Heroes Don’t Always Wear Capes — Sometimes They Play Chess (And Wear A Tiara)

By Heidi Stevens
Chicago Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) “First Move Chess” is a national program that offers chess curriculum to second- and third-graders as a way to introduce them to the game and help them hone the critical thinking, math, sportsmanship and social skills that go along with it.

CHICAGO

My first encounter with the Chess Lady was in a classroom at Dewey Elementary in Englewood, where she cheerfully explained the Fibonacci sequence to a group of third-graders. (And to me. I hadn’t a clue.)

“Add the first two numbers to get the next number,” she said via video, after the pattern “1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21” appeared on a screen at the front of the classroom.

My second encounter with the Chess Lady was considerably more festive, though no less numbers-based.

“I cried when I saw her,” Dewey third-grader Demetria Vaughn told me. “I actually touched her, and I was shaking.”
Vaughn was one of 300 Chicago Public Schools students who spent Friday, June 8, at Guaranteed Rate Field for a chess extravaganza, chess arts and crafts, 10 stations of chess lessons and, the piece de resistance, the Chess Lady.

The students in attendance all take part in First Move Chess, a national program that offers chess curriculum to second- and third-graders as a way to introduce them to the game and help them hone the critical thinking, math, sportsmanship and social skills that go along with it.

CPS has been partnering with First Move for five years, and the program is actively used in close to 100 schools this year, said Nichole Matthews, CPS academic competition coordinator.

“I’ve seen chess break down so many barriers,” Matthews told me. “You’re learning the curriculum, you’re learning math, you’re learning history, you’re learning social skills, all while moving pieces around a board.”

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