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Cleveland police, public library host chess challenge
CMSD NEWS BUREAU
Cleveland police detective Carl Bowers was a national chess champion as a John Adams High School student in 1983. Now, Bowers is using his role in the police department to bring the game he loves to the next generation of CMSD students.
Nearly 600 students competed this week in the annual Chess Challenge at the Cleveland Public Library. It was the culmination of the Progress with Chess program, which Bowers helped bring to the District to teach students the rules of the game and give them the skills to compete in chess and be successful in life.
After the competition, Bowers along with Cleveland police officers Erwin Eberhardt and Michael Belle -- also former John Adams chess team members -- played against students in real chess and a giant version of the game in the library’s Louis Stokes wing. The officers said they hoped to pass along some of their chess expertise and give students a positive interaction with law enforcement.
“We had coaches who helped us along, and now we want to help find the next national chess champion from Cleveland,” Bowers said.
Progress with Chess has been in District schools since 2001, when Bowers helped obtain a grant from RPM International Inc. The program now reaches about 500 District students each year, introducing chess to most for the first time.
Chess instruction takes place during the school day in eight CMSD schools once a week for around 15 weeks. Some schools also offer after-school chess clubs.
William C. Bryant teacher Laura Saathoff said that once a week, a Progress with Chess instructor comes to her math class for chess practice. At the end of class, she ties chess into a math lesson.
“After learning chess, they do better overall,” Saathoff said. “They develop higher level thinking skills when it comes to math. I can see it working.”