I was born in Ann Arbor while my father was completing his degree at the University of Michigan. Both of my parents were public
school teachers, as were both of my grandmothers.
My father, a high school math teacher, taught chess to me
when I was approximately the age of seven.
When I entered high school, I became serious about chess and began
studying the game and competing in chess tournaments. I graduated from Michigan State University, where I was the president of the MSU chess
club. I achieved the level of Expert
from the US Chess Federation in 1993.
I earned the official title of "Candidate Master" from the US Chess Federation in 2016.
I began teaching chess to
children, both in schools and privately, in East Lansing, Okemos and Fowlerville in 1996. In the fall of 1997, I purchased a fledgling
chess store on Main
Street in Ann Arbor and started “Chess Express”. I sold this business to one of my employees in
the fall of 2000. During the three years
I owned Chess Express, I turned the business into a highly successful retail
operation and web business and also started a successful weekly chess club
for kids. While I owned Chess Express, I
taught exclusively at one school, Ann Arbor Wines, where I started teaching in 1998. I turned down all other requests for teaching (I was just too
busy). The Wines chess program proved
highly successful. Wines won the state
K-3 team championships with a perfect 5-0 score in 1999 and that same team of
third graders also won the 4th place team in the National Middle
championships! After selling my store in
the fall of 2000, I turned all of my attention to teaching chess in the Ann
Arbor area. Currently I teach chess
programs in three different private schools (Go Like The Wind Montessori, Honey Creek and Daycroft Montessori) and I teach classes at various
public schools through the Ann Arbor Rec & Ed department. I also teach private chess lessons (in your
home or mine). During the school year I
typically have around 200 students.
My school teams have won
numerous state championships, so many I have difficulty recounting all of
them. My teams have been consistently
dominating state events for many years. In 2016, I formed 14 teams for the K-3 and K-5 events. 11 of those teams won trophies, including 2nd place for King in the K-3 championship. In 2015, King won the K-3 championship with a perfect score and STEAM at Northside won the K-5 team reserve.
In 2014, King won the K-3 reserve team championship with a perfect 5-0 score. Bach won 5th place in the K-3 championship, and my other teams won several trophies. In 2013, King Elementary won 2nd and 3rd place in the K-3 and Thurston and Lawton tied for 2nd in the K-5. Thurston also won 4th place in the state Middle School Championships! In addition, several of my students have
won individual state championships, including Sid Jha winning the 2013 Scholastic Club k-5 division, and two of my students have won a national
championship. I also taught chess to
Governor Engler’s triplets when they were in Kindergarten!
In addition to school chess
programs and private instruction, I organize summer chess day camps. I have been organizing chess camps in Ann Arbor and East Lansing since 1999. I
also organize two Thinking Games camps each year in Ann Arbor, and these have proven to be quite popular with the
I find teaching chess to
children highly rewarding. I have found
my calling in life and I embrace it with all of my heart and passion.
Kent Olson, most famously known as "Mr. O." has been teaching chess at Mr. Garrison's chess camps since 2006. He also works for AAPS and is WONDERFUL with the kids! Mr. O begins teaching chess classes in the Fall of 2016 at five AAPS schools. Please click on "chess classes: in the left side menu for a list of Mr. O's chess classes