Mario Amodeo worked in the San Diego biotech industry for over 12 years, after graduating from Buffalo (biochemistry). Mario began teaching chess on the side to groups and individuals in 1997. Since 2013 Mario has been focusing on chess coaching exclusively, helping children and adults develop chess skills along with chess understanding, so they can use this understanding in life as well. Mario has been married since 2009 and became a first time father in 2016. Qualifications:
  • Over 14,000 chess lessons taught ‘one on one’ and to groups at dozens of libraries, schools, and homes in the San Diego area since the 1990’s (ages 5-84).
  • USCF Candidate Master title (aka ‘Expert’), id: 12523359, competing weekly at the San Diego Chess Club for over 30 years, placing clear 2nd place, 2010 San Diego Chess Club Championship
  • Chess instructor from 2012 to 2023 for San Diego Hua Xia Chinese School, the largest (over 1000 children for many years) non-profit Chinese language school in San Diego.
  • Coach 100’s of groups in after-school programs around San Diego County since 1997.
  • San Diego Chess Club Summer Camp Instructor, Summer 2000.
  • Volunteer Tournament Director for dozens of scholastic chess tournaments since 1997.


State of California Substitute Teaching Permit for 2009-2010 (click for screenshot)

IMDb credit: Chess Consultant for The Samuel Project

The excerpt below, “Three Amigos…”, is reproduced from a clipping originally published on a discontinued San Diego Chess Club Website:

“ 8/06/2004, San Diego Open Rounds 1 & 2, Reported by Secretary Chuck Ensey_

Three Amigos Lead The Upper Section 2-0

…The star of the night was Mario Amodeo who just keeps surprising us with his over the top efforts. National Master Carl Wagner has suffered several upsets this year, but I doubt if he’s lost his touch. I think the club has just come up with some outstanding new players to challenge him, maybe with styles or openings he’s not familiar with, I don’t know, but Mario has been playing solid all year and the thrill of beating a Master couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Congratulations, Mario! We salute you for your excellent play and even more importantly, your friendly style and easy going nature.”

National Master Carl Wagner Lost To The Club’s Soon-To-Be-Expert Mario Amodeo

for Coach Mario’s chess tips for parents click here

The Problem With Trophies

It’s time to redefine ‘success’ for kids

The excerpt below is from Benjamin Franklin’s essay, “The Morals of Chess”:

“The game of Chess is not merely an idle amusement. Several very valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired or strengthened by it, so as to become habits, ready on all occasions. We may learn foresight…, circumspection…, caution… and lastly, we learn by chess the habit of not being discouraged by present bad appearances in the state of our affairs, and that of persevering in the search for resources.”

Mario with his wife Irma, a first grade teacher who is learning chess!


Here are three of Mario’s tournament chess games from over the years:

[Event "?"] [Site "Arcadia, CA"] [Date "2000.04.17"] [Round "3"] [White "Mario Amodeo"] [Black "National Master Argall"] [Result "1-0"] [WhiteELO "1871"] [BlackELO "2105"] {This game was played in 2000, long before I achieved the Candidate Master title, but is still my favorite} 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 c5 5. Bd2 Ne7 6. Nb5 Bxd2+ 7. Qxd2 O-O 8. c3 a6 9. Nd6 Nbc6 10. f4 cxd4 11. cxd4 f6 12. Nf3 fxe5 13. fxe5 Nf5 14. Nxf5 Rxf5 15. Bd3 Rf8 16. O-O Qb6 17. Bxh7+ {The Classic Bishop Sacrifice or Greek Gift} Kxh7 18. Ng5+ Kg8 19. Rxf8+ Kxf8 20. Qf4+ Ke8 21. Qf7+ Kd8 22. Qf8+ Kd7 23. Qd6+ Ke8 24. Rf1 Qxd4+ 25. Kh1 Ne7 26. Rf8+ {black resigned here due to} 26... Kxf8 27. Qd8# {checkmate} 1-0
[Event "Fall Swiss 2007"] [Site "San Diego Chess Club"] [Date "2007.10.23"] [Round "3"] [White "Amodeo, Mario"] [Black "Garamendi, A"] [Result "1-0"] {Selected annotations of International Master Cyrus Lakdawala "in quotes".} 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be3 O-O 6.Qd2 Re8 7.O-O-O c6 8.Bh6 Bh8 9.h4 Qa5 10.h5 {“ Mario is a Dragon Sicilan player as black and knows this pawn offer gives good compensation.” } Bg4 11.hxg6 hxg6 12.Bd3 Nbd7 13.e5 { “A brilliant interference pawn sac, which allows the white queen to jump into the attack. The g6 square becomes a serious sac target and also black must deal with the queen sliding over to the h-file.“} dxe5 14.Qg5 Nf8 15.Bxf8 Rxf8 16.Rxh8+ Kxh8 17.Rh1+ Bh5 18.dxe5 Nh7 19.Rxh5 Rg8 20.Qh6 Rg7 21.Rh1 Kg8 22.Ng5 Qxe5 23.Nxh7 f6 24.Bxg6 { “A model attacking game by Mario!” -IM Lakdawala, who donated his time to annotate this and other chess club games. My higher rated opponent, who left us far too young, remarked 'that was a massacre' upon resigning. Such kindness and consideration after a loss showed me Alejandro's quality beyond his well known chess talent.} 1-0
[Event "2018 Class Championship"] [Site "San Diego Chess Club"] [Date "2018.11.07"] [Round "1"] [White "Player of white"] [Black "Mario Amodeo"] [Result "0-1"] [WhiteELO "2136"] [BlackELO "2049"] {Played in round 1 of the Master/Expert section, San Diego Chess Club 2018 Class Championships on November 7, 2018.} 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bb4+ 5.c3 Bc5 6.Be3 Bb6 7.Nf5 d6 {A new move perhaps. In a similar situation, I had seen the idea of sacrificing the g7 pawn so that the white knight loses some time getting to safety. At least this move put both players on their own resources.} 8.Nxg7+ Kf8 9.Bxb6 axb6 10.Nh5 Qh4 11.Ng3 Nf6 12.Nd2 Rg8 13.Be2 Ne5 14.Nf3 Nxf3+ 15.Bxf3 Ra5 16.O-O Rag5 17.Re1 Bg4 18.Qd4 {Until now computer chess engines preferred white to successfully weather the black attack. Yet it is challenging for humans to keep finding good moves when the king is within range of so many opposing pieces.} 18...Bxf3 19.Qxf6 {Pause to find the next move by black} Rxg3 {Here White resigned. One possibility follows.} 20.Qxh4 {then} Rxg2+ {and it is checkmate on the next move. For example} 21.Kh1 Rg1 {checkmate by double check}