A Fort Worth teenager believes people from different backgrounds can find common ground over a game of chess. So, he’s made it his mission to promote unity through the game he became hooked on years ago.
There are decades of lived experiences between 8-year-old Mark, and 68-year-old Glendon. But it doesn’t matter on Wednesday nights; not when chess is involved. That is exactly how Adam Bhaloo envisioned his chess club. People sitting down together, no matter who they are or where they come from.
“Any person of any age of any background can play,” said Bhaloo.
The 17-year-old president and founder of Fort Worth’s DNA Chess Club said he fell in love with the game 10 years ago. He wanted other people to enjoy chess as well. Once COVID-19 cases declined and stay-at-home orders lifted, Bhaloo jumped into action.
“First we started with a summer camp and that gathered our interest and gave us some funding,” he said. “And we were able to start free weekly meetings.”
Now, every Wednesday between 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at a Panera Bread in Fort Worth, he sets up with chess boards and welcomes anyone who walks through the door to sit down for a game.
One local mom said her son felt welcomed since his first visit.
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“One of the parents at the school mentioned it and said everybody is welcome, any age, any level,” said Angelique Tchounkovsky.
The environment is ripe for finding common ground with people whose paths might not cross otherwise.
“It’s about the game,” Tchounkovsky said. “It’s purely about the game and nothing else.”
The club is bona fide - an affiliate of the U.S. Chess Federation. Bhaloo said what ultimately matters, though, is that it remains free and open to everyone.
“Paying people to play chess isn’t really how I see the sport or the game,” he said. “It should be accessed by everyone at no cost.”
When he’s off to college and hands over the reins, this is how Bhaloo wants the club to stay. He wants to see a community together over a game that’s been around for centuries.
“I come from a very privileged place and I feel that it’s my duty to give back,” said Bhaloo.
For more information on the DNA Chess Club and future events visit DNA Chess Club | Fort Worth