Conrad has been taking private lessons from Noureddine Ziane
for about three years.
Ziane also teaches at St. Mark's and coaches the school's chess team.
said playing chess is good for young people because there is so much they can learn from the game.
"Besides the competition and all of that, chess teaches you discipline," Ziane
Conrad and Ziane
attribute the game's popularity and longevity to the skill and concentration required to beat an opponent.
"That's like me going up against the world champion," said St. Mark's coach Noureddine Ziane, no chess slouch.
pulled up to University Park Elementary School
at 6:56 a.m., a man on a mission.
A bag was in one hand, a board in the other.
It was a chessboard, and his
purpose was simple.
Early every Thursday, kids assemble in the cafeteria and media room of University Park Elementary to play chess.
job is to teach the kids to polish their games - or to learn the basics.
The Moroccan chess pro has been doing it for two years, and he's
been working with elementary-school-aged kids since 1993.
At the start of the year, he
said, many of the beginning students didn't even know what chess was.
Now they know all of the moves - even complicated ones like castling.
"Many of them progress extremely quickly," he
said, "even faster than adults."
"Paul Murphy walks into a club and someone says, 'You're Paul Murphy - the best chess player ever!' " Mr. Ziane
shouted with a wide smile.
The point of the exercise, Mr. Ziane
explained, was to guess Murphy's moves in response to the other player's.
As Mr. Ziane
made the moves for black, the kids hazarded guesses for white - Murphy's color.
egged them on.
The classes at St. Mark's School of Texas were one of a series Mr. Ziane teaches at Dallas-area schools, in addition to $40-an-hour private sessions.
In the process, he
has coached five students onto the U.S. Chess Federation's Top 50 list of student chess players, with four more expected to join them when the list is updated in February.
Mr. Ziane, 24, a native of Morocco, graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas in May.
students, some of whom started playing chess as young as 3 years old, Mr. Ziane
"I was at a youth center in Tangier playing basketball," he
"There were people playing chess there, and I started watching them."
By age 15, he
won the Moroccan Junior Championship.
Three years later, in 1993, he
came to Rochester, N.Y., as an exchange student and the next year won the New York high school championship.
He eventually went to UTD on a chess scholarship and graduated with a bachelor's degree in computer science.
Dean, one of Mr. Ziane's best students at St. Mark's, recently won an areawide match and credits his coach for his success.
Katie Stone, Mr. Ziane's wife and business partner, said students are required to study chess for several hours a week, in addition to taking the weekly lessons.
Doing that work can be more important than natural talent, Mr. Ziane
"Chess is about 90 percent studying and the rest maybe is talent," he
"You can have talent, but the guy who puts in the practice will beat you."
Among his students is Bryan Pernes, 12, whose parents drive him once a week from southwest Fort Worth for lessons at Mr. Ziane's
home in north Plano.
Her husband, Tim, is an accomplished chess player himself who also takes lessons from Mr. Ziane
- but who may soon be outdistanced by his son.
said such experiences are common.
"Parents start off learning quicker, but after a month, the kids pass them up and keep on learning," he