There is no shortage of stories where chess teachers have used the game as a metaphor for the challenges of life and the importance of thinking about the consequences of a move before making it. Some of these stories, which have been dramatized in movies and books, are fictional but there are many real-life examples to show how chess has broken barriers and united some incredibly unlikely groups of people. Seattle Deputy Denise “Cookie” Bouldin is no exception. Once convinced by her peers that she was not smart enough to play chess, the veteran police officer has used chess to transform the lives of the people in her neighborhood through regular classes and through running her own chess club.
Ten years ago, Bouldin was teaching her anti-violence course to fourth- and fifth-grade students and wanted to come up with a fun activity she could do with the kids. She suggested a basketball game between the students and police. The kids fired back with the suggestion of a chess tournament. Bouldin, who had never played chess, was initially skeptical but agreed. She brought in people to teach the kids the game and she eventually learned it herself, three years after starting the club.
Chess continues to grow around the world and the United States is no exception. The World Chess Championship will be held in November in New York City and Saint Louis continues to grow as the Chess Capital of the USA. I hope that as chess continues this growth that we will continue to see more stories like Deputy Bouldin’s.
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