Chess Without Borders: Charity & Computers
By Rishi Sethi   
March 19, 2013
The non-profit Chess Without Borders based in Barrington, Il, demonstrates that many other skills can evolve from addressing the challenges we face in chess.  The mission of combining chess education with service and philanthropy presents constant challenges. Students are encouraged to use their imaginations to design projects that incorporate this mission. One such project was to start a computer center for students “our age” (quote by 11 year old Alec Onker) in an underprivileged school. The goal was to raise funds for 10 computers at this center to be used by students & families who otherwise would have no such access to technology. 

Following through on this plan, chess students and their families established a computer educational center at the Project Why School in Delhi, India. Project Why is a New Delhi (India) based non-profit organization engaged in education, support and life skill enhancement of slum children and their families. This computer center will bring computer literacy and chess education to about 200 families. 

Chess students demonstrated initiative, calculation, insight, planning, enterprise, and problem solving as they transformed themselves into social entrepreneurs. For example, 3rd grader Ethan Gagliano asked individuals to sponsor his games at a tournament raising $500 through his initiative. Other students sold food, held art exhibits, and helped with production and sales of a documentary produced by Chess Without Borders on another project. 

GM Shulman donated a portion of the money from the summer chess camps and his textbook sales to help make the computer center a reality. Parents inspired by the work of their students also made contributions towards this center. Joseph Ridgway, an accountant and professional photographer donated his time to photograph the event.

The computer center is named after teacher and chess organizer Ms. Maggie Gruber who was instrumental in bringing chess to the area and has dedicated the last ten years to promoting the mission of combining chess with service and philanthropy. The Maggie Gruber Computer Center will honor her work.

Last week the 5th Annual Chess Tournament was held at Hough Street Elementary School in Barrington, Il and 100% of the entire proceeds of the tournament were donated to charity. One of the sustained projects has been to support the medical treatment and education for a little girl, Meher, from the slums of Delhi, India. The other project was to establish this computer center. 

GM Shulman and 30 other volunteers donated their time, gifts, talents and services to make this a unique experience for both the givers and receivers of these charities. Adults volunteered with students to cook, clean, sell food to the approximately 250 visitors attending the tournament. 107 players registered to play in the event. A unique feature of the event was special homemade Middle Eastern food cooked by chess enthusiast and Microbiologist Zein Bertacchi. Several local businesses also contributed towards making this event special.
For more information about the program and its direct impact go to

Anyone who would like to participate in the program is welcome. An ipad version of the textbook is available on Itunes.