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PALS' History


National Master Lior Lapid has been coaching chess to students of all ages for over 25 years.  He has been featured in Chess Life Magazine, Chess Life Online, American Chess Magazine, CNN and NPR, and was a guest speaker at the Second Koltanowski International Conference on Chess and Education.  With extensive experience working as head instructor in dozens of school chess clubs and summer chess camps in Colorado, New Mexico, New York, Virginia, Mexico and Israel, Lior’s lifelong passion for chess education is shared with all students and fellow coaches at PALS Chess Academy.  In 2022, Lior was selected to receive the annual Community Champion Award presented by the Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation.

Lior serves as captain and head coach of Team USA for People with Disabilities and received the 2021 Outstanding Team Achievement Award from the United States Chess Federation for Team USA’s outstanding success in the 2020 Chess Olympiad for People with Disabilities.  “A Million Dreams,” a short documentary about the team’s experience in the Olympiad, is currently in production (watch the teaser here).  He trained National Masters Sullivan and Griffin McConnell, star students who both became masters and Colorado state champions under his tutelage. Griffin’s life story was recently featured in a short documentary (Griffin’s Gambit) produced by Chess.com.

Lior has coached numerous scholastic state champions in New Mexico and Colorado, including a team from Aspen Elementary in Los Alamos that won the K-6 National Blitz (speed chess) Championship in 2011 and the K-3 National Blitz Championship in 2012.  He also works as the Program Chair of Pixical’s online chess program, guiding curriculum development for a personalized training system taught by highly qualified coaches including International Masters and Grandmasters.

Coach Lior’s teaching style incorporates a lot of humor and storytelling to fully engage children in every lesson.   His innovative curriculum integrates kid-friendly humor with serious learning, with each unique lesson designed to ensure that children have fun while learning chess and higher-order thinking skills.  PALS Chess Academy students and their parents frequently share positive feedback on lessons that are designed to enhance life-skills such as critical thinking, concentration, and both short-term and long-term planning.  Lior’s goal, shared by all coaches at PALS Chess Academy, is to help students develop a true passion for “The Royal Game,” a powerful intellectual pursuit that helps people of all ages grow far beyond the limits of the chessboard.

Selected Tournament Highlights

Five-time Colorado State Champion: 2013 (tied), 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2021 (tied)
K-9 National Champion in 1997
K-12 National Champion in 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

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