If there are any better tools than chess to teach life skills to young people, we don’t know what they are.
Robert Katende has spent the last two decades helping impoverished Ugandans escape some of the hardest slums in the world using sports, especially chess. Every year, he comes to the Washington, DC, area to host a free chess tournament, most recently this past Saturday in Lanham.
Several volunteers, including Scott Low and Andy Tichenor, helped make the event fun for children and adults. (Scott played in events at the U.S. Chess Center as a child and teenager. That was 15 years ago, and we are proud that we contributed to his development as a chess player and terrific human being.)
Katende’s best-known student is Women’s Candidate Master Phiona Mutesi, who was illiterate and hungry when she entered his chess classes in Katwe, Uganda, looking for food. Now a college graduate and an analyst for Deloitte, she credits learning chess for developing the skills she uses as an adult.
Hundreds of students come through Sports Outreach, Katende’s organization to help impoverished Ugandans and we appreciate that the Washington Education Zone in Lanham provided beautiful space in which to host a screening of Disney’s movie Queen of Katwe, the free tournament, and a simultaneous exhibition of chess. We will see them back here next year.