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This is our C&O
practice web site.
Basic rules, piece
names and moves,
as well as other
basics for new, or
novice, players are
covered on this free,
inter-active site from


"Chess Basics..."
"PDF" file (.pdf)

A 34 page introduction
to the rules, moves, and
basic strategies of chess.



U.S. Chess

The official sanctioning body for "over the board" tournament play in the US. With over 90,000 members,
 USCF offers something for every player, from beginner
to Grandmaster!
In addition to rating tournaments, the USCF supports and promotes chess activities throughout the US and publishes Chess Life, the monthly national magazine for members
  ...and much more.

MD Chess


The state affiliate of the USCF.    MCA sponsors Maryland chess tournaments (including the Maryland Open, the Maryland Junior and Senior Championships, the Maryland Scholastic and Team Championships, etc.).  It maintains a directory of Maryland chess clubs and teachers, and a calendar of upcoming tournaments and other events ...and more.







The C&O Family Chess Center

"When the student is ready... the teacher will appear!"


Senior Coach Omar Pancoast teaching at Peaberrys Coffee House                                                      October, 2000          anon.

C&O Family Chess Center
B. Ross Pancoast, Director
Omar Pancoast III, Senior Chess Coach
Carolyn B. Pancoast, Senior Staff

217 West Diamond Avenue

Gaithersburg, MD 20877-2106
Phone 301-963-9122  


Who We Are!

The C&O Family Chess Center is a U.S.Chess Federation (USCF) Scholastic Affiliate. The USCF is the official sanctioning body for "over the board" tournament play in the U.S.  With over 80,000 members, the USCF offers something for every player, from beginner to Grandmaster!  In addition to rating tournaments, the USCF supports and promotes chess activities throughout the U.S. and publishes Chess Life, the monthly national magazine for members.  ...and much more.  For more details link to their official website (on the left).

The C&O Family Chess Center began in 1990 as part of the C&O Family Learning Center, a Gaithersburg based, family run business which provided early childhood and pre-school education, tutoring, and chess instruction to area families for over 30 years.  In addition to individual and group chess instruction for all ages, we currently offer scholastic and summer-chess programs to public and private schools, as well as home-school families.  C&O Family Chess Center was also the sponsor of The Chess Club at Lakeforest Mall, (now defunct due to the mall closure) which provided a meeting place for chess players seven-days-a-week and was home to our "Saturday Morning Chess Club" (SMCC).
   For a list of current scholastic Zoom programs  see our "Online/School Programs" page. 

Due to the government mandated school shut-downs of 2020 and '21, we have greatly expanded our online presence and added new Online School Programs.

Coach Ross                                                                                                                                                                                   C&O-FCC

Ross Pancoast, Director

     Coach Ross has had many years experience working with children and coaching chess.  He has a degree in psychology and worked for the Montgomery Child Care Association for five years.  He began playing chess in the 3rd grade. He joined us in 2004 teaching beginners in our summer chess programs.  Since then he has been the chess coach in a number of elementary schools, including College Gardens, Sherwood, Spark Matsunaga, Rachel Carson, Ronald McNair, and others. 

      He took over as Director of the Chess Center in January of 2019, when his father, Coach Omar, retired from the full time position.  As a professional level Disc Golfer, and avid outdoorsman Ross also directs the afternoon (games and outdoor adventure) portion of  our summer programs.  He has two children of his own.

    Coach Omar                                                                                                                                                                                   C&O-FCC

Omar Pancoast, Senior Coach

     Coach Omar  is a USCF Life Member, former "Certified USCF Chess Coach" and former Tournament Director.  He is still a part-time, professional, chess teacher with more than 50 years of experience.  He recently retired from the full-time Director's position to spend more time working with individual private students.

     He was formerly a vice-president of the Maryland Chess Association (MCA) and was the Chess Director and Co-Founder (with John Goon) of the Montgomery Chess & Go Assn. (MCGA) which promoted both chess and "go."  He specializes in teaching chess to beginners and intermediate players, regardless of age.  He also coaches adults who "used to play" and want to get back into it ("It's never too late to have a happy childhood!" ).  He provides challenging and fun private instruction to individuals and small groups, both online and at the Chess Center.  He also helps conduct our summer chess programs. His former students include several National Masters and an International Master.

     He is the principal developer and author of the Chess Center's study materials and curriculum.  Most recently he has organized a "C&O Online" component for all our members on the Chess.com website. His username on Chess.com is CoachOmar.

Carolyn Pancoast                                                                                                                                                                         C&O-FCC

Carolyn B. Pancoast, Senior Staff

Mrs. Pancoast
is a thirty year veteran of early childhood development and education.  She is the founder and director of C&O Family Learning Center and was formerly the Program Director for the C&O Family Chess Center. In this capacity she helped coordinate scholastic and summer chess programs. She has also assisted at past center sponsored chess tournaments and other events.  She is often the first contact that parents of new players have with the center.

Daniel O'Connor, Associate Coach
Coach Danny, a Gaithersburg native, has been with C&O since he was in Elementary School and was Coach Ross's student from Kindergarten, on.  He became a leader at the Quinch Orchard H.S. Chess Club and then he assisted Coach Ross in several of the center's scholastic clubs and Summer Programs, and continues with us part time.  His Chess.com Username is 123yesorno.



Last Update 09/17/23