and Howard twice put us live on his popular satellite radio show! Then Shawn Sullivan of House of Staunton brilliantly suggested Howard's contribution would be far more beneficial if auctioned off on EBay. That suggestion turned out to be worth more than all the other donations combined, as each year Howard fans around the country each year get to bid on a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

At first I was the main organizer and TD but, when I retired from those duties, new volunteers were found in Dr. Prananth Ramachandra and Joshua Anderson, respectively. Without their work, the tournament would not be entering its 11th year in 2013. As explained at the fund's Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/HollyHeismanMemorial, the 2012 grant of over $1,000 was made to the University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice, Evelyn Jacobs Orner Center of Family Violence.

Out-of-towners interested in playing in this unique event can stay two miles down the road at the Hilton Philadelphia City Avenue, at http://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/pennsylvania/hilton-philadelphia-city-avenue-PHLPHHF/index.html.  Besides the USCF TLA, more information is available about each year's event via my website www.danheisman.com. If you can't attend, but are interested in making a tax-deductible donation for women in need, you can do it by following the directions at the bottom of http://danheisman.home.comcast.net/~danheisman/Main_Chess/donations.htm. We are very grateful for any donations received.