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MACA Chess Horizons Magazine Article
 Chess at New England Sports Academy
 Nicholas P. Sterling, Ph.D.
  April 2014

NESA Beginnings 

Before I started working at New England Sports Academy (abbreviated NESA), I was a struggling tutor and teacher with a whole parcel of scattered unrelated positions. In early September of 2009, one fine afternoon, a phone call came to me asking for an SAT tutor. The client lived in Rhode Island, but traveled regularly to a location in 
Westwood. Would I like to meet her halfway at this Academy where her other daughter took Gymnastics? I said sure. 
So when I got there, SAT flyer in tow, my client and I sat at a table in this noisy crowded lobby with two birthday parties swirling around us, screaming kids everywhere. (“One, two, three, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!” at the top of twenty four-year-olds' lungs.) Once the birthday parties had moved away to what I was told was the gym in the rear of the building, we could actually hear ourselves think, and talk, and then the lesson got underway. 
Part-way through the lesson, a basketball coach named Markus asked me to leave my SAT flyer at the Front Desk, which I did. I met a couple of the other staff, and everything seemed cool. Aside from the unusual locale, nothing about this particular tutoring appointment seemed particular out of the ordinary. 
Little did I know… 
A few weeks later, a message on my phone with a Russian accent asked me to come in to NESA to learn about an opportunity to take my tutoring “to the next level.” Intrigued, I went to NESA and met Henry, the CEO of NESA. He invited me to start an entire new Program at NESA, called Academic, that would include Chess, Math, and whatever other subjects I could teach or have others teach. And I would direct it. I, still practically a stranger off the street. 
 On my chin remains a scar where my jaw hit the floor. 
The rest has been history for me. New England Sports Academy has been simply the most amazing place to work. Nowhere else have I had the chance to teach classes, direct two whole Programs, and do gymnastics workouts (first time ever in my 40s) working on flips. And though my finances are still soft, I am in way better shape than I was back when I was the struggling tutor. 
The NESA Chess Team 
So began my career at NESA. Though I have had many successes here – any time anyone wants to challenge me to a game of Munchkin, step right up! – I single out the growth of the Chess program as the biggest thrill. 
As I wrote about in a previous CH article, most of the Chess classes, including those in the Home-School Program, are recreational, and include variants such as Vampire Chess, Knight-Mare Chess (made by the same company that produces Munchkin), Suicide Chess, Star Wars Chess, Rampage Chess, and other products of lunacy. Vampire Chess was my own creation. That says something, right? 
From the general riff-raff, however, have emerged a group of kids far above the average youthful player. These are the competitors, numbering 15 at the time of writing, who form the mighty warriors of the newly aspiring NESA Chess Team. 
Launched in April under the tutelage of Master Steven Winer, the Chess Team came together from the inspiration of several of the parents of children in the chess classes of several Chinese Schools. The Team meets once or twice a month. During a Team Meeting, the students play practice games under simulated tournament conditions (that is, when they do not get distracted by Munchkin Quest in progress at another table). Because they keep score, their games become the objects of analysis during the instruction phase of the Meeting. Steve presents a chess puzzle to the group, and then carefully goes over at least one of the students’ games, for comparison. 
Has it worked? 
At least one player at Waltham Chess Club has made a reference to one of “my” students (meaning a NESA Team player) listed in a publication of an event. The Team’s reputation is starting to precede itself. 
The New England Open saw one of the Team players, Brian Yin, take first place – and a big trophy – in the K-6 Under 1400. And prior to that, Bernie Xu, another powerful up-and-coming warrior, kicked my butt in the final round of the NESA July G/30, thereby taking first place and a special Upset prize. (The game is reproduced below.) 
So yes, it is working. 
But none of this would had happened had not a chance phone call for an SAT appointment brought me to NESA three years prior. 
Bernie Xu,1035 – 
Nicholas Sterling 
NESA G/30 
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. Nf3 d6 5. Bf4 0-0 6. e3 Bg4 7. h3 Bxf3 8. Qxf3 c6 9. Bd3 Nbd7 10. 0-0 e5 11. Bg5 exd4 12. exd4 Qb6 13. d5 Qxb2 14. Be2 Ne5 15. Qe3 Rfe8 16. Qc1 Qxc1 17. Raxc1 cxd5 18. Nxd5 Nxd5 19. cxd5 Rac8 20. Bb5 Rxc1 21. Rxc1 Rb8 22. f4 a6 23. fxe5 axb5 24. exd6 f6 25. d7 Rd8 26. Rc8 Kf7 27. Rxd8 Ke7 28. Rb8 fxg5 29.d8 = Q+