A Revelation in South Africa
Jerald Times, Chess Coach in South Africa
Walking into the Vrygrond (Afrikaans for "Free Ground") School in
Capricorn, one can feel a vortex of energy due to the harsh social conditions
left over from the apartheid legacy. Vrygrond is a squatter camp, with a population
around eleven thousand. The shacks have poor drinking water and many of them
are without bathrooms. Healthcare is almost non-existent and the unemployment
rate is over 60 percent. Young boys generally drop out of school by 7th grade
and many young girls have had forcible sexual experiences by 9 or 10. Many of
the learners I teach live in the nearby orphanage due to break-up of the nuclear
family and child abuse.
I’m an American, a teacher, and a chess master. To some, I may be a heavenly
messenger, visiting the vortex of Dante’s Inferno with good news from
the outside. The occupants know on an intuitive level that I have come as friend
and ally to guide them on their path to escape the encircling Hell. First grade
teacher Tracey Lee Bester said to me that, “You’re the father they
never had.” Many of the children of Capricorn greet me enthusiastically.
It’s hard not to draw the conclusion that, to the young people of South
Africa, I personify a symbol of hope.
Outside of the activities of the David MacEnulty Chess Foundation and the Durban
Metro Chess Academy, the vast bulk of the population are barely serviced. Every
year (in the student national tournament) almost 85 percent of the competitors
are white, with only about 15 percent of the other participants coming from
the majority population.
Generally, the colored and African youth I spoke to are part of the obvious
chess divide in South Africa. They do not have access to early development,
travel expenses, private training, books and computer software. Though I see
their aspirations for the game I am hit by the stark reality that they are the
embodiment of the dream deferred and not the dream realized. The analogy is
similar to that of a chess game, where the black pieces are given the second
move and they too must fight for equality. In that way, I view my success over
the top competitors in Cape Town as a symbolic victory for the second player’s
potential to equalize on the chessboard of life.
About Our Founder
David MacEnulty has been teaching chess to adults and children for more than
twenty years. Teams he has coached have won numerous first place trophies in
New York City, New York State and National Chess Championships.
David and his teams have been featured on CBS and CNN, and in many newspaper
and magazine articles, both in United States and abroad. In the year 2000, Irish
America Magazine honored him as one of the "Top 100 Irish Americans".
He won the prestigious Chess Educator of the Year award from the University
of Texas at Dallas, was honored with a career achievement award by the U.S.
Chess Federation, and received the Lives That Make a Difference award from A
& E Television.
The story of his work with children in the Bronx was made into a film, Knights
of the South Bronx, starring Ted Danson.
The board of directors of the David MacEnulty Chess Foundation include Ted
Danson, David MacEnulty (President, above), Kwadwo Acheampong (Secretary/Treasurer),
Beatriz Marinello (FIDE Vice President) and Bruce Pandolfini (National Master).
Ted Danson with a student of chess
The mission of the Foundation is to utilize chess to promote critical thinking,
emotional intelligence, and social development in children living in disadvantaged
circumstances, both in the United States and internationally. We do this independently
and in partnership with other foundations, institutions and organizations. Our
primary goal is to help children and young adults grow into thinking, caring and
The Foundation offers:
- Training seminars for teachers
- Instructional materials for students and teachers
- Funding for school and community-based chess programs
- Funding for promising individuals to receive private tutoring and to help
with tournament participation.
Encouraging success through chess in the poorest, most crime-ridden and dangerous
areas of South Africa is one of the major goals of the Foundation.
At present, although there are many skilled and dedicated chess players teaching
chess in South Africa, the fact is that the level of play and the level of expertise
in coaching and teaching is spotty at best. Owing to the great distance between
South Africa and Europe or America, the local players, coaches and teachers
have not had the vast experience that comes with proximity to other strong players
and coaches. Since South Africans cannot come to us, we have gone to them. Find
out how we are making a difference! Don't miss the full reports on our website!
Several years ago a chess teacher from the United States moved to Belize and,
discovering that there were few activities for the children living in the poorer
areas (which is almost all of Belize), established her own chess community,
spanning all six provinces of Belize.
Ella Baron Anderson has been working tirelessly, organizing chess camps, teaching
in schools, holding tournaments and finding transportation for the children
to come to special
programs featuring Grandmaster Maurice Ashley, International Master Jennifer
Shahade and others. Funding for her work is far below what is needed, but she
and her colleagues continue in spite of working countless hours for no pay because
they believe in the cause. To date, they have over eight hundred students in
fifty chess clubs throughout Belize. They have held more than fifty chess camps
for children and coaches, with over thirteen hundred participants, and given
out more than a thousand chess sets to schools and individual children. The
children living in cities, jungles, and villages in all six provinces have benefited
from Ella’s strong commitment.
How you can help
It's easy to make a donation. Show us your support and spread the word! On
this special page
make a secure online Donation, or visit the David
MacEnulty Chess Foundation website for more details, especiall on how your
donation will help provide opportunities for young children.
With your contribution of $300 or more you will receive an autographed book
written by our founder David MacEnulty or by best-selling chess author Bruce
Pandolfini. With your contribution of $600 or more, you will receive both books
and are entitled to one private chess lesson by renowned U.S. chess teachers,
NM Bruce Pandolfini, David MacEnulty or WIM Beatriz Marinello. Show your support
by sending your comments on Facebook, Twitter, and on our YouTube Channel!
David MacEnulty on CBS News
Ted Danson with the Knights of the South Bronx