Saturday, August 1, 2009

Chess takes to and from the streets

Above: Chess Life magazine (USCF) August 2009
Here's the plan...HHCF and HHCF East

The initiative I am working on with the Norfolk Police Department's Crime Prevention Unit is a combination anti-crime/educational program that would be city-wide (working title) Hip-Hop Chess Kings & Queens: Life Strategies Program. Just like Adisa Banjoko put it together, Melding music, chess. The East twist is adding the component of a dedicated corps. of volunteers from the Norfolk Public Schools, Old Dominion University's Darden College of Education graduate students, Norfolk Police, workforce development, Opportunity Inc., social services, parks and recreation employees and my former high school students who have already been through the program for 1 year at Ryan Academy, Norfolk as part of the pilot program/partnership with Adisa Banjoko, Founder of The Hip-Hop Chess Federation, SanFrancisco, Ca.

What HHCF Kings & Queens Program does:
Decreases violence in schools/ the community reduces vandalism of city parks & rec. facilities.
Improves standardized test scores (*see documentation below).
Improves critical thinking, reasoning, math and reading skills.(*see documentation below).

Players city-wide will come to Hip-Hop Chess events weekly and work their way up the chess ladder ranks to tournaments for scholarships. Very important to at-risk/low-income kids who just need some money for community college, or job skills training courses.

We hope to reduce the fiscal burden on the city by soliciting corporate and community sponsorships:

Adopt-a-Chess-Park: Outdoor chess tables for city parks. 4 tables per park. Each concrete table is topped with a bronze & terazzo chess board inset (created by Norfolk Sculptor Kevin Gallup with the aid of the VoTech students.
Cost: $250 per chess table. 4 tables per park.
Sponsorships for individual tables or adopt a chess park for $1,000.

HHCF Scholarship Sponsors: Donations to help sustain the Norfolk Police Dept. Chess tournament scholarship fund. King = $10,000+, Queen = $5,000, Castle = $3,000, Knight = $1,000 Bishop = $500, Pawn2Power under $500.

Adopt-a-Norfolk High School: It costs $5,000 for one year of Hip-Hop Chess Kings & Queens one-on-one in the classroom instruction in a high school for one year. Norfolk has 5 high schools. It will cost Norfolk Public Schools $25,000 to increase standardized test scores, boost self-esteem and take violence off the table via a two-day-per-week per school prograkm with the author and a rotating slate of chess and life strategies experts.

CONTACT: Lisa Suhay

See HHCF mainline videos and HHCF East online:
HHCF Obama chess invite

Suhay Radio interviews
A face changed:
Congressman Glenn Nye plays chess with Suhay students:
B&N Chess fundraiser:

Overview: Students will learn to play chess while absorbing the entire story of its history from the Middle East in 500 B.C., through the introduction of the queen during the time of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Isabella of Spain. Students will explore the parallels between chess and life in general and in their own lives. Classes will revolve around the game, its history and application to life strategies that students will learn to apply to their own life situations. They will keep Commonplace books ala Thomas Jefferson, containing their favorite quotations, one-liners, poetry and words of wisdom to be used in “Chess Slams” on the chess clock.

Students will compete in mini-blitz chess tournaments to gain position on the class “chess ladder” system and will become eligible to compete in live, online chess scholarship tournaments as well as in city, state and national scholarship tournaments.

Participants with music, poetry writing, rap, hip-hop, instrumental or artistic talents will be encouraged to find applications for their art to the game and vice versa. All students enrolled in the Kings & Queens program will be part of the city-wide Street Chess League to be run by the Norfolk police Department’s Crime Prevention Division. The league will be a rotating series of chess/music/art happenings around the city’s parks, libraries and recreation centers after school and during the summer. League members will play against members of the police department, Old Dominion University’s Darden College of Education, Opportunity Inc.’s workforce development personnel and chess masters/grandmasters, musicians and martial arts masters who reside in Hampton Roads and who call the game of chess their intellectual home.

Reference: Adisa Banjoko, Founder Hip-Hop Chess Federation (408) 449-9810
"In these times of financial stress we see violence is rising as bank balances drop. It’s critical that young people get a chance to learn directly from the stars and athletes, how to make good life choices," said HHCF CEO Adisa Banjoko. "We greatly appreciate the time these artists give to the young people. We look forward to a big crowd, banging beats and making major moves on the boards."
Banjoko added, "We have recently launched pilot programs at John O'Connell High School in San Francisco and The Ryan Academy in Norfolk, VA. Our students were moved by the story and we appreciate GMA Weekend for finding value in what we do."
View GMA video (aired nationally on 2/15) online at . The story follows HHCF founder Adisa Banjoko as he works with Wu-Tang Clans RZA to help show inner city youth more options in life.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Taking Chess to the Norfolk, Va. community

I went into a classroom in the fall of 2008 with nothing more than the hope of beinging knowledge, power and hope into the lives of my students.

Thanks to The U.S. Chess Trust, Hip-Hop Chess Federation, Adisa Banjoko, The Josh Waitzkin Foundation, Virginia Scholastic Chess, Tidewater Chess Club and many parents putting in time and supplying chess sets and encouragement I was able to meet and exceed my greatest hopes.

Inside a classroom that was little more than four thin walls in a portable, I was greeted by a majority of seniors who had given up on themselves and chosen to marinate in bitterness, anger and rebellion. Through the use of chess, humor, a feather halo, caution tape, dollar-store magic wand, a cell phone with their relatives on speed dial, we built a learning environment.

In the fall most of the boys in the senior class went from one in-school brawl and swear-fest to another, not caring much for themselves, let alone anyone else. As time passed so did they, rising from Fs to B and a few As. They all became avid chess players.

In May 2009, when a classmate, here for the year from Cambodia, was being unjustly deported over a misfire in communication they galvanized into a force of nature. They wrote and called the organizations involved in the deportation. They called a U.S. Congressman and got him involved. Within four intense days our American Government class turned into a lobbying group of stunning force and the classmate was back, surrounded by a group hug of arms of every shade, tattooed and not, woven in a protective circle over the prodigal mate.

The next day the Congressman, Glenn Nye, came to meet them and play chess. The next week the students of the senior class also taught a major newspaper publisher to play and enjoy the game. Parents who had been shut out of angry teens’ lives were playing chess on Tuesday nights.

Moms danced in the middle of Barnes & Noble in the mall to teen tunes blaring as their children taught chess to strangers in an effort to raise funds to help classmates in need.

This is what chess has done for people here in Norfolk, va. and I hope to continue to teach the game and the life strategies in our community. Vivian Anderson and I hope to put together HHCF events around the city to bring chess, music, martial arts and the arts together. We liked what we saw developing in these students and believe it must continue on after graduation as these young people find their way into the community. We also believe it is critical that the game of chess become a touchstone for all grade levels as part of unpressured, social competative, learning events.

We welcome any ideas, venues and donations of prizes, locations, materials and volunteers to teach chess. Welcome also to Chess Master James Schuyler who will participate by playing simultaneous chess games with all comers. We hope to have a 30-player exhibition as part of our first event. Check this space for details.

It takes a community to raise the standards, dignity and self-esteem of a student and the teachers, parents, relatives, friends, congress people, newspaper publishers, even the maintenance and kitchen staff of a school are all part of that village. United we stand. Many thanks to those who stood with us. ##

Monday, May 4, 2009

Playing by the Golden Rules

Norfolk HHCF Advanced Class Champions: First Place Rassmus Klitgaard. Second Place A.J. Evans Intermediate Champions: 1st Place Joe Cusic. 2nd Place Devin Nelson Chess Team Ryan for Fall 2009 (by rank): Olivia Bagwell, Drew Hornback, Devin Nelson, Jose Bautista, John Green and Martin Morgan.

Contact her at