About 100 players will participate in the Richmond Chess Festival as more children participate in the game | So Good News


On a Sunday afternoon in late September, TC Ball rolled into Richmond’s Multicultural Bookstore with a cart full of kings, queens, bishops, knights, knights, pawns and boards to start the first of several chess classes for kids.

“Great people play chess,” Ball, 69, founder and director of the West Coast Chess Alliance in Richmond, said as he prepared to start the class.

He fell in love with chess nearly 40 years ago while in college, then 13 years ago he founded the WCCA to promote chess and make it an important part of the Richmond community.

On Saturday, WCCA and the Berkeley Chess School will celebrate National Chess Day with a chess festival at CoBiz Richmond from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Ball expects 100 players at the tournament, which would double the number at the last festival in May.

“We’re expecting a big crowd,” he said.

Chess in Richmond
TC Ball is installing a checkerboard at Richmond’s Multicultural Bookstore. (Najim Rahim)

This is partly due to children’s growing interest in chess, Ball said. Last year, WCCA’s six instructors taught about 400 kids how to play, and this year, that number is approaching 800 thanks to the after-school and after-school programs at the West Contra Costa Unified School District.

“We’ll be in about 12 schools,” Honey said.

One of the reasons young people are so interested in chess is the 2020 Netflix series Queen’s Gambit, Ball said. The series follows Beth Harmon, an orphan with a surprising talent for chess, who overcomes obstacles in her quest to become the world’s greatest chess player.

This popular series did more for chess than Ball could have imagined. He says it shows parents the benefits of children playing chess and teaches them skills that will have a positive impact on their child’s academic life.

Ball also gives weekly instruction on Saturday afternoons at Multicultural Bookstore, 260 Broadway. Parents can bring their children to the bookstore and learn the game from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Chess in Richmond
Jessica Trevena watches as her son Kamal takes chess lessons from TC Ball. (Najim Rahim)

Jessica Trevena and her husband play chess almost every week. This summer, they noticed that their 3-year-old son Kamal had developed a special interest in this game and insisted that he play with his parents. So Trevena took Kamal to a multicultural bookstore for Saturday class.

“I’m not a chess teacher, so I’m very happy that they’re working with my son and helping him learn a little bit,” said Trevena.

12-year-old, 7th grader Jesse Carrizales became interested in chess two years ago. His mother, Lydia Trujillo, found Topp on Google and contacted him to tutor her then 10-year-old son.

Jessie, who lives in Solano County, now tutors her peers in a chess club and assists her chess teacher at school. He is also preparing for Saturday’s tournament. Jesse says he plays to win and his strategy involves using all pieces to checkmate.

With a school district partnership, WCCA hopes to expand the game so chess becomes more widespread as a youth sport.

“We are working with the West Contra Costa School District to create a chess league in Richmond where the school teams will play each other,” Ball said. “Just like we have football, baseball and basketball leagues, we want to do the same with a chess league.”

Audiences at CoBiz Richmond, 1503 McDonald Ave.

Chess in Richmond
TC Ball teaches 3-year-old Kamal Trevena. (Najim Rahim)


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