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About Nashville Chess Center


The Nashville Chess Center (NCC) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation whose primary purpose is to educate the public about the game, art, science, sport and discipline of chess, with a particular focus on the education of secondary and elementary age students. 
The study of chess and participation in chess-related activities has been shown to promote numerous educational benefits among school-age children including: enhancement of logical reasoning skills, higher standardized test scores in both math and reading, improved patience and greater self-esteem.  

To accomplish its mission, the NCC sponsors instructional programs in local schools, conducts chess lessons, chess classes, chess coaching seminars, chess tournaments and chess camps, among other activities.  These programs are funded primarily through donations from foundations, corporations and private individuals.

Founded in 1995, the Nashville Chess Center is a supporting organization of the Tennessee Chess Association (TCA) and an affiliate of the United States Chess Federation (USCF), the governing body of chess in the United States (US).
Headquartered in a beautiful three-story house located in Nashville's historic Belmont-Hillsboro neighborhood, the NCC has become one of the leading chess organizations in the US.  Its many achievements include hosting the US Cadet Championship (a national chess championship for players under age 16) in 1998, 1999 and 2000, hosting the Nashville (Open) Chess Championship each year, founding and hosting the Nashville Scholastic Chess Championships each January since 2003 and co-sponsoring the 2003 National Elementary Chess Championship with the TCA and the USCF, garnering Nashville the prestigious title, “Chess City of the Year” in 2003.  During its short history, numerous NCC members have won chess championships on the local, state and national levels.

Nashville Chess Center
2911 Belmont Blvd.
Nashville, TN 37212
(629) 254 - 4737


Man of Vision



Dr. Martin Katahn, Founder of the 
Nashville Chess Center


You see things; and you say: “Why?”

But I dream things that never were; and I say, “Why not?”

— George Bernard Shaw


Known as "Dick" among friends, Dr. Martin Katahn was a slender, quick-witted man with bright, youthful eyes.  A jack of all trades, he was an author, a Juilliard-trained session violinist and, until his retirement in 1991, a Professor of Psychology at Vanderbilt University. 

In the 1980s, Dr. Katahn gained national acclaim when his book, The Rotation Diet, became a New York Times #1 best-seller.  Coined, "the diet that ate Nashville", Dr. Katahn's weight loss plan grew in popularity to the point of being inescapable.  Restaurants served special "Rotation Diet" entrees and grocery stores promoted various foods from his regimen.  The smiling face of the "weight loss wizard” was featured on television commercials, restaurant menus, and roadside billboards, as well as every bookstore and magazine stand.


Despite the millions of copies sold of his 14 best-selling diet manuals, Dr. Katahn was extremely modest about his publications.  When pressed to comment on their success, however, he stated that his books made him "a very wealthy man so that I can give away money to things that I think are worth funding."  Post-retirement, he became involved in "a number of things, like helping to promote chess for children in our public schools."




Although he learned the rules as a young man, Dr. Katahn's interest in chess blossomed later in life, when he began reading chess books and, subsequently, subscribed to Chess Life magazine.  At this point, Katahn was unaware of any organized chess players in Nashville, or the existence of a Tennessee Chess Association.
During a business trip to New York to meet with his publisher, Katahn started taking face-to-face chess lessons from Grandmaster (GM) Lev Alburt, following up with telephone lessons upon his return to Nashville.  He credits Alburt for awakening his appreciation of the game.


"Being as old as I was," Katahn recalled, "I was thinking about the problems I had learning the game, and I realized that it's a wonderful and fun way to teach kids how to think."


The more Dr. Katahn learned about chess, the greater his enthusiasm for it grew.  As a psychologist, he understood the positive effect of chess on problem-solving ability and visuospatial intelligence.  As an educator, he observed that playing chess increases academic performance.  As a philanthropist, he began to seek out ways to bring the benefits of chess to as many children as possible.


Coincidentally, at the same time Dr. Katahn’s interest in chess grew, Tennessee experienced tremendous growth in scholastic chess at all levels.  Unprecedented numbers of children from all parts of the state were joining chess clubs and entering scholastic chess tournaments. The Tennessee Scholastic Championship tournament grew so large that the state association adopted regional qualifying events for both individuals and teams.  Tennessee's surge in the number of scholastic chess players during this period reflected a similar trend nationwide.



Dr. Katahn and the Tennessee Chess Association might never have crossed paths except by chance.  Looking for ways to attract new members in 1993, TCA President Ed Porter obtained a list of all Chess Life subscribers in Tennessee.  Noting that the majority of subscribers were not TCA members, he judiciously decided to mail each subscriber a copy of Tennessee Chess News.  As a result, TCA picked up quite a few new members, including Dr. Katahn.


Katahn's subsequent contact with local and state chess players set off a chain reaction that led to the creation of the Nashville Chess Center. During his trips to New York, Katahn was inspired by the historic Marshall Chess Club and impressed by its role as a point of convergence for the New York chess community. If it can work in New York, he asked, why not in Nashville?




It takes a special sort of person to turn a dream into reality, but that is exactly what Dr. Katahn did.  In the Spring and Summer of 1995, a few chess enthusiasts, led by Dr. Katahn, envisioned a well-furbished, centralized location for children and adults to learn and play chess. The amount of planning and energy required to bring this idea to fruition was enormous.

Newly qualified as a Section 501 (c) (3) charitable organization, the Nashville Chess Center started as a "supporting organization" of the Tennessee Chess Association. Volunteers from the TCA were enlisted to serve on the NCC’s original Board of Directors, and more workers were recruited to organize and publicize the unique concept.

At great personal expense, Dr. Katahn purchased and refurbished a beautiful three-story building on Belmont Boulevard to serve as the chess center’s home.  Going a step further, he contacted Ukrainian Grandmaster Semion Palatnik, one of Europe’s chess superstars and “Honoured Coach” of the powerful Ukrainian Olympiad team. Bringing GM Palatnik to Tennessee as “Grandmaster in Residence” at the Nashville Chess Center was the icing on the cake of Dr. Katahn’s vision.




Extensively remodeled for optimal learning and play conditions, the Nashville Chess Center opened its doors to the public on September 8, 1995.  The NCC is furnished with wooden playing tables and chairs and is well-lit by both natural and artificial light.  All essential chess equipment is available, including an ample supply of chess sets, chess boards and chess clocks, large demonstration boards for lessons, WIFI, computers capable of global play and a large library of chess books, videos and computer databases suitable for all experience levels.  Free fliers and information about upcoming chess-related events are frequently posted for anyone interested.




The first six years were a period of growth and evolution for the Nashville Chess Center.  When Grandmaster Palatnik moved to Memphis in 2000, the NCC expanded its focus.  In 2001, the corporation legally changed its name to Foundation for Tennessee Chess.  Simultaneously, the Tennessee Chess Association formally adopted the Nashville location as its official residence and permanent home.  The corporation retained the name “Nashville Chess Center” for its programs and building in Nashville, but expanded its plans to include the entire state.




By the summer of 2001, Dr. Katahn’s vision for the Nashville Chess Center had metamorphosed into something remarkable.  With a large, active membership base, a core of dedicated teachers and workers, increasing school and community partnerships, and a full calendar of tournaments and activities, the Nashville Chess Center was an obvious success!


His vision having reached fruition, in July 2001, Dr. Katahn completed the final part of his original plan for the NCC by paying the remaining mortgage and donating the building and property to the Foundation for Tennessee Chess. Until that time, Dr. Katahn had been paying the mortgage, allowing the NCC to occupy it rent-free.  The value of the building and property donated by Dr. Katahn to the Foundation for Tennessee Chess was estimated at the time at $490,000!




Ownership of the Nashville Chess Center requires great responsibility.  By accepting this gift, the Foundation for Tennessee Chess obligated itself for expenses well over $20,000 per year to keep the center open. With this in mind, Dr. Katahn took further steps to ensure the viability of the Chess Center by creating an Endowment Fund with an initial donation valued at $200,000. Only the interest from this fund can be used, thus providing a perpetual income to help offset the cost of maintaining the Chess Center.


When the value of this gift is added to the funding he provided to support various programs and activities at the Chess Center since its opening in 1995, Dr. Katahn’s monetary contributions to Tennessee Chess calculate to well over a MILLION DOLLARS.  No one in the history of Tennessee chess has made a greater impact or done more to help our chess community!


How You Can Help


You might get the impression from this article that thanks to Dr. Katahn’s generosity, the Foundation for Tennessee Chess does not need your support. Nothing could be further from the truth!  Property maintenance is expensive, and interest received from the endowment fund cannot pay for everything.  Financial support for all Chess Center programs, including the Chess for Children Scholastic Chess Clubs, comes from tax-deductible charitable contributions.

That being said, each and every donation, no matter how big or small, is GREATLY appreciated and helps the Nashville Chess Center to carry on the extraordinary mission set forth by the late Dr. Martin Katahn.  To all who have continued to tirelessly support our endeavors: THANK YOU!




President - Sherri Gough  

(NM) Mariano Sana

Johnny Byrd

Treasurer David Wasiolek

Rock Campbell

David Golann

Raja Rambha

NCC Administration


Executive Director
- Todd Andrews

Assistant Director - Aaron Caveny

Director of Outreach - Epiphany Peters

NCC Office Director - coming soon!