North Tonawanda Youth Center

Chess Masters


  • For Boys and Girls 
  • Grades 2 - 12 
(See below for skill level placement information)
  • Mondays 
    - Beginner:5 PM
    - Intermediate: 6 PM
    - Advance: 7 PM
  • 12 weeks instruction
  • Oct 18 - Jan 3
  • $50 per child (sibling discount available)
  • Limited spots available

The NT Recreation Department will be working with the Buffalo Chess Association to bring you the opportunity to provide master level chess instruction for your child/ren at fraction of the cost.

What We Offer:

Our motto is “balancing competition and fun,” and is the underlying principle behind all of our lessons.

 We hire chess coaches who can connect with students-- coaches who offer them the guidance they need to grow both their skills and their love of the game. 

Players will always be pushed to grow, but not at the expense of their enjoyment of the game. 

We also have instructors who can cater to any skill level, so that students will never feel that they have “outgrown” their teachers.

Skill Level Placement Information

We will accept children from ages 7 to 18.

They will be categorized and instructed according to their appropriate skill level. 

There are 3 different levels we can offer.

Basic Level (Beginner Class)

Usual age range: 6-10 (younger students only with instructor approval)

Required chess experience: None.

Goal: To be able to discuss games and play sensible early and end game moves. Students should know all strategic “rules” and how to use them. They should also have a basic understanding of simple tactics.

Summary: This class seeks to introduce students to the game of chess and its fundamental concepts. Basic rules will be addressed if needed, but students who will need time to grasp these rules may prefer Intro Class’s slower pace. The class will explain both WHAT the overarching strategies of the game are and WHY they work.

Intermediate Level (Intermediate Class)

Students may ONLY begin at intermediate level with instructor permission.

Otherwise satisfactory completion of the beginner level is required. This will be determined the first week of instruction. 

Usual age range: 7-12

Required chess experience: Understanding of chess’s basic strategic and tactical concepts.

Goal: To be able to analyze moves and accurately consider consequences within the game. Students should understand the flow of the game well enough to weigh options and generate plans during their games. If their parents/guardians aren’t chess players, they may start winning games against them.

Summary: This class guides students through more difficult concepts. Some will be entirely new ideas, while others will be more nuanced explanations of old strategies. Here the focus shifts from “looking at the board,” to “thinking about the board.”

Advanced Level (Advanced Class)

Students may ONLY begin at advanced level with instructor permission. Otherwise satisfactory completion of the intermediate level is required. This will be determined the first week of instruction.

Usual age range: 9+ 

Required chess experience: General understanding of all major chess concepts. Ability to create, analyze, and implement plans throughout the game.

Goal: To be able to creatively problem solve within the game, and to confidently defend ideas when challenged or questioned. Students are expected to treat the game as a debate. Why is their way of playing good? Seasoned advanced players should be able to hold their own in tournaments, and to be able to confidently challenge adults within the game.

Summary: Advanced class deviates from previous classes in terms of structure, as students have reached a point where they will improve the most from simply analyzing games and generating ideas. Due to this the class will have students analyze games (both their own, through a “game of the week” system, and those of extremely high level players) every class. Students will also play instructors and each other, and will be expected to be able to explain WHY they made a move whenever asked. (Even if it’s incorrect, it’s better to have a wrong reason than none at all!)

Meet the instructor


Mark has been practicing chess since he was a child. His peak online rating was 2500, and he has competed in and placed in multiple major tournaments.

 He began teaching chess volunteering at a local high school, and found a passion for instructing there. He and John Hanni co-founded Buffalo Chess Association to provide high quality lessons to students in the area. 

Mark was in the top 100 in NYS out of all chess players and top 10 in Buffalo. He's won the Marchand tournament 3 times along with placing 10th at the world open in Philadelphia.

His students have  won the NYS scholastic U1000 section multiple (2) times, one student won the U1200 NYS championship section, another tied for first at the Cleveland open.

He has over ten years of teaching experience and provides the curriculum’s structure.



1. Improves Concentration and Memory

Studies conducted by the University of Memphis have found that children who play chess significantly improve their visual memory, attention span, and spatial-reasoning ability … all important factors for success in school.

2. Enhances Math and Reading

The need to focus on problem solving and the process of thinking through move variables are important traits that help improve children's math skills. In addition, studies have shown that because chess requires children to use cognitive processes such as decoding, analysis, thinking, and comprehension (all skills required for reading), chess playing kids greatly improve their reading skills over non playing kids.

3. Helps Develop Logic, Critical Thinking, and CREATIVITY

Playing chess requires a lot of "if-then" logical analysis and "what-if" scenarios, all necessary ingredients for developing logical and critical thinking. In addition, studies show that chess boosts creativity, most dramatically in originality. Researchers attribute this boost to the process of imagining all the possible move alternatives which trains the mind to play with possibilities … the cornerstone of original thinking.

4. Encourages and Rewards Hard Work

Playing chess provides immediate feedback. Lose your focus, lose a piece; study the game and practice, win more games. Your children control their destiny.

5. Think Through Solving Complex Problems

Chess helps kids learn and practice thinking through and finding solutions to complex problems.