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Club of the Month: Dan Heisman Learning Center

Club of the Month: Dan Heisman Learning Center

Mick
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June's Club of the Month is the Dan Heisman Learning Center (DHLC). The club's founder, NM Dan Heisman, is an award-winning chess author and full-time chess instructor who has been sharing his knowledge for decades in person, on YouTube, and across the pages of twelve different books on chess.

The Dan Heisman Learning Center has attracted over 17,000 members on Chess.com, and offers a welcoming environment for all players who are seeking to play chess with slower time controls. It's arguably the best place online to play chess with a 30|30 time control (30 minutes for the game + a 30-second increment per move). 

Want to know more about how to manage the daily operations of such a large and successful online chess club? We got in touch with NM Dan Heisman and DHLC Super Admin Dave Giltinan, aka Eternal_Patzer, to find out!


Meet the Dan Heisman Learning Center team:

An image of NM Dan Heisman

NM Dan Heisman, Founder, and Contributor

The Chess.com profile picture of Eternal_Patzer, a cute teddy bear.

Dave Giltinan aka Eternal Patzer, Super Admin

Chess.com: How would you describe the Dan Heisman Learning Center?

Heisman: A club to help players improve their game, primarily by offering access to slow time control games, answering questions about improvement, as well as links to my articles/videos/books about improvement.

Giltinan: A friendly group with a focus on slow chess; we play live games with a time control of at least 30 minutes.

Can you share the history of the DHLC with our readers?

Heisman: We came up with the idea for the club about 10 years ago (July 2012). The idea was to promote slow chess. Around that time I had a TV show for Chess.com called "Q&A with Coach Heisman" and I periodically posted blogs and articles. Thanks to Dave Giltinan and some tournament directors (notably Bob Lenning), we were able to coordinate with another club, The Slow Chess League, and provide tournament and league play for our members.

Giltinan: I'm a longtime student of Dan's. We started the DHLC back in July of 2012 not too long after he started spending more time on Chess.com. He was already a well-established presence on the ICC (Internet Chess Club), but I thought the DHLC would give Chess.com members a nice venue to get to Dan and each other. We quickly decided to focus on slower live time controls, like 30|30 and 45|45 since there are already lots of groups on Chess.com that focus on speed games or daily chess. Hard to believe it's been 10 years!

What inspired you to take a leadership role and start your chess club?

Heisman: It seemed a natural way to help Chess.com members find slow games. My students have often complained that: "No one on Chess.com will play slow chess with me" or something similar, so I wrote this page on my website and started the club.

Giltinan: Somebody had to get the ball rolling. Turned out that was us, apparently. 

What role do you think physical chess clubs should take as players continue to embrace online play?

Heisman: I am also a member of the local Main Line Chess Club (www.mainlinechess.com). While online play is the most convenient, OTB chess is the "original" and most social form of the game. It's also trivially easy to find slow games OTB at the Main Line club (USCF-rated game each week), and also much easier to get "live" opponents to review the game with you afterward, a key part of chess improvement.

A screenshot showing multiple slow chess tournaments listed online at the Dan Heisman Learning Center.
The Dan Heisman Learning Center has frequent tournaments with slow time controls.

What separates your chess club from other clubs?

Heisman: Other than easy access (we are one of the largest Chess.com clubs with 17,600 members), I don't think we are "special." Hopefully, members can connect with other members through events and messages, and make use of contact with me via my website www.danheisman.com.

Besides our Chess.com presence, we support a variety of online and live events and things. For example, each year I host a charity chess tournament, the Holly Heisman Memorial fundraiser (usually live, but during the pandemic it was held on Chess.com), where we have raised tens of thousands of dollars for women in need (breast cancer, runaway teens, victims of domestic violence).

This is a USCF-rated one-day-a-year event with donated prizes and no entry fee, but entrants are asked to make a tax-deductible contribution to the charitable fund via The Philadelphia Foundation; the online link is here.

Giltinan: Our number one asset is Dan Heisman, who is a living legend chess teacher and author. Dan teaches that playing serious games at slow time controls and learning from them is a vital step in becoming a better player. The DHLC is a great place to do that.

A screenshot showing the 10 highest-ranked players at the DHLC, including several titled players.
The DLHC has over 17,000 members, including several titled players.

Does your club support scholastic chess?

Heisman: Yes, but we are not specifically focused on scholastic chess. I have coached many top scholastic players such as National HS and Denker Champion SM Dan Yeager, US Cadet Co-Champion NM Matt Traldi, NM Dr. Dan Benjamin, and more.

What Chess.com tools do your members use the most? What features would you like to see from Chess.com in the future?

Heisman: We use the tournament scheduling bot. I would like to see more features in the future that would enable new Chess.com members to connect much more easily with other members who want to play long time control games (30|5 or preferably much slower). I've suggested a Chess.com blog or video that new members could easily find to that effect.

Giltinan: Live chess is our top tool. We'd love to see a 30|30 button.

What advice would you give to clubs on Chess.com that are just starting out and would like to grow?

Heisman: Communicate with your members. Because I am not the main Super Admin for the Dan Heisman Learning Center and instruct chess full-time, I cannot devote as much time as I would like to DHLC, but I try to answer each and every person who reaches out to me via my website and periodically post at the club that I am available to do so.

Giltinan: Grow the group one member at a time. Show personal interest in new members. Encourage initiative. Don't micromanage hard-working Admins, who are hard to find and easy to burn out!

How can Chess.com members get involved in your club?

Heisman: They can join via https://www.chess.com/club/dan-heisman-learning-center.

Giltinan: Go to our home page and click "Join." Try our events. If you'd like to help out, message me on Chess.com: Eternal_Patzer. We can always use help!


Thanks to the Dan Heisman Learning Center team for providing us with their answers for this month's article. 

If you'd like to nominate a Chess.com club for our next Club of the Month article, fill out the nomination form below:

Previous Clubs of the Month:

Mick
Mick Murray

Mick is a writer and editor for Chess.com and ChessKid. He enjoys playing the Caro-Kann and Italian Game to varying degrees of success. Before joining Chess.com, Mick worked as a writer, editor, and content manager in Japan, New Zealand, and the Netherlands.

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