NM Todd Bardwick

 Chess Bio for Todd Bardwick

First trophy

First trophy


Todd learned chess when he was six years old from his father, Alan Bardwick (highest rating 2148), and played in his first tournament at age nine.

Larsen at 1968 US Open

Larsen at 1968 US Open

At age 11, Todd was the fourth to last game in a simultaneous exhibition given by Grandmaster Bent Larsen of Denmark, who was then ranked 9th in the world. (Alan was one of four players to beat GM Larsen.)

The Bardwick father-son combination quickly became the strongest in the history of Colorado chess at that time during the 1970’s. (As of 2004, the Colorado Bardwick father-son combination has only been surpassed in playing strength by that of the Fishbeins and Ponomarevs.)

Todd grew up in the Cherry Creek School District and graduated from Cherry Creek High School with honors in 1981. During his middle school and high school years, Todd was consistently on the chess Top 50 list in the country for his age and one of the top junior players in Colorado.  Cherry Creek High School won the Colorado State Scholastic Team Chess Championship from 1978-1980, and was the highest rated, 4-player team, in the country in 1980 with an average four-player team rating over 2000!  Todd was one of five students from Cherry Creek High School’s dynasty chess years from the mid-70’s to achieve a master chess rating.



After high school, Todd went to the University of Colorado at Boulder where he studied Civil Engineering and graduated top in his class in four years. During that time, Todd was fortunate enough to play on Board 1 on the stage in the Glen Miller Ballroom during three consecutive years in the Boulder Open against six-time U.S. Champion GM Walter Browne and twice against IM Igor Ivanov. By the time he graduated from college, he achieved a high 2150+ rating. During the high school and college years, Todd was the Denver Chess Club champion for three consecutive years.

Todd then moved to San Diego for five years, where he worked as a rocket scientist for General Dynamics in the Structural Analysis group for five years. Todd played chess for a year in San Diego, where he was one of the highest rated players in the city.


Todd moved back to Denver in late 1989 and gained valuable business experience in various sales positions and running his own businesses. Todd finished second in the strong field that participated in the 1993 Colorado Open and, after ten years of hovering just under 2200, overcame the master mental block, and finally achieved the National Master rating. He was also one of only five Colorado players to achieve the title of National Master (and hold the 2200 rating) from the United States Chess Association from 1980 to the mid 2000’s. Todd was the Colorado Chess Tour Winner in 1995-1996, beating out an International Master to win the award.

In September of 1993, Todd started writing a monthly chess column for the Rocky Mountain News.

RMNews Logo

In the mid-1990’s more and more people starting asking Todd for chess lessons and he founded Colorado Master Chess, Inc. and the Denver Chess Academy. In 1995, he founded the Rocky Mountain Chess Camp, one of the nations oldest and largest children’s chess camps. As a tournament player, Todd has won numerous tournaments, most notably, becoming the only player in history to win the prestigious Denver Open 5 years consecutively, from 1992-1996, with over a 2400 performance rating.

On September 5-6, 1995, in the fourth round of the Colorado Open, Todd survived rook and knight vs. rook endgame against FM David Lucky in a game that lasted 12 hours. The game is the longest continuous chess game in the United States between masters.


Colorado Master Chess continued to grow to the point where Todd became a full-time chess teacher before the turn of the century. Today, Todd is one of about probably a dozen or so chess masters in the United States who teaches chess over 40 hours/week. He has taught thousands of classes to tens of thousands of students over the years and is one of the most experienced chess teachers in the country.Pawn Garden CL4Kids Cover

Todd is an acknowledged contributor to A Legend on the Road – Bobby Fischer’s 1964 Simul Tour – Second Edition, by IM John Donaldson.

In 2002, Todd started writing a chess column for Schoo Mates which turned into Chess Life for Kids, the national chess magazine for children, where he is known nationally as the Chess Detective®.

In late 2004, Todd completed his first book, Teaching Chess in the 21st Century, the only beginner chess book on the market that includes National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Standards so that an elementary school math teacher can justify teaching chess in the classroom.

In 2006, Chess Workbook for Children, was released. Chess Workbook for Children compliments Teaching Chess in the 21st Century and contains 200 problems at the beginner and intermediate level and is written for the young chess student. Adults learning how to play chess will also appreciate this easy to understand introduction to chess.


In 2010, Chess Strategy Workbook, was published. Chess Strategy Workbook is written for players with a basic understanding of the game up to the intermediate and advanced tournament level player and contains 200 problems at the interemediate and advanced levels. It is a great way for kids and adults to improve their understanding of the game’s basic strategies.

2014 Nuggets

The Chess Detective

Chess Workbook for Children and Chess Strategy Workbook have been translated and are best-selling chess books in Russia!

Chess Workbook for Children has been translated and is also available for sale in Korea and the Czech Republic.

The Chess Detective® comes to life!

To close out the decade in 2019, Todd published Chess Concepts and Coloring Book for Kids for the young chess player and both Chess Tactics and Combinations Workbook and Attacking the Chess King Workbook for the intermediate to advanced tournament level player.


In 2020, Todd published Chess Handbook, a comprehensive guide for beginner and intermediate players.

Chess Endgame Workbook was published in 2021, adding to the series for the intermediate to advanced level tournament player.

Chess Openings was published in 2022. This book has easy-to-follow flowcharts that show the major openings and variations, separated into three main sections: 1.e4, 1.d4 and Flank Openings.

Inducted into Colorado Chess Hall of Fame

2023 Dan Heisman Award for Excellence in Chess Instruction awarded by the United States Chess Federation


Other hobbies

Golf, weightlifting, bodybuilding (as participant and judge), climbing 14ers, photography, fantasy football, gardening – giant pumpkins and giant zucchini.

Tournament achievements:

  • National Chess Master
  • Five-time Denver Chess Champion (1992-1996)
  • Runner-up in 1993 Colorado Open
  • Colorado Chess Tour Winner (1995-1996)
  • Denver Chess Club Champion (1981-1983)
  • Won and placed in numerous other tournaments

Published Chess Articles and Books:

Chess Coaching :Demo Board

  • The United States Chess Federation awarded Todd the prestigious 2023 Dan Heisman Award for Excellence in Chess Instruction.
  • Nationally recognized, full-time Denver area chess instructor who teaches over 700 children (and adults) each year in various class formats and private lessons.
  • One of only a handful of Chess Masters in the entire country with over 30 years of full-time chess teaching experience (over 40 years of total chess teaching experience) and the most experienced chess teacher in Denver and the Rocky Mountain region of the country.
  • United States Chess Federation certified Professional Chess Coach (There are only 7 chess teachers in the country with this distinction.)
  • Runs Chess Academy of Denver
  • Taught numerous nationally ranked students. One personal student became the highest rated player in the nation for his age and a two-time national champion.
  • Coached many Colorado State Scholastic Individual Champions and Teams.
  • Wrote the Preface for Cherry Creek Schools Chess Handbook including instructional course outline for school chess coaches.
  • Developed the Denver Public School chess program outline for chess instructors.
  • 29 years organizing annual Rocky Mountain Chess Camp, one of the nation’s largest chess camps for children.
  • Over thirty years of chess teaching experience in Denver area schools.

Other :

  • President of the Colorado State Chess Association (2004-2006)
  • Colorado State Chess Association Board of Directors (1978-1979, 1993-1997, 2002-2008, 2015-2019)
  • Promotes chess in schools and in local malls by giving dozens of simultaneous exhibitions over the years.
  • Associate National Tournament Director for scholastic and adult chess tournaments.
  • Runs Denver Scholastic Chess Series



Business Card