Tell me about your claim to fame.
My claim to fame are my two kids. I have two children, Nia, and Jayden. But otherwise, I am a grand master of chess and often said to be the first African American Chess Grandmaster.
Why chess? How did you get started?
I started in chess when I was fourteen years old in Brooklyn Tech High School. My friends were whipping up on me and I didn’t like it. I was very competitive. I started reading, studying, and playing. Why chess? Chess has been around for fifteen hundred years for a reason. It has captured the minds of million and millions of people worldwide. I happen to be one of its devotees. I love it for its complexity, its beauty, the aesthetic value, its geometry, and tactics. Most of all I love it for what it has done in developing me as an individual. It has taught me so much about myself and about life.
Is there anything that I didn’t ask you that you think I should have asked you? If so, go ahead and answer that question.
For me, the real focus of chess is how it develops young people. My focus is young African Americans and young people of color. Young people everywhere; but, particularly young people of color because there have been special challenges in our community. I believe that we can use chess as a formative tool to teach them incredible thinking skills, critical thinking skills, planning ahead, dealing with loss, dealing with victory, and knowing how to handle success. All these are qualities that we want our young people to have. Chess teaches them all about great decision making. Because if you can’t make good decisions, you can’t navigate a successful life. That is my goal to use chess for this purpose.