A retired Fire Department of New York (FDNY) firefighter is teaming up with Chess Grandmaster Susan Polgar to create a chess learning system to introduce the game to new players.

As the 2016 World Chess Championship gets underway in New York City, Firefighter Joe Miccio and Polgar, the first woman to earn the coveted chess title, are teaming up to create a new digital version of QuickChess, a full chess learning system that has beginners playing mini chess games within 10 minutes. A newly-launched Kickstarter campaign will bring the award-winning game into the digital age.

The soon-to-be-offered digital version will include new challenges created by Ms. Polgar and adds modern technology and flair to the original QuickChess board, allowing players to customize each piece as well as the scenes where their games take place.  The chess pieces will also interact and suggest moves based on the in-game situation, helping players evolve their skills.

“Chess is an intellectually stimulating game and promotes cognitive growth, studies have shown,” said Firefighter Miccio.“We’ve sold hundreds of thousands of QuickChess board-games globally, and our coming interactive edition–coupled with the World Chess Championship being held in New York–will stimulate a new generation of children and young or even older adults to embrace this centuries-old game.”

Developed 25 years ago as a board game, QuickChess has sold hundreds of thousands of units in the U.S. and internationally, winning awards such as The Parents’ Choice Gold and Classic Awards, Dr. Toy Best Children’s Vacation Products and the National Parenting Publications Gold Award, among others.

“The bright lights of New York City, coupled with our digital era, means this will be one of the most watched chess championships in history,” said Ms. Polgar (America). “Chess is the world’s most popular board game, challenging minds for an estimated 1,500 years. I expect it will result in a surge of new people interested in learning to play this beautiful game.”

This is the first that the World Chess Federation (FIDE) has brought its ultimate competition to New York since 1995.  The last championship held in the U.S was 1999 in Las Vegas.

The competition pits grandmasters, Magnus Carlsen (Norway), the current World Champion, vs. Sergey Karjakin (Russia), in a battle beamed across the globe. The game’s governing body FIDE estimates the total global audience tuning in to the face-off will be hundreds-of-millions from across 179 nations.

Ms. Polgar was a child chess prodigy and four-time Women’s World Chess Champion. She won her first world title at the age of 12, was the first woman ever to qualify for the men’s championship, and the first female to earn the men’s Grandmaster title by achieving three Grandmaster norms and a rating over 2500. She led the U.S. Woman’s National Team in 2004 at the Chess Olympiad to a Silver Medal, the first medal in U.S. history. In 2006, she represented America in the Woman’s World Chess Cup defeating Germany’s top competitor, bringing the U.S. its first-ever Woman’s World Chess Cup.

She served as head coach of the #1 ranked Texas Tech chess team, a two-time national chess champion. In June 2012, she moved to St. Louis to create a powerhouse collegiate chess program at Webster University, leading them to four straight national championships and the #1 ranked Division 1 team in the country.

“Playing chess has countless benefits,” she said. “It teaches discipline; it improves concentration; it develops problem solving and decision-making skills. QuickChess is a quick and easy entrance into a challenging game, especially for kids.”

Firefighter Miccio served 33 years as one of New York’s Bravest, working at Ladder 127 in Jamaica and Engine 295 in Whitestone, both in Queens. He invented QuickChess to teach the others the game and became a full-time entrepreneur. The Kickstarter campaign’s goal is to raise $55,000, with chess enthusiasts having agreed to match the pledges.

“In an era when parents worry about kids spending so much time frivolously online, we are trying to spotlight chess as an intelligent alternative that is actually easy to learn through QuickChess,” he added.

Supporters of the QuickChess Kickstarter campaign will receive copies of the physical board game and are first in line to receive the new digital edition, which includes unique customizations only available to supporters. Higher-level supporters will receive personalized chess lessons Ms. Polgar in person or via Skype.  Additional incentives for contributing to the Kickstarter campaign include playing a head-to-head matchup against the inventor or having him visit a school or community organization to play up to 30 simultaneous games against the whole class.


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