Nearly 50 people played chess, and nearly 100 family came to show their support, at the 9th Annual McKinley Williams-John Easterling Community Chess Tourrnament at Shields-Reid Community Center earlier this month.
The annual competition on May 7 attracted a wide range of ages from as young as 7 years old to as old as 75, according to the city.
“Many folks left with trophies, awards, and great memories,” the city said. “Beginners and rated chess players enjoyed the North Richmond facilities and expressed an interest in returning next year.”
Sponsored by the West Coast Chess Alliance and the City of Richmond Community Services Department Mini-Grant Program, the tournament is offered free of charge and featured a Quad format.
According to organizers, the tournament honors the legacy of two men—McKinley Williams and the late John Easterling—who were integral in promoting chess playing in the local community. Williams, president emeritus of Contra Costa College, “believed in the educational impact and benefits of the game on young minds,” and as such, created the concept of a community chess tournament that brought multigenerational people together.
For his part, Easterling mentored youth in Richmond and beyond who were eager to learn how to play chess, teaching it on Wednesdays at the Richmond’s Children’s Library for numerous years, per event organizers. “His legacy lives on in the many chess players who were first exposed to the game by him.”
Kathy Chouteau contributed to this report