Chess tourney pairs students, cops in a safe space that lets kids ‘flex their intellectual muscles’

The Cops & Kids Invitational Chess Tournament brought out about 120 students from 10 public schools to Guaranteed Rate Field Tuesday.

SHARE Chess tourney pairs students, cops in a safe space that lets kids ‘flex their intellectual muscles’
CPS students and a Chicago police officer play chess in the Cops & Kids Invitational Chess Tournament at Guaranteed Rate Fieldon Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022.

CPS students and a Chicago police officer play chess in the Cops & Kids Invitational Chess Tournament at Guaranteed Rate Fieldon Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Dozens of kids showed off their chess chops Tuesday at a tournament that pairs Chicago Public School students with Chicago police officers.

The Cops & Kids Invitational Chess Tournament brought out about 120 students from 10 public schools to Guaranteed Rate Field.

“The goal here is to create safe environments for our kids where they can prosper,” said Glen Brooks, director of community policing for the Chicago Police Department.

The program also aims to break down barriers between the kids and law enforcement and “gives them an opportunity to flex their intellectual muscles,” Brooks said.

The opening tournament Tuesday will be followed by a closing tournament later in the school year, Brooks said. Each child gets a small gift for participating, he said.

CPS students and police officers take part in a chess tournament at Guaranteed Rate Field, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022.

CPS students and police officers take part in a chess tournament Tuesday at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

The Cops & Kids Chess Initiative was created seven years ago with the Renaissance Knights Chess Foundation, Brooks said.

Outside of the tournament, about 600 CPS students participate in weekly after-school chess programs with officers across the city at about 30 schools, Brooks said.

“A lot of times we think of police as law enforcement, but our end goal is to create a safer community,” he said.

The chess program is one of several after-school programs that pairs officers with children. There’s also baseball, basketball, mentoring, hip-hop dance classes and contests, Brooks said.

“We know by spending time with kids outside of a law enforcement function, we’re creating those safe spaces and diminishing those opportunities for something to go awry,” he said.

Sebastian Gavrilescu and CPD Officer Gerita Gordon play chess during a tournament at Guaranteed Rate Field on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022.

Sebastian Gavrilescu and Chicago Police Officer Gerita Gordon play chess during a tournament Tuesday at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Keney Gomez, Kevin Nunn, police officer Rosas, and Mark Rodriguez play chess during a tournament at Guaranteed Rate Field where CPS students and police officers from across Chicago come together for a chess tournament, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022.

Students and police officers play chess during a tournament Tuesday at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Kyle Mak makes a move during a tournament at Guaranteed Rate Field with CPS students and Chicago police officers on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022.

Kyle Mak makes a move during a chess tournament Tuesday at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

CPS students and police officers take part in a chess tournament at Guaranteed Rate Field on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022.

CPS students and Chicago police officers take part in a chess tournament Tuesday at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Students watch a chess match during a tournament at Guaranteed Rate Field Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022. I Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Students watch a chess match during a tournament at Guaranteed Rate Field Tuesday. I Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

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