Cellmate Checkmate: New Program Pits Inmates Against Each Other

Can chess serve as rehabilitation for Cook County prisoners? Sheriff Tom Dart thinks so. What about you?

It takes time to master the strategic battle of chess—and Cook County prisoners have plenty of that to spare.

Sheriff Tom Dart aims to help these crooks, with rooks. By turning their focus to the game of bishops and pawns, Dart hopes they will learn more than how to capture another's king. It's possible the game could promote important psychological and personality traits such as responsibility, patience, problem-solving and learning from past mistakes, Dart said. 

Joined by world champion chess player Anatoly Karpov, Dart recently introduced medium security inmates to the new chess program, pairing them up for intense competition.

“We see it day-in and day-out that people want instant gratification and that often individuals do not think before they act. Thoughtless actions will hurt you while playing chess and hurt you more on the street. Chess teaches people patience and to think before they act," Dart said.  


Could Sheriff Dart be on to something? Take our poll.

Gogigi April 03, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Thank you Sheriff Dart! What an excellent program! About 15 years ago, teachers were saying my son had ADHD - I didn't think so - and after getting an independent professional opinion that said he did not, our local library was offering chess classes - which I signed my son up for -- his body calmed down as the mind engaged in working out a strategy - nothing else worked like chess (not books, music, etc) --he's an adult male now who still enjoys the game! So yes, bring on the chess -- it's a positive outlet!
Ryan Fitzpatrick April 03, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Great story. Thanks for sharing!
Wan Kerr April 03, 2012 at 05:48 PM
As long as the players are evenly matched physically. I once witnessed an appauling situation during a chess match where a barely literate oaf hinted that he would tear the limbs off his opponent if he lost.
Anne Estandarte Bonovich April 03, 2012 at 07:16 PM
My problem with this is that they are getting chess lessons (with a champion chess player) for free while those of us who haven't committed a crime have to pay at least $75 (at many park districts) to $100's of dollars (to join a chess club)! Even chess club in schools charge at least $25!
H. E. Kraeger April 04, 2012 at 09:26 PM
Some years ago I read an article on this subject where a teacher used part of lunch hour to play chess with his failing students. As they improved on the game they also improved on their concentration and study habits for better grades. Many criminals were failures in school. If they learn to focus and gain self respect to become better citizens the cost is worth it. Personally, I think chess should be an activity in all schools. Ban the cell phone.


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