The Queen’s Gambit. The Torre Attack. Alekhine’s Defense. Sounds a bit like military strategy…and in a way, they are. Rather than the art of war, however, some Cornerstone students are learning the art of chess.

A History of Chess at Cornerstone

Chess has been a mainstay at Cornerstone for more than a decade, with teams at Jefferson-Douglass Academy (JDA) and Washington-Parks Academy (WPA)  winning state and national championships led by nationally ranked players.

A Discovery Leads To A Revived Chess Club

In recent years, the WPA program lost traction and fell by the wayside. That is, until Anthony Andrews, a maintenance specialist was cleaning out a forgotten closet that turned out to be a bit of a time capsule. Inside, he found trophies, practice boards, chess timers and more. A student of the game, Mr. Andrews enthusiastically led the charge to revive the Chess Club and continuing the tradition at WPA.

Last year was a learning year as most students had never played before. But it didn’t take long for them to be hooked. “Students come running the minute school gets out so that they have maximum time on the chess boards,” said Mr. Andrews. Very quickly, students began channeling their inner Maurice Ashleys, learning strategies for winning at chess.

Kamoni, a 6th grader, states, “Chess definitely helps me strategize in all the other areas of my life. My Dad always says chess is like life and the more I learn the more I see what he means.”

Chess Is More Than A Game

More than a game, chess helps students master mathematical concepts and important thinking skills. It also has connections to language arts (reading, writing, oral presentation), social studies (geography – longitude and latitude, mapping), and science standards (graphing and critical thinking skills). Chess has also been shown to improve cognitive skills, self-confidence, and self-worth.

WPA Principal, Devon Graham, says, “We are so grateful to Mr. Andrews for taking the lead and bringing chess back to Washington-Parks. The students who are participating in chess club definitely demonstrate improvements in the classroom and in their behavior. It has a tremendous impact on them.”