“To this day I cannot forget the words by Reuben Fine, one of America’s most talented players, who once told me that chess gave him something to be proud of, and had it not been for chess he doubted he would have made it through his tough adolescent years. He explained that during those trying times he only felt on equal terms when seated at the chessboard. It was then that all of society’s class distinctions were eliminated, and for once in his life true equality existed. The superior mind prevailed.”….GM Arnold Denker.
Reuben Fine went on to become a famous psychologist. And since then, many of our youth today have seen the benefit of a chess acquaintance in their lives.
There are many-colored stars that dominate much of the game scene–football, soccer, baseball. tennis, and basketball. Another sport that is classified uniquely as a sport, an art and science (which embraces each listed if you think about it) is chess. And chess has a long history of being integrated into our social fabric and accepted by devotees without malice to none. Most sports have gone through a long period of adjustment toward acceptance. Perhaps had chess had public favor like baseball, basketball, tennis, and golf, the social barriers would have been dissolved years ago because they would not have existed in the first place. It is likely that skin color or ethnic origins would not have been an issue.
Maurice Ashley is a chess grandmaster. His dream in 2000 was to see fulfillment as the Harlem Educational Activities Fund (HEAF) held a grand opening for its Harlem Chess Center and announced that chess in the inner city was here to stay.
Chess took over Harlem. 119th Street was closed to traffic and chess games lined the street. A large stage was erected for ceremonial speeches that saw Wynton Marsalis and his band, Dan Rose, President of HEAF), Maurice Ashley, Bruce Pandolfini, famed chess instructor, NY Congressman Charles Rangel and NYC Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern was seen tackling a game, the Police Athletic League (PAL) donated space for rooms, police officers came by to play games and interact with the kids and adults alike.
Yes, as Dr. Tarrasch once wrote, “Chess has the power like love, like music, to make people happy.”
The year 2000 started out with a bang with a feeling of goodness in our social fabric that hope would bring great reward to making our lives better, to bring our people together, to uplift our dreams and finally make our society one to admire round the world. America leads by example are only words whose worth comes from practice and effort, less the evils in our society take hold.