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Can Chess Change Lives?


Copyright © 2007
by Stan Daniels, Editor,
Urban Cartographer Online
Robert (Bobby) Stewart,
founder of
Kings Knight Chess Club

- all rights reserved.





Robert (Bobby) Stewart, founder of Kings Knight Chess Club thinks it can. His life is proof positive. The game has taken him from academic underachiever to adjunct professor, from victim to volunteer, from the unemployment line to entrepreneurship. And he has made it his mission to change the lives of everyone he instructs in the centuries-old game - from children to senior citizens and even the incarcerated - one move, one game, one win or loss at a time.



A Jersey City, New Jersey native, Bobby was introduced to the game at the age of 10 at the C.Y.O., a local recreational center for inner-city youth. Later, as a teen, he battled low self-esteem, the stigma of being two grades behind and domestic disharmony, which limited his vision for his future. The one thing that offered him solace and made him feel empowered was the game of chess. But, because chess wasn't "cool", wasn't a game that inner-city children played and anyone who played was a geek or a nerd, there were limited opportunities to compete and hone his skills and little to no support or encouragement. Yet, he remained intrigued, almost consumed by the game. Its complexities, its simplicity, its challenges, its strategies, its similarities to life.



Playing chess helped him realize that there is a solution for every problem, taught him to focus his energy and attention, how to think things through, how to plan, how to recover, how to lose gracefully, how to win with humility and how to persevere. He's made it his mission to impart these life-building skills to his students as he teaches and coaches the game of chess.



This mission began to manifest itself when in 1995 Bobby found himself unemployed and was offered a position teaching chess to at-risk youth in a juvenile facility in Newark, NJ. Due to limited funding, the position was not financially rewarding, but the payoff was bigger than he could have ever imagined or expected. Within one week children who had never played chess were playing chess. Children who did not trust adults were opening up to him and telling their stories. Children who had grown up too hard and too fast felt safe enough to be children in the presence of this man who represented their fantasies of their absentee fathers. It was then that Bobby realized he had a gift for communicating with and inspiring children. He realized that he could combine that gift with his knowledge and enthusiasm for chess to make a difference in children's lives; to open their eyes to new experiences and their minds to unlimited possibilities.



Reflecting on what chess had done for him as a youngster and the ostracism he faced as a result, he determined then that he would make chess accessible and fun for as many children in the community as possible. He began by volunteering his services at local churches and public schools. He set up classes which turned into teams which turned into tournaments. Fueled by the success and popularity of his workshops, he continued to search for ways to increase his reach. He began recruiting and training area chess enthusiasts and established Kings Knight Chess Club, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping children increase their mental capabilities by learning, playing and competing in the game of chess.


As a chess devotee, Bobby continued to educate himself about the game, from an historical aspect as well as its modern-day benefits. Through his research, he found that chess can have tremendous impact on children with behavioral challenges such as ADD and ADHD as it helps them to focus their energy. He found that there are many other benefits for children, such as:

improved concentration

develops logical thinking

develops imagination

inspires creative problem solving

inspires self-motivation



Armed with this knowledge and a staff of coaches, Kings Knight established workshops at several public schools, charter schools, day care centers, public housing projects, correctional facilities, the Boys and Girls Clubs and the New Jersey City University campus. It has also established a number of annual tournaments.



As research has shown that chess can provide the mental exercise and stimulation that can help stave off Alzheimer's disease, Bobby has taken his mission and his team of children into senior citizen residences to teach the elders to play chess. These events benefit all participants. The seniors enjoy learning the game as much as they do the time and attention of the youngsters. The children feel valued because they are helping the elderly and they enjoy the attention and affection that is lavished on them. Recognizing that his interaction with children has placed him in the position of "role model", Bobby will be enrolling in college in spring semester of 2007 to pursue a degree in psychology. It is his belief that education is one of the most important tools one can have and he wants to exemplify this to all of his students. To take a more expansive, holistic approach to educating, nurturing and inspiring the children of the community, Kings Knight Chess Club will be launching a new program in partnership with Redeemer Lutheran Church in Jersey City and the Grove Reformed Church in North Bergen, New Jersey. With the goal of enriching the "whole" child, the program will include:


a. Chess Workshops

b. Tutoring

c. Mentoring

d. Piano Lessons

e. Etiquette for Children

f. Culinary Arts

g. Photography

h. Entrepreneur Program




As with all non-profit organizations, funding is Kings Knight's biggest hurdle. In order to have the lasting, far-reaching impact Bobby Stewart envisions, the organization is seeking financial support to cover overhead  and operating costs, materials, the development of staff and programs and scholarships.







Comcast Cable featured the Kings Knight Chess Club, Inc. impacting young minds in one of our schools as part of a new show titled "Everyday Joe's".

The topic was "The Power of the Queen" and "Game Rules, Life Lessons".

The Comcast production ran in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maine and Maryland.




Visit the Kings Knight Chess Club
Web site today.




Kings Knight Chess Club, Inc.





The Kings Knight Chess Club, a 501(c) (3) corporation was created to promote discipline, patience, problem solving, and decision making skills through the game of chess.  Chess has been proven to raise intelligence quotient (IQ) scores, strengthen problem solving skills, and enhance reading, memory and language abilities.  


The mission of The Kings Knight Chess Club is to educate, empower and motivate youth and adults through the game of chess.  By way of establishing scholastic chess programs in the public school systems and correctional facilities The Kings Knight Chess Club continues to make strides in the growth and empowerment of youth and adults throughout Hudson and Essex Counties.


The Kings Knight Chess Club believes that in addition to the aforementioned benefits chess fosters critical and creative thinking while teaching one to think logically and efficiently and plan their next move, regardless to the fact that the move is in chess or life!  Our goal is to help those in need to develop life skills while having fun.

Our youth services include: summer camps, after school programs and chess activities in the following schools, programs and/or prisons:



P.S. # 16, 30 and 41

The OLC School  

LHA Pre-School

Jersey City University Pre-College Program

It Takes A Village Day Care

Miller Branch Library

Booker T. Washington Gardens Youth Center




Newark Public Schools Office of Extended Day Programs:

Ann St. School,

Chancellor Avenue School,

15th Avenue School,

Gladys Hillman-Jones Middle School,

McKinley School,

Lincoln School,                 

Mt. Vernon School,

Ridge Street School,

Lafayette School,

Luis Munoz Nunez School,

William Brown School,

Communities In Schools of Newark, Inc.

21st Century Program  

My Sistahz Keeper Association



Hudson County Chess Championship

Jersey City Public School Chess Championship

Newark Public School Chess Championship

Hudson Mall Chess Challenge  



Hudson County Correctional Facility

Essex County Detention Center



New Jersey City University

(Jersey City Housing Authority - Booker T. Washington Apts., Montgomery Apts., Hudson Gardens, Holland Gardens, Marion Gardens, A. Harry Moore Apts., Curries Woods Apts.)

Urban Angels Day Care

Redeemer Lutheran Church

Kings Knight Summer Camp/Grove Reformed Church - North Bergen, New Jersey


In addition to The Kings Knight Chess Club's outstanding work in schools and correctional facilities, The Kings Knight Film-Works Production Company produced a short film titled "Think B4 You Move" that has furthered the mission and goals of The Kings Knight Chess Club.  The film displays life living in a housing project, demonstrating the every day struggles faced, gangs, drug abuse and the importance of critical thinking, patience and planning.  Youth learn to focus their attention and energy, think critically, plan and recover.  As an alternative to our chess programs, youth also have available to them our summer and after school programs that feature a film workshop and a number of other activities..  


Kings Knight Affordable Housing LLC, Our mission is to provide:

·       Affordable Housing to low and moderate income families.  

·       Shelters for the homeless and ex-offenders.

·       Recreation Centers


Kings Knight Prison Rehabilitation Program is our latest endeavor.  Chess is being offered by Kings Knight Chess Club inside correctional facilities in New Jersey as a rehabilitation tool.  The benefit of chess to prison inmates was best described as: "an alternative means to resolve conflict peacefully without resorting to aggression."  It fosters an acceptance of the importance of rules and structured behavior to rule breakers whose histories and past lifestyles have been reckless and undisciplined.  It teaches those who are impulsive to be patient and deliberative.  It shows individuals who lack the ability to reflect on past experiences or contemplate future consequences the value of hindsight and forethought.  Just as importantly, it serves to instruct those who tend to violently react to frustration and the non-fulfillment of their immediate desires that there is an honorable way to accept defeat and that oftentimes in the greater game of life one has to lose in order to develop the skills necessary to win! Yet another exceedingly important but often overlooked and seldom appreciated therapeutic value of teaching offenders the art and science of chess lies in the capacity to engender increased respect for the strength and dignity of womanhood.  The tendency for male inmates to perceive hyper-masculinity and virility as virtues is well documented as is their history of domestic violence and the devaluation of females.  However, in learning chess, prisoners come to realize that while every figure in this "game of war" is male, one piece alone is a female - the queen.  She constitutes the most powerful and strategically significant presence on the board.  Thus, as in life, she is to be cherished and protected for without her the likelihood of success is enormously diminished.  In a very real sense, this "game of war" is in reality a game about life.  


We are proud to announce the Kings Knight Re-Entry Program (KKREP).  Together with a variety of community supporters, we are developing a re-entry program that begins inside the prison.  


The Kings Knight Re-Entry Program goal is develop a multi-model re-entry program that offers interventions that will bridge the gaps that are barriers to successful reintegration to their community, family, and they themselves.  Our mission is to provide a source of hope to men and women who are returning to the community from incarceration. They will receive individual interventions without discrimination based on race, ethnicity, drug use, mental health status, sexuality or criminal justice history.  Additionally, our goal is to reduce the rate of recidivism for men and women who do not receive adequate support upon their home coming.  Our services will include: mentorship, job training, social service referrals and group and individual counseling. We will utilize the cognitive and behavioral techniques as well as those based in social theory. We will provide shelter and on-going direct services for those who need a temporary residence. Theses services will also include a trauma sensitive curriculum, a strong relapse prevention curriculum and parenting programs.


I thank you for the opportunity to share the mission and goals of The Kings Knight Chess Club.  Should you need additional information, have questions or wish to speak with me please feel free to reach me at the number above.




Robert Stewart

Founder & Executive Director







Comcast Cable featured the Kings Knight Chess Club, Inc. impacting young minds in one of our schools as part of a new show titled "Everyday Joe's".

The topic was "The Power of the Queen" and "Game Rules, Life Lessons".

The Comcast production ran in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maine and Maryland.





Visit the Kings Knight Chess Club
Web site today.



Visit the Kings Knight Chess Club
Web site
today, and
Read highlights of
"Food 4 Thought"
(The Club Newsletter)
in PDF format
page 1
page 2
page 3



For more information
please select "Contact Us"
from the "Go To" menu below.



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"I, for one, believe that if you give people a thorough understanding
of what confronts them
and the basic causes that produce it,
they'll create their own program,
and when the people create a program,
you get action."
-Malcolm X


"He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps perpetrate it."

"We must work on . . . attacking the causes and healing the effects."
-Martin Luther King Jr.



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