Californian uses chess to teach students how to do the right things for a living


Compton, California – Chess is a game of imaginary kings and queens, pawns and towers. So what does this have to do with real life? It turns out, quite a bit.

For 12-year-old André, chess is more than just a game.

“I use a lot of things that I’ve learned on the chessboard in real life, like think before you move, think before you act,” he told CBS News.

He’s one of the thousands of students from some of Los Angeles’ toughest neighborhoods who are learning to gamble.

Damen Fletcher, who learned to play chess at age 13, grew up in Compton. After leaving town to go to college, he returned home to find his struggling childhood friends.

“Some of them had fallen in prison. Gang life and drugs … and I just wondered, “Why did I have such a different outcome? “And that was in chess,” he said.

Compton students learn chess to master the game of life.

Courtesy: train of thought

He started Train of Thought to help kids of all ages find their inner king or queen.

“Each game of chess has 75 to 100 moves, and each move your opponent makes presents a new problem to solve,” he said. “And so the kids have fun. They don’t realize they’re solving problems.”

So how do you teach a 5 year old to play chess?

“We actually have a really cool story that we use to help kids this age get on a chessboard for the first time,” Fletcher said. “It’s okay: the king and queen were married by the bishops. They rode their horses to their castle and had eight children.”

“My main thing in class is: to be a scholar. So to be a scholar for me is to be prepared, productive and never give up,” Andre said.

Since the story aired Wednesday on the “CBS Evening News,” Fletcher said he had received a surge of support from viewers across the country, with some asking how they could volunteer with Train of Thought.

While the program is currently in schools in California and Louisiana, Fletcher’s dream is to expand it nationwide – and even bring it to schools in Uganda.

He also told CBS News he was grateful to those who sent cash donations to Train of Thought.

“I started chatting with a guy last night who said he was moved to tears watching the story,” Fletcher told CBS News Thursday. This man donated $ 500, according to Fletcher. Other donations ranged from $ 10 to $ 40.

“It’s a blessing to know that there are people you haven’t even met who believe in you and support you and your mission,” said Fletcher. “These gifts are really helpful because the children we teach need chess sets that they can take home to practice and play with family and friends forever.”


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