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PALS Director Lior Lapid was appointed Head Coach and Captain of Team USA for People with Disabilities.  Following Team USA’s outstanding success in the 2020 FIDE Online Olympiad for People with Disabilities, the United States Chess Federation selected Lior to receive the 2021 US Chess Outstanding Team Achievement Award!

Click here to read about how Team USA shocked the world.

Our mission is to make learning chess FUN!

This is not only because we want to help our students become strong chess players but also, and far more importantly, because the skills that help children get good at chess are the same skills that will enhance their critical-thinking, creative-thinking, and short-term and long-term planning ability.  Learning how to evaluate positions, to discard the wrong moves and to find the right move will help children improve their decision-making skills both on and off the chessboard throughout their lives.

We strive to share our passion for chess and to promote it as a hobby that reinforces happy and healthy lifestyles. PALS offers before and after school chess clubs, private/group lessons, summer camps and scholastic tournaments to bring quality chess education and playing opportunities to children in Colorado.  A growing body of research suggests that chess is far more than a game – it is a powerful educational tool as well.  We at PALS Chess Academy are dedicated to teaching “The Royal Game” to our students in a fun and safe learning environment.

The Benefits of Chess Education

Our lessons help students develop self-esteem, sportsmanship, critical thinking, concentration, logic, imagination, patience, and planning skills through chess. The word “PALS” is not just an acronym for “Play, Achieve, Learn, Succeed” – it also reflects our view of chess as a friendly game that transcends borders, gender and generations by reinforcing the four C’s of 21st century learning: Collaboration, Communication, Critical thinking, and Creativity, all of which are emphasized and brought together through the far-reaching benefits of a worthy “Fifth C,” Chess!

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“I applaud your innovation in using your skill as a chess champion to instill strategic and forward thinking in our students.”

Tom Udall, United States Senator

“Coach Lior has been a big help preparing me for tournaments and becoming a better chess player…He has helped me select specific openings and strategy that fit my style of play. And his lessons are always fun!”

Calvin DeJong, Colorado K-6 State Champion

“PALS” stands for Play, Achieve, Learn, Succeed
Each word reflects a part our mission:


If students have fun, they will learn more. Chess learning in our classes is never dull. PALS lessons incorporate humor, stories, theatrical dialogues between the pieces and hands-on learning activities. Children who enjoy chess at a young age are likely to keep playing chess as a lifelong hobby.


Our curriculum is highly effective in preparing students to excel in chess tournaments, as our record shows.  More importantly, chess education enhances higher-order thinking and has been shown to help students improve their math problem solving skills and reading comprehension.


PALS coaches follow a curriculum aimed at maximizing each student’s learning potential in our classes.  Each of our lessons incorporates the Socratic Method, with coaches asking a series of instructive questions and encouraging our students to discover the answers for themselves.


Success in life is not relegated to academic or competitive achievements. Chess players calculate options and evaluate their consequences, reinforcing short-term and long-term planning skills in every game.  Our lessons are applied on and off the chessboard, helping students make sound decisions throughout their lives.

Founder and Head Coach Lior Lapid

For over 25 years, National Master Lior Lapid has been training chess players of all ages, serving as head instructor in dozens of scholastic and adult chess clubs Colorado, New Mexico, New York, Virginia, Mexico and Israel.  His students include many past and current scholastic State Champions in New Mexico and Colorado, former National Champions in K-3 and K-6 blitz championships, and a 12-year-old master who later became the Colorado State co-Champion.  He currently serves as team captain and head coach of Team USA for the annual FIDE Olympiad for People with Disabilities. 

Lior was a guest speaker at the 2nd Koltanowski Conference for Chess Education in Dallas; his talk focused on creative methods of chess training and motivation for young students. He has been featured in American Chess Magazine, Chess Life and several other chess publications.  Drawing on his extensive theater background, Lior’s teaching style incorporates drama, humor and storytelling to fully engage children in every lesson. He has developed dozens of unique and innovative lesson plans in a curriculum aimed at using chess to enhance life-skills such as critical thinking, patience, concentration, and step-by-step planning.


Selected Tournament Highlights
  • Captain and Coach of Team USA in the 2020 FIDE Olympiad for People with Disabilities
  • Five-time Colorado State Champion: 2013 (tied), 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2021 (tied)
  • K-9 National Champion (1997)
  • K-12 National Champion (2000)
  • Two-time Denver Open Champion (tied): 2013 and 2018
  • Southern Rocky FIDE Open Champion: 2011, ahead of two Grandmasters and two International Masters
  • Seven-time Scholastic Champion of New Mexico (K-6, K-9, and K-12 divisions): 1994-2000
  • Three-time New Mexico State Champion: 2008, 2009, and 2011