Getting to know Rachel Schechter


Getting Personal: Rachel Schechter

Sun, 10/22/2017 - 7:00am | Paul Wood

Each week, we offer a Q&A with a local personality. Today, staff writer Paul Woodchats with RACHEL A. SCHECHTER of Champaign, the Illinois Chess Association Youth Committee member who serves as chess instructor at the Montessori School of Champaign-Urbana and is a former instructor at Carrie Busey and Dr. Howard elementary schools and Dr. G's ChessWorks. Schechter, who says she's "old enough to remember rotary phones," loves cats and the Northern Lights.

Where are you from?

I was born in New Jersey and have lived in Maine, California and briefly in Scandinavia.

How did you get into chess?

My parents gave me a chess set when I was 7. I have been playing ever since; my cousin and I made our own pieces out of empty perfume bottles. We filled them up with colored water and named each piece. I competed on the club level, but I'm a much better teacher.

What interests you the most right now?

Right now, I'm committed to establishing a permanent chess center here in C-U for players of all ages. I've taught kindergarten through college for 20-plus years and can honestly say that everyone can learn and benefit from the royal game. Parents, educators, supporters — the community itself. It's all about "playing it forward." Today's premiere Treasure Chess K-12 Scholastic Tournament (from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.) at the Illini Union is the beginning, with 100 percent of net profits going to the Eastern Illinois Foodbank and Family Service of Champaign County.

What was a pivotal decision in your career and how did you arrive at that decision?

October 1999, I was teaching a lit class at Ramapo College, N.J. "The Seventh Seal"? "Alice Through the Looking Glass"? Chess metaphors took hold. Naturally, we discussed the elusive genius, Bobby Fischer, whom I once met. I took out a chessboard; several students took to the game. A few started a chess club. I'd played in clubs and tournaments when I was younger but chose to steep myself in poetry rather than pawns.

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