Students II

C&O FCC Home
Links, etc.
Online/School Programs
Summer Programs
Private Instruction
Students I
Students II
LFM Club




A USCF and C&O
sponsored web site.
Practice checkmates,
handicap games, or a
whole game against the
CMS computer on the
free web site from
Chess Magnet School
If you have trouble
connecting to the Java
applet try this alternate
address for help:
Help Site

Chess Secrets of
the Ancients!

7 Things To Do in
the First 10 Moves

...the full text document (10 pages). For summary see below.

The 10 Bad Moves
...the full text document (11 pages). For summary see below

Four Move Checkmate, etc.
The "Four-Move Checkmate" & Other Opening Traps...  illustrates common themes often used by beginners to achieve a quick win. (4 pages

Chess Analysis Symbols
This guide to chess analysis symbols is recommended to beginner and intermediate players.

How to Learn an Opening
(The C&O Way)

A tried and true introduction for those ready to move onward, and upward! (2 pages)Below are some popular openings to start with.

Italian Opening
(Giuoco Piano)

ECO C50, C53-C54

French Defense
ECO C00-C19

Sicilian Defense
ECO B20-B99

Queen's Gambit
ECO D06-D69

Other Chess Notations

Descriptive, Forsythe, etc. Registration Instructions

All C&O students should register on to access additional instruction, and regular practice with other students and staff.

 ESSENTIAL CHESS CURRICULUM SUMMARIES (Students should all have these print-outs.)

Chess Notation

Opening Basics

The 10 Bad Moves



C&O Family Chess Center
Student Page II
for Intermediate and Advanced Students
(Including Home-School Students)
(Updated 12/14/20)

Omar Pancoast III, Senior Coach    

Welcome scholastic players!  This page is especially for advanced beginner and intermediate players, those whose club rating is Level 5 through 12 (USCF 500 - 1200).  However, there is plenty here for lower and higher rated players as well, particularly if you are relatively new to tournament play or other organized chess.  When many students get to Levels 4 or 5 (USCF 400-599) they find that they are better than most of their friends, but may also find that they have stopped improving.  Lessons with a private coach or our Saturday Morning Chess Club can definitely help, but many students are too busy to add time for a coach or another class.  We have an answer!  This page of our website is devoted to you. 

C&O Students at the 2008 World Open in Phila., PA                                                                    photo by R. Jabbado

    On the Students I page I listed the "Student Responsibilities" for all club members.  These are part of the basic habits that can help you to advance from a casual player at the beginner levels to the intermediate levels and higher.  But by themselves they are not enough.  A smart soccer coach once put it this way:

"The will to win" means nothing
without "the will to prepare!"

    One of my students had that written on the back of his T-shirt and it struck home right away.  Too many students think that just getting older is enough to achieve all of their goals. Not so!  This is especially true of some players with a lot of natural talent!  If you have come to a point in your chess career where you are bored because the competition is too easy, or discouraged because they're too tough, you may find some suggestions, here, for changes in your routine to make chess fun again, as well as improving your skill. One step you can take is to learn a new way to open the game.  In the left margin are some downloads to help you get started. Try this one first: How To Learn an Opening.  We have also been adding basic opening videos for all players.  Check out our offerings on our "Links, etc." page.

    The single best way to improve your playing ability (and it's free) is to "play over" and analyze your own games, identify the mistakes, and find improved moves to help you in your next game.  In order to do this you must be able to "record," or write down, the moves.  You can learn how to read and write chess notation very easily from our Journal download on Students I or from the CMS lessons or It may seem distracting at first, but regular practice quickly makes the task easy.  Then you can even show your games to friends or take them to a coach for an instructive lesson.  Score sheets for easily recording moves are also available on "Students Page I."

Practice and Competition

Any student who wants to play against students from other schools, is welcome to come to the Lakeforest Mall (LFM) chess club in Gaithersburg.  That club, located in the food court, offers relaxed and friendly "free play" to everyone, seven-days-a-week.   It was started for players of beginner and intermediate strength... players just like you and your friends.  You are welcome to bring friends and/or family members when you come.  Friday evenings, and Saturdays from 12:00 noon to at least 4:00 PM, are usually the times with the most scholastic players.  Saturdays is usually when Coach Omar Pancoast is scheduled to be there from 9:00 to 1:00 or 2:00 PM (see the "Saturday Morning Chess Club" on the "Instruction" page).  However, there are players there every day and you can find many experienced adults who are willing to give you a game and a few pointers.  You may also meet and play some high-ranked players. See the LFM Club page for more details. 

For higher level competition you are also invited to play on the internet at That site is now our "standard" online place for competition with fellow club-members and others, including coaches and players from around the globe.  Free registration provides basic features, unlimited play, new friends, and study with articles by master players from all over the world.  Coach Omar also offers online instruction there at reasonable rates (see the "Instruction" page).

For USCF-rated competition check out local and MD State tournaments.  See the Events page for details. offers online tournaments for players of all levels.


Chess in the library                                                                                                   Fields Road E.S.      C&O FCC






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