National Chess day brings people out to play chess at Dupont Circle Park
Sidd and Rishab Kishan plays chess at National Chess Day at Dupont Circle. Photo: Annette Birch.
by Annette Birch
Sidd Kishan is only seven, but he’s played chess for three years. On a recent Sunday, Sidd, his 11-year-old brother Rishab and their father came to Dupont Circle Park to play chess. “It is fun and you learn a lot about tactics,” says Sidd, looking up from a black-and-white chess board.
Sunday, Oct. 14, is National Chess Day. Dupont Festival, a nonprofit which promotes cultural activities, is working with U.S. Chess Center, which teaches chess to schoolchildren, to arrange chess games at Dupont Circle Park. “We want people to have fun. Dupont Circle is such a great place to do it,” says Gavin Francis, executive coordinator for U.S. Chess Center.
Like Rashibh and Sidd, several kids and adults with or without experience in chess sit down on a sunny day in the middle of October for a game of chess at tables with chessboards in black and whites, which surrounds the statue at Dupont Circle Park. “It is not every day you get a chance to play chess,” says Jennifer Hicks, who sat down at a checkered table while out for a walk.
Chess teaches skills to kids
The U.S. Chess Center teaches kids in the D.C. metro area to improve their academic and social skills. It started in 1992 and has taught over 30,000 kids how to play chess. Francis looks around at people sitting at the chessboards. “Chess is so much more than a game. It helps kids to develop their problem-solving skills, academic performance and how to prioritize.” Gregory Achelonu, a senior chess master at the U.S. Chess Center who is teaching people in the Circle strategies of chess agrees. “It is fun and it builds your character. Students who have problems and do not do well in school, are isolated, find through chess a way to be part of a chess society and be successful in life.”
Ryan Jones, who teaches kids chess every Saturday at the U.S. Chess Center, shows Rashibh, Sidd and other kids how to move the individual pieces, adding more pieces for each game. “That is what we are trying to do,” he said. “Teach kids the moves one by one, then put it all together. It is like in life where everything also have different roles, limitations and parts and must work together in order to succeed.”
Jones, playing against the clock, almost lost to an eight-year-old girl. “It has been a good day for us. A lot of people came out to play, both adults and kids,” Gavin Francis concludes. Aaron Deny, Dupont Festival, agrees. He hopes to make this an annual event, maybe even more.