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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Upcoming Pizza Party and Potluck October 22nd

pizza-party-voteThe Spicewood Chess Club is holding our annual party at the Spicewood Elementary school on Saturday October 22nd morning from 10:00 to 1:45.

We will be playing Chess and having fun with our friends.   We will have a few coaches available to work with the students.  We will also have out our fun chess sets, LED lightup boards, 4 player chess, marble chess set, etc.

We have also invited some of our friends from the Laurel Mountain Elementary school Chess club as well as local chess teachers and experts.

The club will be providing Pizza and we ask parents to signup to bring other items needed for the party such as drinks, plates, utensils, etc.  This is also a potluck, so we encourage parents to bring cookies, snacks, etc.  Please bring something to share.  Please remember no food containing nuts.   

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Free Chess Book about the Art and History of Chess Sets

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has made available for free a book that goes over the history and art of Chess sets.



Chess: East and West, Past and Present published in 1968 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  It talks about chess sets from India, China, Japan, Europe and America with very nice photos of chess sets.

If you are interested in learning about the history of the chess pieces, this is a good book to read.


The chessmen and boards illustrated in this book range from the seventh century to the present and come from Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. Although all made for a single game, they give a very good idea of the diversity in the world. They form the bulk of an exhibition entitled Chess: East and West, Past and Present, shown at The Brooklyn Museum from April to October, I968, sponsored by that museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Most of them were given to the Metropolitan by Gustavus A. Pfeiffer, a devoted collector keenly interested in the history and meaning of chess” or purchased from monies bequeathed by him. In addition to the objects acquired directly or indirectly from Mr. Pfeiffer, this publication contains a few ivory chessmen of the early ninth century, excavated at Nishapur by the Metropolitan’s Iranian Expedition in 1940, and early Islamic and medieval chessmen given by J. P. Morgan, Alastair Bradley Martin, and others. There is only one piece from the thirteenth century, and none from the fourteenth to the late seventeenth centuries. Pieces of this period are rare in Europe outside of museums and church treasuries, and few have been acquired by American collectors.

The book is available on our website here or you can download it directly from the MOMA at this location.

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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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Pawns training for October 7: The Fork

FunMasterMike introduces us to the fun tactic called a Fork in the video below from

In chess, a fork is a tactic whereby a single piece makes two or more direct attacks simultaneously. Most commonly two pieces are threatened, which is also sometimes called a double attack. The attacker usually aims to gain material by capturing one of the opponent’s pieces. The defender often finds it difficult to counter two or more threats in a single move. The attacking piece is called the forking piece; the pieces attacked are said to be forked. A piece that is defended can still said to be forked if the forking piece has a lower value.

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Knights, Rooks and Kings video for October 7: French Defense Part 1

At this week’s club meeting, the Knights, Rooks and Kings groups will watch a short video on the French defense.  The French defense has a reputation for solidity and resilience, though it can result in a somewhat cramped game for Black in the early stages. Black often gains counterattacking possibilities on the queenside while White tends to concentrate on the kingside.

The French Defense is named after a match played by correspondence between the cities of London and Paris in 1834. It was Chamouillet, one of the players of the Paris team, who persuaded the others to adopt this defense.

As a reply to 1.e4, the French Defense received relatively little attention in the nineteenth century compared to 1…e5. The first world chess champion Wilhelm Steinitz said “I have never in my life played the French Defense, which is the dullest of all openings”. In the early 20th century, Géza Maróczy was perhaps the first world-class player to make it his primary weapon against 1.e4. For a long time, it was the third most popular reply to 1.e4, behind only 1…c5 and 1…e5. However, according to the Mega Database 2007, in 2006, 1…e6 was second only to the Sicilian in popularity.

We examine a popular defense to white’s e4 pawn opening and discuss the important things you need to know when playing the French Defense. This in depth analysis should share some light on how to play the French Defense correctly. This is Part 1 so make sure to watch Part 2 for the second part of this video.

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Knights and Rooks video for September 22: Giuoco Piano

The Giuoco Piano is one of the oldest recorded openings. The Portuguese Damiano played it at the beginning of the 16th century and the Italian Greco played it at the beginning of the 17th century. The opening is also known as the Italian Game, although that name is also used to describe all games starting with 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4, regardless of Black’s third move. The Giuoco Piano was popular through the 19th century, but modern refinements in defensive play have led most chess masters towards openings like the Ruy Lopez that offer White greater chances for long term initiative.

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Pawns Training for September 22

All beginning students in the Pawns skill group are requested to watch the following videos for this week’s lesson preparation:

Chesskids video:   First moves

  • Every chess game begins with the opening — but what moves should you play? FM Mike Klein shows you the fundamentals behind the ideas of good openings, so you know why to play them, not just how. Learn how important controlling the center is in a chess game, and apply that lesson to your choice of first moves.

How to Castle:

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