AMPLIFY Chess Masters Scholarship

Funded by
Steph Smith
Learn more about the Donor
1 winner
Application Deadline
Jun 1, 2021
Winners Announced
Jul 2, 2021
Education Level

Chess has had an immense impact on my life. I grew up spending my weekends at an 8x8 board. I read more chess books than novels. I started so early that I don’t even remember learning the rules. 

For better or worse, I quit by the time I was 12 and haven’t played competitively since. Yet, it was only recently that I recognized the impact of this game on my life.

Chess is an incredible source of imagination. It is so vast and complex that people can play for decades and continue to learn. It is a game of analysis and forethought. Each move is both an action and a reaction. And while there are rarely “correct” moves, each match teaches you how to operate under uncertainty and lack of full control. The board is the equalizer.

As Susan Polgar says, “Chess is a miniature version of life. To be successful, you need to be disciplined, assess resources, consider responsible choices, and adjust when circumstances change.”

People often think that chess masters are born as such. But the reality is that no one starts as a chess master. They work hard, study, and become a student of the game. They learn that chess isn’t just about aggression, but tactical progression, while mitigating risk. They learn approaches (openings) that work best for them and study their opponents. They learn to win. 

“Every chess master was once a beginner.” – Irving Chernev

I think many of the same lessons can be applied to life. Taking on new problems -- some familiar and some completely new -- and learning to tackle them better each time. Perhaps that’s why so many of my childhood competitors have gone onto impressive pastures, from working in venture capital to becoming a famous Twitch streamer.

The scholarship is open to chess players of any level. 

This scholarship is part of a 12-part Amplify Scholarship Series, spanning topics including women in tech, continuous learning, environmental science, and more. These scholarships are announced quarterly and awarded monthly throughout 2021. Follow along here!

Selection Criteria:
Essay Topic

“You may learn much more from a game you lose than from a game you win. You will have to lose hundreds of games before becoming a good player.” – José Raúl Capablanca

What have you learned from playing chess and how do you hope to utilize those learnings to achieve your goals? Please be specific and focus on achievable goals that you are already working toward.

100–750 words

Winning Application

Jacob Tessler
University of Central FloridaSaint Cloud, FL
In the center of my classroom is a chess board. I have been a teacher for the last ten years and this board, a gift from my father, has lived as the center piece of my classroom every single year. During down times, inevitably, the students want to play and I make them play against me; each game is a teaching moment as I show them critical thinking, logical decision making, and above all - perseverance. I tell them, from the first game, that I will never let them win for one reason and one reason alone; the day they beat me will be a day they know they have earned it. That lesson carries over into the classroom when they struggle as I remind them of the long process from first learning the game to the point where they can beat me, an admittedly low ranked enthusiast. When they need to visualize something or the flow or writing in an essay, the chess pieces are the first thing I grab; black and white pawns and knights have been everything from opposing and counter claims to contrasting opinions of authors on a multitude of topics. And always, in the center of my room or the corner of my desk, the board awaits. It is also there when the students come in during their lunch to play, but more so to talk. The game becomes an excuse for the meeting when what they really need is not chess technique but mentorship. And always, at the end of every game, a handshake and a promise of the next game to come. I am returning to school myself to test my own logic, strategies, and perseverance in a doctoral program that will allow me to study how new advancements in technology can be used to transform and make classic literature more relevant to today's youth. Like the chessboard on the corner of my desk, these studies become a bridge between the world of antiquity and there here-and-now. My own chess lessons, from the first time my father taught me to play, and the ones I have given my students over the years, have prepared me to make all the right moves when I seek that Doctorate.


When is the scholarship application deadline?

The application deadline is Jun 1, 2021. Winners will be announced on Jul 2, 2021.

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