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
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).
Due to the
government mandated school shut-downs of 2020 and '21, we have greatly expanded our online presence and
Online School Programs.
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
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
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,
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
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.
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
Chess.com website. His username on
Carolyn Pancoast C&O-FCC
Carolyn B. Pancoast,
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
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 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
and continues with us part
time. His Chess.com Username is
Last Update 09/17/23