November 2014 –
CCL was founded a little over 7 years ago in August 2007, when its founder National Master Alan Casden retired from careers in computer science and clinical psychology. The program was based on a concept that is different from almost every other chess program in the United States. The traditional model in the US is that a student will have a single coach which guides them through their chess development. In CCL, a student will usually have multiple coaches who work as a team in providing the best possible service to the student. The program’s motto, “the kids come first”, serves as a guidepost for all of the decisions that are made in the program. All decisions are aimed at putting the student’s needs clearly beyond those of their coaches or their parents. The students are viewed as the owners of this process and they are the people who are seen as being responsible for the outcome, with the coaches and the program as tools that the student is empowered to use to reach their goals. Thus the center of control for the student’s progression is always placed on the student. They will succeed with this power through hard work and their choices. There is not an almighty coach dispensing his wisdom on the student; the student is leveraging the knowledge of their capable coaches along with other experiences, to be the best player that they can be. Although this may sound like semantics, it is at the core of the philosophy of CCL. The student is empowered, and his ability to use this power will determine his success.
CCL does everything that it can to allow this empowered student to achieve his goals. We get the best coaches from around the world, such as International Masters Goran Vojinovic (Serbia) and Atanas Kizov (Macedonia), who will truly put the students first; we charge reasonable prices so that it is a program for almost everyone; we provide a wealth of training materials; integrate best practices from programs worldwide, and most of all we provide a sub-culture of chess players where the players all support each other. In the US most chess players are not exposed to many other players in a social environment, chess is not always placed in high esteem. To counteract this, we have many chess activities designed to build group cohesiveness. Within the world of CCL, we try to have our students feel that they are part of a larger group, a family of chess players and friends, who know that each other are involved in an activity of great worth.
It is through these ideals that we have grown through the years to become one of the best chess programs in the country. Two years ago we had 7 of our students attend the World Youth championships and this year we had 10 qualify for the World Youth Championships. That means that about 10% of our students qualify to play in the Chess World Championship for Youths. There are many national and state champions in our ranks. Every year our program has been accelerating as the students become more integrated into the CCL culture.
Initially, we were based only in the State of Ohio, where we changed the chess landscape. We have transformed chess in Ohio, causing Ohio to start to become recognized as a chess power in the USA. Most of the major adult tournaments in Ohio are being won by the young members of the CCL family. There is a changing of the guard in Ohio, the seat of power is now with the young.
We have defined a new approach to chess in Ohio and are now expanding. We are taking our successful formula outside of Ohio, with students in 10 states plus Europe and Canada, the CCL model of success is started to expand across the globe.