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Why I Loved Chess as a Kid

Demetrius Carrol (The dread-headed man), Myself, and Coach Abu at the 2013 San Diego Nationals 2013

A cool, confident, dread-headed man came to my algebra class in 8th grade. He handed my classmates and me invitations and said, “We think you all would be great for the chess team.” Then, he smoothly disappeared into the corridor outside the room. I had no intentions of joining the chess team after school because I loved playing video games. Then, one day, I had to stay after school for detention. I walked past the cafeteria and witnessed the cool, dread-headed man, a short, energetic man with thick glasses, and the school's new principal teaching students how to checkmate with a Queen. Those men, Demetrius Carrol, Nathan Durant, and Dr Salome Thomas-El, captivated me with chess. They delivered me a gift of a 64-square board with 32 pieces. I joined the chess team the next day and fell in love. Allow me to tell you why.

I felt Confident

As a kid, I felt confident in my intelligence but lacked the skills or talents to stand tall. I did play guitar and trombone, but I never felt like I was adept at them. Therefore, outside of academics, my self-confidence was low. However, as I learned chess, I had something more that my family could be proud of me for, something that reinforced my intelligence, something that was positive, something that not a lot of people knew how to do, and I was doing it at 13 years old! 

I felt Special

Chess made me feel special! At my school, Thomas Edison Charter School, the chess team was the most celebrated; we had parades and rallies just for us. I was one of the chosen few who got to take trips to tournaments during the week to stay at luxurious hotels, travel, and eat good food to play chess. Not many people could say that, and I loved it. 

I had FUN 

What is most important to a kid? Fun. And boy, was chess fun. I enjoyed playing chess endlessly. I enjoyed the feeling of smooth plastic when I moved a piece. I enjoyed the challenge of finding the best move.  I enjoyed competing with my friends. I enjoyed the feeling of discovering new patterns over the board. I enjoyed the sense of using my creativity. I loved watching chess games. It all brings joy to my heart.  And after all these years, even with the pressures of adulthood and the responsibilities of aging, I still love it all. Chess will always have the same special place in my heart that it made its home as a kid.

My students from TECS won 1st place in Princeton, New Jersey, in 2023.

I pray that I can bring the same joy to the children that I teach chess. I must deliver the gift of chess to kids like those great men mentioned above did for me. Allow the enthusiastic coaches at Chess Express to deliver your child the gift of chess by booking lessons today.

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