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Kings Knight Chess Club, Inc - A 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Youth Organization

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CHESS - Food For Thought - The KKCC Founder Speaks!

Can Chess Change Lives?

Copyright 2007 - 2015
by Stan Daniels, Editor,
Urban Cartographer Online
Robert (Bobby) Stewart,Founder
Kings Knight Chess Club Incorporated
It;s Your Move, LLC

- all rights reserved.

Robert (Bobby) Stewart, founder of Kings Knight Chess Club thinks it can. His life is proof positive. The game has taken him from academic underachiever to adjunct professor, from victim to volunteer, from the unemployment line to entrepreneurship. And he has made it his mission to change the lives of everyone he instructs in the centuries-old game - from children to senior citizens and even the incarcerated - one move, one game, one win or loss at a time.

A Jersey City, New Jersey native, Bobby was introduced to the game at the age of 10 at the C.Y.O., a local recreational center for inner-city youth. Later, as a teen, he battled low self-esteem, the stigma of being two grades behind and domestic disharmony, which limited his vision for his future. The one thing that offered him solace and made him feel empowered was the game of chess. But, because chess wasn't "cool", wasn't a game that inner-city children played and anyone who played was a geek or a nerd, there were limited opportunities to compete and hone his skills and little to no support or encouragement. Yet, he remained intrigued, almost consumed by the game. Its complexities, its simplicity, its challenges, its strategies, its similarities to life.

Playing chess helped him realize that there is a solution for every problem, taught him to focus his energy and attention, how to think things through, how to plan, how to recover, how to lose gracefully, how to win with humility and how to persevere. He's made it his mission to impart these life-building skills to his students as he teaches and coaches the game of chess.

This mission began to manifest itself when in 1995 Bobby found himself unemployed and was offered a position teaching chess to at-risk youth in a juvenile facility in Newark, NJ. Due to limited funding, the position was not financially rewarding, but the payoff was bigger than he could have ever imagined or expected. Within one week children who had never played chess were playing chess. Children who did not trust adults were opening up to him and telling their stories. Children who had grown up too hard and too fast felt safe enough to be children in the presence of this man who represented their fantasies of their absentee fathers. It was then that Bobby realized he had a gift for communicating with and inspiring children. He realized that he could combine that gift with his knowledge and enthusiasm for chess to make a difference in children's lives; to open their eyes to new experiences and their minds to unlimited possibilities.

Reflecting on what chess had done for him as a youngster and the ostracism he faced as a result, he determined then that he would make chess accessible and fun for as many children in the community as possible. He began by volunteering his services at local churches and public schools. He set up classes which turned into teams which turned into tournaments. Fueled by the success and popularity of his workshops, he continued to search for ways to increase his reach. He began recruiting and training area chess enthusiasts and established Kings Knight Chess Club, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children increase their mental capabilities by learning, playing and competing in the game of chess.

As a chess devotee, Bobby continued to educate himself about the game, from an historical aspect as well as its modern-day benefits. Through his research, he found that chess can have tremendous impact on children with behavioral challenges such as ADD and ADHD as it helps them to focus their energy. He found that there are many other benefits for children, such as:

improved concentration

develops logical thinking

develops imagination

inspires creative problem solving

inspires self-motivation

Armed with this knowledge and a staff of coaches, Kings Knight established workshops at several public schools, charter schools, day care centers, public housing projects, correctional facilities, the Boys and Girls Clubs and the New Jersey City University campus. It has also established a number of annual tournaments.

As research has shown that chess can provide the mental exercise and stimulation that can help stave off Alzheimer's disease, Bobby has taken his mission and his team of children into senior citizen residences to teach the elders to play chess. These events benefit all participants. The seniors enjoy learning the game as much as they do the time and attention of the youngsters. The children feel valued because they are helping the elderly and they enjoy the attention and affection that is lavished on them. Recognizing that his interaction with children has placed him in the position of "role model", Bobby will be enrolling in college in spring semester of 2007 to pursue a degree in psychology. It is his belief that education is one of the most important tools one can have and he wants to exemplify this to all of his students. To take a more expansive, holistic approach to educating, nurturing and inspiring the children of the community, Kings Knight Chess Club will be launching a new program in partnership with Redeemer Lutheran Church in Jersey City and the Grove Reformed Church in North Bergen, New Jersey. With the goal of enriching the "whole" child, the program will include:

a. Chess Workshops

b. Tutoring

c. Mentoring

d. Piano Lessons

e. Etiquette for Children

f. Culinary Arts

g. Photography

h. Entrepreneur Program

As with all non-profit organizations, funding is Kings Knight's biggest hurdle. In order to have the lasting, far-reaching impact Bobby Stewart envisions, the organization is seeking financial support to cover overhead and operating costs, materials, the development of staff and programs and scholarships.

Isaiah 11:6
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatted calf together, and a little child shall lead them.