Fighting crime using chess

Jul 24, 2008, 6:49 AM |

Crime fighting and chess playing may seem like an odd combination, they are however being combined to teach young people skills and unity through a chess community. In the USA the Hip Hop Chess Federation have been promoting chess along side martial arts and hip hop music to make it accessible to groups of young people who would have previously dismissed chess as a game for the middle class intellectuals.  

The Federation are developing the skills used within chess to encourage young people to apply those skills in their lives generally. Having to think before you act, seeing the consequences of ones actions and patience are all virtues that learning chess can enhance.

At the time of writing I am not sure if anyone in the UK is engaging in similar work. As part of my involvement with the chess product industry I have got myself involved with supplying chess sets to individual prisoners. It started when I received a letter from a guy in prison asking for a free chess set. I sent him a sample I had lying round in the office.

It seemed the word spread within his wing and before long another letter arrived from one of his former cell mates also asking for a set. I engaged in some correspondence with them and it seemed that one prisoner had started a little chess club and was teaching the other inmates to play.

Some of these guys could not read and write and needed to rules explained to them by other inmates. I think all together I must have furnished these guys with around ten sets. I was prepared to accept that I may just be gullible, the sets were lying around doing nothing anyway.

It did give me an idea for a UK based federation that specifically supplied chess sets and books to individual prisoners and organised correspondence games between them and chess players on the outside.