Rhythm on the River built community across chess boards, raised funds for Chess and Community – Red and Black

Despite the doubtful forecast, community members gathered at Big Dogs on the River to share music, dance and spoken word around food and fellowship. Chess and Community hosted the fourth annual Rhythm on the River as a fundraiser for their organization, which uses chess as a tool to educate and empower Athens’ younger generations.

“A lot of people were afraid it was going to rain but I told them ‘When we dance, when we get together, we hold the skies back,’” said Lemuel LaRoche as he addressed the crowd. LaRoche is the founder and executive director of the nonprofit Chess and Community.

The event helped raise money for an ongoing project the organization is undertaking.

“Last summer we went to Ethiopia. We met a few college professors there and hung out with the kids,” said Isaiah Dotson, a member of Chess and Community.



Chess tables were available for players at the fourth annual Rhythm on the River Festival at Big Dogs on the River in Athens, Georgia on Sunday, July 15, 2018. (Photo/Tony Walsh)

While Chess and Community was in Ethiopia, the professors informed them of their need for school supplies, so members of the nonprofit started fundraising to get them school supplies and tablets. They plan to take the supplies back to Ethiopia this December. They are raising money for this project through this fundraiser.

A documentary called “Knights to Kings” was also created about the trip and is currently being streamed across the country. The youth members of Chess and Community call themselves Knights and Queens, pieces on the chess board.

The organization’s work in Athens does not go unnoticed, especially by those directly involved. Dotson said being a member helped him with his public speaking and leadership skills, and also helped him network and meet new people.

For Don Bannister, a student at Clarke Central High School, Chess and Community gave him a sense of community when he first moved to Athens.

“I got to meet new people. I got to learn new ways of chess. I joined it when I first moved up here, so it gave me an opportunity to make friends,” Bannister said.

While the main focus of the event was support for Chess and Community’s local and international initiatives, those in attendance enjoyed original written and performed work by Athens artists as well as students from the University of Georgia.

Lillian Simpson is one of these students. She said in a class she attends taught by LaRoche, is focused on community, power and oppression. She wrote a poem for the event.

The first part of her poem explains how she can work to understand social issues even though she hasn’t experienced them, Simpson said.



A group of kayakers began a four mile journey on the river at the fourth annual Rhythm on the River Festival at Big Dogs on the River in Athens, Georgia on Sunday, July 15, 2018. (Photo/Tony Walsh)

“I don’t need to be gay, I don’t need to be black, I don’t need to have experienced what other people have experienced to support them,” Simpson said.

Other students gave a presentation on racial imbalances in the justice system, presented positive alternatives to unhealthy mental dialogue, read poetry and sang songs. 

While some of the works expressed frustration at the current political climate or the mistreatment of others, they ultimately contributed to a feeling of positivity, hope and community that spanned throughout the afternoon. 

Going Berserk In Chess! – Chess.com

Some 20 years ago I had a conversation with a grandmaster who grew up in a bad neighborhood.  He was recollecting his youth years when street fighting was pretty common.

I don’t remember much from his stories, but one of his phrases has stuck in my mind:  “It is not the strongest who wins the fight but the craziest!” 

mad scientist

A game that was played almost 170 years ago by two of the best Russian players of that time clearly proves the point. Carl Jaenisch developed his Jaenisch Gambit and helped Alexander Petrov to analyze his famous Petrov’s Defense.  Nevertheless, in this game, Jaenisch preferred the Sicilian Defense, which quickly brought him some material benefits. Find the best move for Black:

I bet it was a very simple puzzle for you, especially since we analyzed this exact pattern some time ago. With this simple fork, Black wins the knight on e5!

Here is a more difficult question that involves some psychology. What white move would tell his opponent, “I am crazy! Be afraid, be very afraid!?”

Truthfully speaking, I don’t know what sign this move deserves. From the pure chess point of view the move is stupid and deserves “??”, but it ultimately won the game, so maybe it should be “!!”

A few moves later, White took another opportunity to go berserk. Can you find it?

This time going berserk is more justified since at least Black’s king gets more exposed. While Black collects all the gifts of his crazy opponent, White brings all his pieces into the attack. Now it is finally time for the real shot! Can you find it?

Something went very wrong for Black since he had a winning position after just four moves and yet lost miserably. So what was his mistake? There should be many ways to improve Black’s play. At the very end, for example, he could try to bring his queen to protect the king:

What would Ilya Shumov do in this case? Why, he would go berserk of course!

I have no doubt that chess engines will laugh at the whole concept of White’s attack, but remember, you don’t go berserk against a computer!

Residents near Chess Park say arrests, complaints yield little results – Santa Monica Daily Press

When Tom Lackey moved into this ocean front apartment thirty years ago, he thought he’d found paradise.

“Originally it was a dream come true,” Lackey said. “The first thing I saw in the morning and the last thing I saw at night was the sea. It was peace.”

But the pictures of Lackey’s view on Thursday morning evoke the opposite of tranquility.  His photos, which have been shared with police, show a homeless man openly masturbating at Chess Park. Lackey said he didn’t realize what was happening until he got a closer look through his lens.

“I couldn’t believe this,” Lackey said. “Once again, it was a kick straight into my stomach.”

The Daily Press has chosen not to publish the pictures because of their graphic nature.  They illustrate the grim reality of Chess Park – the beachside park has become a place chess players, parents, and locals avoid. Pictures and videos taken by residents have captured public sex, drug use, paraphernalia and weapons at the .29 acre park near Seaside Terrace.  Players have been attacked in the middle of matches.

Local leaders have been aware of the issue for more than a year. However, little has changed since August 2017, when the Daily Press published the headline “Crime is king at Santa Monica Chess Park.”

In the past, Santa Monica police have said the park faces the same challenges as other public spaces throughout the city, which also see their share of criminal behavior. The temporary presence of police may shift the problem elsewhere, with the criminal element returning once the cops move on. Police say they don’t have the resources to keep police officers in parks around the clock.

In Thursday’s incident, Lackey called police as he snapped photos to document the crime.  After the man ended the lewd behavior, Lackey said he appeared to take drugs and then fell asleep in front of a chess board. Moments later, Lackey’s photos show a father and young son sitting nearby with a stroller and box of crayons.

“It was so vile,” Lackey said. “This is known as a kid’s park.”

Police arrested the 25-year-old man and Lackey handed his photos over as evidence. The location scout hopes police will do more to make the park feel safe and protect children who want to play chess or visit the nearby aquarium.

“This is good versus evil,” Lackey said. “That’s the bottom line. And this was horrifying.”


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West Louisville Chess Club not dwelling on controversial Bevin remarks – Courier Journal


This is the third year of the all girls chess camp run by the West Louisville Chess Club at Louisville Urban League
Salgu Wissmath, Courier Journal

While Gov. Matt Bevin’s controversial remarks this week about the West Louisville Chess Club sparked a backlash in the community, on Thursday fifth-grader Keyaira Thompson wasn’t giving it too much thought.

She just wanted to win against her older sister, Kaleisha. 

When asked who would win in a game of chess, Kaleisha begrudgingly nodded toward the younger Keyaira and said, “Probably her.”

The siblings were two of about 40 girls who took part in a chess camp this week at the Louisville Urban League hosted by the West Louisville Chess Club. 

Bevin sparked controversy this week when he said in a promotional video that a chess club was “not something you necessarily would have thought of when you think of this section of town.”

Background: Bevin’s ‘disturbing’ West End chess club comments spark outrage

But the girls at the camp weren’t thinking about Bevin’s comments. 

Instead, they were busy devising new strategies and listening to Corbin Seavers, the club’s coach. 

The girls patiently leaned over pink-and-white chess pieces as “Coach Corbin” explained that chess is a game of sportsmanship. Hands eagerly soared into the air when the coach asked for answers to various chess questions. 

For participants, the camp offered exposure to a new game. Others joined out of a deep-rooted desire to win against more experienced family members. One camp-goer said she joined solely to beat her grandfather. 

The day camp is part of the chess club’s initiative to get more girls interested in the game. Seavers, who has been coaching chess since 2010, said he noticed a lack of girl chess players and women grand masters. He’s on a mission to dispel the notion that chess is a boys’ game.


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Seavers preferred not to dwell on the governor’s comments. Neither did the leaders at the Louisville Urban League, which helps fund the chess club.

“I really don’t have much to say,” said Samuel Johnson, director of youth and development education for the urban league. “We’re focused on just providing our youth with the best opportunities to play this game and to be the best that they can be.” 

Carla Robinson, program coordinator at the urban league, said chess is not a new phenomenon in western Louisville. 

“It’s been happening, in homes all across the West End,” she said. “People have chess boards and people play chess.” 

This year the West Louisville Chess Club took first place in Cincinnati’s Queen City regional chess tournament in a bracket for fourth- to sixth-graders.

The club is currently raising money to compete in a national tournament in 2019 and is using summer projects like the all-girls camp and other urban league initiatives to recruit more members.

“What I love about this as a sport is that the only way you get better — you have to get more disciplined, you have to study more and develop that mind,” Seavers said. “You can be as fast as a gazelle, but that’s not going to help you.”


This kids share what they learned at chess camp this summer
Salgu Wissmath, Courier Journal

Club members are primarily in grades K-12 and mainly come from Jefferson County Public Schools in the West End. They meet at the Louisville Urban League two Saturdays a month to compete and prepare for tournaments.

“We want to provide quality out-of-school-time programs, and chess is just one of the programs that we offer here at the League — it’s really taken off,” said Johnson.

Hailey Mize, 15, one of the few girls in the club, helped with the camp. She’s competed in many local tournaments across the region.

“I think you can put chess into life,” Mize said.

As an example, she mentioned a “one-touch” rule, which means that once a player touches a piece, it must be played.

“In life, once you do something, it’s already done,” Mize said. “You can’t really take that back.”

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