Jim Santorelli has been teaching chess for over 20 years and can count 13 National Champions among his students. A USCF Expert, Jim emphasizes strategy and planning in his chess and in his well-prepared classroom lectures. Jim teaches chess throughout the Westchester and Lower Connecticut area. He also coaches the Greenburgh School team and heads the Saturday Scarsdale chess classes. Jim is the Associate Executive Director of the NSCF.
Meet Our Instructors
Ricardo Perez Billinghurst
Ricardo Perez Billinghurst has been teaching chess in New York City and Connecticut since 2005. He joined NSCF in 2007. A National Master who is an active tournament player, Ricardo frequently draws from his own experience in tournament play to engage his students and enliven his presentation.
Ricardo brings tremendous patience and enthusiasm to his teaching and displays a keen sense of humor that is much appreciated by his students. His vast experience with children of different ages and backgrounds, as well as his ability to communicate with ease in Spanish, provide a valuable addition to the NSCF.
Ricardo holds a Senior Tournament Director certificate awarded by the United States Chess Federation. He has been responsible for running the NSCF tournaments since 2012.
Danny Rade is a USCF Candidate Master who has been playing chess since before he could read. Growing up in New York in the 90’s, Danny played in many of the same tournaments in which his students now play, enabling him to draw on his own childhood experiences when teaching and coaching young players. In both 5th and 7th grade, Danny finished in second place at the National K-12 Championships. At 14 years old, he reached his peak national ranking of #14 in the U.S. for his age group.
Danny graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in ‘09 with a BA in Psychology and Economics and has been working as an NSCF Instructor for over 5 years. Although constantly trying to improve himself and his instructing techniques, Danny prides himself on being patient and empathetic, yet engaging and charismatic. According to Danny, “there is no better feeling than a student coming to me and raving about how he just played a game of chess and won because he used some technique that I showed him.”
Chris Welcome has been teaching chess to children of all ages since 2000 and has taught chess within the curriculum in over 30 public schools. His vast experience in both curricular and after-school programs has trained him to handle large groups from kindergarten to high-school. Chris has also coached several school chess teams to prominence in national competition and guided three young players over the 2000 rating level to the rank of Candidate Master.
Chris was part of a group in Brooklyn affectionately called the “Black Bear School of Chess” which fostered the growth and development of many African American chess players in the late 1970s. From this group of self motivated players emerged many masters such as Ernest Colding, Ronald Simpson, William Morrison, and GM Maurice Ashley. Chris earned his National Master’s title in 1982.
Chris says: “I believe that it is important to show every child regardless of age or ability how to enjoy chess. Not all children will one day become masters. Those that aspire to that goal and desire to do so will need a clear path to develop their interest. But even those who do not can experience a lifetime of pleasure creating a beautifully played game."
Polly Wright is a former New England Women’s Champion and is currently ranked among the top 100 women in the U.S. Polly teaches in a number of schools in Westchester and Fairfield counties and enjoys sharing her chess experience with students of all levels, ranging from beginner to tournament level. ”If I can impart a love and understanding of chess to them I feel I have contributed to their enrichment.”
Polly has been a tournament director for over 30 years. She holds the title of Senior Tournament Director of the USCF and directs all NSCF tournaments as well as tournaments at the National level.
Mike McDermott is a former student of Grandmaster, and seven-time US Champion Samuel Reshevsky. Mike has attained the rank of Candidate Master in the USCF. A full-time chess instructor for the NSCF, Mike’s students include a National Scholastic Champion. He loves to entertain his students with stories of his games against famous chess personalities, especially his loss against Bobby Fischer and his simultaneous exhibitions draws against two other former World Champions, Gary Kasparov and Boris Spassky.
A retired Physical Education teacher, Mike makes good use of his experience during the NSCF Summer Chess Program, when he serves as both a chess coach and recreation coordinator.