Kalemate Muhammad, from Chicago’s South Side, is a professional tennis coach who also teaches chess through his nonprofit called Educating Tribes for Success. 

He set up a demonstration table at Rep. Danny K. Davis’ State of Education on the West Side conference, Feb. 24 at Malcolm X College. 

Soon his children Quran Muhammad, 9, and Elisheba Muhammad, 14, were showing people of all ages the rudiments of moving pawns, rooks, knights, bishops, king and queen across the black and white squares. 


“I learned the value of each piece and how they move and the ranks and the files. I feel like I’m part of a kingdom,” Quran said. 

“It makes you think where you’re going to move the pieces,” Elisheba said. “The intellectuality of the game makes you think more about everything.”

“We teach the math of chess first, then we show you how you can be a king and a queen, nonviolently, “Muhammad said. “No losers in this game — only winners and learning. No age limit either. It’s age 3 to 99. We show kids how to go from passive-aggressive to assertive. They take the initiative to teach others the game. You can even use chess to think about racial issues, and discuss whether the rules for black and white pieces are the same.”

Muhammad has done tennis and chess programs with the city parks district. He will lead an Educating Tribes workshop with Sankofa Safe Child, at Roosevelt and Pulaski, for eight weeks beginning April 7, open to all children ages 9 to 16. 

Contact Mr. Muhammad at (312) 686-8787.

Bonni McKeown 

"Barrelhouse Bonni" McKeown, the author of "West Side Blues Blog," has played piano and written about blues music for over 15 years. www.barrelhousebonni.com  She has led classes for young and old on...