The C&O Family Chess Center
"When the student is ready... the teacher will appear!"
Coach Pancoast teaching at Peaberrys Coffee House October, 2000 by anon.
C&O Family Chess Center
B. Ross Pancoast, Director
Omar Pancoast III, Certified USCF Chess Coach
Carolyn B. Pancoast, Program Director
217 West Diamond Avenue
Gaithersburg, MD 20877-2106
Who We Are!
The C&O Family Chess Center is a U.S.Chess Federation (USCF) Scholastic Affiliate. The USCF is the official sanctioning body for "over the board" tournament play in the U.S. With over 80,000 members, the USCF offers something for every player, from beginner to Grandmaster! In addition to rating tournaments, the USCF supports and promotes chess activities throughout the U.S. and publishes Chess Life, the monthly national magazine for members. ...and much more. For more details link to their official website (on the left).
The C&O Family Chess Center began in 1990 as part of the C&O Family Learning Center, a Gaithersburg based, family run business which provided early childhood and pre-school education, tutoring, and chess instruction to area families for
over 30 years. In addition to individual and group chess instruction for all ages, we currently offer scholastic and summer chess programs to public and private schools, as well as home-school families. C&O Family Chess Center is also the principal sponsor of The Chess Club at Lakeforest Mall, which provides a meeting place for chess players seven-days-a-week
and is home to our "Saturday Morning Chess Club" (SMCC). For a list of current scholastic programs see our "Scholastic" page.
Coach Ross C&O-FCC
Ross Pancoast, Director
He has two children of his own.
Coach Ross has had many years experience working with children. He has a degree in psychology and worked for the Montgomery Child Care Association for five years. He began playing chess in the 3rd grade. He joined us in 2004 teaching beginners in our
summer chess programs. Since then he has been the chess coach in a number of schools, including
College Gardens, Sherwood, Spark Matsunaga, Rachel Carson, Ronald McNair,
He took over as Director of the Chess Center in January of
2019, when his father retired from the full time position. As a professional level Disc Golfer, and avid outdoorsman Ross also directs the afternoon (games
and outdoor adventure) portion of our summer programs.
Coach Omar C&O-FCC
Omar Pancoast, Senior Coach
Coach Pancoast is a
USCF Life Member, Certified USCF Chess Coach and full-time, professional, chess teacher with more than 40 years of experience. He recently retired from the
full-time Director's position to spend more time working with
individual private students.
He was formerly a vice-president of the
Maryland Chess Association (MCA) where he was responsible for club development, and was the Chess Director and Co-Founder (with John Goon) of the Montgomery Chess & Go Assn. (MCGA) which promoted both chess and "go." He specializes in teaching chess to beginners and intermediate players regardless of age. He also coaches adults who "used to play" and want to get back into it (
"It's never too late to have a happy childhood!" ). He provides challenging and fun
instruction to individuals and groups in schools, libraries and other locations. He also helps conduct our
summer chess programs.
the principal developer and author of the Center's study
materials and curriculum. Most recently he has organized a
"C&O Online-Membership" component for all our members
Chess.com website. His username on
During the summers of 2000 and 2001 he took time from his own programs to assist National Master Noureddine Ziane's Chess Camp Tour, including the largest chess camp (at that time) ever held in the U.S. (at the Hockaday School in Dallas, Texas) and other chess camps (including one at the National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C.).
Carolyn Pancoast C&O-FCC
Carolyn B. Pancoast, Program Director
Mrs. Pancoast is a thirty year veteran of early childhood development and education. She is the founder and director of C&O Family Learning Center and
Program Director for the C&O Family Chess Center. In this capacity she coordinates
summer chess programs as well as scheduling
private lessons for individual students. She
has also assisted at center sponsored chess tournaments and other events. She is often the first contact that
parents of new players have with the center.
D. James Cox, Instructor
Coach James, a Gaithersburg native, has
many years of chess experience. He has been Coach Ross's friend since Elementary School and was Coach Omar's student in the 1980's. He assists
Coach Ross in several of the center's scholastic clubs. He has also assisted at tournaments.
His Chess.com username is
Daniel O'Connor, Instructor
Coach Danny, a Gaithersburg native, was
a C&O student, and then a CIT, for several years. He
organized and helped run the club at Quince Orchard H.S. when
he was there and currently assists our coaches in several of the center's clubs and other programs. He has also assisted at tournaments.
He is currently a student at the University of Maryland, and
his Chess.com username is
Last Update 2/04/19