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C.H.E.S.S. in Saint Louis: Communities Learning From One Another

C.H.E.S.S. Cops was launched on Monday, February 11, 2019.  What began as as simple breakfast with officers and students enjoying ches over coffee and orange juice, ultimately expounded itself into a multifaceted community outreach program.


The Saint Louis Chess Club, Saint Louis Schools, Saint Louis Metropolitan Police Department and the Saint Louis County Police Department have partnered to launch Saint Louis C.H.E.S.S. Cops “Chess Helping Enhance Student Skills.”  C.H.E.S.S is currently comprised of city and county police officers who utilize chess curriculum that teaches lessons on critical thinking, planning and logic.


Photo by Austin Fuller


Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort...” The outpouring of support from Saint Louis Metro and County Officers was beyond anything we could have hoped.  C.H.E.S.S. ignited the first Spring Break Chess Camp at Gary Gore Elementary which brought 23 students and 12 officers together for a full week of chess and collaboration.



School principals also showed their support.  On Tuesday, May 7, 2019, Carr Lane VPA Middle School held an end of the year C.H.E.S.S. celebration.  Eight officers arrived beating back a fresh heat wave (one even rode in on a bicycle) to enjoy an afternoon of sportsmanship with the 30 students that make up the Carr Lane chess team.  The students were well prepared by long time teacher and chess coach Darnell Young with Principal Darwin Young beaming over the players success.


Photo by Austin Fuller


A modest goal was set to reach 40 hours of chess with students across the board. To date 24 unique officers have given over 120+ hours of their time to make this program a success. Please take a moment to thank them, and read the testimonials from a few of our champions:   

Lt. Col Gerald Leyshock

Officer Darrin Young

Lt. Christi Marks

P.O. Benjamin Granda

Sgt. matthew Manley

Sgt. David Berkeley

Sgt. Jennifer Williams

Lt. Henry Dilworth

Detective Fred Bell

Lt. Troy Doyle

Officer Marvis Moody

Officer Amber Hawkins

Officer Jonathan Hamilton

Officer Brandon McCrary

Officer Ashley Meyer

Officer Brandon Sierra

Officer John Herman

Officer Jodie Easton

Officer Paul Henkhaus

Officer Roxanne Ali

Officer Erin Hine

Officer Sam Thomas

Officer Christin Widbin

Officer Tom Daily


Photo by Austin Fuller


“Being a part of the Chess Cops program is an incredibly rewarding experience. Every time I sit across the board from a young participant, we share a great conversation, that may or may not have anything to do with the competition at hand. My only hope is that my opponents get as much out of the program as I do.” - Officer Benjamin Granda


“In one word, rewarding. Seeing the smiles on the children's faces as they play chess with an Officer, has been a great experience. Being able to help kids learn chess, while also improving the relationship between young people in our region and police officers, has been a wonderful opportunity and a great idea.” - Sgt. Matthew Manley


“Since the Chess Cops program started I have had the pleasure of meeting and playing against over thirty five youngsters enrolled in City schools. The vitality and energy they bring as they play a game of chess has been invigorating to me. It has been very rewarding to interact with such bright and personable young people as they strive to learn and compete in the noble game of Chess.” - Lt. Col. Gerald Leyshock


Photo by Austin Fuller


“I love the look on their faces when I tell them they taught me something new and I am becoming a better player because of’s priceless. I’m learning strategy and skills from such young bright minds that it gets me so excited for what the future of our community and country has to offer.  Having organizations and people interested in investing in this endeavor and our children will build positive relationships between Police and our youth, a win-win for our community, our department and our future.” - Lt. Christi Marks


“What I enjoyed about the cops and kids chess program is that it brings communities together.  Cops and Kids come together to compete at a challenging level of wits. This program takes the time to build trust and kindness within our neighborhoods. We get to know each other rather than treating each other as strangers.” - Officer Darrin Young

Please join the Saint Louis Chess Club on Saturday, June 8 for a Memorial Tournament to honor the late Janet Torrisi-Mokwa.  All police officers and first responders will be provided free entry into the tournament and a one-year membership to US Chess.  Your support would be greatly appreciate as we join together to lift up our community partners in Blue.