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From the Barrio to the Boardroom

Posted on January 8, 2018 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

Children and Chess:  Catholic Charities’ Strategy for Success


Dinoelbis Santos, 9, stared silently at the pawn, knights, and king left on the chessboard contemplating his next move at the Fourth Annual NYC Department for Youth and Community Development (DYCD) Chess Masters Tournament held at P.S. 11 in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan last month.

“Checkmate,” he said as he won his third straight match.

Sure, he and his fellow Catholic Charities Alianza COMPASS PS 132 students are still just in grades three to five.  And yes, they hail from Washington Heights where 64-percent of families speak Spanish at home.

But as Dinoelbis showed – and Waitrose former managing director and children’s chess book author Lord Price says –  children who play chess have moves mapped out to the boardroom.

“So much of life is about thinking about the people around you – what are they thinking? What are they going to do,” Mr. Price says. 

“Planning, organizing, thinking about your next move - that allows you to manage situations so you are never caught on the hop.”

These are strategies Catholic Charities Alianza division teaches young players in its COMPASS NYC afterschool program.  And they are strategies four players representing their team followed for tournament success.  Dionelbis won all three of his matches and teammates Keury Espinal, Anthony Nemteanu, and Darwin Gough also played well. They, along with all 250 participants of the tournament received their own personal chessboard courtesy of DYCD.

Too many children return from school to empty apartments and the lure of the streets. At Catholic Charities we offer an alternative: safe, high-quality programs staffed by motivated professionals and volunteers. Our programs help children pursue their strengths through academic support, sports, recreation, arts and cultural experiences.

Catholic Charities Alianza Division provides after school, dropout prevention, youth employment and arts/cultural programs for students in Washington Heights, Inwood and the Bronx.

“There is no doubt that games like chess that develop strategic thinking are really important to business people as they develop their career,” he said.

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