Indiana Jones meets "The Matrix"!

For twenty years, Bernard Parham has been a mainstay in Indiana chess and along with FM Emory Tate was one of the state's first Black masters. Known for his eccentric style and his "Chess Matrix" education program, Parham has revolutionized a new approach to chess education. The main theme of his scientific system is a hyper-aggressive  approach relying on constant threats, board geometry and vector analysis.

Bernard Parham teaching his Chess Matrix System

One of Parham's trademarks is his opening repertoire 1. e4 and 2.Qh5!? He plays this religiously as part of the Matrix system and has beaten many strong players with it. Of course, many of us can remember that this was one of the first principles we learned with the idea of double-attacking the f7 square after Bc4 setting up the infamous "Scholar's Mate." Is 2.Qh5!? really strong??? Practically every coach would give a resounding "NO!" Parham looks at the learning process differently and employs a unique approach to teaching.

Traditional schools teach children one subject at a time. Each subject area is allotted a certain amount of time. Parham opts to teach all subjects at once. Students may do a math worksheet while learning punctuation, grammar and spelling. The students also learn to pick out essential and non-essential information. During math, where Parham puts up a grid similar to a chessboard, the students call multiplication facts as well as subtraction and addition. Parham makes everything a learning tool. Looking at a simple directory becomes a chance to learn fractions and life skills. The students are shown images of positive African Americans and are asked how they could reach some of the same goals.

Chess Academy Parham is open 52 weeks a year and costs $100.00 a week. Parents have raved about the program and have noticed a difference in their children. Kim Averite, the mother of Ladajua, 8, and Nikia, 6, believes the cost is worth it. "It's a good investment," Averite said, "Mr. Parham is very patient with the kids. He makes sure they learn and goes the extra mile with the kids. Enrollment is currently open at Chess Academy Parham. To find out more information, call (317) 685-2780 or (317) 701-4039.

See Oseye Boyd, "Everything a learning tool at Chess Academy Parham," Indy Black Pages, 16 November 2001.

Editor's note: On a personal note, I was sitting at the board next to Parham as he defeated an Expert player at the 2001 Chicago Open with 1.e4 c6 2.Qh5!? It was really amusing to see the expression on the guy's face when he lost. Ironically, I once lost to Parham while on the white side of the Vienna game, and I had a Scholar's Mate position against him in the opening after 1.e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.Qg4!? Kf8 5.Qf3.  Parham mentioned to me that this was part of his Matrix system.

Parham has a son, Bernard II, a student at Purdue University and President of the Chess Club. The younger Parham enjoyed a successful scholastic career and was National Champion for the 12th grade in the 1994 National K-12 Championships. Evidently, the Parham's Matrix passed home testing with flying colors and Bernard II is thriving at Purdue.

Posted by The Chess Drum: 22 April  2002