Category Archives: General

Parent Volunteers – Please Read

     In order to be allowed to attend the Chess club meetings with your kids on Friday mornings, parent’s are required to fill out paperwork to become an official school volunteer.  

     One of the questions on the registration form contained links to the online and paper version of the volunteer application form.  The easiest method is to use the RRISD online Volunteer Form.  This link takes you to a page with a large button at the bottom of the screen with the text  “Apply”. Clicking that button takes you to the RRISD employment system.  It shows all the open jobs available, like bus drivers, cafeteria staff, custodians, crossing guards, etc.  Scroll to the very bottom and you will see a job titled 2017-2018 RRISD Volunteer.  Click the Apply button next to that position.  It will take you to a page where you need to create a login and a pin code.  Once logged in, you then fill out the necessary information and submit.  After you submit the application, you will not receive any feedback or further messages from RRISD unless there was a problem with your application.  

     The above online submission form requires you to enter your social security number.  If you do not have a social security number or do not want to send your SSN across the internet, they also provide a form that you can printout and submit.   Paper Volunteer Form.   (Available in English, Spanish, Mandarin and Korean).  In order to be processed, the completed paper application along with a photo copy of identification must be faxed to: Rachael Brunson, Community Partnerships Supervisor at (512) 464-5055.

Good luck parents!


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Club registration opens

Registration for the 2017-2018 school year has opened.  Please click on the About section above and then click on the Registration link.  That page gives some details about the registration process and a link to the Registration Form.

You can also click here to go directly to that page.

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Casis Elementary Tournament Results

Last weekend, 31 Spicewood chess club members attended the Casis Elementary School chess tournament.   The tournament consisted of 5 rounds of games each worth 1 point.  In total, our kids scored a total of 81 out of a possible 155 points. (52%) Overall, our team won team trophies in 4 sections:  2nd place in sections K-3 U500 and K-3 U800.  3rd place in sections K-5 U800 and K-5 Any.

Five Spicewood students received trophies for scoring in the top percentile of their groups:  Gavin Wang (5th place in K-3 U300), Vincent Yang (4th place in K-3 U500), Ramzi Matous (1st place in K-5 U300), Marvel Chung (2nd place in K-5 U800) and Kavin Thiyagarajan (4th place in K-5 U800).

Ten Spicewood students received medals for scoring in the second percentile of their groups: Joyce Song, Draden Jones, Bryan Lee, Varun Sanghavi, Isaac Zhang, Yifan Qiu, Alexander Ho, Raghav Aggarwal, Ivan Leong and Aryan Punalekar.

Congratulations to all of the participants.  Each will receive special commemorative $5 Chess bucks for participation shown in the photos below.  On one side, it shows a photo of Lilia May Casis who the school was named after.  She was the first female professor at the University of Texas at Austin to be honored with a full professor title in 1916 teaching romance languages.  On the other side of the Chess buck is an image of Lilia’s sister, Josephine Ramona Casis who was a lifelong primary school teacher for 33 years at the original Palm School. The two sisters were born in Kingston, Jamaica around 1870 and moved to Texas in 1890.

If you have photos from the tournament, please send them to Chris Jones at


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T-Shirt Day!

At today’s Club meeting, we handed out the new Chess club T-shirts to all attending students. Don’t worry if you missed the meeting today, we will get your shirt to you.  If you are a parent that ordered one and were not at today’s meeting, please come next week and make sure you pay for the extra shirt. ($7)  James recognized Abigail Yarbrough in front of the whole club, thanking her for her winning design.  Everyone loves it.  (See her photo in the slideshow below).  It was probably one of a few opportunities we would have to take a group photo with everyone wearing the shirt, so enjoy the photos below.  It really is like herding cats trying to get everyone to stay still long enough and actually smile at the same time!  Thanks to all the parents that attended today for your help and a special thanks goes out to Christina Mason for leading the procurement and pickup of the Tshirts.

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Club registration is open

online-registration-youth-sportsAt the beginning of each spring semester, we reopen club registration for a week to allow new students to enroll in the club.

Registration is now open until next Friday, January 13th.

Please see the instructions on our Registration page on the website:

Club Registration

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Kealing Tournament Results

kealing-signLast weekend, 39 Spicewood chess club members attended the Kealing Middle School chess tournament.   The tournament consisted of 5 rounds of games each worth 1 point.  In total, our kids scored a total of 91.5 out of a possible 189 points. (48%)

Overall, our team won a team trophy in all 6 sections we participated in!  1st place in sections K-3 U300 and K-5 U500.  2nd place in sections K-3 U500, K-5 U800 and K-5 Any.  3rd place in section K-3 U800.   Really a great job by everyone.

Six Spicewood students received trophies for scoring in the top percentile of their groups:  Murtaza Sanjeliwala (4th place in K-3 U300), Yifan Qiu (1st place in K-5 U500), Alexander Ho (2nd place in K-5 U500), Noah Greep (3rd place in K-5 U500), Kavin Thiyagarajan (4th place in K-5 U500) and Annika Shivam (6th place in K-5 U800).

Nine Spicewood students received medals for scoring in the second percentile of their groups: Isaac Zhang, Alice Zhang, Sean Toeh, Rounav Sur, Benjamin Sloma, Niko McMullen, Ivan Leong, David Li and Aryan Punalekar.

Congratulations to all of the participants.  Each will receive special commemorative $5 Chess bucks for participation shown in the photos below.  On one side, it shows a photo of Hightower Theodore Kealing who was an African-American educator, writer, editor and activist in Austin in the 19th century.  Kealing Middle school is named after him.  One the other side of the Chess buck is an image of Kealing Middle school’s mascot, the hornets.

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Chess Stamps


Postage stamps are becoming an endangered species as people mail letters less and less.  But in the past, stamps were used as an important tool for communications across the world.  The popularity of Chess intersects with stamp collecting with many countries around the world issuing stamps depicting Chess related items like grand master images, chess pieces, etc.  Below are a few interesting Chess stamps.

How many countries do you count?  Do you know where these countries are located on a globe?   How many countries no longer exist or have changed names?  What is your favorite Chess stamp?

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New Chess Bucks

chess-bucks-in-monopoly-colors-2At today’s club meeting, we handed out newly designed Chess bucks to each student.  Our old Chess bucks were getting a bit beat up and we were running out of the lower denominations, so instead of just printing new versions of the same design, we decided to redesign them.

Chris Jones did the redesign work and based it on Monopoly money.  We have 6 different denominations, $1, $2, $3, $4, $5 and $10.   Each has a front and backside.  On one side is a photo of a famous Chess grandmaster and on the other side is another grandmaster.  Most of them were rivals against each other, like Bobby Fischer vs. Boris Spassky or Garry Kasparov vs. Anatoli Karpov.  We also added chess pieces to represent the value of the chess buck, so the $1 chess buck has a single pawn.  The $5 chess buck has a rook, etc.  (The kids will know the values of each chess piece)

We plan to release special limited edition Chess bucks in the future with new and different portraits as well as special bucks for tournaments, etc.

Click the photo of the new Chess bucks to see all the new designs. If you have ideas for future Chess bucks, please let us know.


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Queen of Katwe


Draden and I watched a great Chess movie this weekend called Queen of Katwe, a PG rated Disney movie.  We highly recommend it and think it will do well at the Oscars this year.  It has beautiful cinematography, a great script and a glimpse into the wider world around us all.

Queen of Katwe is a 2016 American biographical sports drama film directed by Mira Nair and written by William Wheeler. Starring David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o and Madina Nalwanga, the film depicts the life of Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan chess prodigy from Katwe who becomes a Woman Candidate Master after her performances at World Chess Olympiads.

Living in the slum of Katwe in Kampala, Uganda, is a constant struggle for 10-year-old Phiona (Madina Nalwanga) and her family. Her world changes one day when she meets Robert Katende (David Oyelowo), a missionary who teaches children how to play chess. Phiona becomes fascinated with the game and soon becomes a top player under Katende’s guidance. Her success in local competitions and tournaments opens the door to a bright future and a golden chance to escape from a life of poverty.

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Club Registration Closed

sorry-registration-now-closedPlease remember that Club registration closed on September 19th.  We have 124 students enrolled this year.

If you would like to join our Chess club, we will open registration again during the first two weeks in January.

Please do not send your kids to Chess club if they are not registered club members.  We have limited parent volunteer resources and cannot supervise non-Chess club kids.  It is also a safety issue since we do not have any parent contact information for students that are not registered members of the club.

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