2020 Holly Heisman Memorial chess tournament at Dec 12

2020 Holly Heisman Memorial chess tournament at Dec 12

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My first wife, Susan Hollis (Holly) Bloom Heisman, passed away of breast cancer in Oct 1994. Among her social work jobs had been working with battered wives and runaway teens. She also did extensive volunteering for the American Cancer Society (I used to play simuls at the Neshaminy Mall to help raise money alongside her).

So, to honor Holly's memory, our family started a charity (Fund) at The Philadelphia Foundation called the Holly Heisman Memorial Fund. Its charter is to help women with breast cancer, battered wives, and runaway (female) teens.

Holly and Dan on a cruise.

Over the years this fund has issued grants to a variety of causes, such as women's shelters and the Evelyn Jacobs Ortner Center on Family Violence at the University of Pennsylvania.

In 2001 I took over as the chief contact for this fund when my sister, a professional fund-raiser, was named President of the National Philanthropic Trust, and became too busy to work with our small fund. Right away I thought "How can I help this fund grow?"

So it occurred to me to start a unique chess event to raise money for this charity:

  • All organizers and TDs would donate their time
  • All entries would be free
  • All prizes would be donated
  • All participants would be strongly urged (but not forced) to make a donation of any size to the Holly Heisman Memorial Fund, with $25+ per entrant suggested.
  • The playing room would either be donated free, or at least inexpensive

This charity event had been held at a local venue, but due to COVID, is online this year here at and using Zoom:

  • Date: Dec 12, 2020
  • Time: 1st Round pairings at 11 AM Eastern Time
  • What: 5 Round Swiss, 4 Sections (the first 3 are USCF online rated)
  • Who: Anyone in the world can play, limited to first 100 due to Zoom restrictions
  • Time Limit: Game in 25 minutes with a 5 second increment
  • To enter and donate (see below)

There are usually three US Chess Federation (USCF)-rated sections, but to support players from around the world who want to play at but don't want to join USCF we created a fourth :

  1. Open - open to all ages and ratings
  2. U1700 - open to all ages with ratings under 1700, and
  3. U1200 - open to all ages with ratings under 1200
  4. Non-rated - this is NOT an unrated section - it is open to anyone, any age, any rating from anywhere in the world. It is just a section that won't be submitted to USCF for rating, and thus you don't have to be a USCF member to play.

The main ratings used will be USCF standard, but if you don't have a USCF standard rating, other ratings such as USCF online or can be used. Just tell the TD if you don't have a USCF standard rating and wish to use another rating.

All sections are five-round swisses - pairings will be posted using Zoom. The time limit is usually G/25; 5-second delay so we can fit 5 rounds in before dinner. The first round is schedule for 11 AM Eastern Time so that players on the West Coast can start at 8 AM (or take a 1st round bye) and players in Europe will have a late-afternoon to evening event.

Over the years, many sponsors have donated prizes (anyone can - including YOU!). Some of our most frequent sponsors include, IM Igor Khmelnitsky, John Bain, Chess Openings Wizard, Mongoose Press, Russell Enterprises,, The Internet Chess Club, The Dan Heisman Learning Center (here at, and House of Staunton. In addition, the US Chess Federation usually offers a free Tournament Life Announcement (TLA) and covers the rating fees.

In the past few years I have no longer been the chief organizer and TD. Joshua Anderson is now the Chief TD and I help out. When we play "live", wife Shelly and son Delen are the donation collector and sells refreshments.

A big break came when former student Howard Stern offered to donate a trip to his studio! At first, we offered it as a prize, but that little affect on the fundraising (although it eventually led to my making two appearances on his show with the winners!). Things really got rolling, however, when an astute observer suggested we instead auction off Howard's trip on EBay. That was a great idea, and we've raised more funds via that route than all the others combined. Thanks, Howard!

The Holly Heisman Memorial Fund started with $3,000 in endowment but, thanks to Howard and all the other contributors, we have now made it over $100K. Thanks again to all.

Here's how you can participate as a sponsor (donate prizes), direct donor, or player:

  • For list of entries and prizes:

      • To donate a prize:


        • We ask all players to please make a tax-deductible (in US) donation to the Holly Heisman Memorial Fund at The Philadelphia Foundation. There are two ways: You can donate online via The Philadelphia Foundation (that's a live link - just click on it). Or you can send them a check, made out to "The Philadelphia Foundation" with "Holly Heisman Memorial Fund" in the memo field, and send to:    

             The Philadelphia Foundation
             1234 Market Street, Suite 1800
             Philadelphia, PA 19107

        If you can't play, please consider making a donation to help women in need! Thanks!

        You can follow the Holly Heisman Memorial Fund and many of it's grants to places that support women in need at its Facebook page (a different link to another of our charitable funds, to support junior chess in the state and area, is here).