Chess Not Checkers

Once upon a time, I would play chess from can’t see morning to can’t see night.

He enter the room ahead of his grandparents who would later join him after the chess match was over. His grandparents would stand alone from a distance with their heads bowed pointing downward to the floor. They never looked up once. At that very moment I knew then I was in over my head.

It was a revealing and humbling experience to say the least. I joined the US Chess Federation at the Manhattan chess club and won my first 1400 tournament trophy. I beat Noah Pang, a 6-year-old chess prodigy who offered me a draw. I was forced to accept his offer. After the game, he explained to me where I had made my mistake. I was smitten and humbled. He played with me while sitting in his chair on his knees and with his elbows on the table. It was the deciding chess match; winner takes all. A crowd gathered and I instantly felt the pressure. Today, Noah’s a International Grandmaster. When I saw his picture some 18 years later on the cover of the US Chess Federation magazine all I could do was smile in a daze. I felt his strength at the age of six years old and knew then he would be a force to be reckon with in the near future.

I love playing speed chess in the city parks in any city I travel to and from New York. 5-minute games to 1-minute games. I just can’t get enough of the game. I discovered depression hits differently.

List five things you do for fun.

I do it for free because the gift doesn’t belong to me

I coached PAL Phipps Center basketball from ages as young as 7 years old to adults. I coached Alimoe aka Black Widow from the And One Mixtape Tours. I knew him since he was nine yrs old. He played for me when he was 12yrs old. I won a 3-on-3 tournament with him. At eleven Tyrone Evans had a complete game. All I could do was show him the purpose of and how to apply the amoeba defense and how to effectively trap while running the 2-1-2 diamond defense. We combined the two concepts, locking down and smothering the opponent with a relentless attack. I taught him how to break down his opponent while running the pick & roll effectively. He was a beast, to say the least. I would roll down the basket so he could feel what it would be like to dunk the ball. You should see his eyes light up the entire gym. I’ll never forget him. Wished I could’ve held on to him longer.

Chess Not Checkers

One afternoon after a game we had won while coaching my biddy team 12 and under, One of my player’s mother walked up to me to introduce herself and said, “My son can’t stop talking about you”. She went on to mention, “He talks about you so much I just had to come to a game to see for myself and I just want to say, thank you. She had this smile I’ll never forget but it was her eyes that told the real story. We talked for about 15 minutes and when we said goodbye to each other I ran to the bathroom because I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. Just writing about it today brings water to my eyes. I didn’t realize at the time I had such an impact on the kids I coached. It made me look at the single-parent household dynamic differently and how hard it must be for one person to try to fill the role that’s meant for two adults to fulfill. The experience alone reshaped my global scope on the plight of the people I’m tied to. I never knew my father. When I finally met him he was full-blown with AIDS. He infected his wife and my little sister. Everyone has their own story while living in the hood or any neighborhood.

I have this obsession with the idea behind penetrating the mind of Frankenstein and the bride of Frankenstein. I won’t get into it here but will promise you I’ll dedicate an entire blog on the subject and release it before the summer begins. I’ll release some of it here and there. I’m almost finished with it. I just like to sit on things and come back to them when it calls for me to do so.

Everything I love I’d do for free. I use to play football for 8 years. I never came off the field. I started on offense and defense. It was my first love affair sports-wise. I was supposed to go to the league but didn’t enjoy playing in the cold. I was on Revis Island before he was born. We played in a 4 – 4 stack defense. I played right cornerback. I made the All-Star team twice. We lost a championship game in minus 2-degree weather. I was paired up against a wideout who was 6′ 7″ with 4.2 speed. I ran a 4.4, forty. I only clocked 4.3 twice in my lifetime. Do you know what it is like to catch a gazelle? Have you ever had to defend against a gazelle who was 6′ 7″. Nobody caught a pass on me for two years straight until that gazelle jumped in the air and caught it like he was thrown an alley-oop. I remember him saying, “bye-bye” after he did a down out & up. I still can hear him saying “bye-bye to this every day.

As a child, I read all of Donald Goines books. I had to have been about 10 years old. I wanted to write and create stories and invent worlds within a world with plots and twists. Writing exposed and revealed a gift within. Suffering and enduring pain along the way became a new wave of expression. I use it to articulate excruciating pain & adventures of the past and present. Malcolm X, Dr. John Henrik Clarke, and Dr. Yousef Ben gave me my manhood from the grave. I didn’t have a father in my household so I adopted external figures who shaped and molded me into what I am today. Natural reveal to me that God is here on this earth and she has always been right by our side. Touch your navel and say, “Thank you, Mother, because of you, therefore, I am… We owe you everything. We must see multiple moves ahead at a time. Life is chess, not checkers.

Chess Not Checkers


Heaven is at the foot of Mother…

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