Welcome To Berkeley Chess School

The Berkeley Chess School is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that offers chess instruction, regional chess tournaments (including an all-girls tournament), winter, spring and summer chess camps, a Friday night chess program in Berkeley, San Ramon, Walnut Creek and Mountain House that includes a class and a USCF rated tournament, as well as advanced classes and master classes during the week.  We also offer chess in the classroom in Title One schools, and have an international chess exchange program.

There is a great article about us here! Chess-Site

Our Mission

True to our mission of enriching the lives of children from all backgrounds, we have undertaken ambitious new outreach programs in Oakland and Richmond Title I elementary schools. Click here to learn about the BCS Oakland Chess Program and how you can help.

Our Story

The things that Elizabeth Shaughnessy loves about playing the game are tactics, problem solving, and of course, winning. But what she loves most about chess itself is its ability to cross boundaries and appeal to all ages. Read more.

Meet Our Team

Berkeley Chess School Board of Directors

Queen Graham, Chair (9 years of service) Ms. Graham served more than twelve years as president of In Dulci Jubilo, Inc., a nonprofit educational and grantmaking organization supporting creative teaching and learning projects in Berkeley public schools, with a special focus on helping low-income and at-risk youth. Ms. Graham has served as executive assistant to the Berkeley Board of Education and to five superintendents of the Berkeley Unified School District. She is a longtime Sunday school teacher at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Richmond, California.


Elizabeth Shaughnessy, Founder and President (25 years) A graduate of the University College in Dublin, Ireland, Ms. Shaughnessy is an architect by training and was part of an international team that traveled to Yugoslavia to build New Belgrade. Ms. Shaughnessy built schools and hospitals in Dublin, London and the United States. She served two terms on the Berkeley Board of Education, including one term as president. A former Irish Women’s Chess Champion, Ms. Shaughnessy was elected to the boards of CalChess and the USChess, and is the president and founder of the Berkeley Chess School. Ms. Shaughnessy co-chairs the Chess School’s building committee.


Stephen Shaughnessy, Vice President (22 years) An environmental studies major at U.C. Santa Cruz, Mr. Shaughnessy has been a chess player since age five, and was the 1984 Scholastic Chess State Champion of California in the Under 12 Division. A chess instructor since 2000, he is a principal teacher in the Berkeley Chess School’s Title 1 schools outreach program, and has taught over 10,000 children, including thirty state champions. Mr. Shaughnessy has served on the board of CalChess since 2012.


Roger Poehlmann, Secretary (17 years) Mr. Poehlmann is a UC Berkeley alumnus and a retired software engineer. A National Chess Master since 1986, he has won the Berkeley Chess Club championship five times, and has coached national scholastic champions. Mr. Poehlmann now works extensively in the Berkeley Chess School’s outreach programs for underserved and at-risk children and youth in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.


Andrew Lazarus, Ph.D., Treasurer (5 years) Dr. Lazarus holds a Bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, in mathematics with eleven refereed publications in diverse areas of his field. He was president of the chess club at both these institutions, and is an associate national tournament director for the United States Chess Federation. Formerly senior software engineer, Dr. Lazarus is now a group manager at NETSCOUT (originally Newfield Wireless) in Berkeley. In addition to his board service for the Berkeley Chess School, Mr. Lazarus is a volunteer for Alameda County Crisis Support Services, where he has worked the hotline for almost seven years.


Fong Wang, M.D., Ph.D., Director (9 years) Dr. Wang is a neurologist and graduate of Harvard College and Yale Medical School, with a doctorate in epidemiology from U.C. Berkeley’s School of Public Health. Dr. Wang works on the clinical development of new therapies for Alzheimer’s disease for Medivation, a biopharmaceutical company in San Francisco. An expert in the design of clinical trials, Dr. Wang has a special interest in evaluating the efficacy of chess instruction as a means of improving student performance and test scores in Title 1 schools. He is married to Dr. Caroline Wang, a public health educator, and is the father of two children.


Ki Ingersol, J.D., Director (2 years) Mr. Ingersol is an attorney at the The Kroloff Law Firm in Stockton, where he advises clients in connection with corporate and real estate matters. Mr. Ingersol is a graduate of Harvard College, Harvard Law School, and received his MBA at the Anderson School of Management at UCLA. Mr. Ingersol was formerly an investment banker in the agricultural, food processing, and renewable energy industries. Mr. Ingersol has also been an entrepreneur, having co-founded companies that raised venture and private equity capital.


Wendy Muse Sinek, Ph.D., Director (newly elected in 2021) Dr. Sinek is a lecturer in the Political Science Department at the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Sinek holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. from U.C. Berkeley and an M.A. in International Policy Studies from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California. Her research has centered on the question of how citizens can―and cannot―organize effectively for political change, examining how NGOs navigate between corrupt politicians and drug traffickers to make life better for the residents of Brazil’s favelas. She is a mother, a baker of extreme cakes, and a chess and cat aficionado.