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Georgia Chess Association


Stephen A. (Steve) Schneider - HOF Class of 2024

Summary:

Scholastic chess entrepreneur and teacher

Scholastic chess organizer

organizer of the Atlanta Kings league team

GCA President, 1978

GCA Secretary, 1983; GCA 1st Vice President, 2000–02; GCA 1st Member-at-large, 2005–13

USCF Regional Vice President (Southeast), 1982–1984

Chess author

• Designer of World of Chess website

 

When asked what he does, Steve Schneider responds that he is a teacher. When asked what he teaches, Steve does not answer with a subject, but replies, “I teach children.” The answer is highly accurate, as Schneider must rank with the most influential scholastic chess teachers in Georgia.

Schneider was born in 1940 in the greater Atlanta area. He taught himself how to play from chess books in 6th grade. While a student at Georgia Tech, Schneider continued to teach himself by regularly reading each issue of Chess Life magazine in the university library. He was teaching at Southern Tech before he even graduated from college. After graduating from Georgia State with a degree in mathematics, Steve taught physics and mathematics at an Atlanta City high school from 1963–1966. Schneider worked as a stockbroker from 1966–1971, then worked in accounting for the State of Georgia before returning to the job he really loved, teaching.

Schneider started teaching chess every day to his son, Jay, at age six. They both started playing tournament chess at the same time in 1973. At that time,Schneider started teaching chess to students at Jay’s school taking them to tournaments. He also began to organize tournaments specifically for scholastic players. Around 1977, he began teaching students from other schools. After sending Jay to a scholastic chess camp in Detroit, Schneider organized other scholastic chess camps in Georgia.

In 1978,Schneider began high school chess clubs across the state with teachers as chess sponsors. He started a scholastic chess league by organizing these schools into regions and putting on regional matches. The state championship from these regional matches was held in Macon each year. Their games were unrated, but they included rated players, notably IM Boris Kogan’s son, Michael, and Schneider’s son Jay. Schneider effectively began competitive scholastic chess across Georgia. The Scholastic Chess League, later called the High School State Team Championships, continues under the direction of Ted Wieber, Sr.

In 1989, one of Schneider’s schools, North Fulton, won the Georgia High School State Championship. Along with Lew Martin, Schneider started an after school chess league in DeKalb County, where eight schools competed with each other every week for eight weeks to determine the championship. The league play moved to the Atlanta Chess Center in the early 1990s.

In 1991,Schneider retired from teaching for the City of Atlanta, and in 1992 began his true love, Championship Chess. To do this, Schneider recruited about 10 coaches and put them into after school programs in about 25 schools in metro Atlanta. In 1998 and 1999, two of his elementary clubs won the Georgia Scholastic Championship, first Oak Grove Elementary and the next year Kittredge Magnet School.

Championship Chess and Schneider’s hands-on and video programs for teaching chess went national, including affiliates in Memphis, Dallas, Richmond, Seattle, New York, and others. Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, Championship Chess in Metro Atlanta was involved in about 60 schools with about 1200 scholastic chess players.During the pandemic, Schneider taught classes online, with as many as 200 students participating weekly.

During the last 10 years, Schneider’s schools have won at least one State Scholastic Championship every year. In 2023 Championship Chess Schools won the K–1, K–3 and K–5 divisions; graduates from these elementary school programs won the K–8.

Schneider and his chess program have had an impact on many chess players. A few have achieved high accolades, including two-time Georgia State Champion and Louisiana State Champion, Michael Gilner. The most accomplished student reached by Steve’s Championship Chess is USCF Life Master, Xiao Cheng. USCF Expert, Richard Long (now deceased), was one of Schneider’s coaches who had great influence on Cheng. Cheng was the 2001 6th grade National Champion another in 2002, the 2002 7th grade National Co-Champion (1st–3rd), and 2005 1st place K–12 National Champion. Cheng defeated celebrated GM Walter Browne at the North American Open in 2003. Cheng was also the 2006 Atlanta City Champion and the 2006 Georgia State Champion.

Schneider has also written chess books to help teach children chess. Not just Georgia children, but children across the country (see list under Sources). Schneider also created World of Chess, an online site that includes videos and activities from his books, plus continually updated material, as well as an online game, “Attack Chess,” for young beginners.

Although Schneider was never rated higher than 1515 as a player, he has excelled as a chess teacher. His own son, Jay, became a USCF Expert. Directly or indirectly, he has literally taught tens of thousands of Georgia children how to play chess—not just how to move the pieces, but how to play chess. At age 83, this living legend continues to teach at two after school programs, working with students in online game play, and at scholastic clubs and tournaments.

Throughout the years, Schneider continued to support many chess clubs across metro Atlanta, including the Emory Chess Club run by Mike Decker and the Downtown YMCA Club run by Earl Morrison. Schneider also organized the Atlanta Kings to compete in the National Telephone Chess League from 1977–1980. One year he even added a Georgia Teen Team to the Telephone Chess League.

Schneider was also a supporter of state chess by serving its governance. He was the 1978 Georgia Chess Association (GCA) President. He delegated ten “Regional” Vice Presidents (who were not GCA officers) across Georgia to promote chess programs in their area. Additionally, he was 1983 GCA Secretary, GCA 1st Vice President from 2000–2002, and GCA 1st Member-at-large from 2005–2013. He has also served in chess governance at the National level. In 1982–1984, he was the United States Chess Association (USCF) Regional Vice President (Southeast).

Steve also received the USCF Outstanding Career Achievement Award in 2019.

Steve Schneider has made significant achievements to chess in the State of Georgia in promotion, teaching, coaching, journalism, organization, service, and leadership. He has clearly bettered chess in his home state of Georgia.

 

Sources:

Georgia Chess magazine electronic collection.

Steve Schneider personal interview.

 

Steve Schneider’s books:

Chess Basics (2005)

Chess Openings 1 (2005)

Endgame Strategies 1 (2005)

Chess Tactics 1 (2006)

Math Logic on the Chessboard (no date)

 

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