CJA Awards Judges
A short bio for each of the judges for the CJA Awards can be found on this page. If you are judge and are not on this page, please email your bio and headshot to email@example.com.
FM Matthew Bengtson
FM Matthew Bengtson, a retired FIDE master, wrote numerous articles for Chess Horizons, including a sprawling analysis over many pages of a minor-piece endgame that won a CJA award for Best Analysis. As a teacher and coach he has taught in the Masters of the 21st Century program, and in summer camps in the Philadelphia area. As a private coach, has worked with some talented junior players. Recently highlighted on My Best Move column, Mr. Bengtson is a renowned concert pianist who has performed internationally, including two appearances at the US Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis. He is Assistant Professor of Piano Literature at the University of Michigan.
Dr. Alexey Root
Since the fall of 1999, Dr. Alexey W. Root, Woman International Master, has been a lecturer at The University of Texas at Dallas, teaching online courses about chess in education. Her books Children and Chess: A Guide for Educators (2006); Science, Math, Checkmate: 32 Chess Activities for Inquiry and Problem Solving (2008); Read, Write, Checkmate: Enrich Literacy With Chess Activities (2009); People, Places, Checkmates: Teaching Social Studies With Chess (2010); and The Living Chess Game: Fine Arts Activities for Kids 9-14 (2011) were published by ABC-CLIO. Her books Thinking With Chess: Teaching Children Ages 5-14 (2012) and Prepare With Chess Strategy (2016) were published by Mongoose Press. Her book United States Women’s Chess Champions, 1937–2020 will be available in 2022 from McFarland. The Web site for her books is amazon.com/author/alexeyroot and her faculty Web site is https://is.utdallas.edu/academics/chess/alexey-root/Root’s freelance writing has been published by US Chess, ChessBase, SparkChess, Texas Chess Association, Big Think, and The Conversation.
FM Mike Klein
Mike Klein began playing chess at the age of four in Charlotte, NC. In 1986, he lost to Josh Waitzkin at the National Championship featured in the movie “Searching for Bobby Fischer.” A year later, Mike became the youngest member of the very first All-America Chess Team, and was on the team a total of eight times. In 1988, he won the K-3 National Championship, and eventually became North Carolina’s youngest-ever master. In 1996, he won clear first for under-2250 players in the top section of the World Open. Mike has taught chess full-time for a dozen years in New York City and Charlotte, with his students and teams winning many national championships. He now works at Chess.com as a Senior Journalist and ChessKid.com as the Chief Chess Officer, where he is well known as the voice of most of the instructional videos. In 2012, 2015, and 2018, he was awarded Chess Journalist of the Year by the Chess Journalists of America. He has also previously won other awards from the CJA such as Best Tournament Report, and also several writing awards for mainstream newspapers. His chess writing and personal travels have now brought him to more than 85 countries.
Mark N. Taylor
Former senior editor of the Georgia Chess Magazine (2008-2014)
Former senior editor of The Chess Journalist (2010-2014)
Presently retired from chess journalism
Anthony Gold is a trial lawyer and chess player. He lives in Reno, Nevada.
Fascinated with chess since the 1960s and have been a life member of USCF for more than 50 years. Played in first USCF tournament in 1971 and still play in online and over-the-board tournaments in all time controls.
Long-term writer, editor, interviewer, blogger, and social media planner. Still active as part-time editor for Chess.com and have edited writers at all levels of chess skills, including international and grandmaster.
My chess blog has 1,900 followers, and my most-read online chess article has had 427,000 views. Winner of CJA awards in categories of best chess blog, online feature article, online historical article, online educational lesson, best humorous contribution, and best personal narrative.
Howard Goldowsky“Howard Goldowsky has been writing long-form profiles of chess players and chess personalities for 20 years. His first major piece was a profile of Mig Greengard for the once great and now defunct Chess Cafe website. His latest major piece, in 2014, was “How to Catch a Chess Cheater,” a profile of IM and Computer Science Professor Ken Regan, for Chess Life. Goldowsky’s work from the first decade of his writing career has been collected in Engaging Pieces (Daowood & Brighton, 2007), and in 2010 Goldowsky edited the chess short story anthology Masters of Technique (Mongoose Press). The title of his next chess book will be something like Man Over Board: Enjoying Chess with the Fish. “
Dan has worked for US Chess since late 2005. Since June 2018 he has been the Senior Director of Strategic Communication; prior to that he served as the Director of Publications. He was the second-longest serving editor of Chess Life in that magazine’s 70+ year history. In his current position he is responsible for all US Chess external and internal communications, which includes all print publications, the editorial sections of uschess.org, and social media. He is a past president of CJA, a former editor of Georgia Chess, and the host of the podcast “One Move at a Time” as well as the originator of the podcast “Cover Stories with Chess Life,” both of which are available at uschess.org.
Rachel was on the USCF Executive Board as Secretary from 1993 to 1999 and is the founder and project leader for the US Chess Outreach Committee’s CAPA (Chess as a Positive Alternative) project. Both were officers of the Tempe Chess Club for over 40 years. They are both US Chess Delegates at Large and currently do what they can to involve today’s youth with chess and firmly believe that chess is a good solution to many of the ills of today’s society.
When I was about 5 years old I was at my Grandmother’s house and my Uncle had a game of chess set up in the basement. I asked him to show me how to play. He said it was too complicated for me. I pestered and pestered him the rest of the day. Finally he gave in, but said that he was only going to show me one time how the pieces moved and if I forgot after that it was my own fault. I am not sure if I really remembered all the moves or he helped some, but from then on the game became a lifelong passion. Soon after I received as a birthday present my first two books on Chess: Lasker’s Manual of Chess and Mason’s Art of Chess. That was it, I was hooked on Chess Literature. I began collecting any and all books, articles, etc. I have a Chess Library of about 1000 volumes (now I just need the time to read them all). About 15 years ago I took over as the editor of the Iowa Chess News En Passant and have been doing it ever since. The En Passant has won a few CJA Awards over the years. I have had articles in Chess Life, Chess Life Online and one of my correspondence games appeared in a book called Thinkers’ Chess by Stephan Gerzadowicz. I served as judge in the CJA Awards about 5 years ago and am very happy to be doing it again.
David Sands has been a reporter and editor at the Washington Times since 1987, covering business, economics, Capitol Hill and foreign affairs. He is currently assistant managing editor of the Times and Foreign News editor. He has published a weekly column on local, national and international chess news and events since 1993, succeeding the late Ed Albaugh, the chess columnist for the Washington Star and the Washington Times.
Eric C. JohnsonEric C. Johnson has played or been involved in chess for over 35 years. He first began playing in US Chess Federation-rated tournaments in 1980. His peak rating of 2227 makes him a USCF National Master. Johnson worked for the US Chess Federation as an Assistant Director of National Events from 1994 to 1999. He is the organizer and one of the founding members of the Allentown Center City Chess Club. He holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Lehigh University.