10/20/2010 Was interviewed by Lachelle Hunt from Scottsdale Community College and the show was created by Arizona Express


         9/2/2010 did an interview with College Times by Amanda Ventura

                                                                                    Chess coach Jeremy Dancer of Glendale will be putting on an                                                                                               exhibition of his chess-playing prowess by playing multiple                                                                                                   opponents while blindfolded.


Jeremy Dancer is an extreme chess player. At exhibitions like the one this Saturday at the Cave Creek Thieves Market, he's going to be playing 20 people at once, five-minute time limit games, and also blindfolded to make the traditionally tactical and pompous game more spectator friendly.

For Dancer, 29, chess is all about building confidence, which is why his organization Strive2B1 focuses on sharing the game of chess with hundreds of elementary-aged children and their parents - his most recent venture being to find funding to research chess' developmental role in autistic children.

Coach Jeremy or Big Brother J, to his students, is also living proof of the power of perseverance in his own pursuits of the game in high school when he didn't make the chess team his freshman year. After playing computer chess for an entire summer before sophomore year, Dancer made the chess team and ended up with a third-place trophy in the national championships. He described the transformative effect as "being hooked after that."

Post-graduation, Dancer worked with Chess Emporium and, realized two years ago, after responding to a newspaper ad for a chess coach, that he could make a living as doing what he loves. Equipped with 12 chess sets, Dancer can sometimes play games against 100 students in one school's lunch period (which can run about two hours).

"I never ever thought of a career in teaching chess ... I fell into it," he said.

Chess is a lot like life, Dancer said, and certainly about communication - although it's a little more like a battle than a conversation.

"You have a general idea of what you want to do, but then your opponent plays a move that you weren't expecting. And you're like 'whoa,' and 'Now I've got to regroup.' I think that's the most powerful part about chess and why it's such a great game. There's so much of life and personality put into it."

Dancer said there's still a stigma associated with the game and its players, but that the pros outweigh the cons of its perception.

"Most people that are coaches are very creative and dynamic people," he said. "For the most part, it's positive. On the down side, some chess players have a hard time communicating with people because they're so consumed with chess that it's hard to be social ... The good thing about chess is that it gives you a chance to be creative. Every person you play is different. Every game is different. You can play the main-line moves, but chess is a game of life in many ways. You start off with a plan, but sometimes things don't go according to plan."

This is especially true for playing chess against the computer, according to Dancer, who said computer chess engines are better for practice than confidence - but also not nearly as fun and unpredictable as playing a live person.

"When you're playing in-person you can feel the tension," he said. "You can feel the pressure. You know both people want to win. Chess players tend to be very arrogant, and kids who are very smart aren't used to being beat; people's prides are at stake."

Other than being a surprisingly sweat-inducing spectator event, blindfolded chess is actually a trick of the trade.

"When we reach a certain level of chess, you're supposed to see the game in your head anyway," he said. "Chess masters are playing subconsciously blindfolded anyway." At at some tournaments, Dancer says, chess players just walk around in the middle of a game because they don't have to be in front of the board.

"You want to play what's in your head, not what you see," Dancer said. "It's still very entertaining and people love it for some reason ... We're excavating different sides of chess."

So for those who still think these Type-A personalities can't think beyond argyle prints and their socialization doesn't go beyond calling their next move, you can check out some intense chess at the Cave Creek Thieves Market this Saturday. Also playing will be Sean Tobin, Dancer's start coach.

Cave Creek Thieves Market, 38410 N. Schoolhouse Road, Cave Creek, 480.575.7467, Saturday, September 4, 7 a.m. to 12 p.m., $1


                                        Research Study on kids with disabilities

We are currently applying for a Federal Grant to fund our chess program and research for children with disabilities for elementary schools in the Littleton and Peoria school district.  July 27, 2009

*Our chess program for the schools in Littleton School District is approved.  July 27, 2009

*Researching the connection between the way we play chess and how the brain works.  The goal of this research is to find a way to rebuild areas of the brain that function poorly due to mental disabilities.  Chess is a game of mental intelligence and the more you play it the more intelligent you become.  We believe that if students with disabilities play chess in time they will become better at it, more intelligent and rebuild areas of the brain that caused their disability.  July 27, 2009

       We are focusing on Autism; a brain disorder that is associated with a wide range of developmental problems, especially in communication and social interaction.  According to the American Psychiatric Association, autism is classified as a type of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These disorders are characterized by problems with communication, social interaction, as well as unusual, repetitive behaviors. July 29, 2009

*The game of chess is known to be one of the greatest intelligence's that can influence a person’s ability, personality and character.  With this being true the game of chess can improve social interaction with other people, and by interacting with other people one must also communicate therefore communication must improve by default.  It is important to note that there is currently NO CURE! for Autism, but with the help of appropriate education and therapies patients can live relatively normal lives.  We believe chess should be included as appropriate education for Autistic patients.

        (Continued).  Most children with autism are slow to learn new things or develop new skills. An estimated 75% of autistic patients have lower-than-normal intelligence quotients (IQs). However, the remaining 25% of patients have normal to high intelligence. Autistic patients with normal to high intelligence are quick learners, but still have difficulty communicating to others and applying their knowledge to everyday life. In rare cases, autistic patients may also be considered savants and have exceptional skills, such as math or art.  In other words there may be a hidden genius in Autistic patients.  There are hundreds if not thousands of ways to check mate an opponent.  Once chess players reach a certain level in their skill with chess they become artistic in how they check mate their opponent.  I believe this can be a major attraction to Autistic patients especially with their fascination with numbers and math as chess is a calculated game.  July 29, 2009

         If we can prove chess is a way to connect with autistic patients especially high IQ autistic patients that have trouble communicating with other people we may have a way to connect and communicate with these students.  With the right method we may have an approach to connecting and communicating with them.  Once that connection has been made through chess we will be able to build on more ways for autistic patients to communicate.  August 5, 2009

         We have noticed a huge improvement with one of the students in our chess program.  The first couple of weeks in chess club the student with autism would have trouble making his first move.  He would stare at the board for minutes unable to make a move as if his mind was frozen.  By the fifth week we noticed he was communicating with his opponents and interacting in during the lesson portion of chess class.  He was very quiet and shy in the first couple of weeks.  Now he smiles alot and talks with other classmates.  He even raises his hands when he thinks he knows the answer to questions during the lesson and participates in discussions.  For the first time we have evidence that chess really does improve social interaction and communication for kids with disabilities.  October 26, 2009


The mission for STRIVE2B1 is to provide opportunities to all students.  Opportunities don't start with the opportunities that are available today but with what people believe are available!  This is the reason STRIVE2B1 covers grades k-12.  We want to show kids that what ever your dream is or goals are you can achieve them.

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