Street Chess - Episode 5: Los Angeles Now Available

Street Chess - Episode 5: Los Angeles Now Available

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Street Chess is a five-part series portraying the non-traditional environments where chess has been silently influencing generations of players. The series is meant to give a voice to the communities that do not fall into the conventional settings the game is usually associated with. 

Each episode disrupts this cultural stereotype, showcasing the ability of chess to change someone’s life for the better. Within each episode you will meet the dreamers, the characters, and the players whose lives are intimately tied to the game of chess—and we intend to put them on the map. 

The final episode airs on December 6. You can find it on's Youtube Channel or below. 

Street Chess: Los Angeles

In the fifth, and final, episode of Street Chess, we’re heading to Los Angeles, California. Born and raised in Compton, Damen Fletcher grew up surrounded by gangs and violence but was able to find his solace through learning chess. Together with his partners, Denise Fletcher and Niombi Harris, Damen has dedicated his life to bringing chess to those who could really benefit from learning it by founding the Train of Thought Chess Education Program—a scholastic chess program that brings chess to young students all over Los Angeles.

Along with his efforts to bring chess to the children of LA, Damen has built a community around the game. By supporting local businesses such as the Chess Park Lounge and ilCaffè, he’s worked to spread the game that saved him to every corner of the place he calls home. Whether it’s on the streets of Compton, in the classroom of a local elementary school, or outside his favorite cafe, Damen has found a way to bring people together through the game of chess.

Street Chess: Houston

The fourth episode focuses on Houston—specifically, the 3rd Ward Chess Park. Despite its grim history with redlining and ongoing gentrification, these “shade tree” players have turned a vacant lot into a thriving chess park where smiles, food, and an abundance of trash-talking can be found.

This chess community is a family that is resilient to adversity. They look out for one another, and you’ve got to get to know them before they let you in, but once they do you’ll understand why Houston deserves to be on the map. Shoutout to Bishop and Chicago!

Street Chess: New Orleans

The third episode takes a look at New Orleans—a city with a long history of chess players. On any given day you can find NM Jude Acers with his red beret in the French Quarters.

If you talk to any chess player in Louisiana, Jude’s name will likely pop up. He’s a fascinating character on his own, but once you get to know him and the community that he’s built, he will become a lifelong friend.

New Orleans is unlike any other city in the world, and this episode will give you a glimpse into what makes this city so unique. Even on Mardi Gras, you can find Acers at his chess table on the sidewalk. Just look for the red beret. Enjoy watching, and as Jude would say: "Seize the day!"

Street Chess: New York 

The second episode explores a handful of the eclectic group of street chess players found in New York and how their paths are entwined with the beating heart of the city.

Many people think of New York when they think of street chess, and I was curious to understand why. What I learned is that chess is a common language that everyone can speak. Whether you’re on the street, in a bar, or at the park, there’s always room for chess players. You’ve got the hustlers, the old timers, the beginners, and anyone willing to learn the game. Everyone’s got a place in New York.

Street Chess: Cook County Jail (Chicago)

The first episode features Cook County Jail's Chess program and its flagship Intercontinental Online Chess Championship for Prisoners. 

While shooting the series I came upon an interesting piece of information: many talented street chess players learned how to play the game in jail or in prison. From trash-talking to chess tattoos, this group of players took the game to the next level. They taught me to see myself as the king on the chess board, and how every decision can affect your position on the board as in life. 

We hope you enjoy all of these videos. Let us know what you think of this series in the comments below!