Joe Martin, Founder
Joe Martin is heir to a rich family tradition of chess enthusiasm. His grandfather, Albert C. Martin, served as Rhode Island State Champion sixteen times, as well as holding the title of USCF-accredited Master. His father, Stephen A. Martin, followed in Albert's footsteps, tying for 8th at the 1970 U.S. Open, achieving the rank of Expert and developing an opening gambit that bears his name.
This family bond informed Joe's early beginnings as a chess player, as he grew up in a home steeped in chess culture and tradition. On the night he was born, his father placed a chess set in his cradle, and by the age of 3 Joe was learning the game from his family. By 13, Joe had started his first chess club, by 16 he was overseeing his first summer chess camp and taking his first steps as a tournament director, and by 17 was running one of the best scholastic teams in Rhode Island. By 22, he made the decision to go professional, and has spent nearly a decade dedicated to his vocation.
In the years since, chess education has become Joe's life’s work, as well as his full-time job, melding the traditions of a dynasty with a knack for fostering the same enthusiasm and passion in the next generation. His meterstick for success is how many children still play when they stop working with him, and he's proud to say that he still has students reaching out to him from when it all began almost twenty years ago to let him know that they still play, and how much they've learned in the meantime. Some of them even stop by current programs when they're in town to reminisce and meet the next generation. Joe's commitment is to continue this tradition of enthusiastic excellence, grounding his students in solid theory and practice while fostering a lifelong love of chess.
In recent years, Joe has been at the epicenter of the chess explosion in Sharon, MA and the surrounding area. His company, Common Sense Chess, has become a byword for chess fun and education in the region. In pre-covid times, Joe partnered with local schools, after-school programs, and local institutions to work with nearly a hundred kids a week, and routinely organized local tournaments and special events for the town of Sharon and surrounding areas. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Joe has transitioned to online teaching, and now works with children across the United States, as well as the occasional international student.
In his spare time, Joe is cheerfully assembling a chess YouTube channel, plotting how to duplicate his beloved special events in an online setting, and planning the expansion of the Common Sense Chess brand.